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Five Prime Options For A Grooving New Year's Eve (But You'd Better Act Fast)

Henry Hayes
Courtesy of Berklee College of Music
John Scofield performing with his Uberjam band

New Year’s Eve is always an epic night for music in New York City, if you don’t mind spending a little extra (or maybe more than a little) and wading through a crowd.

Some clubs have traditions — see Chris Botti at the Blue Note, for instance — while others do their best to line up something new each year. Here are five promising options this year, across a wide range of style. Just be forewarned: some of these are sold out in advance, so if something catches your eye, don’t hesitate. Pouncing on a fleeting opportunity could be your last smart move of 2017.

The Bad Plus at The Village Vanguard

For the last several years, The Bad Plus has presided over a year-end run at the world’s most storied jazz club. This year’s edition will be more emotional than most: it’s the final week of Ethan Iverson’s tenure in the band. As we reported in April, he’ll play his final show on New Year’s Eve, before handing the piano baton over to Orrin Evans. ($200 per person includes both sets, at 9 and 11 p.m. villagevanguard.com)

Paquito D'Rivera and Carlos Henriquez at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola

Credit Jazz at Lincoln Center
Jazz at Lincoln Center
Carlos Henriquez

D’Rivera is a Cuban-born clarinetist and saxophonist, a multiple Grammy-winner and an NEA Jazz Master. Henriquez is a Bronx-born bassist, a Nuyorican, an anchor of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Together they represent two generations of vibrant Latin jazz, and their collaboration should be plenty special. ($200 per person during the 7:30 p.m. set, and $350 per person in the 11 p.m. set. jazz.org/dizzys)

Lettuce with John Scofield at Brooklyn Bowl

As jam bands go, Lettuce has long been one of the tightest and most musical. The ranks of the group are made up of top-shelf improvisers, like guitarist Eric Krasno, keyboardist Nigel Hall and drummer Adam Deitch. The featured guest here will be guitarist John Scofield, who featured Deitch in his groove-tastic Überjam band. (Advanced tickets are sold out, but a limited amount will be available at the box office at 6 p.m. on the night of the show. $60, one ticket per customer. brooklynbowl.com)

René Marie at Jazz Standard

Credit Luis Catarino
René Marie

Soul-baring and truth-telling are inextricable for singer-songwriter René Marie, who won a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album with Sound of Red in 2016. She’ll have plenty to sing about as this year draws to a close — and a great band behind her, consisting of John Chin on piano, Elias Bailey on bass and Quentin Baxter on drums. ($135 cover at 7:30 p.m. includes a three-course meal; $195 at 10:30 p.m. includes a three-course meal and complimentary champagne toast. jazzstandard.com)

Pachora at The Stone

The frenetic, rhythmically complex folk music of the Balkans provided a spark of inspiration for Pachora when it formed in the mid-1990s. Each of the band’s members — clarinetist Chris Speed, guitarist Brad Shepik, drummer Jim Black and bassist Chris Tordini (standing in for Skúli Sverrisson) — has since distinguished himself in other settings. Their reunion here holds much jubilant promise. And prior to the band’s set, at 11 p.m., John Zorn will lead one of his all-improv benefits for The Stone, featuring the members of Pachora along with Peter Evans on trumpet, Ikue Mori on electronics, Okkyung Lee on cello and others. ($30 for Improv Benefit at 8:30 p.m.; $40 for Pachora at 11 p.m. thestonenyc.com

A veteran jazz critic and award-winning author, and a regular contributor to NPR Music.