Greet the New Year with Chris Potter's Circuits Trio, Regina Carter, Carlos Henriquez and More

Dec 29, 2019

New Year’s Eve is always a bonanza in New York jazz clubs.

So in this final Take Five of 2019, we’re spotlighting some of the best bookings in town. Those engagements may be sold out by now, but it never hurts to check — and some of these gigs stretch through the end of the week. Then there’s always the music itself, which you can sample here, and purchase for your enjoyment in 2020. Happy New Year! 

Chris Potter’s Circuits Trio, The Village Vanguard

Chris Potter, the heroic post-bop saxophonist, released two fine albums on Edition Records in 2019. Good Hope is the debut studio album by Crosscurrents Trio, a supergroup with bassist Dave Holland and tabla master Zakir Hussain. Circuits, released back in February, features a different brand of all-star trio, with keyboardist James Francies and drummer Eric Harland. It’s a turbocharged groove album, suggesting the next step after Potter’s Underground band. But because of Francies’ unique skill set, it had its own identity from the jump.

Circuits Trio performs at The Village Vanguard; sold out on Dec. 31.

Regina Carter Quintet, Jazz Standard

Regina Carter, the irrepressible violinist, Doris Duke awardee and MacArthur fellow, will spend New Year’s Eve at the Jazz Standard — leading a quintet with Nat Adderley Jr. on piano, Chris Lightcap on bass and Alvester Garnett on drums. Also in the lineup is Carla Cook, whose deep vocal aplomb can be heard on this version “Undecided,” from Carter’s 2017 album Ella: Accentuate the Positive (OKeh).

The Regina Carter Quintet performs at Jazz Standard.

Carlos Henriquez Nonet, Dizzy's Club

Best known as the bassist in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Carlos Henriquez has steadily raised his profile in recent seasons. Last year he released his debut studio release, The Bronx Pyramid, on Blue Engine Records; it was soon followed by a live album, Dizzy Con Clave: Live From Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, on RodBros Music. It features an octet with two powerhouse trumpeters, Michael Rodriguez and Terell Stafford; tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana; trombonist Marshall Gilkes; drummer Obed Calvaire; and conguero and singer Anthony Almonte. For this week’s run, they’ll be joined by pianist Robert Rodriguez and flutist and vocalist Jeremy Bosch.

The Carlos Henriquez Nonet performs at Dizzy’s Club.

Countdown Sextet 2020, Smoke Jazz & Supper Club

The Countdown Festival has been a cherished tradition at Smoke, usually around the autumnal birthday of its inspiration, John Coltrane. Countdown Sextet 2020 features Vincent Herring on alto saxophone, Eric Alexander on tenor saxophone, Eric Reed on piano, John Webber on bass and Joe Farnsworth on drums. Dropping in from the Bay Area is a guest vocalist, Nicolas Bearde, who recently released an album in tribute to Nat King Cole (with Alexander making a few cameos). For our purposes, it made sense to feature a track Alexander and Herring recorded at Smoke, for the album Friendly Fire. The tune, “Dig Dis,” isn’t a Coltrane composition — but it’s by his contemporary Hank Mobley. Close enough!

Countdown Sextet 2020 performs at Smoke Jazz & Supper Club.

Ethan Iverson Trio + Marcy Harriell, Zinc Bar

Let’s close with a special one-off: Ethan Iverson, who logged many New Year’s Eves at The Vanguard with The Bad Plus, will be holding down different coordinates in Greenwich Village this year. Along with a piano trio featuring Corcoran Holt on bass and Vinnie Sperrazza on drums, he’ll be working with Marcy Harriell, a vocal dynamo whose expansive Broadway credits include starring roles in Rent and In the Heights. As Iverson explains at his blog, they’ll be seriously digging into the songbook of Burt Bacharach and Hal David — an excellent idea that’s sure to be carried out with style.

There’s no available recording of this experiment, so at the risk of mildly embarrassing Iverson, I found this version of Bacharach’s “The Look of Love,” from the Fresh Sound New Talent album Live at Smalls. It features a quartet jointly led by tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry, with Reid Anderson on bass and Jeff Williams on drums. The recording date is Feb. 8, 2000 — nearly two decades ago. But New Year’s Eve is always a good time for looking back as well as ahead.

The Ethan Iverson Trio + Marcy Harriell performs at Zinc Bar.