Jazz. At the library. Dig it.
Starting on Jan. 7, the Hartford Public Library rolls out its 15th season of free, hourlong Baby Grand Jazz concerts, which take place on Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m. (there’s no concert on Easter) and tend to fill up quickly. Here’s a handy guide.
Dixieland Jazz Quartet (Jan. 7)
Sherwood, a clarinet and saxophone player, ran the Coast Guard Dixieland Band for 15 years, and his band — pianist (and fellow Coast Guard Band veteran) Ian Frenkel, bassist Bryan Rizzuto (who works at Upton Bass in Mystic) and drummer Tom Briggs — brings a quasi-military sense of precision to Dixieland standards (without sacrificing spontaneity).
Metro Jazz Band (Jan. 14)
Singer Kath Bonaccorsi and her CT-centric Metro Jazz (pianist Mark Vickers, guitarist Drew Amendola, bassist James Hunter and drummer Garry Lapidus) navigate standards from the Great American Songbook with a light, sophisticated touch.
The Matisse Project (Jan. 21)
Inspired by French painter Henri Matisse (1869-1954), pianist (and Wesleyan alum) Christopher Bakriges composed 20 impressionistic pieces that explore a wide range of characters and moods. He performs at HPL with violinist and Creative Strings Improvisers Orchestra founder Gwen Laster.
And Holographic Principle (Jan. 28)
Burrage, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based drummer and composer, wrote the song “Ubiquitous” “for the fact that the black man has been all over the globe forever, and he’ll continue to be,” he says. As performed by Holographic Principle (pianist Michal Wierba and bassist Nimrod Speaks), it’s funky and airtight, metrically ambiguous and expansive. More, please.
Sinan Bakir Duo (Feb. 4)
Some of us have been lucky enough to hear Bakir, a Hartford-area guitarist, play long, electric sets on Saturday afternoons at Wethersfield record shop Integrity N Music, backed by outstanding local players. These days, he’s interpreting the music of French jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. (Catch a preview of Bakir’s act at First Night Hartford.) At HPL, he’ll perform with pianist Tim Peck.
John Kordalewski Trio (Feb. 11)
Boston-area pianist John Kordalewski communes with Colombian bassist Carlos Pino and South African drummer Kesivan Naidoo in nimble, hard-swinging, global jazz, which sometimes includes a run through Hartford legend Horace Silver’s “The St. Vitus Dance.”
New World Ensemble, Featuring Margaux Hayes (Feb. 18)
Vocalist Margaux Hayes leads a group loaded with Connecticut talent — woodwind player and frequent collaborator Richard A. McGhee II, pianist Jonathan Chatfield, Medusa drummer Jocelyn Pleasant, and violinist Colin Benn — through a set of spiritual, diaspora-centered jazz.
Haneef Nelson (Feb. 25)
In addition to fronting the Paul Brown Legacy Band, trumpeter/composer Nelson runs the Hartford Jazz Jam on Monday nights at Black-eyed Sally’s in Hartford. He’ll perform at HPL with pianist Taber Gable, bassist Matt Dwonszyk and drummer Jonathan Barber.
Jeff Fuller & Friends (March 4)
“Shoreline Blues,” the second release from bassist/composer Fuller, pianist Darren Litzie and drummer Ben Bilello, collects Latin-esque originals (“Angola”), bebop nuggets (Charlie Parker’s “Billie’s Bounce”) and two tracks (the mashup “How High the Moon Ornithology” and Sonny Rollins’ “Oleo”) of Fuller stretching out on his own. The introspective “Finding the Path” is the album’s emotional centerpiece.
Jan Jungden Trio (March 11)
Jungden, a keyboardist, singer and multi-instrumentalist (she also performs with funk/soul/R&B band FUSE), brings her trio (bassist Bob Laramie and drummer Justin Blackburn) to HPL for a fun afternoon set.
Hot Club of New England (March 18)
Atla and Matt DeChamplain released the album “Pause” at the end of 2015. Atla then began fronting the stylish, gypsy-jazz collective Hot Club of New England with violinist Jason Anick (of The Rhythm Future Quartet), guitarist Max O’Rourke and bassist Greg Loughman. (Matt, a pianist, is now on board, too.) Check out their live take on “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).”
MX=Triodata+1 (March 25)
Multi-faceted instrumentalist, singer and educator L. Mixashawn Rozie, bassist Rick Rozie, drummer Billy Arnold and pianist Warren Byrd pour decades of collective experience into an hourlong, hometown musical happening.
Jazzkia (April 8)
More Connecticut goodness from perennial Baby Grand favorites: trumpeter/saxophonist Saskia Laroo (she sometimes performs and tinkers with effects pedals strapped around her waist), pianist Warren Byrd (Laroo’s husband), bassist Stephen Porter and drummer Jocelyn Pleasant.
Bossa Nova Project (April 15)
“Blame Destiny,” the 2015 debut by sublime Brazilian singer/pianist Isabella Mendes, was an eclectic collection of original songs. Her Bossa Nova Project, on the other hand, which now includes bassist Itaiguara Brandão, guitarist Wesley Amorim and drummer Mauricio Zottarelli, pays tribute to her musical forbears.
Trio 149 (April 22)
Working with Hartford pianist Jen Allen allows Middletown pianist/composer Noah Baerman, whose Resonance Ensemble performed his two-hour composition “The Rock and the Redemption” in Hartford’s Bushnell Park in 2015, to jump on weirdo synths and organs. And that’s a good thing. They’re joined at HPL by bassist Henry Lugo and (probably) drummer Johnathan Blake.
Steven Kroon Latin Jazz Sextet (April 29)
The HPL’s season closer features Kroon, a percussionist who spent two decades backing Luther Vandross and a veteran Hartford Jazz Festival performer, playing Latin jazz classics with pianist Igor Atalita, vibraphonist Bryan Carrott, bassist Waldo Chavez, woodwind player Craig Rivers and drummer Diego Lopez.