Among the reasons for the birth of Bklyn Sounds was frustration at seeing excellent local music lacking media venues through which to find an audience that doesn't already follow them on social media. That means flag-waving artists playing shows. That also means shouting loudly about great new music those artists are releasing. Which is exactly what Bklyn Sounds will be doing periodically from now on. Support local music and the musickers who enable it.
The key insight to the musical source of Conclave’s self-titled debut comes in how you pronounce its name: “con klɑ-veɪ.”
The project helmed by vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Cesar Toribio and Scott Scribner takes as its inspiration the “clave,” a rhythmic pattern at the center of much Afro-Cuban music — and relatedly, most American rhythm music. Here, it is a pathway to contemporary Latinx-ification of New York dance culture, with Toribio building on a century of localized Afro-Caribbean influences from Machito’s 1940s Cubop and Eddie Palmieri’s boogaloo to the Nuyorican soul of jazz/house/hip-hop producers Masters at Work.
The secret sauce is the funky majesty of these catchy songs, full of Cesar’s layered keyboards and synths, Gabo Lugo’s flowing percussion, and the occasional trumpet fanfares (courtesy of Aquiles Navarro and Scott Bevins). But if there’s a star, it's Toribio’s velvety tenor. There’s something of D’Angelo in his vocal stretches, a gentle timelessness, a lived-in humanity, and when applied to intently grooving songs like “Perdon” and “Twice,” it feels like the deeply soulful balm our summer needs.
The tension at the heart of L’Rain’s Fatigue is as old as America, the one between the joy and beauty of Black artistry and the weariness that Black lives experience.
What makes the sophomore album by singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and fine artist Taja Cheek not simply a crucial 2021 work but a massive contribution to the Black music canon, is how at this moment in history when the country’s original sin is, yet again, hitting its media consciousness, she addresses that tension in a way that’s both abiding and time-specific.
Full of languid experimental pop compositions (Taja calls her blend of traditions “approaching songness”), but also jagged cuts that recall the hip-hop and collages that are the age’s lingua franca. There’s a natural eternality to how on “Find It,” for instance, Cheek dives from lush philosophical psychedelic guitar-pop with a minimalist, insistent chorus (it goes: “make a way out of no way”), into an ocean of ambient abstractness, and resurfaces the song in a Black church, where Travis Haynes delivers a sermon as the spirits of tonal freedoms invade the pews. One of the records of our collective year!
Though he’s mostly made his name as a drummer of music often described as “jazz,” Jason Nazary is one of a handful of excellent New York/Brooklyn-based composers and rhythmalists trying to make sense of the intersection of drums, electronics and free improvisation. (Most popularly, as one-half of Anteloper, his duo with trumpeter and fellow electronics maven, Jaimie Branch.)
Despite a decade-long career, Spring Collection is Nazary’s first studio album as leader. It’s his “lockdown album,” built on minimalist modular synthesizer figures and layers of oddball percussion that Nazary made at home; then punctuated by musical collaboration with fellow improvisers, including branch, Matt Mitchell and Ramon Landolt.
The result is a wonderful, at times discordant, furball of electronics and beats, always in playful conversation, sometimes funky, sometimes angry. Nazary is premiering Spring Collection with a show at IRL in Greenpoint on Thursday, June 30th. (80 Franklin Street, 7 pm, $20)
Analog Players Society + Masta Ace’s new single, “Home in America,” is one of those meetings of hip-hop and the music sometimes called “jazz,” that’s in the direct lineage of classics like Tribe Called Quest’s Low-End Theory, and Guru’s Jazzmatazz.
A timeless-sounding band (APS is a Brooklyn-based collective, here featuring Ben Rubin on keys, Donny McCaslin on tenor sax, pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Dezron Douglas, and drummer Eric McPherson) fronted by one of BK’s original MC heroes. Ace’s verses are less artsy and more op-ed variations on the fatigue at the heart of L’Rain’s LP, invoking the Black lives in the carceral state and the insurrectionists of January 6th, while pondering, “Is this democracy or hypocrisy?” It all seems pretty old-school obvious, but also, very much like home. Whether that’s comforting, is an open question.
OUR PICKS 6/25 - 7/1
Please remember to check with individual venues about their vaccination requirements and proof for attendees, and whether RSVPs are required to buy tickets at the door. (I’ve now been burned by this on a couple of occasions)
That raving is back is no headline — short of the Delta variant making a mockery of America’s re-opening, we all knew the partying was going to be massive this summer. But it pleases me to no end that not only has the Bushwick (I know some say Ridgewood) club H010, whose programming splits the difference between rhythmic hedonism, improvisational nous, and community support, survived and re-opened, but that it augmented its cavernous main room, and black box backroom, with an outdoor space that is properly wired.
Friday (6/25) they are hosting a handful of NYC and Brooklyn techno/rave legends: Adam X, Ron Morelli, DJ Speculator and LSangre. Opens early - closes late! (1090 Wyckoff Avenue, 6 pm, $17-$20)
Another one of those musical legends just going about their business quietly in Brooklyn, violinist Charlie Burnham first made his name playing electrified free jazz blues alongside the guitarist James “Blood” Ulmer. But for the longest time, he’s been a regular at the genre-free (but often very bluegrass-tinged) hootenannies at Sunny’s in Red Hook.
With the future of Sunny’s under a cloud (if anyone knows more about that situation, please holler), Burnham brings his trio (with guitarist Marvin sewell and bassist Fred Cash) to Barbes in Park Slope on Saturday (6/26). (376 9th Street, 7 pm & 9:30 pm, $25, RSVP required)
To my mind’s eye, Uncivilized is more collective than band, as their recordings and live sets seem to feature different line-ups (though always coalescing around guitarist Tom Csatari), playing everything from acoustic music, to straight-ahead jazz, to an electric rock rumba that’s jam-bandy in the best ways.
Saturday (6/26) evening they invade Red Hook’s San Pedro, a corner bar (increasingly site of great neighborhood sounds) for two sets celebrating the release of their new recording, Placebo - World. It’s a solo acoustic Csatari album, but Uncivilized will be a septet, so go figure what they’ll be up to. (320 Van Brunt Street, 8 pm, FREE)
Blank Forms is an excellent Clinton Hill arts- and music-based gallery and publisher doing some exceptional curatorial work in their Grand Street space (or wherever they can find some).
This weekend they are hosting two shows by one of my absolute favorite musicians in the world, the Chicago-based composer, multi-instrumentalist and community art-ivist, Angel Bat Dawid, who makes an all-too-rare appearance in New York. The Saturday (6/26) evening performance will take place at 468 Grand Street and is open to all Blank Forms’ paid members; Sunday’s (6/27) afternoon performance at Bed-Stuy’s Herbert Von King Park with saxophonist Adam Zanolini’s duo, is free for all with RSVP. (670 Lafayette Street, 3 pm, Free with RSVP)
While the Bushwick club Elsewhere is not yet back to hosting indoor shows, its rooftop has been banging with DJ sets pretty much since the city’s re-opening.
This weekend the rooftop is all Pride-themed, and while Saturday’s Papi Juice party is already sold-out, Sunday (6/27) afternoon features a great collection of talent gathered by the BK electronic music label, Loveless Records, including lovely house music from Donis and Jayda B. (599 Johnson Avenue, 2 pm, $20)
Mirah came out of an Olympia, Washington 1990s scene which not only gave the world the feminist punk of the Riot Grrrl movement, but quite a few strong women singer-songwriters whose independent perspectives and minimalist indie-pop sound has informed the current generation of chart-toppers and Grammy nominees.
Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn has lived in Brooklyn for about a decade, and in the middle of the pandemic, dropped the 20th-anniversary reissue of her 2000 stand-out, You Think It’s Like This But Really It’s Like This. Expect those songs to make up a large portion of her set, when she plays Bushwick’s Sultan Room on Wednesday (6/30). (234 Starr Street, 6 pm & 8:30 pm, $25)
Reminder: If you are a Brooklyn (or greater New York) artist, label or musicker organization that is releasing new music, or producing (Brooklyn) events, or just making noise that you want to spread through the community, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear it — and potentially put it on.
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