Music with deep roots comes to town in skilled hands this week, music that springs up low to the ground but then grows wings.
Versatile Boston bandleader Ryan Montbleau returns to his solo-performer roots tonight at Caffe Lena in two sold-out shows.
Rocking since 1974, Chicago’s Cheap Trick makes blunt-force hard pop that has become an arena genre all its own, returning Friday to Albany’s Palace Theatre (19 Clinton Ave.). Despite lawsuits and personnel shuffles, they joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. Drummer Daxx Nielsen, son of guitarist Rick, replaces sometime member Bun E. Carlos, joining singer Robin Zander, bassist Tom Petersson, his dad and some guest keyboardists in this always-touring band. 8 p.m. $84.75-$34.75. 518-465-4663 www.palacealbany.com. Please note, Cheap Trick is not playing at SPAC this summer on Rod Stewart’s tour.
Boston’s Johnny A. (born Antonopoulos) plays alone onstage Friday at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs), but the studio is an instrument on his multitracked solo albums. That means guitars and more guitars. The high-flying veteran of Peter Wolf’s band and the Yardbirds makes a mighty weave; like the Wood Brothers, below, spanning rock and jazz. Mr. A., as the New York Times would dub him, plays Friday at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs). 8 p.m. $22 advance, $25 door, $12.50 students and children. 518-583-0022 www.caffelena.org
Saturday, the Wood Brothers play the Palace, likely a looser, more free-flowing show than at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in 2018. The trio — Oliver Wood, guitar; Chris Wood, bass; with percussion-guitarist Jano Rix — roots its music in both bedrock blues conviction and soaring free-jazz. They started making their new (seventh) album “Kingdom In My Mind” by just jamming in their own new Nashville studio, so the music is easy but punchy. As Chris Wood explains, “The idea for this group has always been to … imagine what might happen if Robert Johnson and Charles Mingus had started a band together.” Works for me. Young Vermont soul-rocker Kat Wright opens. 8 p.m. $42.50, $35
Also Saturday, French-born Cyrille Aimee sings jazz at Caffe Lena. Stephen Holden wrote in the New York Times that Aimée blends Michael Jackson with Sarah Vaughan, noting the “saucy, curly-haired jazz singer [stood] with one foot in tradition and the other in electronics.” It’s a good sign, the mark of a confident performer, that she recorded three of her 10 albums since 2009 live onstage; she was a smash at A Place for Jazz some seasons ago. 8 p.m. $40, $45, $22.50
Another top jazz vocalist, the great Dianne Reeves, sings Sunday at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (30 Second Ave.). Born in Detroit, raised in Denver, Reeves learned interactive singing as a guest with trumpeter Clark Terry’s band, but built her career in Los Angeles and New York earning comparisons with Dinah Washington and Carmen McRae. Some of her 20-plus albums pay tribute to those giants, as does the all-standards Grammy-winning soundtrack to the film “Good Night, and Good Luck.” How did those TV newsmen depicted in the film pry themselves from the nightclub where Reeves sang to go back to work? Take note: Reeves sings at 3 p.m. $44.50, $39.50, 518-273-0028
Also Sunday, the Seamus Egan Project plays Caffe Lena. Born in Pennsylvania, a transplant to Philadelphia then New York, Egan makes music rooted in Ireland, both with his former band Solas and this new crew. He plays now with Moira Smiley, vocals; Kyle Sanna, guitar; and Owen Marshall, multiple string things. A different band than he led at Music Haven last summer, it likely reflects the same intent. I wrote here of Egan’s Music Haven show that he makes “ … sumptuous, agile string-band suites, mixing old airs, jigs and reels … ” I noted that, “Only Egan soloed, flat-picking banjo, finger- or flat-picking guitar and tootling a low whistle, all with lighter-than-air ease. The band wove tight behind, silvery bouzouki chords or single-note runs, treble guitar chiming and bass riffs that signaled turnarounds and beat shifts as clearly as Egan’s ceili-like whoops. This new-ish crew hasn’t yet reached the cohesion of Solas, but sounded fresh and vital.” A 6 p.m. interview with Egan by Kelly McCartney for the podcast/radio show “Hangin’ & Sangin’ ” precedes the 7 p.m. show. $28, $32, $16; $5 for the interview.
On Wednesday, fast-fret fireworks light up Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Ukulele genius Jake Shimabukuro returns after previous triumphs there and at The Egg. His playing on YouTube clips may be the hottest riffs imported from Hawaii since Iz Kamakawiwo’ole’s epic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Mandolinist-of-the-moment Sierra Hull, a star at Caffe Lena and WAMC’s The Linda, opens. 7:30 p.m. $37.50, $32.50
Jazz now pops up on the calendar in regular weekly or monthly series.
Tonight, the Jeff Nania Band — Nania, sax; Justin Hendricks, guitar; Brad Monkell, bass; and Dave Berger, drums — continues the Van Dyck Thursday Jazz Night series. 7 p.m. No cover; tip jar. 518-348-7999
Monday, the Joe Barna Quartet — Barna, drums, leader; Lou Smaldone, bass; Mark Kleinhaut, guitar; and Awan Jenkins, alto — plays its regular Monday night slot at Lucas Confectionary (12 Second St., Troy). 7 p.m. 518-326-3450
Tuesday, pianist Chuck Lamb leads his trio in Caffe Lena’s monthly jazz night; the Caffe presents jazz other nights, but this one is regular. A member of the Brubeck Brothers Quartet, Lamb always brings in top horn players to solo with his trio. Tuesday, trombonist John Fedchock is in the guest spot. Leader of a New York big band, Fedchock plays virtuoso-quality lines on the slide-horn wherever he goes. 7 p.m. $18, $20, $10
Another jazz series — Jazz at the Spring — reopened last Thursday with Mark Kleinhaut, guitar, and Tarik Shah, bass, at the cozy Spring Street Gallery. Every seat was filled and volunteers scrambled for more as the duo improvised on standards, mostly, along with a solid Shah original.
Jazz at the Spring has built big respect based on experimental music-making, deeply rooted in jazz tradition, unafraid to explore. This one fit that mold: They’d never performed together as a duo, so they had to listen and respond. Most songs formed from free expression, and they took turns opening the door to each tune. Kleinhaut went where the melody leads, but on his own path; while Shah’s effortless swing formed a firm floor in support until his solo came around: a launching pad and opportunity he never wasted.
“What Is This Thing Called Love” warmed them up, and us, with a looser ending than they intended, maybe. Kleinhaut later said they hadn’t worked out endings to some songs, but this only underlined the without-a-net bravery of the whole thing. “Manha de Carnival” showed Kleinhaut’s affection for Antonio Carlos Jobim, arguably his most powerful influence as he finger- or flat-picked solo lines and tapped strings or guitar body with an open hand. The romantic “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” then “How Deep is the Ocean,” more about beat then melody, offered fertile ground for freelancing. “My Romance” felt both fleet and, well, deeply romantic, a mood they held in “There Will Never Be Another You.” In this and most other songs, a melody formed from the ozone in one or the other soloist’s hands, achieving clarity and power as the partner joined in.
The second set walked the same path, ambling through “There’s No Greater Love.” In Jobim’s graceful “Once I Loved,” Kleinhaut hit the root of the chord hard, then dressed it in arpeggios with plenty of push from Shah, who really took it for a ride. Afterward, Shah said he’d been inspired by New Orleans groove-funksters the Meters’ irresistible “Sissy Strut.” Introducing his own “Sunday Hardship Blues,” Shah said the tune talked of teaching jazz phrasing and syncopation to his classical pianist brother. Kleinhaut needed no such lessons — he got it right away, and smoothly shifted through the gears, too fun for any instruction.
In their best moments, the new Kleinhaut and Shah duo’s music sang with the grace of Charlie Haden, bass; and Pat Metheny, guitar in their great duo album “Beyond the Missouri Sky” — as high a bar as there is.
Jazz at The Spring continues with the Tri-Light Trio (Teri Roiger, vocals; Joel Frahm, tenor sax; and John Menegon, bass) on Feb. 27; another trio on March 26: Hiro Honshuku, flute; Mark Kleinhaut, guitar; and Brian Melick, percussion; and wraps up April 30 with Bob Shaut and Sax Live comprising four saxophones. Capital District Jazz, Ltd. (CDJ) presents Jazz at the Spring.