November 3: Upper Wilds at Union Pool. Guitarist, toy Casio noise-maker, and vocalist Dan Friel first made his mark on the Brooklyn DIY underground with Parts & Labor before venturing into solo terrain. After a handful of junkyard electronics-focused pummels under his own name, Friel has returned to trio mode in Upper Wilds, dishing out the catchiest of space-rock melodies and anthems drenched in gnarly noise, a la Parts & Labor, on their recently-released sophomore effort, Mars (Thrill Jockey).
November 4–8 & 29: Rzewski Festival at Spectrum. Fred Rzewski has said “If I don’t keep writing music, I’ll die,” which gives some measure of the intense vitality of his work. This festival, organized by pianist Gabriel Zucker, will put Rzewski’s masterful craft, unsurpassed energy, and fierce politics on full display. Opening night will feature Corey Hamm playing the extraordinary The People United Will Never Be Defeated!, and on November 8, Lisa Moore, will play De Profundis and To His Coy Mistress, and there will also be an evening of the composer’s percussion music, and of course a performance of the great Coming Together. Times change, Rzewski endures.
November 5: Darius Jones: For The People at Roulette. Saxophonist colossus and composer Darius Jones is a prolific storyteller who lets his horn do the talking with hurricane force and a lyrical sensibility while also exploring ecstatic languages from the otherworld with his all-vocal collectives. For The People further cements Jones’ protean nature as he teams with The Wet Ink Large Ensemble. On the eve of one of the most important elections of our time, Jones and his large ensemble will unleash their creative voices as artists to empower, inspire, and inform their community in the name of action and change. The program also includes the world premiere of Being Caged in ICE and the second performance ever of America The Joke, before concluding with the social justice and American History-exploring game piece LawNOrder (pronounced “law no order”). Author and activist Onnesha Roychoudhuri will also appear as speaker.
November 6–10: Simon Hanes The Stone Residency at The Stone. Bassist and composer Simon Hanes, mastermind of the quirky and kitschy Morricone-ian Spaghetti Western and 1970’s European film soundtrack-obsessed troupe Tredici Bacci, takes over The Stone for a five-night run. Friday, November 9 promises “covers and collaborations” (expect tunes from 2016’s wild Amore Per Tutti record) while the following evening (November 10) is billed as “Tredici Bacci plays originals!” with special guests Ryan Power, Ruth Garbus, JG Thirlwell, and Elysian Fields singer Jennifer Charles, all of whom made cameos on Amore Per Tutti.
November 7: Jamie Saft_Joe Morris Duo and Cooper-Moore_Stephen Gauci Duo at HappyLucky no. 1. Titans of the New York City jazz avant-garde, pianist Jamie Saft and guitarist and double bassist Joe Morris have blazed trails as composer and improviser. Saft and Morris are longtime collaborators in larger group settings but they’ve amped it up recently as a duo. In 2017, they served up Nominedomine, a guitar_piano record, and tonight they celebrate the release of Cyrus, a set that finds Morris adding drums to his multi-instrumental arsenal as he makes his debut behind the kit.
November 8: Conrad Harris and Joseph Kubera at The Crypt Sessions. Death of Classical’s Crypt Sessions, held in the crypt of Harlem’s Church of the Intercession, has been one of the brightest spots on the classical music scene the past few seasons. On this night, superb violinist Harris and pianist Kubera play Morton Feldman’s delicate, slicing For John Cage.
November 8: Kelly Moran Ultraviolet Record Release Show at Future Space. On 2016’s Optimist and ’17’s Bloodroot, classically-trained metal-head pianist Kelly Moran spoke in sonic tongues all her own, spinning a virtuosic vision of prepared piano deconstruction. After a stint touring as a member of Daniel Lopatin’s Oneohtrix Point Never, Moran has joined him in the Warp Records ranks, making her debut with Ultraviolet where she continues to confound the aural senses. A keys-bending and psychedelic mind-meld of classical-contemporary, ambient music, prog, and metal, Ultraviolet is the crystallization of Moran’s forward-thinking heroics. Tonight, Moran celebrates the release of her new album accompanied by immersive visual design by artists Dave & Gabe.
November 9: The Hum Presents An Evening With Kadhja Bonet at National Sawdust. The Hum, a female and non-binary-only, venue-hopping concert series that has featured Cat Power, The Julie Ruin, and Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori of Cibo Matto, presents its latest installment at National Sawdust headlined by soul singer Kadhja Bonet. On Childqueen, released earlier this year, Bonet mashes up a delightfully warped blend of melodious soul, glitchy psychedelia, and hyper beats.
November 9: A Song for Many Women by Muyassar Kurdi with special guests at Vital Joint. Interdisciplinary artist Muyassar Kurdi has wielded her cutting-edge talents in the experimental music, film, performance, and movement rings. Most recently, she teamed with composer David First in his “Dave’s Waves” project. This month, Kurdi makes star turns in three must-see events. On November 9, she presents a screening of her 16mm short film, A Song For Many Women, featuring special guest performances by Zach Rowden, Leila Bordreuil, Bradley Eros/Joel Schlemowitz/Masami Tomihisa Trio, and Steve Dalachinsky, and on November 14, Kurdi brings her “Machine/Body” series, featuring interdisciplinary artists working with sound and movement, space, and architecture, to Areté Venue and Gallery. Her busy month concludes with “Women Between Arts’ (curated by Luisa Muhr) which finds Kurdi on a program with Ka Baird, Thea Little, and Mary Prescott at The Glass Box Theater at The New School.
November 10: Avram Fefer and Josh Sinton at Greenwhich House Music School. By now you’ve read Josh Sinton’s honest, moving look at what it means to survive as a creative musician. Now you can go hear him play, and you should, because he’s one of the finest baritone sax players on the jazz/improvisation scene.
November 10: Wume Record Release Show with Yvette and JOBS at Union Pool. Baltimore synth and drums duo Wume follow up 2015’s keeper Maintain with the candy-coated blipping and bleeping action of Towards the Shadow (Northern Spy). Spastic polyrhythms and sparkling synthesizer and keyboards-saturated dizziness are in full throttle throughout as Wume feast on Motorik-styled jams cut from the 1970’s German cosmic sound cloth. The excellent and eccentric art-pop heads JOBS open, spewing their infectiously jagged racket found on one of the best records you haven’t heard this year, Log On For The Free Chance To Log On For Free(Ramp Local).
November 10: Dafnis Prieto Big Band at Zankel Hall. Drummer and MacArthur Fellow Prieto has one of the freshest big bands in jazz, Latin flavored, yes, but with an exciting a creative way with the clichés of the music. They are powerful and supple, and this is sure to be a physically exciting performance.
November 10: Akiko Yano + Seiho: “Unusual Pairings” at Japan Society. Japanese sound artist Seiho deals in the trippiest of beats-manipulating madness culled from techno, house and electronic music bits and pieces that are brain frying. Meanwhile, pianist, vocalist, and songwriter Akiko Yano churns out playful synth-pop. Together, Seiho and Yano will make for an “unusual pairing” as they build on “Tong Poo,” the duo’s first collaboration that found Yano adding lyrics to a song by Japanese electronics music pioneers Yellow Magic Orchestra (who Yano recorded with) while Seiho layered spasmodic beats. Add in Seiho’s unique in-performance flower-arranging element and this should make for an even more memorable experience.
November 12: Mike Panico Memorial Concert and Celebration at Roulette. Last month, the local avant-garde jazz and experimental landscape tragically lost Mike Panico, a ubiquitous presence and community-driven force on the scene. Panico, alongside Kevin Reilly, helmed Relative Pitch Records, one of the best labels around whose catalog is a treasure trove of cutting-edge releases. This evening, the music community that Panico was so supportive of comes together for a memorial concert and celebration. Set to perform short sets after friends and relatives pay tribute are Kirk Knuffke, John Zorn & Ned Rothenberg, Thollem/Nels Cline/William Parker Trio, Joanna Mattrey, Michael Foster & Leila Bordreuil, Jessica Pavone, Matthew Shipp & Michael Bisio, Tom Rainey Steve Swell Brandon Lopez Trio, and John Blum. Admission is free.
November 12: Joe Moffett Album Release show with Erica Dicker, Brian Chase, and Secret Sibling at Threes Brewing. Like his trumpet brother-in-arms Peter Evans, Joe Moffett (of Earth Tongues) lets loose with gale-force blows, subtle passages, and lyrical phraseology that is outside any box. On his solo record titled More Of It And Closer (Tubapede), Moffett takes “trumpet, amp, and applications” and creates noise-scapes that throb, gyrate, and squeal with suffocating intensity. Moffett’s Tubapede label-mate, violinist Erica Dicker, opens with compositions from her 2018 set, Taking Auspices. Brian Chase and Secret Sibling complete the program.
November 15: Fire Over Heaven Series Presents Sandy Ewen, Damon Smith, and Weasel Walter Trio, John McCowen, and Warren Ng at Outpost Artists Resources. Reigning overlords of brutal improvisational mayhem, drummer Weasel Walter, guitarist Sandy Ewen, and double bassist Damon Smith have teamed for two crucial free-improv shredders set in interstellar overdrive (2012’s Untitled and 2017’s Live in Texas). Tonight, Che Chen’s “Fire Over Heaven” concert series presents the trio as they embark on an ear-splitting hell ride of primal and gnashing back and forth. This stellar bill is rounded out by clarinetist John McCowen and improvising multi-instrumentalist, Warren Ng.
November 16: Thalia Zedek Band and Damon & Naomi at Union Pool. Guitarist and singer Thalia Zedek is best known as the hoarse-throated wailer behind beloved 1990’s-era Boston noise-blues band, Come. Decades after Come, Live Skull, and Uzi, Zedek remains a crucial voice in underground rock, banging out a brutal and beautiful beast whose riffs and gruff howls and whispers deserve her own genre. Zedek leads her Band tonight in celebration of their new record, Fighting Season (Thrill Jockey).
November 16: Sarah Davachi (Album Release) at the Park Church Co-op. The majestic acoustics and monumental setting of the Park Church Co-op promise to be the perfect backdrop for Canadien composer Sarah Davachi’s hypnotic and unsettling dronescapes. With shape-shifting tones beamed from a stash of instruments including, Mellotron, Hammond organ, cello, viola, piano, voice, and vintage analog synthesizers, Davachi will fill the Greenpoint church with the atmospheric meditations found on Gave in Rest (Ba Da Bing), her second of two records released this year.
November 17: “I Never Left And Now I’m Back”: A Concert Of The Music Of Roswell Rudd at Murmrr Ballroom, In 2017, beloved trombonist trailblazer and avant-garde jazz royalty Roswell Rudd passed away after a long battle with cancer. Rudd’s long career arc was a revolutionary and a hugely influential one that drew from both free-improvisation and Dixieland leanings, as evidenced by the self-titled, ESP-Disk-hosted 1964 debut from The New York Art Quartet, which is a seminal document of the jazz avant-garde. Rudd also experienced a late-career renaissance with records released by the RareNoise label accompanied by the likes of Jamie Saft, Trevor Dunn, Faye Victor, and Ken Filiano. Tonight, many of those aforementioned musicians pay tribute to Rudd in a star-studded program that also includes Sex Mob playing The New York Art Quartet, Jacob Garchik’s The Heavens, Trombone Tribe (Ray Anderson, Art Baron, Steve Swell, Josh Roseman, Greg Glassman, Deborah Weisz, Brian Drye, Steven Bernstein, Bob Stewart, Tony Scherr, Briggan Krauss), and much more.
November 17: Queer Trash Presents: God Is My Co-Pilot and Fire-Toolz at ISSUE Project Room. For its final program as the 2018 Suzanne Fiol Curatorial Fellow, Queer Trash (a curatorial platform headed by saxophonist Michael Foster, Eames Armstrong, and Michael Kamerman to promote queer experimental performance practices in live settings) presents what is sure to be a skronky, glitch-bathed, and nihilistic evening. Veteran outfit God Is My Co-Pilot were queercore before the term was even coined and have been toiling around New York City’s downtown scene on and off since the early ’90s, raising havoc with their noisy and noxious stew of no wave, punk, and free jazz. The mangled pyrotechnics Fire-Toolz (a_k_a multi-instrumentalist producer Angel Marcloid) gloriously vomits out is a frenzied collage of Noise, techno, and electro-industrial that is head-spinning and catchy at the same time. 2017’s Drip Mental and this year’s Skinless X–1 (both released via Hausu Mountain Records) are splattered ecstasy.
November 17: A Collaboration Between Uniform and The Body at Market Hotel. Two deafeningly loud duos, Brooklyn cyber-punks Uniform and Portland, Oregon-based techno-metal outfit The Body, are kindred spirits in noise who unleash punishment fit for the coming apocalypse. That was manifested on this year’s Mental Wounds Not Healing, a violent slab of nails-on-chalkboard-screaming and industrial music-meets-sludge-metal terror. Bring heavy-duty earplugs.
November 19: Sonic Youth: 30 Years of Daydream Nation, filmmaker Lance Bangs, Steve Shelley, Lee Ranaldo, and photographer Michael Lavine in conversation at Alamo Drafthouse. New York City art-rock institution Sonic Youth went on indefinite hiatus in 2011 when the marriage of cofounders Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon crumbled, but its legacy and influence live on. 2018 marks the thirtieth anniversary of Daydream Nation, Sonic Youth’s decaying downtown dystopian sprawl and, arguably, their greatest record. There’s been various events commemorating their 1988 touchstone and this one hits downtown Brooklyn. Drummer Steve Shelley and guitarist Lee Ranaldo will be on hand, alongside filmmaker Lance Bangs and photographer Michael Lavine, in conversation and on the big screen. Bangs will present Daydream Nation, a concert documentary that captured the band performing the record in full over two nights in Glasgow in 2007 and Put Blood in the Music, a downtown New York City music scene documentary by Charles Atlas from 1989 featuring SY, John Zorn, Glenn Branca, Lydia Lunch, Arto Lindsay, and more.
November 25: Jean Michel-Blais at National Sawdust. French-Canadien pianist and composer Jean Michel-Blais is a wunderkind on the black and whites. On 2018’s revelatory Dans ma main(Arts & Craft), Michel-Blais weaves an electrifying web of post-classical piano stylings with splashes of electronics. Elegant, cerebral, and edgy, Michel-Blais thrills on the piano and National Sawdust promises to be a sublime setting for his craft.
November 25: Jarboe with Father Murphy and Moor Mother at Market Hotel. Classification-defying Italian art-rock duo Father Murphy continue their farewell tour on a bill that fittingly includes their collaborator, vocalist and former Swans member, Jarboe. On its final album, Rising: The Requiem of Father Murphy, the occult duo draw from the hypnotic plodding of Swans with vocals that conjure haunted images of ritualistic, sermons and chants. Rounding out the bill is Camae Ayewa (a_k_a Moor Mother, and also of free jazz unit, Irreversible Entanglements) bringing her self-described “slaveship punk” and “afrofuturist electronics” to the fray.
November 27: Phillip Johnston & The Silent Six at Small’s. Composer and saxophonist Phillip Johnston is well known in the universe of the pivotal Cuneiform Records label where he co-led the NYC-based jazz collective The Microscopic Septet on a handful of releases. Now Johnston is playing bandleader to The Coolerators, who just debuted with the raucous Diggin’ Bones (Asynchronous). Produced by Lloyd Swanson of The Necks, Johnston’s Diggin’ Bones is a rollicking party album, heavy on the organ-drenched funk, jazz, and Klezmer grooves. Tonight, Johnston joins forces with The Silent Six to play its bouncy cuts.
November 29: Carlo Costa Oblio Album Release Concert with Joanna Mattrey, Leila Bordreuil and Sean Ali Trio, Azumi Oe, and Anna Roberts Gevalt at JACK. In free-improvisational trio Earth Tongues, tubist Dan Peck, trumpeter Joe Moffett, and percussionist Carlo Costa utilize a slow-burning approach where brutal noise bursts and moments of sparse and quiet beauty are explored in its sonic realms. On Oblio (Neither_Nor Records), Costa’s debut solo album, the percussionist—inspired by the concept of oblivion—goes for a quiet_loud aesthetic similar to Earth Tongues’ dystopian trips into the abstract. Perched at his drum set and armed with an array of objects including, chains, knives, styrofoam, marbles, woodblocks, and tiles, Costa clinks, clatters, thumps, and crashes with both free-form abandon and methodical precision throughout its two lengthy explorations.
December 1: Devin Gray’s Dirigo Rataplan plays Greenwich House Music School. The loose-limbed, octopus drumming mastery that serves as the centerpiece to the groups Brooklyn-based composer Devin Gray leads hits on cylinders of airy and complex. On the new Dirigo Rataplan II, Gray pilots a group (also as Dirigo Rataplan) featuring tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, trumpeter Dave Ballou, and bassist Michael Formanek whose dazzling, unpredictable, and spirited interplay comes at you from a variety of angles.
December 1: Mary Margaret O’Hara at ISSUE Project Room. Mary Margaret O’Hara is a uniquely expressive singer, with the legendary Miss America album to her name. One of the few truly avant-garde artists in any kind of pop idiom, her appearances are rare, this may be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to catch a performance.
December 2: Red Bull Music Presents: Makaya McCraven’s Universal Beings at (le) poisson rouge. Drummer, producer, and “beat scientist” Makaya McCraven is helping pioneer a new and fresh crop of avant-jazz heads including, Jaimie Branch, Justin Brown, Robert Glasper, and Shabaka Hutchings who are twisting and deconstructing the genre to thrilling, sonic heights. McCraven’s just-released Universal Beings (International Anthem), with guitarist Jeff Parker, bassist Tomeka Reid, Hutchings, and a host of others chipping in, have created a free jazz-meets-Hip-Hop, beats-entrancing sound-world that will certainly be perched near the top of the best records of the year lists.
December 2: Neneh Cherry at National Sawdust. Pop, R&B, and trip hop icon Neneh Cherry (best known for her 1989 smash hit “Buffalo Stance”) continues her latter-day career resurgence with her second album in four years titled Broken Politics. Produced by Four Tet’s Kieren Hebden (as was 2014’s Blank Project), dubby beats and bass serve as the anchor to Cherry’s soulful and electric singing as she address the political turmoil that is infecting the world. Cherry should be mesmerizing to watch inside the intimate confines of National Sawdust.