Christian Sands (Hreinn Gudlaugsson (, Photo Christian Sands publicity office

During these brisk holidays, scurrying shoppers may need some live jazz to break the hustle-bustle from grabbing all those bargain items and making sure the children get the right gifts.

The Jazz Gallery, that cozy little oasis with the most comfortable bar lounge in the city, presents musicians whose music reflects the emotional intensity of life without boundaries. December 22-23, such a band will grace the stage, a place they are very familiar with as The Jazz Gallery All-Stars. These young musicians, bandleaders and composers, who have deep connections with the Jazz Gallery, grew up right before us from music school to finding their way through the jazz maze to defining their own sound and style. 

The ensemble includes alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw (a longtime member of the Roy Haynes Quartet, his last three recordings “Optimism,” “Soundtrack of Things to Come” and “Echoes,” all on his independent label Changu, demonstrate he will be a great jazz voice in the years ahead), guitarist Charles Altura (a regular with Terence Blanchard, was awarded The Jazz Gallery Residency Commission), pianist Fabian Almazan (received a jazz gallery commission and is a two-time Grammy nominee and current member of the Terence Blanchard Quintet), vibraphonist Joel Ross (in 2017 became one of the youngest artists to receive Residency Commission from The Jazz Gallery, he continues to expand the vocabulary of legendary vibraphonists Lionel Hampton and Bobby Hutchinson), bassist Matt Brewer (was a recent Jazz Gallery residency, and played with Greg OsbyGonzalo Rubalcaba and Ambrose Akinmusire), drummer Morgan Guerin (multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer and engineer; his collaborators include Teri Lyne Carrington and Kassa Overall with whom he played bass, saxophone and drums; he was the songwriter and co-composer of Esperanza Spalding’s 2019 Grammy-winning album “12 Little Spells”; his album “Saga III” is available), and vocalist Sachal Vasandani (who has collaborated with such musicians as Wynton Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin, John Clayton, Stefon Harris and Gerald Clayton).  

The Jazz Gallery introduced the All-Stars at the JVC Jazz Festival in 2010 for its 15th anniversary which also included founding member trumpeter and composer Roy Hargrove. Today the All-Stars have become an institution representing the mission and musical soul of the TJG. 

For tickets visit the website Tickets for the livestream are available on Dec. 23 only. Two sets each night at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. 

The pianist and composer Monty Alexander delivers a full dose of Jamaican rhythms, some rasta man with nuances of jazz and blues roots. December 20-24, at Birdland (315 West 44th Street) audiences will have an opportunity to observe Alexander’s twisting melodic combinations. His playing style gives him the ability to play with such vocalists as Ernestine Anderson and Mary Stallings while kicking it up with jazz innovators Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Golson and Jimmy Griffin. Over the years Alexander has become known for his vibrant trios, he remains true to his trio performance with his accompanists bassist Luke Sellick and drummer Jason Brown in an “Island Holiday.” Two shows each night at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. December 24 the livestream is also available.

For tickets visit the website or call 212-381-3080.

December 21-24, the pianist Christian Sands returns to Dizzy’s jazz club (10 Columbus Circle at 60th Street). For his four-night engagement Sanders will perform invigorating originals and eggnog warm holiday favorites. Rounding the quartet will be guitarist Marvin Sewell, bassist Yasushi Kakaruma and drummer Ryan Sands with special guests.     

The pianist represents this young generation of jazz pianists who are making a big splash in the piano pool. His sweeping cascades and imaginative lyricism can be heard in his every note. The NEA Jazz Master Dr. Billy Taylor, who was his mentor, introduced Sands while he was still a teenager. Since that time he has established himself as a jazz power—bandleader and composer. He is a captivating musician who while forging through new terrains manages to swing even on ballads while not omitting a bit of the blues. This well-dressed musician employs all 88 keys similar to Erroll Garner as he furthers the tradition with his own notes. 

Two sets each night at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. except on Dec. 24 one show at 7 p.m. only. For reservations visit the website or 212-258-9595. 

Dizzy’s late-night sets are Thursday-Saturday starting at 11:15 p.m.; admission is $15 at the door.    

The artist, poet, lecturer and jazz enthusiast George Nelson Preston’s exhibit has been extended through Dec. 23 at the Ryan Lee Gallery (515 West 26th St., 3rd floor). Preston’s paintings flow like the Miles Davis tune “Sippin’ at Bells” (“Out of Nowhere” album), a cooking tune that features Charlie Parker; his strokes groove with deliberate intensity forming one thought or concept in motion. “The origin of my painting style comes out of second-generation school of New York. There is a jazz structure but my work is more of an improvisational free jazz form,” explained Preston. He says sometimes there is silence when he is painting and other times, he may listen to music by saxophonist Ornette Coleman. Preston’s exhibit is worth catching; the fact that it was extended says loads for its significance and representation of Black art.  
Visit the website at:

Stay in the holiday spirit by seeing the comedy production “T’Was the Night Before Kwanzaa,” only two days left Dec. 28 (11 a.m.) and Dec. 29 (7 p.m.), the Black Spectrum Theater in Jamaica Queens (177th Street and Baisley Boulevard.). 

The comedy, written by Carl Clay, finds Santa’s annual sleigh delivery being diverted from its usual stops to visit Africa so he can understand the conceptual tradition of Kwanzaa. The play, directed by AUDELCO award winner Rome Neal, features Tico Wells (The Five Heartbeats) in the starring role with music by Derek Galloway and sets by Harlan Penn. For tickets visit the website or call 718-723-1800.HAPPY HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL. THANKS SO MUCH FOR SUPPORTING MY COLUMN AND THE AMSTERDAM NEWS, THE DRUM OF NEW YORK AND THE WORLD…

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *