Harlem native Onaje Allan Gumbs and New Vintage (featuring Trio Plus) will be returning to BamCafe at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Ave., for a two-night engagement Jan. 15 and 16 at 9 p.m. This is a free event.
The pianist-keyboardist Gumbs is a noted arranger and composer whose varied creative arrangements have earned him chairs with Woody Shaw, Kenny Burrell, Grady Tate, Jeffery Osborne and Betty Carter, as well as the role of musical director for Angela Bofill.
For this engagement, Gumbs and the drummer E.J. Strickland form the core of this melodic jazz trio, while the plus is a rotating cast of special guest musicians and vocalists.
Every Wednesday, world-class jazz pianist and vocalist Donald Smith will be playing at Harlem’s Cassandra’s Jazz Club and Gallery (133rd Street and Seventh Avenue).
Smith, who also plays flute, is one of the most underrated jazz musicians and vocalists on the scene. Whether he is playing a solo of Coltrane’s “Naima,” which can be as haunting as an empty cruise ship, or on Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay,” he swings in hard bop mode.
Miles Davis described Smith’s voice best when he noted, “Donald Smith’s voice is like cold honey, it’s sweet and it chills you.” The native of Richmond, Va., came from a musical family. His father, Lonnie Smith, was a member of Richmond gospel music group the Harmonizing Four, while his brother Lonnie Liston was the pianist and keyboardist. In addition, his brother Ray was a member of the doo-wop group the Novells.
Smith was under the tutelage of Undine Smith Moore. She was the first graduate of Fisk University to receive a scholarship to Juilliard. Her choral work “Scenes from the Life of a Martyr,” a 16-part oratorio on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., premiered at Carnegie Hall and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Smith’s resume reflects his musicianship, having stints with Art Blakey, Rahaan Roland Kirk, Dizzy Gillespie, Pharoah Sanders, Oliver Lake and Chico Freeman. The Fazioli piano at Cassandra’s will get a fierce workout as Smith’s weekly excursion escalates with the established bassist Stanly Banks and the drummer Greg Bandy.
Cassandra’s will keep swinging for two consecutive weekends Jan. 15 and 16 and Jan. 22 and 23 with the alto saxophonist Gary Bartz and his Quartet performing two sets each night at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
As he approaches the stage, his gray Afro stands out, but once he plays that alto sax, it will get your attention and his hard bop flow will engage your soul. Let’s not categorize Bartz as a hard bopper. He just plays great music, from the traditional to the shores of in-the-moment contentment.
His Ntu Troop, formed in the late 1960s, was a combination of hard bop, soul and the roots of Africa. It was an innovative group that crossed the jazz genre lines. Ntu’s album “Harlem Bush Music” (a compilation of two albums recorded in 1970 and 1971) contains a message of Black pride that remains relevant today amongst this political strife and struggle.
Bartz’ most recent album, “Coltrane Rules: Tao of a Music Warrior” (Oyo Recordings), offers his tribute to John Coltrane and his arrangements on such compositions as “Dahomey Dance/Tunji” and “Vilia/Ole.”
On this return to Harlem, Bartz will be joined by his mainstay all-stars, the guitarist Paul Bollenback, the bassist James King and the drummer Greg Bandy.
The adventurous New York City Winter Jazzfest Marathon runs this weekend, Jan. 15 and 16. The fest, whose home is Greenwich Village, will include 11 venues: five stages at the New School and returning venues Le Poisson Rouge, Judson Memorial Church, Zinc Bar, the Bitter End, Greenwich House Music School and an added stage at the Greene Space at WNYC and WQXR.
More than 100 groups will perform over the two nights. The first show Friday begins at 6 p.m., with the last show for the evening kicking off at 1:40 a.m. at the Bitter End featuring the trumpeter Theo Crocker. On the same day, Roy Hargrove, Nublu Orchestra, James “Blood” Ulmer and Christian McBride will be performing at the New School Auditorium on 12th Street.
Alicia Hall Moran with Brandon Ross appears at the Greene Space at WNYC and WQXR; Marc Cary’s Indigenous People and Charenee Wade Group: “The Music of Gil Scott-Heron” and Brian Jackson perform at the New School Jazz Building.
New projects will include Burnt Sugar performing the music of Ornette Coleman, Sun-Ra and Wayne Shorter and Joey Arias’s Basic Black.
Jan. 16, the marathon hits at 6 p.m., and some of the performers will include Don Byron Quartet, OGJB Quartet with Oliver Lake, Graham Haynes, Joe Fonda, Barry Altschul and Monty Alexander and the Harlem Kingston Express at the New School Auditorium.
The jazz heads who love jazz swinging on the edge of a deep mountain will hang late for the unique programming visions of Revive Music and New York Hot Jazz Festival, who will each curate their own stages during these two-nights.
Jan. 17, the festival will close with a John Coltrane project by San Francisco Bay Area saxophone quartet Rova. Coltrane’s milestone recording “Ascension” was released 50 years ago in 1966 (Impulse Records). It now gets a 21st century reimagining and arrangement by Rova and its first New York show at Winter Jazzfest, featuring special guests Nels Cline, Zeena Parkins, Nate Wooley, Ikue Mori, Trevor Dunn and Jason Kao Hwang.
For a complete marathon schedule and ticket information, visit www.winterjazzfest.com.