As usual, the CMJ Music Marathon boasts big names you certainly have no nope of seeing along with tiny acts you certainly have never heard of, but before you mutter "Fuck it, I'll just go glamping upstate this weekend," here are ten shows that are certainly worth your time.
Who's more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows Jay Electronica? If you're willing to get in line absurdly early (i.e., now!) for Santos Party House's CMJ takeover, you might be able to get in the building and thus catch an ultra-rare live performance from the reclusive MC, who continues to frustrate the blogosphere by refusing to confirm a release date for his long-overdue first record. Jay Elect is scheduled to take the stage until 11:30 p.m., but thankfully the showcase is completely free with RSVP and boasts a supporting phalanx of great rising rap talent. Your host for the evening will be Hot 97's Peter Rosenberg, which, sure.
Yes, throwback blues and soul is having something of a modern revival moment, but Son Little matches heart-wrenching guitar lines, offering true novelty where most peddle nostalgia. Little anchors a songwriter-packed bill that includes New Zealand newcomer Marlon Williams and Matt Woods, whose namesake fits his sound almost perfectly. If you're looking for your CMJ date night, this is it. RSVP here.
Indie-dance darling Neon Indian returned in a big way last week with the drop of his new record Vega Intl. Night School, a record that pushes into the syrupy neo-R&B territory of Toro y Moi and How to Dress Well. But we digress—Wednesday's show will feature the premiere of a new dynamic live lighting setup that N.I. will be taking on tour throughout the fall. Stoic folk singer Hannah Cohen and starry folk singer Tamaryn open.
Modern indie legends Blonde Redhead might be the main draw here, but Failure is returning after a 17 year absence and seem poised to steal the show. Whitney, for their part, are a mellowed-out psychedelic act from Chicago that ought to have Unknown Mortal Orchestra fans swaying along in time.
BRIC JazzFest Marathon: Kris Bowers, Takuya Kruoda, Kamasi Washington, Nir Felder, Takuya Kuroda, Dessy Di Lauro’s Neo-Ragtime, Ben Williams & Sound Effect, Dawn of Midi, Brandee Younger, Donny McCaslin & DJ Rich Medina @ BRIC // 7:30 p.m. // $25
Virtuoso jazz pianist Kris Bowers is listed under the hip-hop column on CMJ's official website, which is really all you need to know about his style and influences. Nir Felder's lightning-quick guitar lines and trumpeter Takuya Kuroda's cooled-out interludes will balance out the evening, which will basically catch you up on all of modern jazz in one fell swoop.
Packing tenor saxophone genius Kamasi Washington's sprawling live show into the underground confines of LPR will be a bit like folding up a hurricane inside a fanny pack, but damn it, free jazz will find a way. Washington has been on a meteoric rise ever since the release of his triple-album debut The Epic, and collaborations with both Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus haven't hurt, either. Get in before the place fills up (it will) and see Mark Guiliana, who will surely find rhythms you never knew were possible.
A great hook is a great hook, even when it's recorded on a budget. You'll uncover plenty of indie earworms at The Deli's Living Room takeover, which will feature the Chargaux's immersive violin interludes brilliant uptempo grooves of Rhode Island songwriter Elisa Coia.
The snarling Minnesotan punk of Haley Bonar is said to have deep healing qualities, and a free 2 p.m. show should be the ideal tincture for those hungover and run-ragged by the week's bustling sonic grind.
SUNDAY (bonus round)
Technically, the festival wraps up on Saturday night, but once you've made it that far why not go the extra mile and enjoy altopalo's maelstrom blend of psychedelic jazz-punk? Crystal-clean pop vocals from Talullah Ruff will serve as your warm up. To hell with brunch—bring your mimosa money to Cameo.