It's an extraordinary mashup, reflecting the multiplicity of approaches to organizing rhythm and harmony and timbre that define the playing field of jazz circa 2011. Everyone will have their own must-sees, and you won't be able to hear it all, but have a good time trying.
New York being what it is, there are other places to catch a host of world-class artists over this remarkable weekend of sound. At Brooklyn's Prospect Park bandshell on Friday, The Bad Plus and the Bandwagon, known for highly curated genre-tweaking, merge as a double trio, a meeting that, as one of the participants says, "could be a hit or a disaster." It's a double bill with trumpet master Roy Hargrove and his crackling quintet.
On Thursday, experimentally oriented pianist Vijay Iyer, known for coalescing intoxicating South Indian rhythms with jazz structures, introduces a new sextet at Castle Clinton in Battery Park, while on Friday, guitarist Rez Abbasi, a kindred spirit, brings an acoustic band into the Cornelia Street Cafe. Tenor master Ravi Coltrane is in residence at Birdland with his long--standing quartet, while another tenor hero, Mark Turner presents a new quartet with veteran drum shaman Paul Motian at the Village Vanguard. Representing high craft in the mainstream are iconic singer-pianist Barbara Carroll with a trio of swing masters at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola and by guitarist Peter Bernstein, most recently with Sonny Rollins, playing solo at Smalls.
On Saturday, trumpeter Shane Endsley presents a strong band, and alto saxophonist John Zorn. Then there are the singers Little Jimmy Scott, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Nancy Wilson, Roberta Flack, and Kathleen Battle. Then, too, the Afro-diasporic brilliance of Eddie Palmieri and La Perfecta, Youssou N'Dour, and Milton Nascimento.
There are no excuses.