Jazz concerts this summer: jazz, world-music and blues shows in 2013

See some of the world’s best performers at these jazz concerts, world-music events and blues shows in NYC this summer.

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  • Photograph: Foto Luciano Rossetti © Phocus Agency

    Vision Festival

  • Photograph: Stephanie Berger

    Bang on a Can Marathon

  • Photograph: Becca Meek

    David Murray and Macy Gray

  • Photograph: Herve Martin

    Femi Kuti

  • Photograph: Marylene Mey

    JG Thirlwell

  • Photograph: Cheryl Richards

    Angélique Kidjo

  • Photograph: Robert Ascroft

    Wayne Shorter

  • La Excelencia

  • Photograph: Coburn Dukehart

    Tego Calderon

  • Los Lobos

  • Photograph: Meerkat Media Collective

    Slavic Soul Party

  • Shirley Caesar

Photograph: Foto Luciano Rossetti © Phocus Agency

Vision Festival

While you can see great jazz icons and world-music performances in New York year-round, summertime is when many artists make their way to the city for seasonal festivals like River to River or the Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival. Get the details on these events, and many more world-music, blues and jazz concerts this summer.

Vision Festival

Vision Festival

Nearly 50 years after he helped launch the free-jazz revolution, Milford Graves stars in the 18th edition of this summer staple. On June 12, the Jamaica, Queens, drum powerhouse appears alongside contemporaries such as poet Amiri Baraka and trombonist Roswell Rudd, as well as up-and-comers like David Virelles and Dezron Douglas. Subsequent nights feature Sonny Simmons, Roscoe Mitchell, Andrew Cyrille and other titans of full-spectrum improv expression. artsforart.org. $20–$35, pass $170.

  1. Roulette
  2. Wed Jun 12–Sun Jun 16; Times vary
Bang on a Can Marathon

Bang on a Can Marathon

  • Free

From its scrappy origins as a rebellious contemporary-classical upstart in a Soho art gallery, the Bang on a Can Marathon has evolved into a groundbreaking, world-beating celebration featuring progressive music of all stylistic persuasions. This year’s lineup includes artful singer-songwriter Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), Tibetan vocalist Yungchen Lhamo, the Asphalt Orchestra and, of course, the Bang on a Can All-Stars…and it’s all completely free. 212-346-1715, rivertorivernyc.com. Free.

  1. Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University
  2. Sun Jun 16; 1–10pm
David Murray and Macy Gray

David Murray Infinity Quartet with Macy Gray

From solo recitals and big-band blasts to free jazz and deep funk, saxophonist, composer and bandleader David Murray has done it all at one time or another. How does an artist so well documented turn over a new leaf? By collaborating with idiosyncratic soul singer Macy Gray, whose sultry rasp is as distinctive as Murray’s big tenor sound. subculturenewyork.com. $48, advance $45.

  1. SubCulture
  2. Wed Jun 19, Thu Jun 20 at 7:30, 10pm

The Jazz Saxophone

  • Free

In conjunction with Make Music New York, which brings artists to unexpected spots all over NYC, this event will follow saxophonists to three locations in lower Manhattan, where they’ll perform 15-minute solo sets over the course of an afternoon. Pack light and follow the sounds of these one-man jazz bands during your lunch break. 212-219-9401, rivertorivernyc.com. Free.

  1. Brookfield Place Plaza • One New York Plaza • Zuccotti Park
  2. Fri Jun 21 at noon, 12:30pm, 1pm
Femi Kuti

Femi Kuti and the Positive Force

  • Free

The son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti has been ably carrying on his father’s legacy since he first picked up a saxophone, meshing its sounds with hip-hop, funk and other genres. His half brother Seun, another fiery bandleader, ignited Celebrate Brooklyn! in 2011—concertgoers this year should expect a similarly joyous, sweaty party. summerstage.org. Free.

  1. SummerStage Main Stage
  2. Sun Jun 23 at 3pm
JG Thirlwell

JG Thirlwell + Pauline Oliveros + Susie Ibarra and Roberto Rodriguez

This smashing triple bill assembled by the New York Electronic Art Festival, River to River, Pace University and Harvestworks brings together digitally adept innovators: industrial veteran JG Thirlwell, who leads his Manorexia ensemble; space-age accordionist and Deep Listening doyenne Pauline Oliveros; and the pan-stylistic groove duo of percussionists Susie Ibarra and Roberto Rodriguez. 212-346-1715, rivertorivernyc.com. Free.

  1. Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University
  2. Sun Jun 23 at 7:30pm
Angélique Kidjo

Angélique Kidjo

  • Free

This scintillating African diva, born in Benin and based in the Big Apple, has a voice as big as the sky and a heart twice that large, to judge by her good works on behalf of various charitable causes. Anticipate hearing songs from her most recent studio set, Oyo, and don’t expect to sit still for long. 212-219-9401, rivertorivernyc.com. Free.

  1. Nelson A. Rockefeller Park, Battery Park
  2. Tue Jun 25 at 7pm
Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter 80th Birthday Celebration

Mysterious jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter kicks off his birthday party with his usual crew: Danilo Pérez on piano, John Patitucci on bass and Brian Blade on drums. The 12-year-old quartet released a solid album, Without a Net, earlier this year. Also at the Town Hall on this night will be a trio headed by singer-bassist Esperanza Spalding and a quintet co-led by trumpeter Dave Douglas and saxophonist Joe Lovano. 212-840-2824, the-townhall-nyc.org. $47–$152.

  1. The Town Hall
  2. Fri Jun 28 at 8pm
La Excelencia

La Excelencia

  • Free

Formed in 2005 by conga player Jose Vazquez-Cofresi, this Bronx-based band is known for playing salsa dura, a tougher form of the genre. The politically charged orchestra’s alfresco show falls between a European tour and a gig in Yonkers. 212-219-9401, rivertorivernyc.com. Free.

  1. Nelson A. Rockefeller Park, Battery Park
  2. Tue Jul 9 at 7pm
Tego Calderon

Tego Calderon

  • Free

In addition to his own albums, Puerto Rico–born MC and reggaetón representative Tego Calderón can been heard on remixes of songs from Usher and Fat Joe. But his talents aren’t limited to music: Calderón has acted in films like Fast Five and Illegal Tender. Crotona Park, enter at Crotona Park East and Claremont Pkwy, Bronx. July 9 at 7pm • SummerStage Main Stage. July 10 at 7pm • summerstage.org; Free

  1. Locations vary
  2. Dates and times vary
Los Lobos

Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival

  • Free

Now in its third year, the Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival sets up in Brookfield Place Plaza for an electrifying two-night stand. Topping the first night’s bill is none other than legendary guitarist and vocalist B.B. King; closing out night two is the veteran California rock band Los Lobos, whose 1992 album, Kiko, is as classic as it gets. brookfieldplaceny.com/blues. Free.

  1. Brookfield Place Plaza
  2. Wed Jul 10, Thu Jul 11; 6–9:30pm
Slavic Soul Party

Brasslands

  • Free

The latest documentary from the award-winning Meerkat Media Collective follows the New York–based Balkan brass band Zlatne Uste as it travels to the biggest trumpet contest in the world, in Serbia. In addition to a screening of that film, Zlatne Uste and other Balkan brass groups (Slavic Soul Party!, Inspector Gadje, Raya Brass Band) are set to perform. rivertorivernyc.com. Free.

  1. Brookfield Place Plaza
  2. Sat Jul 13; 6–10pm
Shirley Caesar

WLIB 6th Annual Gospel Explosion

  • Free

Local gospel radio station WLIB brings a spirited afternoon of tunes to Central Park for this yearly celebration. The biggest draw is vocalist and double-digit-Grammy winner Shirley Caesar, who got her start with the legendary Caravans in the ’60s. Ricky Dillard, James Fortune and Donald Lawrence round out the bill. summerstage.org. Free.

  1. SummerStage Main Stage
  2. Sat Aug 3 at 3pm


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TONY Summer Concerts 2013 playlist