The tenor saxophonist and composer Dexter Gordon, in his debonaire manner, once said, “Jazz made New York a swinging affair.” Today, Gordon’s words have blossomed into the New York Winter JazzFest, to be held this year from January 12–18 with performances at more than 14 venues from Harlem to the West Village and Brooklyn. The event has only extended the jazz vernacular and its love for Gotham.
The string of seven-day performances features the family jazz genres of straight-ahead with ingredients of classical, soul, far-of-out and in avant garde with such performers as trumpeter Adam O’Farrill, Black Lives-From Generation to Generation, saxophonist Caroline Davis, the drummer Gengis Don & The Empire (blending Brooklyn hip hop and jazz with no apologies), bassist and innovator Jamaaladeen Tacuma’s Jet Set, flutist and vocalist Nathalie Joachim, pianist Marta Sanchez Quintet, and drummer Kassa Overall, among many others.
The two-day Marathons in Manhattan and Brooklyn are a continuum of enthralling non-stop music from 6 p.m.–3 a.m. Be careful — it can be quite intoxicating and the effects can linger for days. On January 13, some of Manhattan’s performers will include bassist Endea Owens & The Cookout, pianist Orrin Evans Trio (both at Zinc Bar in West Village); award-winning musicians saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins and vibraphonist Joel Ross’s Parables at LPR at 9:30 p.m. (158 Bleecker Street); Isaiah Collier’s burning saxophonist at Nublu (lower Eastside12:45 a.m.); guitarist Mary Halvorson and pianist Sylvie Courvoisier joining forces as the Halvorson/Courvoisier Duo “Searching for the Disappeared Hour” at the Jazz Gallery (1158 Broadway); and pianist Craig Taborn (at 11 p.m.); Hera, featuring the dynamic all-star female cast of Chelsea Baratz, Anne Drummond, Alexis Lombre, Endea Owens, Shirazette Tinnin and Andromeda (9:45 p.m.); Harlem’s own saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin at (11 p.m.), both at City Winery (25 11th Avenue); and pianist/electronics Jason Linder presenting Break.Fast.Club at Nublu.
The Brooklyn Marathon on January 14 will include the evening at Brooklyn Bowl (61 Wythe Avenue) presenting “Future x Sounds salutes Revive Music” with Igmar Thomas and the Revive Big Band, featuring Louis Cato, DJ/rapper Pete Rock & the Soul Brothers; bassist, poet, composer William Parker Piano Trio at Loove Labs (61 Wythe Avenue); harpist Brandee Younger; and Sun Ra Orkestra at the Opera House (288 Berry Street); and Cuban pianist/composer Dayramir Gonzalez at National Sawdust (80 N. 6th Street).
The Winter Fest kicks off on January 12 at City Winery, with a Pre-Show Conversation with drummer, composer, educator and activist Terri Lyne Carrington. The show, curated by Carrington, is an assemblage of multiple ensembles and bandleaders celebrating the recent publication of New Standards, a songbook featuring lead sheets by 101 women composers. The first of its kind publication will feature the works of Alice Coltrane, Geri Allen, Anat Cohen, Maria Schneider, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Mimi Jones, Nubya Garcia and Nicole Mitchell, as well as emerging artists from the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice,
A partial list of performers for the evening includes Linda May Han Oh, Kris Davis, Mary Halvorson, Helen Sung, Michele Rosewoman, Rahsaan Carter, Tia Fuller, Caroline Davis, Julius Rodriguez and Next Jazz Legacy artists — a new national apprenticeship program for women and non-binary improvisers in jazz, aimed at creating a more inclusive jazz future. This performance celebrates a monumental first year of the program and features all seven inaugural awardees.
Om January 15, the Fest swings to Harlem at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem (58 West 129th Street) with two panel discussions: “State of Jazz Radio in the Digital World” and “Ain’t But A Few of Us” with Willard Jenkins. The latter title is from his recently published book Ain’t But A Few of Us: Black Music Writers Tell Their Story”(Duke University Press, 2022). Jenkins presents more than two dozen candid dialogues with Black jazz critics and journalists, from Greg Tate, Farah Jasmine Griffin and Robin D. G. Kelly to Tammy Kernodle, Ron Welburn and John Murph to Herb Boyd and Ron Scott.
“The goal has been to include Black writers from several different perspectives and stations in the media pursuit,” Jenkins explains in his introduction. “This book represents a variety of viewpoints and vantage points, but inevitably the dialogue leads back to considerations of that specious, man-made construct known as race.”
The discussion will begin at 1 p.m., with writers on the panel to be announced. Visit the museum website jmih.org to RSVP; the event is free.
Later on January 15, travel down to the Lower Eastside to Nublu (151 Avenue C) for “Flock Up and Fly,” a night honoring trumpeter Jaimie Branch and featuring Jeff Parker, Chad Taylor and Fay Victor, among others. Branch, who died far too soon at age 39 in 2022, was a captivating musician whose music was soaring to greater heights. Her debut album Fly or Die was chosen as one of NPR Music’s Top 50 Albums of 2017.
On January 16, catch “Verve at Winter JazzFest” with vocalist Samara Joy, harpist Brandee Younger and pianist Julius Rodriguez — a generation of rising stars continuing to take us on thrilling journeys (LPR, 158 Bleecker Street).
The Fest bids farewell on January 18 with Katalyst, Antonio Sanchez & Thana Alexa, Stuart Bogie, and guests TBA.
For a full schedule, visit the website winterjazzfest.com.It’s a new year, the best is yet to happen!