New York City’s Winter Jazzfest kicks off next month with an unreal roster of modern and legendary jazz talent. Exiting new artists like KING, Kamasi Washington, and GoGoPenguin are billed alongside more established veterans like Dr. Lonnie Smith and Sun Ra Arkestra. Today we wanted to shed spotlight on the ten acts we can’t miss during NYCWJ, and we recommend you not to miss them either.
Tickets for Winter Jazzfest, and certain individual shows, are on sale now over at the festival’s official website.
As one of the most exciting keyboard players in music, Cory Henry has collaborated with everyone from The Roots to Bruce Springsteen, but is best known for his near-permanent role in the ever-changing ensemble of Snarky Puppy. He’s billed with a trio for Winter Jazzfest, which should be quite different than his work in the aforementioned big band.
NYC is an obvious jazz hub, and so you get the opportunity to see a lot of these artists fairly often. It’s not the case for Manchester, UK’s GoGO Penguin. The boundary-pushing trio released the phenomenal v2.0 last year, and apparently the next record is due out on Blue Note. They smash together elements of electronic music (house, drum ‘n’ bass, beats, etc.) with super smooth jazz, creating a truly unique brand of music that cannot be confused with anything else out there.
Julian Lage Trio
We covered Julian Lage last year when he collaborated with Nels Cline (another artist on the NYCWJ roster). Together, the two released Room, one of our top albums of 2014. At Winter Jazzfest, he’ll bring his trio together for a performance that is just as impressive as his work with Nels, and if you’re a fan of virtuosic guitarists, you absolutely must see Lage in action.
We couldn’t be more excited to see KING, one of the most exciting young R&B/soul groups out there. Their debut album is due out in February of next year, but the trio have already released a highly praised EP. What they call a ‘dream-soul’ sound is a fairly accurate description. It’s airy and whimsical without compensating the serious talent that they possess. As one of the most unique acts on this jazz bill, you won’t want to miss them in action.
Blue Note describes their artist Takuya Kuroda as “a forward-thinking musician with a bent toward mixing post-bop and adventurous soul-jazz.” The Japanese-born former Berklee student creates a very modern jazz palet that is vibrant and energetic, as displayed on his Blue Note debut Rising Son.
Ben Williams & Sound Effect
If you follow DubEra, you know we’re huge fans of Soulive, and that’s one of the artists that Ben Williams & Sound Effect evoked when we saw them a couple months ago at BRIC Jazzfest. It’s smooth, head-boppin’ jazz laced with an incredible guitarist in Matt Stevens and anchored by bassist Ben Williams. They’re as tight as they come, and groove harder than most. Don’t sleep on Ben Williams & Sound Effect.
Marc Cary’s Indigenous People
Marc Cary hosts a jazz jam in Harlem every Thursday, and is a staple of the always flourishing jazz scene here in the Big Apple. Having released a fantastic album this year in Rhodes Ahead Vol. 2, Cary will unite Indigenous People, a group that won BET’s inaugural “Best Young Jazz Artist” award in 2000, for Winter Jazzfest.
Terrace Martin wears a lot of hats. He’s an integral part of Kendrick Lamar’s wizard of musicians that produced a top album of 2015 in To Pimp A Butterfly. He’s worked with Snoop Dogg in his early years, and these days is in high demand in both the hip hop and jazz worlds. We’ve seen him come through each time Kamasi Washington comes to town, and he’s one hell of a saxophone player. We’re not sure what he’ll do during his Winter Jazzfest performance – will it be a full band? More hip hop, jazz, or both? – but we’ll definitely be finding out.
Last but certainly not least is Kamasi Washington, who is holding down the marquee event of the Winter Jazzfest. Headlining Webster Hall is no small feat, especially for a jazz artist in 2015, but we have no doubt that Kamasi and his unreal band of musicians will fill up the massive ballroom with their thick, thick blend of spiritual jazz. We’ve caught him each time he’s come through town, and cannot stress how essential the show is. He released a top album of 2015, the triple-disc Brainfeeder debut titled rightfull The Epic, and the shows match up to the album’s name. But seriously, don’t take it from us, check it out for yourself…
Dr. Lonnie Smith’s Evolution
Two drummers, one B3, and an endless bunch of chops…