September 2019: The Best in Jazz Across the Board

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Can’t-miss festivals, must-have albums, sounds both old and new. Here is the list of the top highlights in jazz for your enjoyment, with expert commentary.

‘The South African Songbook’

Sept. 12-14, Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center.

Led by Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra opens its new season ‘The South African Songbook’ in the Rose Theater by celebrating democracy with its 25 years of majority rule in South Africa. During three days, the celebration will bring the sound and spirit of Freedom Day with guest musicians such as Feya Faku on trumpet; Nduduzo Makhathini and Thandi Ntuli on piano, and McCoy Mrubata on saxophone. In addition, three guest singers include Nonhlanhla Kheswa, Vuyo Sotashe, and Melanie Scholtz. At Dizzy’s Club, Bokani Dyer and Hilton Schilder will embody two generations of South African jazz piano.

Gordon Grdina

Sept. 13, Songlines. (Nate Chinen)

An oud player and adventurous guitarist based in Vancouver, Gordon Grdina has received due recognition up north as although this year, he won the Juno Award for Instrumental Album of the Year, he’s a less familiar presence stateside. On Cooper’s Park, Gordon Grdina  tears through a batch of snarling, smart new tunes with some adopted New Yorkers such as multi-reedist Oscar Noriega, drummer Satoshi Takeishi, and pianist Russ Lossing.

Ahmad Jamal

Sept. 13, JazzVillage. (Rob Crocker)

Just more than 60 years ago, Ahmad Jamal was released by Argo at the Pershing: But Not For Me. From that, this talented pianist has never failed to push the line with eloquence. His latest, named Ballades, is more than satisfying. Other than the 3 tracks including bassist James Cammack, all of the chords, colors, and sense of fullness come from Jamal himself.

Reid Anderson, Craig Taborn, Dave King

Sept. 20, Intakt. (Chinen)

Building on a friendship back to their early teens, bassist Reid Anderson, keyboardist Craig Taborn, and drummer Dave King fashion their slippery version of electropop on Golden Valley is Now. Volatile around the edges but well furnished with hooks, it’s an album that should appeal not only to fans of Hot Chip and Prins Thomas but also admirers of Taborn’s classic Junk Magic.