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Wadada Leo Smith – 44 Years: Retrospective

Incandescent Mississippi-born trumpeter-composer Wadada Leo Smith celebrates over four decades of radical creativity with a week-long residency that’ll take shape in a dozen different group configurations and two lectures. On April 21, Smith first leads a trio with venue proprietor John Zorn (alto sax) and Smith’s longtime AACM associate George Lewis (trombone) and returns later with Bobby Naughton (vibraharp) and Dwight Andrews (reeds). The week’s other highlights include a tribute to Ornette Coleman on April 24 and the Saturday-night return of Smith’s solid Golden Quartet.

Tue., April 21, 8 & 10 p.m.; Wed., April 22, 8 & 10 p.m.; Thu., April 23, 8 & 10 p.m.; Fri., April 24, 8 & 10 p.m.; Sat., April 25, 8 & 10 p.m.; Sun., April 26, 8 & 10 p.m., 2015

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An Avant-Garde New Year’s Eve

Ring in the new year with some serious ringing as downtown impresario John Zorn kicks off 2015 with an air of experimental spontaneity at his Alphabet City black box arts space. All proceeds go directly to club maintenance, so it’s an old-fashioned rent party done with a newfangled attitude and the klezmer flair of Zorn’s Radical Jewish Culture. Co-conspirators include percussionist Lukas Ligeti (of the avant-garde Ligetis), Masada husband-and-wife duo violinist Mark Feldman and pianist Sylvie Courvoisier, electronic percussionist Ikue Mori (of Zorn’s Hemophiliac), and clarinetist Jeremiah Cymeman. Past years included a champagne toast, but play it safe and bring your own Andre Brut. 8pm, $25, East 2nd St. & Ave. C, 212-473-0043

Wed., Dec. 31, 2014

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Steve Coleman & 5 Elements

One of improvisation’s most dazzling minds, the saxophonist continues to till new soil with his latest album — the fetching interplay on Functional Arrythmias is inspired by the the sparks that fly through the human body’s circulatory, nervous, respiratory systems. The intuitive counterpoint, the sharp turns, and the deep trust of the group’s collabo vibe mark it as yet another unique turn in a fascinating career. The fact that he won recently won a MacArthur Fellowship (genius grant) makes perfect sense.

Sept. 22-28, 8 & 10 p.m., 2014

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A STONE’S THROW

Evan Parker has hit New York for shows before — Gotham will always open its doors to revered global kingpins of free improvisation — but his extended stays at the Stone featuring round-robin guest groupings of Euro and domestic superheroes is still a somewhat novel scenario that should be put in both caps and italics on any jazz fan’s calendar — you’ve gotta grab it while it’s around. The 70-year-old U.K. sax virtuoso is an icon of abstraction, sculpting an intriguing slab of the modern avant lingo for most of the past half-century. His blend of multiphonics and microtones is both arresting and inviting, and his skills at sharing ideas in group settings continue to grow more eloquent with each year. This time ’round, he’s a magnet, luring Belgian pianist Fred Van Hove and expat bassist Barre Phillips for rare Gotham visits. Encounters with Matthew Shipp, Nate Wooley, and Craig Taborn are also slated, but a foursome with John Escreet, John Hébert, and Tyshawn Sorey is ultra-fetching – their Sound, Space and Structures is one of 2014’s more gripping affairs.

Tue., Sept. 9, 8 & 10 p.m., 2014

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Hal Wilner

The left-field producer (Marianne Faithfull, William S. Burroughs, etc.) and tribute impressario (Tim Buckley, the Marquis de Sade, etc.) caps six nights here with a set devoted to comedian Allen Sherman, of “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (A Letter from Camp),” and featuring “many stars…too embarrassed to be announced.” Check out earlier sets in the week devoted to writer Terry Southern, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and Willner’s sole solo album, Whoops, I’m An Indian.

Thu., Aug. 28, 8 p.m., 2014

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Nels Cline

Don’t expect “Jesus, Etc” or “Handshake Drugs” during the Wilco guitarist’s residency this week – he has two or three other lives he wants to show you. Each involves some of the most intrepid improv maneuvers around, from pin-drop subtleties to balls-out skronk. BBC lets him rampage with fellow travelers Tim Berne and Jim Black. There will also be duos with other string players; the sets with Elliott Sharp and Mary Halvorson offer plenty of promise. But the kickoff show by the Nels Cline Singers is the must-see event. Long story short, their new Macroscope is a masterpiece of free-flowing interplay.

Aug. 5-10, 8 p.m., 2014

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GUITAR HERO

No musician straddles the crevasse between rock and free jazz with as much aplomb and credibility as guitarist Nels Cline. A linchpin of the Southern California improv milieu, Cline’s jaw-dropping solos and extraterrestrial textures have been a hallmark of Wilco’s brainy dad rock since 2004. The peripatetic pedal pusher kicks off a six-night Stone residency tonight alongside longtime collaborators Tim Berne (alto sax) and Jim Black (drums) with an early set of his own tunes and later set of improvisations. Other highlights of the week include tomorrow’s return of the Nels Cline Singers, a terrific instrumental trio; a Thursday celebration of SoCal roots featuring saxophonist Vinny Golia, with whom Nels made his 1978 recording debut; and a concluding Sunday duo set with Cline’s equally expansive guitar acolyte Mary Halvorson.

Tue., Aug. 5, 8 p.m., 2014

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Billy Martin’s Drummingbirds

Scrutinizing percussion possibilities is the Medeski, Martin & Wood drummer’s passion, and this week’s six-night residency (22-27) finds him banging around with various cohorts, including a cagey brass outfit and the Sirius strings. Somehow his collabo with Boston superhero Rakalam Bob Moses (a rare NYC sighting) and Cyro Baptista seems most alluring. Their excursions usually reveal a wealth of rhythm ideas. Hope they bounce through “Laughing Drummers in the Park, On Mars.”

July 22-27, 8 & 10 p.m., 2014

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Taylor Ho Bynum+Tomas Fujiwara

The new Through Foundation is the third album of duets by the cornetist and drummer, who first started playing together in high school. The refinements they’ve made to their creative process makes the action speak in specifics – something often lacking in free jazz duets. There’s a composed vibe to these pieces, and together with their deep rapport, it brings a cogency to the pair’s in-the-moment inventions.

Sat., July 12, 8 p.m., 2014

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Eyal Maoz’s Crazy Slavic Band

Expect bold music from the outer brasslands when this Israeli prog-jazz experimentalist kicks off his six-night, 10-act Stone residency this evening with a horn-heavy septet that includes Frank London (trumpet) and Briggin Krauss (saxophone) playing tunes inspired by contemporary Slavic composers. The early set (separate admission, kids) features X, Maoz’s vehicle for guitar-plus-string-quartet compositions.

Tue., July 15, 8 p.m., 2014