- March: Vijay Iyer residency at The Met Breuer. The old Whitney is the new Met Breuer, and along with an intriguing exhibition on unfinished art, drawn from the Museum’s collection, Vijay Iyer has his own residency in the Tony and Amie James Gallery, off the ground floor entrance. While the museum doesn’t open to the general public until March 18, Iyer’s curation will be available to members from March 8 through March 17. There will be two screenings per day of a film Iyer scored, Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi; Fit (The Battle of Jericho), and live performances from Iyer and other musicians and ensembles he’s engaged. The schedule is nothing but highlights, and the most intriguing sets should be Vicky Chow playing Tristan Perich’s Surface Image on March 10, Iyer and trumpeter Adam O’Farrill on the 11th, and Iyer with Teju Cole, Patricia Franceschy, and Linda Oh on the 13th and 18th. All details available at the Museum’s site.
- March 6: Sunwatchers, Nick Millevoi’s Desertion, Glockabelle, Dan Friel at Palisades. Undoubtedly one of the most exciting groups in the city today, Sunwatchers is a Brooklyn four-piece featuring former members of Dark Meat, NYMPH, and many others. The band plays brilliant, ecstatic music, a mixture of punk energy and free jazz meditation. A Sunwatchers concert is an exercise in transcendental joy. The March 6 show celebrates the release of their self-titled debut record.
- March 6: Microscopic Septet at Shapeshifter Lab. Part of a generous triple bill that includes the Joe Fiedler Trio and Andy Biskin’s 16 Tons, the Micros have become a linchpin of post-modern nostalgia, a throwback to when there were East Village squats, a thriving downtown music scene, and talented musicians could occasionally hit the mid-time, in this case with the theme for Terry Gross’ Fresh Air.
- March 8: Mary Halvorson with Ambrose Akinmusire and Craig Taborn at Roulette. The woman with the skronky, thumb-heavy guitar meets the man with the gorgeous, lyrical trumpet tone and the other man, one of the most probing jazz pianists. Something awesome this way comes.
- March 10: Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society at National Sawdust. Appearing as part of the venue’s Spring Revolution Festival, Argue will be bringing in, Tensile Curves, which he describes as a “40-minute meditation on Duke Ellington’s ‘Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue.’ Sold.
- March 11: Yonatan Gat, Sunwatchers, VBA, Heliotropes at the Studio at Webster Hall. The former guitarist for wild garage rockers Monotonix, Gat has come to take a less frenetic approach on his last few records. The Israeli guitarist and his trio take a diverse mix of Spanish, African and Mediterranean styles and send it through a punk prism. Plus, if you missed Sunwatchers at Palisades, you can catch them here.
- March 12: Craw at St. Vitus Bar. This will be a short, sharp return for this stimulating and abrading band. Back on the cultural landscape due to Northern Spy’s magnificent archival release from late last year, Craw is going to jangle ears and nerves. No standing around gazing at your smart phone, if you value your sensibilities.
March 15: Ryan Keberle at Jazz Standard. This is the release show for Keberle’s new album, Azul Infinito, a tight and rocking integration of hard bop, minimalism, latin music, and songs, with more than a little funk. It’s one of the best jazz records of the year so far, and the band kicks ass.
- March 18: Akio Suzuki: Conceptual Soundwork at ISSUE Project Room. Akio Suzuki presents four pieces dating back to his series of performances in Paris in the late 1970s. Suzuki’s work explores the unique sound environment of any given venue; the show on Friday the 18th will take place in ISSUE’s home theatre on Boerum Place, a brief return before further renovations.
- March 18–19: Tillery at the Jazz Gallery. Tillery is three exceptional singers, Rebecca Martin, Gretchen Parlato, and Becca Stevens. Together they create an absolutely personal and fluid blend of jazz, pop, folk, and great American songcraft.
- March 20: Fellow Travelers Showcase at National Sawdust. Fellow Travelers is a new opera from composer Gregory Spears, who has an exciting talent for making music that is both lovely and dramatically powerful. This is a piano-vocal showcase of his new work, based on Thomas Mallon’s novel of the same name about closeted homosexual lovers in McCarthy era Washington D.C. Spear’s last opera here, Paul’s Case, was a powerhouse, expect the same.
- March 20 & March 23: Ross Hammond and Sameer Gupta at Spectrum and Barbes. Guitarist Hammond and tablaist Gupta have made a record, Upward, that is a dazzling set of songs and improvisations that get at the global, human roots of the blues. With just two instrument, the two make incredibly rich, driving, and soulful music that reaches into the gut. New, ancient, unclassifiable, powerful, fantastic.
- March 24–25: The Necks with Alvin Curran and Arnold Dreyblatt at the Whitney Museum. A rare chance to see this unique improvising trio. The Necks can take the most abstract material and lay it out, spontaneously, with an edge that can grip any listener—something like electroc-acoustic jazz-metal post-rock minimalism. Even more exciting, they’ll be joined by Dreyblatt and the utterly great composer and electronic musician, Alvin Curran.
- March 25: Ches Smith, Craig Taborn, and Mat Maneri at the Rubin Museum. By now you’ve read about Smith’s appearance at the Winter Jazzfest, and his excellent new ECM album The Bell. Here’s another chance to hear this calm and deep music.
- March 26: Ben Sidran at Barbès. As part of the Camus: A Stranger in the City festival honoring French writer Albert Camus’s visit to New York in 1946, Sidran will perform new works composed for the festival and inspired by Camus’s work. Will he also cover the Doors’s “People Are Strange” by the Doors? On ne sais jamais.
- March 26: Bedroom Community’s Whale Watching Tour at the Schimmel Center. They’re indie, they’re classical, they’re often quite wonderful: this collective founded by Valgeir Sigurðsson, Ben Frost, and Nico Muhly, bring their tour to New York for one concert only. On the bandwagon will be Sam Amidon, Nadia Sirota, Borgar Magnason, Una Sveinbjarnardóttir, and Helgi Jonsson. Genres will be discarded, hearts will be warmed.
- March 28: Faust and Jowe Head at Monty Hall. Together with other German groups such as Can, Amon Düül II, and Neu!, Faust pioneered the experimental, anarchic music we know loosely as Krautrock. The touring unit for the USA features founders Jean-Hervé Peron and Zappi Diermaier. Jowe Head and the Celestial Choir opens.
- April 1: Lesley Flanigan at National Sawdust. Flanigan celebrates the upcoming release of her new record on April 8. As the record, Hedera, continues Flanigan’s exploratory use of her own voice, the April 1 show will be a focused on the voice as instrument, featuring Flanigan, C. Spencer Yeh, Maria Chavez, and Nick Hallett + Daisy Press.
- April 3: Le Poème Harmonique at the American Academy of Arts and Letters. This French early music ensemble is, simply, one of the most beautiful groups there is. This concert brings their airs de cour project, a set of gorgeous and tremendously earthy (and ethereal) set of songs of unrequited love from the early Renaissance and before. Pop music, ye olde French style.
- Early April at Jazz Standard. Great early spring lineups: Ravi Coltrane will be finishing up a run through April 3, then the Bad Plus comes in on April 5 for six nights. Meanwhile, the Mingus Big Band is in residency every Monday. Drink, dine, and dig.