The Winterjazzfest held at three venues in Greenwich Village last Saturday, a smorgasbord of almost two dozen acts offered up to attendees of the Association of Performing Arts Centers conference, gave a hint of some sounds to be heard around the U.S. in the months to come. What I witnessed was diverse, engaging, virtuosic but not didactic. The musicians seem to know they’ve got to be audience-friendly, or go without. So they’ve tailored their acts for clarity, balancing familiarity and novelty but not dumbing down.
I couldn’t catch all the bands, of course, but arrived in time for the first music: lusty-voiced singer Claudia Acuna and band at (le) Poisson Rouge, interposing a hip-hop beat on “Gracias a la vida,” the nuevo cancion anthem by Violeta Parra, adopted as repertoire by Joan Baez in the early ’70s.
Then I made a short detour, stopping by Terra Blues just down the block — one of NYC’s very few venues devoted to that roots music, to hear Jr. Mack play acoustic guitar and sing some unusual historic repertoire in his fine baritone.