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2017 NYC Winter Jazzfest is this weekend, here’s who you should check out

The new year is among us! Happy 2017 everybody, and may your year be full of joy.

As most people get back to reality following the holiday season, jazz fans in NYC get an extra week of celebration, as the New York City Winter Jazzfest takes place starting on Thursday, with a concert by Shabaka & the Ancestors along with Pharoah Sanders and Shabaka & the Ancestors. The bill pairs together a couple of great tenor saxophone players who play in the realm of spiritual jazz. The legendary Pharoah is still putting on killer shows, as we learned last year, and Shabaka is a new-coming torchbearer.

The festival heats up on Friday and Saturday night with the marathon nights, featuring stellar programming in lots of venues around downtown Manhattan. The nights boast, “more than 130 groups will perform over the two nights, featuring over 600 musicians.” Each venue will host a different vibe, and it’s one of those nights where it sort of sucks to only be able to be in one place at one time. With that said, a carefully picked schedule can help to maximize what you see, so here’s more or less what we’d rather not miss during Friday…

New School 12th Street Auditorium

10:40pm David Murray & Class Struggle featuring Mingus Murray 12:00am William Parker, Cooper Moore, Hamid Drake, Rob Brown Quartet

New School Glass Box Theater

8:00pm Nate Smith + Kinfolk 9:20pm Tigue

(Le) Poisson Rouge

6:20pm Daymé Arocena 7:40pm Dave Douglas & High Risk with Shigeto 9:00pm Donny McCaslin Group


8:20pm Butcher Brown 11:00pm Steven Bernstein’s Universal Melody Brass Band

Subculture 11:20pm Kneebody

Bowery Ballroom (Revive Music stage)

12:20am Chris Dave & The Drumhedz

The Bitter End

6:40pm Wild Cotton featuring Imani Uzuri and Marcus Gilmore 10:40pm Nir Felder 12:00am Big Yuki

Bowery Electric

11:00pm SFD (Colin Stetson, Greg Fox, Trevor Dunn)


2:00am Ilhan Ersahin’s Istanbul Sessions

It’d be impossible to hit all of this, but it’s an outline of what would be great to see, from my personal standpoint. With that said, definitely take a look into the full schedule to make some of the calls yourself. As for Saturday…

New School Tishman Auditorium (ECM stage 6:00pm Michael Formanek Quartet featuring Tim Berne, Craig Taborn, Gerald Cleaver 8:40pm Ravi Coltrane / David Virelles Duo 10:00pm Bill Frisell / Thomas Morgan Duo 11:20pm Nik Bärtsch’s Mobile

New School 5th Floor Theater 9:40pm Edmar Castaneda World Ensemble

New School Glass Box Theater 10:40pm Ben Allison’s Think Free

(Le) Poisson Rouge 7:40pm Shabaka & The Ancestors 9:00pm Quantic Live

Subculture 7:20pm Kris Davis Duopoly

Zinc Bar 11:40pm OUT OF RA: AfroHORN Superband 1:00am Braxton Cook

Bowery Electric 9:40pm Justin Brown NYEUSI

Nublu (Revive Music stage) (Karriem Riggins DJs between sets all night) 8:20pm CATOtheBAND 9:40pm Marcus Gilmore’s Actions Speak 11:00pm Deva Mahal

The festival continues on through next week with a Thelonious Monk 100th Birthday Improv Show at Littlefield on Sunday, Sam Amidon Extended + Andrew Cyrille Solo at LPR on Monday, and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra on Tuesday. Tickets for those and the marathon nights are available here.


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