Feb 14, 2020
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12 Pop, Rock and Jazz Concerts to Check Out in N.Y.C. This Weekend

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JOANNE BRACKEEN AND UGONNA OKEGWO at Mezzrow (Feb. 14-15, 7:30 and 9 p.m.). A leading composer and pianist in jazz since the 1970s, Brackeen has a piano style based in neatly angled patterns and harmonies, and darting melodicism. She keeps your ear chasing her notes in many directions, even while the center of gravity remains firm and rhythmically grounded. A National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, Brackeen appears here with Okegwo, a stalwart upright bassist who has accompanied some of jazz’s finest bandleaders.

VINICIUS CANTUARIA AND JESSE HARRIS DUO at the Iridium (Feb. 18, 8 p.m.). With his hushed strum on the guitar and his low croon — both insular and inviting — Cantuaria is an excellent match for the songbook of Antonio Carlos Jobim, whose music he covered on his most recent album, “Vinicius Canta Antonio Carlos Jobim.” These qualities also make him a logical partner for Jesse Harris, the guitarist and vocalist best known for his collaborations with Norah Jones (he wrote her breakout hit, “Don’t Know Why”).
212-582-2121, theiridium.com

JOHN ELLIS AND ANDY BRAGEN at the Jazz Gallery (Feb. 14-15, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.). It has been over 10 years since Ellis, a saxophonist and clarinetist, and Bragen, a playwright, debuted “The Ice Siren,” a “jazz opera” that in fact owes as much to modern Western classical as it does to jazz. Next month the opera — one of three long-form collaborations that Ellis and Bragen have produced — will finally be released as an album. This concert celebrates that fact, as well as the 25th anniversary of the Jazz Gallery, which commissioned “The Ice Siren.” Ellis will perform the work with an 11-piece group featuring the vocalists Gretchen Parlato and Miles Griffith, and conducted by the trombonist J. C. Sanford.
646-494-3625, jazzgallery.nyc

BILL FRISELL at the Blue Note (Feb. 18-23, 8 and 10:30 p.m.). Each of the ensembles Frisell has in store for this six-day run promises something rewarding. The challenge is deciding which to pick. For the first two nights, this folk-inflected experimental guitar hero will play in a trio with two of his frequent collaborators, the bassist Thomas Morgan and the drummer Kenny Wollesen. On Feb. 20-21, he will be in duet with the expert trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, and from Feb. 22 to 23 he will present a quintet featuring Akinmusire, Wollesen, the saxophonist Greg Tardy and the bassist Tony Scherr.
212-475-8592, bluenote.net

MWENSO & THE SHAKES at National Sawdust (Feb. 20, 8 p.m.). Hailing from Sierra Leone by way of England, the vocalist Michael Mwenso is undaunted by the tall task ahead of anyone running what’s nearly a full-on performance revue of the sort that dominated American stages 100 years ago. You’re dealing in music, dance, inspirational storytelling, comedy; in terms of the entertainment and the message to be delivered, that’s basically promising it all. Mwenso is up to the challenge; he sings and banters like a carnival barker at a swingers’ club, and he has a plucky young crew to support him. The Shakes include the dulcet-tongued South African vocalist Vuyo Sotashe, the tap dancer and vocalist Michela Marino Lerman, the tenor saxophonists Julian Lee and Ruben Fox, the keyboardist Mathis Picard, the bassist Russell Hall and the drummer Kyle Poole.
646-779-8455, nationalsawdust.org

ELIO VILLAFRANCA AND THE JASS SYNCOPATORS at Dizzy’s Club (Feb. 18-20, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.). A Cuban-born pianist of immense talent and understated touch, Villafranca will present in the coming week material from two new projects: “Life Stories,” a book of songs he wrote inspired by his journeys through Cuba, Haiti, Spain and New Orleans, and “Don’t Change My Name,” a tribute to Florentina Zulueta, a woman from the African kingdom of Dahomey who was enslaved and brought to Cuba in the 17th century. Villafranca’s band will include the trumpeters Jeremy Pelt (on Tuesday and Wednesday only) and Alex Norris (on Thursday), the saxophonist and clarinetist Roxy Coss, the trombonist Robin Eubanks, the bassist Peter Slavov, the drummer Dion Parson, and the percussionists and vocalists Mauricio Herrera and Lisette Santiago.
212-258-9595, jazz.org/dizzys

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