Now Playing: Jazz at the Highline

Introducing "Now Playing," a column featuring the musical acts that should be on your radar.

3 minutes

By RoomZoom Staff

The Jazz Trifecta

Whoever said jazz is lame must be trippin’ on some Dixieland.

Scene: Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 @ Highline Ballroom

Highline Ballroom, known for its eclectic programming, kicked off the 2017 musical journey for three noteworthy jazz artists with “enough positive energy to ascent all the way to 2018,” according to drummer Alex Sowinski of instrumental jazz quartet BadBadNotGood. Forgoing the normal table and chair setup, Highline Ballroom cleared the floor for what seemed a youthful and dedicated fan base. Other than the lack of coat check and blazing temperature, the venue fostered the perfect atmosphere for these three artists to get down and funky.

Lady Wray.

Dayme Arocena.

Despite recent events, openers Lady Wray (formerly known as Nicole Wray, Missy Elliot’s 90s hip-hop protégé,) and Cuban soulstress Dayme Arocena made it clear that female prowess isn’t going anywhere in 2017. Lady Wray and her band’s neo-Motown sound and commanding stage presence took the audience to a new place of soul, R&B and rock intersectionality. Combined with Dayme Aroncena and band’s attention-grabbing Afro-Cuban rhythmic ideas, unison melodic lines and oozing sex appeal, both artists gave a refreshing female perspective to soul. I found myself mesmerized, to say the least, by both Lady Wray and Dayme Aroncena’s ability to set a groove that felt criminal not to dance to. Lady Wray’s “Guilty” or Dayme Aroncena’s “Don’t Unplug My Body,” took the cake for the crowd’s favorite tunes.

Highline Ballroom.


BadBadNotGood, wrapped up the lineup with a dynamic and high-energy performance, complete with incense and spontaneous dancing on stage. According to Alex Sowinski of BadBadNotGood, the summer 2016 drop, IV, paralleled the band’s own direction. The former trio became a quartet with the addition of saxophonist and flautist Leland Whitty, who had previously been featured on the band’s last two albums. Rooted in jazz tradition, the quartet has been making huge waves in the hip-hop and electronic communities, not to mention creating some dope AF collabs (LBH, Ghostface Killah’s Sour Soul was a music revolution within itself).

Shout out to SummerStage for putting on this #lit fundraiser for the upcoming 2017 festival.

Never heard of SummerStage? No worries, but it’s about time you got hip to the largest free(!) performing arts festival in NYC. Sponsored by the CityParks Foundation, SummerStage focuses on bringing New Yorkers “artists and genres that reflect the diverse cultures and communities in neighborhood parks across the five boroughs.” When temperatures begin to rise and trees begin to bud, make sure to check out SummerStage’s calendar for what’s hip this spring.