I t’s New Haven’s 375th birthday this week, and the soundtrack is jazz. The week offers such stellar practitioners of the artform as Willie Ruff (speaking about the links between line-singing in Europe and the U.S.), saxophonist Wayne Escoffery (pictured above) and the free-jazz outfit Slobber Pup. Other musical enticements range from century-old Viennese ditties to the glowing pop of Richard Barone, from symphonic ballet accompaniment to the working-class indie rock of Titus Andronicus.
Monday, April 22
Willie Ruff, the legendary Yale music professor and jazz player, has created a documentary inspired by his years of exploring how the ancient art of “line-singing” traveled from Europe to the Southern United States. The 30-minute doc, A Conjoining of Ancient Song, will be screened for free tonight at 7 p.m. in Battell Chapel (corner of College and Elm streets, New Haven). A discussion with Ruff, sociologist Kai Erikson and Dr. Gretchen Berland follows. The event is sponsored by the Yale Institute of Sacred Music (203-432-5062).
Tuesday, April 23
Richard Lalli’s Yale “Performance of Vocal Music Seminar” students sing selections by Wolf, Strauss and Mahler at “Fin de Siecle, Songs of Vienna, 1880-1910” 4:30 p.m. at the Whitney Humanities Center (53 Wall St., New Haven).
Julius Caesar rules Southern Connecticut State University. SCSU’s student drama troupe Crescent Players performs Shakespeare’s play tonight through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday the 28th at 5 p.m. Kendall Drama Lab at Lyman Center for the Performing Arts (501 Crescent Street, New Haven; 203-392-6154). $10, $5 students and SCSU staff.
Slobber Pup is an experimental jazz outfit featuring Joe Morris and Jamie Saft. Bassist Morris is based in Connecticut, where he’s worked and toured with the likes of Anthony Braxton and Matthew Shipp. Slobber Pup and opening act Subfloor lubricate Cafe Nine (250 State Street, New Haven; 203-789-8281) tonight starting at 8 p.m. $10.
Wednesday, April 24
April 24 is the actual date on which the city of New Haven was settled by Puritans in 1638. Celebratory events are happening Saturday on the Green, but take a moment today to wish the city a happy 375th birthday.
Extending that concept of civic duty out to the suburbs, there’s an intriguing gig at The Outer Space in Hamden today. It’s Hamden’s Mayor Scott D. Jackson holding a special “Mayor’s Office for a Day” event at the club from 2-5 p.m. Jackson will be on hand to discuss issues facing the town, and, as he always does at these events, will “conduct regular town business while he is on site.” If we could move our office anywhere, we’d probably choose a rock club too. Admission is free. 295 Treadwell Street, Hamden. (203) 288-6400.
At night, back in New Haven, Yvette Mattern’s new public artwork Night Rainbow/Global Rainbow New Haven, erected atop East Rock Park and presented by Site Projects, is having its laser lights switched on at dusk, illuminating the night sky for miles around and tying in to the city’s birthday celebration. (Think of it as a bunch of candles you don’t have to blow out). From 7 to 10 p.m. on the penthouse level of Crown Street Garage (use the College Street entrance), there’s a special $150 opening night gala with wine tastings, h’ors d’ouevres, “cool giveaways” and dancing. “Cocktail or rainbow attire” requested; find more details and purchase gala tickets here.
Night Rainbow will be switched on nightly from dusk to 1 a.m. through Saturday, April 27.
Thursday, April 25
Entertainment Weekly recently ran a list of the best “big-screen gems based on classic 20th-century novels.” Number two on that list is the 1992 film version of E.M. Forster’s novel Howards End. EW deems it “a career best for James Ivory and Ismail Merchant, the duo who practically filmed an entire library of Penguin Classics.” Howards End shows for free at 7 p.m. tonight on the big screen at the Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall Street, New Haven. (203) 432-0670.
Richard Barone was the frontman for The Bongos, a New York New Wave combo that had a percussion-heavy hit with “In the Congo.” He mellowed intriguingly with the album cool blue halo, which marked its 25th anniversary this year with a live concert and CD. Barone’s also got a brand new disc out, Glow. He’s doing an intimate show tonight at Cafe Nine (250 State St., New Haven; 203-789-8281). The Mendition of the Quay opens the 8 p.m. show.
Friday, April 26
Wayne Escoffery cut his jazz teeth as a young man studying at New Haven’s Educational Center for the Arts and Hartford’s The Artists Collective and the Hartt School. For years, Escoffery’s combo played weekly at Rudy’s Bar & Grill in New Haven. Now he’s a New York-based sax sensation, having recorded half a dozen albums (including the new The Only Son of One) and playing with the Mingus Big Band, Lonnie Plaxico Group and others. Escoffery’s quintet does two sets tonight (8:30 for $18 and 10:00 for $12) at Firehouse 12, 45 Crown Street, New Haven. (203) 785-0468.
Saturday, April 27
It’s New Haven Day! The City’s Department of Arts, Culture & Tourism has arranged an afternoon full of celebratory events on New Haven Green from 1-4 p.m. Performers include the Elm City Dance Collective, St. Michael’s Ukrainian Ridna Skhola, Esther Golton, Music Haven, INTAKE Ensemble, Generacion Latina Virgen del Cisne, Kristen Graves, the Classical Contemporary Ballet Theatre, Kenneth Revelz, the Lancraft Fife and Drum Corps and student performers from New Haven Public Schools. There will also be a ceremonial replanting of the “Lincoln Tree” on the Green, addresses by Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, film screenings, offerings from Long Wharf Theatre and Alisa’s House of Salsa, horse & carriage rides, a Schooner Inc. Teach Tank and lots of activities for kids. Sounds like New Haven to us.
New Haven Ballet holds its annual spring dance performance today at noon and 3 p.m. on one of the most danceable stages in town, the Shubert (254 College Street, New Haven; 203-562-5666). $17, $12 children.
Sunday, April 28
New Haven witnessed the rise of New Jersey indie rock titans Titus Andronicus when they played memorable shows at Toad’s Place’s Lilly’s Pad. Tonight, the band brings its tough misfit anthems to The Space (295 Treadwell St., Hamden; 203-288-6400). The So So Glos and Chris Cappello and his band are also on the bill, which starts at 7 p.m. $15.
Written by Christopher Arnott.