Thankful Threesome


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Drummer Art Lillard has been swingin’ behind genuinely good-timey small groups in the least pretentious dives of Manhattan for ages to little press attention, but his full-sized Heavenly Band’s new CD, Reasons To Be Thankful, ought to change that. It’s an exceedingly pleasant album of Big Band charts Lillard wrote frothy with flutes, Latin flourishes and vocal harmonies a la the Sisters of Bellville. Despite the moniker, there’s nothing overtly religious about the ensemble or its leader—yet the Heavenly Band performs next at St. Peter’s Church on Sunday, March 19 (619 Lexington Ave. at 54th St., in the Citicorp Building; 7 p.m. $10). On Sunday, April 16, the Heavenly descends upon the harder-scrabble Nuyorican Poets Cafe (236 E. 3rd St., betw. Aves B & C; 8 p.m., $10).


Tenor and soprano saxophonist Chris Byars mounts a four-night tribute to the late, cult-revered tenor and soprano saxophonist Lucky Thompson at informal, wee-hours Smalls, March 22–25 (183 W. 10th St.). Thompson was a first generation bebop blower, blending the sighs of Lester Young with the leaps of Charlie Parker, but he retreated from public life in the ’70s and died last July in straitened circumstances. Byars, a Smalls regular, has studied Thompson’s little-known legacy of some 150 compositions complicating the blues and standard progressions; he leads four bands through distinct sheafs of his repertoire, climaxing in a Saturday night octet performance of newly discovered works. May Byars do for Thompson what the New York Composers Collective did for Herbie Nichols: save worthy music from the brink of oblivion.


The still nascent Williamsburg Jazz Festival holds its spring “event” in adjacent Greenpoint, featuring Hungarian-born drummer Ferenc Nemeth’s quartet with saxophonist Chris Speed at Club Europa, Saturday, March 11. (98-104 Meserole Ave., on the G line; 7:30 p.m. $10). On Sundays, March 12 and 19, trumpeter Jesse Selengu & Noir, a promising trip-hop quartet with keyboardist-electrician Daniel Kelly, are at Williamsburg’s Surf Bar gearing up for recording later in the month (North 6th St., betw. Bedford & Berry Aves.; 8:30 p.m., free).





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