There’s a commonly held belief here in New York City that January is, well, kind of lame. The holidays are over, it’s cold, and there’s nothing to do. Mostly, though, it’s just downright cold. Yet, surprisingly enough, when it comes to music, there’s more going on than one might expect. In less than two weeks, jazz and world music artists will invade Manhattan for 2013's installments of Winter Jazzfest and globalFest.
Winter Jazzfest, which runs Jan. 11-12 at West Village music clubs like (le) Poisson Rouge, Zinc Bar, and The Bitter End, plays host to a jam-packed lineup.
"I kind of look at it as what CMJ would ideally be, but if jazz were equivalent of that," explains Hank Shteamer, senior associate music editor for Time Out New York.
This year's festival offers a diverse musical menu to choose from. In addition to more traditional jazz artists like The Cookers, who play (le) Poisson Rouge at 8:30 on Saturday night, the lineup highlights younger and more surprising bands.
Colin Stetson, the genre-busting saxophonist, has collaborated with indie giants Arcade Fire and Bon Iver. "His solo saxophone music -- it's not something that you would really call jazz," says Shteamer. Instead, Stetson -- who will be featured at The Bitter End on Saturday -- utilizes circular breathing and other experimental techniques to create layered saxophone compositions.
Shteamer also suggests checking out guitarist Rafiq Bhatia, who plays a few hours after Stetson at the same venue. Bhatia emerges from a more traditional jazz background, but his songs are built around electronic, groove-based, and even psychedelic influences.
If you aren't completely exhausted after a late Saturday night, Sunday's globalFest is another sonic treat worth indulging in. The WNYC-sponsored event will take place at Webster Hall, where its twelve artists will perform on three stages.
Two highlights include Mucca Pazza, the self-described "circus punk" band from Chicago, and Oliver Mtukudzi, the more refined folk artist from Zimbabwe. For a preview of the potential craziness of the weekend, watch Mucca Pazza's office ambush below.