Summer concerts in NYC: Jazz, blues and world-music shows

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Jimmy Cliff

  • Critics choice
  • Free

This reggae legend sang memorably of “many rivers to cross” on his landmark soundtrack for The Harder They Come, but most New Yorkers will have but one bridge or tunnel to traverse to reach this opening-night splash for Celebrate Brooklyn! Given that 2012 also brings the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence (and the 40th of The Harder They Come), you can count on spirits being especially high.

  1. Celebrate Brooklyn! (at the Prospect Park Bandshell) Prospect Park West, at 9th St
  2. Tue Jun 10
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Vision Festival 17

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

NYC’s heaviest free-jazz hang gets a face-lift for 2012, resettling in Kings County and culminating in a can’t-miss, two-night sequence. On June 12, local label AUM Fidelity celebrates 15 years of excellence with performances by Farmers by Nature, Darius Jones and William Parker. The spotlight shifts on June 13 to veteran improv titan Joe McPhee, this year’s Lifetime Achievement honoree.

  1. Roulette 509 Atlantic Ave, between Third Ave and Nevins St, 11217
  2. Mon Jun 11 - Sun Jun 17
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Marc Ribot Trio

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Marc Ribot isn’t exactly lacking in the big-name friends department, having worked with stars like Tom Waits, McCoy Tyner and Robert Plant over the course of a lengthy, eclectic career. But we’re sure the local six-string marvel is still plenty proud to be bringing his working trio with bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Chad Taylor to jazz temple the Village Vanguard for Mark’s debut run as band leader. The band knows its Albert Ayler cold, but expect a mix of improv, blues and originals in the set lists as well.

Enter to win two tickets: June 26 | June 27 | June 28

  1. Village Vanguard 178 Seventh Ave South, at 11th St
  2. Tue Jun 26 - Sun Jul 1
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Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Just as you’d expect, there will be blues legends galore at the second annual free Hudson Blues fest (try Buddy Guy and John Mayall, for starters). But we’re thrilled to see fearless, fiery alt-country heroine Neko Case top the schedule this year, along with Brooklyn R&B survivor Charles Bradley.

Enter to win two VIP passes: July 11 | July 12

  1. World Financial Center Plaza 220 Vesey St, at West St
  2. Wed Jul 11 - Thu Jul 12
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Orchestre Poly-Rythmo

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  • Free

More than just free concerts in the great outdoors, these two appearances by Benin’s funky dance orchestra might also be considered anatomy lessons or aerobic workouts: You’ll discover parts of your own body you might never have suspected were there, and you’ll give them a good, solid workout when this combo sinks into its patented grooves.

Enter to win two express entry tickets.

  1. SummerStage Mainstage Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, enter at Fifth Ave and 72nd St
  2. Thu Jul 19 - Sun Jul 22
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Johnny Colon and His Orchestra + DJ Turmix

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Latin boogaloo and salsa legend Johnny Colon, a proud native New Yorker, takes the stage for an appearance during Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing series. DJ Turmix spins between sets; turn up early to get schooled in some fancy footwork.

Enter to win two tickets.

  1. Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center W 62nd St, between Columbus and Amsterdam Aves
  2. Sat Jul 26
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Brasil Summerfest 2012

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  • Free

A gratis daytime dance party with Brazilian star Bebel Gilberto? Yep, this is why you live in New York City. Such lush, green surroundings should suit the hip songstress’s sleek, breezy bossa nova stylings perfectly.

Enter to win two express entry tickets.

  1. SummerStage Mainstage Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, enter at Fifth Ave and 72nd St
  2. Until Sat Jul 20
More info

Amadou & Mariam + Theophilus London + Just A Band

  • Critics choice
  • Free

The self-described blind couple from Mali goes from strength to strength on new album Folila (“music” in Bambara), a double disc that features contributions from TV on the Radio, Jake Shears, Santigold and Nick Zinner. And yes, the thought just occurred to us, too—those are all New York musicians, this show’s in New York.... We’re crossing our fingers for guest spots. Collaborator and buddy Theophilus London opens.

Enter to win two express entry tickets.

  1. SummerStage Mainstage Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, enter at Fifth Ave and 72nd St
  2. Sat Aug 9
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Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary of Independence

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Liven yourself up for a day of island pride, irie grooves and rock-steady sounds from some of Jamaica’s most storied reggae acts, including Inner Circle, Israel Vibration and the Mighty Diamonds.

Enter to win two express entry tickets.

  1. SummerStage Mainstage Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, enter at Fifth Ave and 72nd St
  2. Sun Aug 24
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Charlie Parker Jazz Festival

  • Critics choice
  • Free

Notching its 20th season this year, the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival tacks an extra night onto its usual two-day festivities. Revive Music Group gets things rolling with the world premiere of Miguel Atwood-Ferguson’s performance of “Bird with Strings” on August 24 at Marcus Garvey Park. Roy Haynes and René Marie headline there on August 25, and on August 26, the action shifts to the East Village for Ernestine Anderson, Gregory Porter and more.

  1. Tompkins Square Park Ave A, between 7th and 10th Sts
  2. Until Sun Aug 26
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