12 Pop, Rock and Jazz Concerts to Check Out in N.Y.C. This Weekend

Our guide to pop and rock shows and the best of live jazz happening this weekend and in the week ahead.

Pop & Rock

BORIS at Elsewhere (Sept. 10, 8 p.m.). A few years ago, after performing their blend of metal, noise and rock music for a quarter-century, this Japanese group was ready to call it quits. Instead, invigorated by an anniversary tour for “Pink,” their most celebrated album, they turned their planned farewell album, “Dear,” into a love letter to their fans. Come October, they’ll continue to postpone retirement by reissuing two old records and releasing a new one, “LφVE & EVφL,” on Jack White’s Third Man Records. In the meantime, Boris are touring North America alongside the Brooklyn-based industrial duo Uniform.

MAREN MORRIS at Radio City Music Hall (Sept. 6, 7 p.m.). In 2016, this Nashville upstart gained ground on the country charts with “My Church,” a blissed-out ode to the open road and the car radio. And when Morris sang the powerhouse hook on Zedd’s “The Middle” last year, her gritty vocals became widely recognized outside the country community. Morris’s time in the Top 40 spotlight seems to have influenced her recent album, “Girl,” which draws from pop, rock and R&B, as well as from her country roots. After selling out shows at Brooklyn Steel and Terminal 5 in the spring, Morris returns on Friday to play one of the city’s most esteemed stages.
212-465-6000, radiocity.com

JOANNA NEWSOM at El Museo del Barrio (Sept. 9-15, 9 p.m.). This indie singer and harpist has many devotees, but few casual fans. For one thing, her music, which she has long withheld from Spotify, is relatively hard to come by in this age of frictionless streaming access. For another, she writes dense, literary lyrics that ask for more than passive participation. Newsom has been fairly quiet since 2015, when she released her last album, “Divers,” a set of diverse and sometimes challenging songs including “Sapokanikan,” which examines Manhattan’s history of violence against Native Americans. On Monday, her first tour in three years will arrive in New York, where she will play seven straight nights at this East Harlem museum.

T-REXTASY at Baby’s All Right (Sept. 9, 6:30 p.m.). This New York-based quartet started playing together during their final year of high school — a time that still provides ample inspiration for their music, a brew of jangle pop that combines a Shangri-Las sound with a riot grrrl ethos. On “The Zit Song,” the opener of their latest album, the lead singer Lyris Faron laments the double whammy of hormonal acne and social isolation; on “Tattoo!” she relays a nightmarish vision of her homeroom teacher inking her up. Some may find their music to be twee, but the group resists the notion that they are a novelty act. Either way, their performance in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, promises high-energy enjoyment.
718-599-5800, babysallright.com

[Read about the events that our other critics have chosen for the week ahead.]

TYLER, THE CREATOR at Madison Square Garden (Sept. 12, 7 p.m.). Once an unfettered antagonist, this California-based rapper, born Tyler Okonma, has found his way to a more inclusive worldview. As the ringleader of the Odd Future collective, Okonma drew criticism for lyrics tinged with misogynistic violence and homophobia; he was even banned from New Zealand for being a “potential threat to public order.” But Okonma’s 2017 album, “Flower Boy,” marked a shift in tone; he rapped in favor of self-expression (“Tell these black kids they could be who they are”) and seemed to allude to his own queerness, a theme that persists on “Igor,” released in May. Early next year, Okonma will perform in New Zealand, which lifted its ban just last month.
212-465-6000, msg.com

YAEJI PRESENTS: ELANCIA at the 1896 (Sept. 6, 10 p.m.). When the Korean-American D.J., producer and singer Kathy Yaeji Lee was starting out as a musician in New York, she cultivated a creative community by hosting weekly gatherings at which she served curry and her guests shared new music. Though her audience has grown significantly over the past two years, her commitment to fellowship remains. At this converted industrial space in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Yaeji will host a curated lineup of D.J.s who double as community builders, organizing events to lift up fellow musicians. Performers will include Soul Summit, the collective known for Sunday sessions in Fort Greene Park, and Papi Juice, the quartet who organize monthly parties celebrating queer and trans people of color.


MONTY ALEXANDER at the Blue Note (through Sept. 8, 8 and 10:30 p.m.). The new album from this Jamaican-born piano eminence is “Wareika Hill: Rastamonk Vibrations,” a collection of classic Thelonious Monk tunes, all recast through a series of rhythmic and dynamic alterations rooted in dub and reggae. Alexander celebrates the record’s release through Sunday with members of the band featured on the album: Wayne Escoffery on tenor saxophone, Andy Bassford on guitar, J. J. Shakur on acoustic bass, Leon Duncan on electric bass, Jason Brown on drums and Karl Wright on drums and percussion.
212-475-8592, bluenote.net

ETIENNE CHARLES BIG BAND at Dizzy’s Club (Sept. 7-8, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.). Charles was reared in the musical traditions of his native Trinidad, where he internalized the rhythms, melodies and performance practices of calypso before he was a teenager. Moving to the United States for college, he learned the fundamentals of jazz, then set about combining the languages in a way that felt unforced and organic. He has recently made big strides in this regard, particularly on “Carnival: The Sound of a People, Vol. 1,” an impressive album released this year. Charles — who is also a member of the prestigious SFJazz Collective — has also been working recently with a big band, applying his hybrid musical identity to a classic jazz format. These shows mark that ensemble’s debut on Dizzy’s stage.
212-258-9595, jazz.org/dizzys

JIMMY COBB QUARTET at Smoke (Sept. 5-8, 7 and 9 p.m.). In the newly released documentary “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool,” Cobb remembers the simple directions that Davis gave him when they recorded the classic album “Kind of Blue”: “Just swing,” Davis said. It was the right advice; Cobb’s firmly anchored swing feel gave the spare melodies and wandering improvisations of Davis’s sextet a sense of power and assurance, helping make “Kind of Blue” the most popular album in jazz history. Cobb is 90 now, but he retains his effortlessly persuasive touch, as shown on his new record, “This I Dig of You,” out last month on Smoke Sessions. He celebrates its release this weekend at the club affiliated with the label, alongside the personnel from the recording: Peter Bernstein on guitar, Harold Mabern on piano and John Webber on bass.
212-864-6662, smokejazz.com

BILLY LESTER at Jazz Standard (Sept. 6, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m.). For over 40 years, this quietly distinctive pianist has lived and taught in Yonkers, N.Y., while hardly ever venturing into the city to perform. In that time, Lester (who studied in the 1960s with Sal Mosca, an acolyte of the influential improviser and composer Lennie Tristano) has refined a melody-driven style that he uses to disassemble and reinvent tunes from jazz’s standard repertoire. The boutique label Newvelle Records recently released a disarming new album, “From Scratch,” meant as a belated public introduction to Lester’s talents. Newvelle’s artists — most of them far better known than Lester — have been performing all week at Jazz Standard; the big show to catch is this one, Lester’s first in Manhattan in a dozen years, featuring the heavyweight rhythm section from the album: the bassist Rufus Reid and the drummer Matt Wilson.
212-576-2232, jazzstandard.com

‘THE MUSIC OF SONNY ROLLINS’ at the 75 Club (Sept. 6-7, 8 and 10 p.m.). In the 1950s and ’60s, Rollins’s lyrical, buoyant playing established him as one of the most respected tenor saxophonists in jazz history. By now he has retired from performing, but this weekend a number of his acolytes will convene to celebrate his work at the 75 Club, a speakeasy-style room in an elegant Tribeca townhouse. A septet will play each night; on Sunday the tenor saxophonist and National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master George Coleman will appear as a special guest.

RAJNA SWAMINATHAN at Roulette (Sept. 12, 8 p.m.). A young virtuoso on the mridangam — a two-headed drum used in South Indian classical music — Swaminathan writes and performs works that subtly expand on the Carnatic tradition. Her band Rajas is full of young contemporary-jazz musicians, but their sound is unlike any other on the scene today. The group released a well-received debut, “Of Agency and Abstraction,” this year, and at Roulette a five-person iteration (with María Grand on tenor saxophone, Miles Okazaki on guitar, Stephan Crump on bass and Utsav Lal on piano) will play music from the album, as well as some of Swaminathan’s newer compositions.
917-267-0368, roulette.org

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