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Fall preview: Live jazz is back!

Scott Haas
Fall preview: Live jazz is back!

Jazz performers are returning to stages throughout Boston and Cambridge this fall to delight audiences parched for the exhilaration that live music can create. The talent is extensive, with famous and soon-to-be famous musicians taking to the stage.

You can’t go wrong by attending many of the numerous performances slated, but to make things a whole lot easier, here are seven shows that ought to top the list of anyone passionate about the power of music to heighten our moods.

Start with the youthful Samara Joy, at Scullers for one night only on Sept. 16. At the age of 22, Joy (whose full name is Samara Joy McLendon) has emerged as a major voice of her generation. Blending her personality with traditional interpretations of standards like “Stardust” and “Moonglow,” she won the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition in 2019. It’s more than old school as Joy brings to the music a voice that embodies current awareness, how she experiences life today — she’s looking back in order to look forward.

On Oct. 7, check out the Maria Schneider Orchestra at Sanders Theater in Harvard Square through the Celebrity Series of Boston. Grammy Award-winner Schneider is utterly original as a composer and a musician. ”Data Lords,” her latest double album, released in 2020, is impossible to define, but why bother? Having collaborated with David Bowie in 2014 on “Sue (or In A Season of Crime),” which appeared on his final album, her work stretches musical boundaries.

Harriet Tubman: The Band COURTESY PHOTO

Chucho Valdés comes to the Berklee Performance Center on Oct. 14. Valdés, the renowned pianist and composer and a primary force in Afro-Cuban music, will perform ”La Creación,” his latest project. Written by Valdés to celebrate his 81st birthday, the work, according to his website, “tells the history of creation according to the Regla de Ocha, the Afro-Cuban religion commonly known as Santería.”

Oct. 21 brings Brazilian vocalist, pianist and composer Eliane Elias to Scullers for three shows over two nights. Eclectic and fearless in her artistry, Elias demonstrates unusual range, with album releases that pay tribute to Bill Evans, the Bossa Nova and Broadway (“Songs from Man of La Mancha”). Her most recent album, “Mirror,” which won a Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album (2022), features duets with Chucho Valdés and the late, great Chick Corea.

A few days later, on Oct. 23, City Winery hosts Grammy Award-winning drummer Antonio Sánchez & Bad Hombre with Thana Alexa, BIGYUKI and Lex Sadler for one night. Sánchez’s latest album, “SHIFT (Bad Hombre, Vol. II),” was released in August. On his website he notes, “Social justice was at the forefront of the first Bad Hombre project released in 2017 because of the rhetoric Donald Trump had used about Mexicans … SHIFT presents a more hopeful side of the world while still touching on the fragility of our current social and political climate.”


Warren Wolf, best known for his work on vibraphone, will be at Scullers on Nov. 18. “Reincarnation” (2020) is his latest album, and on it you can hear a range of music from traditional jazz to soul. As Warren notes on his website, he is channeling his inner Barry White on the tune “In the Heat of the Night.” The same album features his arrangement of The Isley Brothers’ “For the Love of You.” 

Finally, on Dec. 3, Harriet Tubman: The Band will be at Scullers. A self-described “musical collective” founded in 1998 by guitarist and vocalist Brandon Ross, bassist Melvin Gibbs and drummer JT Lewis, the trio breaks free of so-called genres with nods to Miles Davis, the Blues, John Coltrane and Jimi Hendrix. Their latest album is “The Terror End of Beauty” (2018). As their website notes, quoting the “All About Jazz” blog, “This music will move you, although dancing to it might be risky business.”