Jonathan Richman—Constellation, October 27-28
At seventy-one, the still ridiculously boyish singer-songwriter is enjoying another career renaissance. Much of the catalog from his time fronting seminal proto-punk band Modern Lovers is being reissued, which has triggered a reappraisal of his legacy (and even of that proto-punk label). Meanwhile, his solo career has kicked up a notch, with a slew of new music. For his stripped-down tour, he’s partnered solely with drummer Tommy Larkins (who on early dates has played two congas instead of a full drum kit), and eschews set lists, advising fans not to expect a string of hits. Instead he follows where the spirit leads him, which in Boston resulted in songs in Italian, French, Spanish and Hindi. He’s also apt to lower his guitar in mid-song and engage in some spur-of-the-moment dancing. Expect to be seriously charmed.
Tortoise—Thalia Hall, October 3
It’s been a while since Chicago multi-instrumentalists Dan Bitney, John Herndon, Doug McCombs, John McEntire and Jeff Parker have released new music, and it may be a while before they do so again. But there’s clearly still a market for the Tortoise’s adventurous, Krautrock/electronic/minimalist/yadda yadda sound, as evidenced by Thrill Jockey’s recent rerelease, on metallic gold vinyl, of the band’s long out-of-print 1995 album, “Rhythms, Resolutions & Clusters.” The reissue sold out its entire press run, which is saying something for a record that’s not only twenty-seven years old; “Rhythms, Resolutions & Clusters” is also a remix album of Tortoise’s eponymous 1994 debut. Which is a long way of saying, maybe get your tickets now for this one.
Fred Hersch Trio—Evanston SPACE, November 9
Fred Hersch is arguably the preeminent jazz pianist of the day, and a tour through his extensive discography charts his growth as both a solo performer and ensemble leader. His most recent release, “Breath by Breath,” was inspired by his experiences with meditation, and marks his first foray into third stream—the genre that fuses jazz and classical. Hersch recorded it with the Crosby Street String Quartet, and it’s an extraordinary exhalation of gorgeously crystalline music. As I write this, he’s performing in Antwerp with the Deguin String Quartet; but for his subsequent stateside gigs he’s back with his trio (bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson). It’ll be interesting to see how much of “Breath by Breath” informs these sessions; and even if the answer is not at all, it will still be worth hearing. It’s Fred Hersch.
Robert Rodi is an author, spoken-word performer and musician who has served as Newcity’s Music Editor since 2014. He’s written more than a dozen books, including the travel memoir “Seven Seasons In Siena,” and his literary and music criticism has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Salon, The Huffington Post and many other national and regional publications.