Jazz Picks Week of March 14

Vijay Iyer. Photo by Jimmy Katz.

Vijay Iyer. Photo by Jimmy Katz.

Here’s a look at the coming week in live jazz, including THREE important shows tonight. For more jazz and other picks in dance, theater, classical music, pop, and more, check out The Arts Fuse.

Vijay Iyer Trio/Robert Pinsky
March 14, 8 p.m.
Sanders Theatre, Cambridge, MA.

Pianist, composer, MacArthur Fellow and now Harvard music faculty member Vijay Iyer joins former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinksy for one of Pinsky’s PoemJazz duo sets and then takes the stage with his formidable trio mates, bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore, in this Celebrity Series concert.

Myra Melford
March 14, 8 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA.

Pianist and composer Myra Melford’s exquisite chops, tact, and imagination have served her well in collaborations with any number of jazz’s other great experimenters, from Henry Threadgill, Joseph Jarman, and Leroy Jenkins to Dave Douglas, Marty Ehrlich, and Matt Wilson. She plays a solo gig in support of her solo-piano CD, Life Carries Me This Way (Firehouse 12) at the intimate Lily Pad.

Snarky Puppy
March 14, 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA.

From the next generation of jazz-rock-funk fusion, Snarky Puppy have signaled their arrival with a 2014 Grammy win for Best R&B Performance and a booking at the upcoming Newport Jazz Festival. You’ll hear R&B, but also the familiar sound of proggy ’70s-’80s fusion, updated with nifty horn charts and distinctive post-rock twists and turns. Dallas funk-fusion band Funky Knuckles opens.

Nando Michelin’s “Juana de America”
March 14, 9 p.m.; March 19, 9 p.m.
Acton Jazz Café, Acton, MA [March 14] + Ryles Jazz Club Cambridge, MA. [March 19]

Pianist and composer Nando Michelin continues his series of shows exploring the work of Uruguayan poet Juana de Ibarbourou (1892-1979) in this new suite. Performing Michelin’s settings are his trio with bassist Robert Taylor and drummer Tiago Michelin along with singer Katie Viqueira and the Four Corners string quartet.

Ali Amr
March 15, 7 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.

Moroccan-born Berklees student Ali Amr made a splash at last year’s Newport Jazz Festival by busting out his zither-like qanun and improvising stunning free flying lines with a like-minded jazz crew on the big mainstage. Amr also brings his compelling vocals to his trad-modern fusions of jazz, funk hip-hop, and Arabic folk forms.

Dave Liebman and Marc Copland
March 15, 8 p.m. + 10 p.m.
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA

The great saxophonist Dave Liebman was here just a couple of weeks ago with a band. Now he returns to play two duo sets with pianist Marc Copland. Liebman is known for his impassioned, all-out attack in band settings, but on Impressions, their 2012 Hat Hut release, he and Copland took more lyrical flights in their free explorations of modern standards (including the title track). That album also included a few spontaneous pieces invented from scratch, so don’t be surprised if they lean that way tonight. After all, they’ve done this before.

The Makanda Project
March 15, 7 p.m.
Dudley Branch Library, Boston, MA

Pianist John Kordalewski’s ensemble tribute to the late composer and reedman Makanda Ken McIntyre holds forth in a free concert at the Boston Public Library Dudley branch auditorium with special guest brass player Craig Harris. The Makanda’s regular crew includes a cast of Boston all-stars: Arni Cheatham, John Lockwood, Kurtis Rivers, Charlie Kohlhase, Bill Lowe, and Jerry Sabatini.

Jay Clayton
March 19, 8 p.m.
Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA

Clayton is one of a select group of free-jazz vocalists, having worked with Muhal Richard Abrams, Steve Reich, Julian Priester, Jane Ira Bloom, and many others. Tonight she goes “out” by working “in,” celebrating the release of her new CD, Harry Who?, a tribute to songwriter Harry Warren (“At Last,” “September in the Rain,” “I Only Have Eyes for You”). Joining her are the players from that album, pianist John DiMartino and esteemed tenor saxophonist Houston Person.

Eric Hofbauer’s “Prehistoric Jazz”
March 21, 8 p.m.
Pickman Concert Hall, Longy School of Music, Cambridge, MA.

Guitarist and composer Hofbauer’s last attempt to stage this show got snowed out. But maybe this time he’ll be aided by the fact that he’s re-scheduled his jazz ensemble rendering of Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps for the day after the first day of spring. Hofbauer and crew have played “the Rite” before, but this time they’ll also be premiering his arrangement of Messiaen’s Quator pour le fin du temps (“Quartet for the End of Time”). The band includes Hofbauer, clarinetist Todd Brunel, trumpeter Jerry Sabatini, cellist Junko Fujiwara, and drummer Curt Newton. And it’s free.

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