Best in their field

An early 2010 harvest
By JON GARELICK  |  December 30, 2009

NEW TRADITION: Luciana Souza brings her original bossa nova to Sanders Theatre.

The jazz scene continues to struggle — along with everyone else — through hard times. But with solo recitals from two of the music's finest pianists, and club appearances and concerts from the likes of John Scofield, Bill Frisell, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Christian Scott — things could be worse.

LUCIANA SOUZA TRIO | Sanders Theatre | January 22 | The São Paulo-born Souza — with degrees from both Berklee and New England Conservatory — is familiar to Boston audiences for her singular interpretations of the bossa nova tradition. She went on to release a beautiful series of albums on Sunnyside, including her settings of poems by Elizabeth Bishop. Tide is her second, Grammy-nominated, album for Verve, in English and Portuguese, a mix of samba classics, originals, and a couple of adaptations of poetry from e.e. cummings, in English and Portuguese. She comes to Sanders with two players from that album, guitarist Romero Lubambo and percussionist Cyro Baptista.
45 Quincy St, Cambridge | 8 pm | $36-$43 | 617.482.6661 or

BRAD MEHLDAU | Sanders Theatre | February 5 | Mehldau, 39, has combined Bill Evans's touch and lyricism with his own complex rhythms and harmonies. And his use of contemporary pop — in covers from the likes of Radiohead and Nick Drake — has put him in the forefront of a generation that's not only reshaping the jazz-standards songbook but also finding new ways of writing original jazz. Mehldau usually tours with his peerless trio (with Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard). Under the auspices of World Music/CrashArts, he gives a rare solo recital at Sanders Theatre.
45 Quincy St, Cambridge | 8 pm | $25-$35 | 617.876.4275 or

MONTEREY JAZZ FESTIVAL ON TOUR | Berklee Performance Center | February 11 | I tend to be suspicious of package tours — but this is one hell of a package. The venerable Monterey Jazz Festival is sending singer Kurt Elling, violinist Regina Carter, guitarist Russell Malone, and the great pianist Kenny Barron on the road. Any one of them is worth a show. They'll be joined by bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa and drummer Jonathan Blake.
136 Mass Ave, Boston | 8 pm | $39-49 | 617.482.6661 or

FRED HERSCH | Jordan Hall | February 17 | Pianist/composer Hersch, scheduled for a week in January at New York's Village Vanguard with bassist Drew Gress and drummer Paul Motian, gives a free solo recital at Jordan Hall — a rare opportunity to hear him in an ideal concert setting. HIV-positive for more than two decades, Hersch sank into a three-month coma a couple of years ago, but he's recovered beautifully, performing in multiple formats, spanning his wide array of interests from Brazilian and classical music to free improvisation. For this concert, New England Conservatory, where Hersch teaches, lists only "music by Hersch, Monk, Jobim, and more." That's plenty.
Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough St, Boston | 8 pm | free | 617.585.1120 or

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