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Boston fall music preview

Scott Haas
Boston fall music preview

A great number of musicians will be performing in venues throughout Boston this fall, making up for time lost during the pandemic. From concert halls to jazz clubs and music halls to restaurants, colleges and churches, the new season is a refresher course in musical experience that can remind you of what was lost musically when the city shut down. So many performances to choose from, but here are 10 that stand out.


Kenny Garrett plays Scullers Sept. 8. COURTESY PHOTO

For two nights only, Sept. 8 and 9, Kenny Garrett will be at Scullers, playing tunes from “Sounds From the Ancestors,” his latest album. Drawing on his Detroit upbringing, love of gospel and embrace of pan-African musical traditions, the recording won in the Outstanding Jazz Album —Instrumental category at 2022’s 53rd NAACP Image Awards. Performing with Garrett will be Rudy Bird (percussion), Corcoran Holt (acoustic bass), Keith Brown (acoustic piano), Ronald Bruner (drums), and Melvis Santa (vocals/keyboards). 

On Sept. 11, Jalen N’Gonda will be at The Sinclair in Harvard Square as part of his international tour promoting “Come Around and Love Me,” his debut album, released on  Sept. 8. The neo-soul artist, originally from Maryland and now based in Liverpool, has a voice that may call Marvin Gaye to mind, but with deep originality. On his website, he describes it this way: “To a stranger, I would say my music is soul/R&B, while trying to fit in the Beach Boys and the Beatles somewhere in between.”

Janelle Monae arrives at MGM Music Hall in Fenway on the 17th as part of her “Age of Pleasure” album tour. Released this past June, the album is a musically gender-fluid, erotic ride with a reggae, soul and hip-hop soundtrack. The power of Monae’s musical mission stems from control of her narrative.


Charles Lloyd and his New Quartet play Berklee Performance Center in October. PHOTO: D. DARR

On Oct. 6, Brazilian singer and guitarist Seu Jorge joins Daniel Jobim at John Hancock Hall for a night that will honor the musical legacy of Antonio Carlos “Tom” Jobim. Daniel is Antonio’s grandson, and his grandfather’s contribution to world music, from popularizing bossa nova to helping to create new sounds in jazz, is among the most influential in contemporary music. And Jorge has a voice that can sweep away sadness.

Legendary saxophonist and flutist Charles Lloyd will be at Berklee Performance Hall on Oct. 15 with his New Quartet, featuring Jason Moran, Eric Harland and Reuben Rogers. Lloyd has recorded not only with jazz artists Jack DeJohnette, Billy Higgins and Cannonball Adderley, among many others, but also with country music star Lucinda Williams doing Dylan’s “Masters of War” and the Beach Boys’ “All Life is One.” The evening in Boston is part of his 85th birthday tour celebration.

Gregory Groover Jr. plays the Bethel A.M.E. Church in Boston on Oct. 21. COURTESY PHOTO

Boston-based saxophonist and arranger Gregory Groover Jr. further expands musical horizons when he performs at the Bethel A.M.E. Church in Boston on Oct. 21 through the Celebrity Series of Boston. Groover’s two albums, “Negro Spiritual Songbook Volume I” and “Negro Spiritual Songbook Volume II,” link his upbringing in the church to his passionate pursuit of modern jazz.  As a musician still in his late 20s, his work demonstrates the foundation of a career with a great future.


Chelsey Green brings her quartet to Roxbury Community College in November. PHOTO: DERREL TODD

Nov. 18 finds violinist Chelsey Green and her quartet performing at Roxbury Community College as part of the Celebrity Series. Her Green Project both performs and educates: Green holds a doctoral degree from the University of Maryland College Park and conducts workshops and teaches in the strings department at Berklee College of Music . 


No one epitomizes the future of jazz more than saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin. On Dec. 1, you can see and hear what the fuss is all about when Benjamin performs at Berklee Performance Center through the Celebrity Series. That evening, she will be performing music from “Phoenix,” her latest album, with a band made up of Ivan Taylor (bass), EJ Strickland (drums) and Zaccai Curtis (piano). 

Lakecia Benjamin comes to Berklee Performance Center in Boston on Dec. 1. PHOTO: ELIZABETH LEITZELL

On Dec. 29, just eight days into winter, City Winery hosts the duo known as Kindred The Family Soul. Aja Graydon and Fatin Dantzler, partners in music and love, are neo-soul, hip-hop performers whose lyricism matches their harmonies. Uplifting and thought-provoking at the same time, their end-of-the-year performance is a perfect way to end 2023.


Don’t forget to stop by Grace by Nia, Boston’s newest, most sophisticated supper club in the Seaport District. Each week, the restaurant has live music — jazz, soul, R&B — thanks to the efforts of Adonis Martin, its musical director. It’s definitely a welcome new vibe for Boston.

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