Seven Picks a Week is our guide to what’s worth catching in arts, culture and activities during the week ahead, with contributions from reporters throughout the WNYC/Gothamist newsroom, and colleagues from WQXR and “All of It.”
Count down the days to the New Year with Coltrane’s music
The iconic saxophonist John Coltrane balanced a searching, spiritual approach with a big, bold sound and boundless energy: a combination ideally suited to the busy holiday season as we barrel toward the year’s end. Smoke Jazz Club offers a timely salute with “Countdown 2023: A John Coltrane Celebration,” with saxophonist Melissa Aldana (pictured above) holding the stage for three sets a night on Friday and Saturday. See here for ticket and livestream details, as well as listings for further festival dates with different artists through Jan. 8.
Keep jingling the Christmas bells with two indie-rock stalwarts
If you want to keep on celebrating Christmas even after the day’s gone by, City Winery’s got you covered with “The Aimee Mann & Ted Leo Christmas Show!” – exclamation point theirs, but we’re happy to endorse it. ‘Til Tuesday veteran Mann and Pharmacists frontman Leo have been teaming up to bring the seasonal noise since 2006, and they’ve got caroling down to a science. The shows are happening Dec. 28-30 and Jan. 1, and you can find out more here.
Commune with Bach in a magical space with amazing views
There’s a magical venue in New York just under the Brooklyn Bridge: Bargemusic floats on the East River, with spectacular views of lower Manhattan. I can’t think of a more peaceful way to spend an early Christmas Eve than listening to Bach’s sublime “Goldberg Variations” before heading to your family gathering or party. Steven Beck, often seen playing in the New York Philharmonic or ensembles around New York, is your pianist for a calming holiday treat. (Note: Very few tickets remained as of publication time; be certain to check here before you set out.)
– Ed Yim, WQXR
Help your bored kids become multimedia stars
New Ohio Theatre, at 154 Christopher St. in the West Village, is putting on a new show that’s ideal for parents with children home from school. “Inertia,” created by multidisciplinary artist Drew Petersen, enlists participants ages eight and up for a freewheeling experience involving imagination, collaboration, spontaneity and trust. Choose from sessions at 7 p.m. Dec. 27 and 28, or at 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 29 and 30. Tickets are $20, with discounts for family groups of three or more, and you can order them here.
Catch Audra McDonald on Broadway in a historic premiere
There’s a certain synchronicity that the prolific Black playwright, 91-year-old Adrienne Kennedy, is having her Broadway debut at the newly renamed James Earl Jones Theatre: Hers is the first play staged there since the new dedication. Its lead actor is Audra McDonald; its director, Kenny Leon. “Ohio State Murders” is a story about how some deep pain doesn’t ever disappear, it finds outlets – in this case, through the main character’s work as a writer, a career she had to fight systemic injustice to secure. McDonald and Leon joined us this week to talk about the play, which will run through Feb. 12; get ticket information here.
– Allison Stewart, “All of It”
See radical art by an American original before it’s gone
“Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe,” organized by Atlanta’s High Museum of Art and on view now at the Brooklyn Museum, examines the life and work of a self-taught artist who discovered creative expression as a child, only to set it aside to satisfy the demands of employment and domestic life in the South during and after the civil rights movement. Rowe resumed her artistic path during the late 1960s, transforming her home into a “Playhouse” filled with exuberant drawings, assemblages and chewing-gum sculptures. The first NYC show devoted to Rowe in more than 20 years is due to close on Jan. 1; to plan your visit, see details here.
Reflect on the ties that bind with the director of ‘Shoplifters’
Spending time with family during the holidays (or not) is a blessing for some, a heavy lift for others. That might make this the perfect time of year to see “Broker,” filmed in South Korea by Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, who’s dealt with family matters extensively in “Like Father, Like Son,” “Our Little Sister” and the Palme d’Or-winning “Shoplifters.” As in that last film, “Broker” brings an unlikely group of marginalized individuals together around two men who supply affluent would-be parents with abandoned infants. The film stars Song Kang-ho (Cannes Best Actor winner for “Parasite”), and opens on Monday exclusively at IFC Center; get tickets here.