Winter JazzFest in Greenwich Village: 70 Bands at 6 Clubs in 2 Nights

Winter JazzFest 2012 at (le) Poisson Rouge/photo by Ernest Gregory

What has these people packed in tight—some, like the tall guy, staring with laser-like focus, and others in eyes-closed swoon?

Good music, and plenty of it.

Beginning tonight, the ninth edition of the annual Winter JazzFest features more than 70 bands playing in concurrent sets at six Greenwich Village clubs, all within short walking distance of each other.

As always, the festival coincides with the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters conference at Midtown’s Hilton New York and Towers. Which means that the person standing next to you taking notes is less likely a critic or blogger than a performing arts presenter scouting bands to book. That conference is in itself a remarkable representation of both the offerings of and the issues that swril around what the organization calls the “global arts marketplace,” with showcases bleeding out this week into a number of Manhattan jazz clubs and other venues. The Winter Jazzfest is compelling due to the efforts of three folks who do that sort of work with style and expertise: Brice Rosenbloom (Boom Collective), Adam Schatz (Search & Restore) and Meghan Stabile (Revive Music Group).

I’m heading down to the APAP conference later today, for a town-hall style meeting about jazz at which there will likely be the usual handwringing and furrowed-brow questions about shrinking audience share, the mysteries of connecting with listeners in a social-media age, and lack of one clear aesthetic. Winter Jazzfest testifies to the vitality and diversity of New York’s jazz scene. Conference-goers, your answers can be found in the sounds of these bands and the raucous applause after each set.

The music runs from 6pm until well after midnight. With single-day passes for $35 and full-fest passes at $45 that means a lot of music for the money. These are relatively short sets. And the turnout suggests that you show up early to claim your spot. Ok, you’re not going to get an extended set from your favorite band: That’s not what this scene is about. But you’ll get a taste of what you came for and, should you stick around and run around long enough, some new tastes that beg for more. As at a great tapas restaurant, you’re wise to try one or two new things. Yet here are a few tips (starred gigs are ones you’d be foolish to miss). Detailed artist bios can be found at the fest website:

6:15pm – Bobby Previte Bari Trio (Bowery Electric)
7:30pm – Yosvany Terry Quintet (The Bitter End)*
7:45pm – Marcus Strickland Twi-Life (Sullivan Hall)
8:00pm – Dan Tepfer & Lee Konitz (Zinc Bar) *
9:00pm – Revive Big Band led by Igmar Thomas (Sullivan Hall)
9:45pm – Don Byron (Le Poisson Rouge)
10:30pm – Eric Revis, Kris Davis, Andrew Cyrille (Zinc Bar)*
11:00pm – Evolutionary Minded! – ‘The music of Gil-Scott Heron Re-visioned w/ Kentyah, M1 (Dead Prez), Brian Jackson and The New Midnight Band’ (Le Poisson Rouge)
11:15pm – Roy Nathanson Sotto Voce (Bitter End)*
12:00am – Nasheet Waits EQUALITY with Vijay Iyer, Mark Helias, Logan Richardson (Culture Project Theater)*
12:30am – Charnett Moffett, Marc Cary, Will Calhoun (Bitter End)*

Saturday January 12th

6:00pm – Celebrate The Great Women of Blues & Jazz w/ Toshi Reagon & Allison Miller +Friends (Le Poisson Rouge)
6:15pm – Pedrito Martinez (Bitter End)*
7:00pm – Michael Formanek (Culture Project Theater)
7:30pm – Claudia Acuña (Bitter End)
7:30pm – Mario Pavone Trio (Bowery Electric)
8:30pm – The Cookers (Le Poisson Rouge)
9:15pm – Alexis Cuadrado Group ‘A Lorca Soundscape’
(Zinc Bar)*
9:45pm – Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Gamak (Le Poisson Rouge)*
11:30pm – Otis Brown III (Sullivan Hall)
11:00pm – James Carter Organ Trio (Le Poisson Rouge)*
12:30am – Rafiq Bhatia (Bitter End)*

Image/Ernest Gregory

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