On September 17,New York kicks off a fall season more highly charged with new creative energies than any in memory. An army of mostly young, skilled, ambitious and devoted musicians is making itself heard in the East Village, Soho, Brooklyn, on the Lower West Side and in the clubs — while benevolence is cast by the first ever performance — at last — of Ornette Coleman at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Sept. 26.
Today — tonight! — at the Stone, pianist Connie Crother’s curation of 24 little-if-not-unknown artists begins with guitarist Andy Fife (coming in from Sweden) and Ms.Crothers (best known as a long-ago student of Lennie Tristano, currently spearheading a proposal to establish affordable housing for musicians) improvising freely with clarinetist Bill Payne at 10. At Roulette with rhythmist Adam Rudolph premieres three works, including a concerto for chamber orchestra by Yusef Lateef, At McCarren Hall in Greenpoint, the two-weekend long New Languages festival kicks off with Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society big band, which plays tomorrow — Sept. 18 — at Manhattan’s Jazz Gallery where on the next night (Sept. 19) cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum’s SpiderMonkey Strings octet performs. The multifarious Bynum is in Brooklyn at New Languages next weekend — Sept. 25 — co-leading the 10 piece Positive Catastrophe ensemble, which has a new cd out (as does SpiderMonkey Strings) with Peruvian Abraham Gomez-Delgado.
The number and quality of players assembled to perform in all these formats — as well as the September 20th afternoon-long free “In Gardens” concerts at community gardens on the Lower East Side and in Brooklyn (produced by the folks who bring us the Vision Festival) and specific gigs elsewhere would seem enough to change (at least influence) the musical world. Also — in the clubs right now:
- virtuoso bassist Christian McBride is introducing his big band at Iridium,
- enspirited Cameroonian bassist-vocalist-songwriter Richard Bona leads an international ensemble at the Jazz Standard,
- tenor sax monster James Carter is at Birdland (to be followed by tenor sax master Joe Lovano),
- tenor sax quester Ravi Coltrane is at the Village Vanguard and then drummer Billy Hart with Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson and Fly tenor saxophone survivor Mark Turner
- Bassist John Hébert leads his Byzantine Monkey at the Cornelia Street Cafe, Sept. 25 and 26 –
- AH! the 26th! When Ornette performs at the House that Wynton built, with his two basses and drums (by son Denardo) the same evening Barbra Streisand does a free one-nighter at the Vanguard (?!?!) and Ms. Crothers plays with her quartet and quintet at the Stone. All the stars are aligned.
Then there’s October 1 – 16: Evan Parker, saxophonist extraordinaire, in 28 concerts, different collaborators from across the musical spectrum for each one. With such as Ornette and Evan and Crothers & Co, Argue and Bynum and the rest (I haven’t mentioned half of them) waving the flag for deeply, determinedly individualistic and humanely sociable improvised music and all these others upholding that same initiative each in their own way, New York will take a bold step to reform its culture, to embrace greater freedom from constraining conventions, more faith in the imagination, better energy for collaboration and a vision of true jazz as exciting and essential beyond the term “jazz” that gets reduced to clichés. An autumn of musical renewal?