Ten live jazz gigs to catch in early 2011

All flavors of great jazz
By JON GARELICK  |  December 29, 2010

12312010_JazzGraceKelly 
Grace Kelly & Phil Woods

Next week we'll tell you all about the tenor saxophonist Charles Lloyd, who brings his great band with Jason Moran, Reuben Rogers, and Eric Harland to the Regattabar January 21-22. In the meantime, here are 10 other primo jazz acts to catch live this winter.

CLEAR AUDIENCE | Outpost 186 | January 13 | A CD that came out in late 2008 but inexcusably languished in my stacks was In All Are an Up for It —the sweet, sweet self-released debut by Boston quartet Clear Audience. This is what you might call, depending on your inclinations, slightly-left-of-the-dial post-bop or just beautiful straight-ahead jazz. Saxophonist Andy Voelker has never sounded more ardent (especially on alto), and he makes a tight team with guitarist Steve Fell, bassist Jef Charland, and drummer Luther Gray — all stalwarts of the local scene. It's also a chance — if you haven't already — to check out the essential living-room-sized space at Outpost 186.

186 1/2 Hampshire St, Cambridge | $10 | 617.876.0860 or outpost186.com

GRACE KELLY & PHIL WOODS | Scullers | January 21 | Grumps like me have been trying to write off Brookline's Kelly (a multiple winner of the Phoenix's Best Music Poll Local Jazz category) ever since she emerged as a 13-year-old prodigy. But the testimony of any number of veterans who have taught her and played with her, the evidence on a handful of impressive albums (including one with Lee Konitz), and her numerous live shows have proven that she's the real deal. Kelly, now 18, will probably be at her best when she lines herself up with alto-sax god Woods — another legend who's taken a shine to her.

DoubleTree Guest Suites Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Road, Boston | 8 pm + 10 pm | $25 | 617.562.4111 or scullersjazz.com

FRANCISCO MELA | Regattabar | January 28 | Mela has defied the expectations of anyone who might pigeonhole him as "Cuban drummer" — a handle that conveys authority on its own. As a leader, he's proven himself with a very personal take on post-bop. And as a sideman, he's been everywhere — most visible recently as part of Joe Lovano's Us Five band. Tonight he brings his Havana Qt — with pianist Elio Villafranca, bassist Luques Curtis, and percussionist Pedro Martinez.

Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett St, Cambridge | 7:30 pm | $18 | 617.395.7757 or regattabarjazz.com

WAYNE SHORTER QUARTET | Berklee Performance Center | February 8 | At 77, Wayne Shorter is as influential and important to the ongoing health of jazz as he's ever been. His phenomenal band of pianist Danilo Pérez, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade uses Shorter's extraordinary compositions as a starting point for concert-long improvisations that are a model of what great small-group jazz can be.

136 Mass Ave, Boston | 8 pm | $46-$66 | 800.745.3000 or ticketmaster.com

LEE KONITZ & DAN TEPFER | Regattabar | February 10 | Alto saxophonist Konitz, 83, is one of the living grand masters — a link to the bebop era that he transcended with his determination not to sound like Charlie Parker. Today his improvisations are still as "modern" as anything being played. He reprises the 2009 Sunnyside CD Duos with Lee with pianist Dan Tepfer, whose own Five Pedals Deep was a standout in 2010.

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