Friday – I haven’t made it to Brooklyn Rod & Gun Club in Williamsburg, or heard The Bill Murray Experience in person yet, but the inclusion of Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton in the wryly named quartet makes this an easy pic. The 21-year-old Los Angeles born phenom plays banjo, guitar, harmonica and piano with masterful precision and humor, and dresses in the style of a Mississippi bluesman of the 1920’s. Come early for the BBQ and fish fry of the day’s catch from the East River courtesy of the North Brooklyn Boat club, seriously.
Also, Faruq Z. Bey, a stalwart of the Detroit avant-garde scene, anchors the Northwood Improvisers ensemble with a soulful tone and free-minded techniques. The improvisers make a rare NYC appearance at Issue Project Room in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn.
Saturday – The phenomenally talented and perennially overlooked pianist, saxophonist, drummer, composer Peter Apfelbaum brings his ebullient ensemble The New York Hieroglyphics to the Jazz Gallery.
Sunday – A half-century of near-continual touring and recording have done little to dampen the melodic sparkle of Ahmad Jamal’s crystalline piano lines. He’ll finish his three-night run at The Blue Note tonight.
Monday – Spend Memorial Day on the sunny banks of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn sampling the best in NYC street food. The Gowanus Food Truck Festival is an annual favorite for gourmands and casual tasters, and is a great representation of NYC’s continually evolving street food culture.
When you’ve had your fill of shawarma and gelato, head across the East River to the second annual John Coltrane Interstellar Space Tribute at The Local 269 in lower Manhattan. Recreating the format of Coltrane’s inimitable late masterpiece, a series of saxophone/drum duets by modern masters will summon the spirit of Coltrane and the late, great Rashid Ali.
Tuesday – The versatile and endlessly inventive guitarist Steve Cardenas brings his trio with bassist Ben Allison and Rudy Royston to The Jazz Standard.
Wednesday – Head on over to Jalopy on the border of Carroll Gardens and Red Hook in Brooklyn for their weekly Roots and Ruckus session. The music can be spotty, but lovers of blue grass and old-timey ballads will seldom be disappointed.
Thursday – Innovative trombonist Craig Harris sits down with Loren Schoenberg for lengthy conversation in the latest edition of Harlem Speaks at the Jazz Museum in Harlem. This series is always interesting, and the audience is usually informed and insightful as well. The Jazz Museum in Harlem is a gem; visit it whenever you get a chance.