Cooling it

A wealth of winter jazz
By JON GARELICK  |  December 26, 2007

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ROCKIN’ ISABELLA: Rudresh Mahanthappa’s quartet brings jazz to the Gardner Museum.

One of the highlights of last fall’s concert season was the October “Composer Portrait” of Julius Hemphill, so it’s good news that the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, in conjunction with Berklee College of Music, is bringing back jazz as a regular part of its concert season. On February 21, saxophonist RUDRESH MAHANTHAPPA leads a quartet with his long-time musical partner, pianist Vijay Iyer, bassist François Moutin, and drummer/tabla player Dan Weiss. Mahanthappa and Iyer, Americans of Indian ancestry, have been brewing a personal jazz language drawing on their varied backgrounds. The Gardner is also bringing in local vocal quartet SYNCOPATION (April 17) and the BERKLEE BLUEGRASS BAND (June 19) — all part of the “Gardner After Hours” program on Thursday nights (280 the Fenway; 617.278.5156).

Scullers (DoubleTree Guest Suites Hotel, 200 Soldiers Field Road, Boston; 617.562.4111) has the usual mix of local and international stars: local Afro-Cuban dance band OBBINI TUMBAO (January 10); the wonderful South Shore jazz singer DONNA BYRNE (January 11); an all-too-rare local appearance by Bronx composer/trumpeter/conguero JERRY GONZALEZ and his FORT APACHE BAND (January 16); German-born, Berklee-educated guitarist/vocalist LENI STERN (January 17); blues great JAMES COTTON (January 18-19); dummer/composer Brooke Sofferman and his SOFFERMAN PERSPECTIVE (January 22); pianist BILLY CHILDS (January 23); singer-songwriter KENNY RANKIN (January 24); the ARTIE SHAW ORCHESTRA under the direction of Dick Johnson (January 30); singer HOLLY COLE (January 31); the phenomenal soul-rock singer BETTYE LAVETTE (February 7); Afro-Latin star PONCHO SANCHEZ (February 8-9); New Orleans–style singer/pianist MARCIA BALL (February 13-14); singer JANE MONHEIT (February 15-16); local cabaret kids BOBBI CARREY and WILL MCMILLAN doing a program of Academy Award–winning songs, “The Envelope, Please” (February 20); the scary-concept BEATLEJAZZ (February 21); powerhouse singer RACHELLE FARRELL (February 22-23); singer/pianist DIANE SCHUUR (February 29); pianist DONAL FOX (March 1); and contempo R&B/pop singer OLETA ADAMS (March 7-8).

The Regattabar (Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett St, Cambridge; 617.395.7757) brings in singer-songwriter/guitarist RAUL MIDÓN (January 16); the Boston-born Afro-Cuban band GONZALO GRAU Y LA CLAVE SECRETA (formerly La Timba Loca; January 18); local favorites the EITHER/ORCHESTRA doing their “Ethiojazz” with one of the creators of the genre, MULATU ASTATKE (January 24); and the SUPERPOWERS (formerly Boston Afrobeat Society; January 26). Then there’s a string of Mardi Gras-related gigs with New Orleans great DR. JOHN (February 8-9); BUCKWHEAT ZYDECO (February 13); and the Soul Queen of New Orleans, IRMA THOMAS, doing her annual Valentine’s weekend (February 14-16). After that it’s Boston-based Brazilian singer-songwriter/composer SERGIO BRANDÃO and his band MANGA-ROSA (February 29); the JOHN PATITUCCI TRIO (March 5); Great American Songbook pianist BILL CHARLAP and his trio (March 6-7); the exciting young guitarist KURT ROSENWINKEL (March 13); Colombian-born singer-songwriter MARTA GÓMEZ (March 15); avant-guitarist DAVID TORN with an all-star band featuring Tim Berne, Craig Taborn, and Tom Rainey (March 20); one of the great pianists in the history of the music, KENNY BARRON, and his trio (March 21-22); and guitarist BILL FRISELL with his 858 Quartet of violinist Jenny Scheinman, violinist Eyvind Kang, and cellist Hank Roberts (March 27-29). And mark your calendars for SHEILA JORDAN, a great jazz singer who hasn’t played Boston in longer than I can remember (April 23).

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