Connan Mockasin, On tour
A New Zealand musician based in the UK, Mockasin (real name Connan Hosford) has got his own ideas about space and time. Something of a dreamer, Mockasin released his first album – Forever Dolphin Love – almost accidentally, and listening again to its comatose, Hendrixy spaciness and warm guitar playing, it’s a miracle it came out at all. That record, a work of high concept, high voices and almost certainly high listeners, found Mockasin winning admiration from the likes of Crowded House and Radiohead, with one drawn to the tunes, and one presumes, the other the weirdness. The new Connan Mockasin album, Caramel, is certainly long on the latter, with Hosford now applying his timeslip vocals and widescreen thinking to RB slow jams. It’s a disorientating ride, certainly, but at times also rather a sickly one.
The Fleece, Bristol, Mon; King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Glasgow, Wed; Hare Hounds, Birmingham, Thu; Soup Kitchen, Manchester, Fri; touring to 28 Jan
Adam Green, On tour
Very much grit turned pearl, Adam Green was one of the scruffiest people in the New York alternative rock scene of 2001. Then one part of the Moldy Peaches alongside Kimya Dawson, Green specialised in “antifolk”, but he has since turned his attention to more interesting cross-platform fare. Now artist/maker of amusing and brightly coloured paintings, film-maker, and more besides, Green’s work has grown in sophistication, a process culminating in his 2013 album with Binki Shapiro, in which the pair successfully essayed the classic Nancy Sinatra Lee Hazlewood “wry duet” form. This, by contrast, looks likely to be a rather more scaled-down, acoustic tour, though the simplicity of the presentation will offer a chance to observe just how far Green’s acerbic songwriting has come.
Broadcast, Glasgow, Mon; The Wardrobe, Leeds, Wed; The Deaf Institute, Manchester, Thu; Dingwalls, NW1, Fri
Mogwai, Newcastle upon Tyne London
In their career (as in their music) Mogwai have been a band working between extremes of quiet reflection and revelatory catharsis. Never content with being the loudest and most successful “post-rock” band over the past 15 or so years, the Glaswegians have constantly sought to evolve their sound. Not all of these attempts have been successful, but the band’s exploration of soundtracks – including the existential French zombie series Les Revenants – saw them on fine form. This year, the band have a new album called Rave Tapes; it’s a record that combines their interest in electronics and eerie atmospheres while also keeping the noise.
Mill Volvo Tyne Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne, Wed; Royal Festival Hall, SE1, Fri; touring to 28 Jan
Blue Note Sessions: Empirical, London
With its roster of geniuses (Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter) and a signature cover art style of bold abstractions and rakish typography, Blue Note Records seemed to define the adventurous modernity of jazz. In the label’s 75th birthday year, London’s Pizza Express Jazz Club launches a monthly run of live tributes to landmark Blue Note recordings, delivered by UK and US artists. This week’s opener focuses on Herbie Hancock’s Empyrean Isles – a 1964 set that included Canteloupe Island and Dolphin Dance – which will be played by much-feted British quartet Empirical.
Pizza Express Jazz Club, W1, Wed
Ant Law, On tour
Some heavily schooled young jazz musicians like to stay at the rarefied end of new music, but the young UK-based guitar newcomer Ant Law is as likely to be found backing X Factor contenders as honing the cutting edge. Law is a sharp-witted composer whose pieces often subject coolly languid jazz themes to the provocations of edgily contemporary street grooves. He’s also a guitar improviser with his own sound: he already has his own characteristic tuning system and has made waves in guitar circles for it. Law’s regular partnership with shrewdly melodic alto saxist Mark Chillingworth is central to the band’s power, building smouldering intensity without bravura. The thematic influences cross cultures and the mix of swing, Pat Metheny-inflected fusion and smoky low-lights jazz is both familiar and fresh.
Jazz At Baker Street, Swindon, Tue; St James Social Club, Swansea, Wed; The Bear, Bristol, Fri
Opera North: The Girl Of The Golden West, Leeds
It is more than 20 years since one of the main British opera companies mounted a new production of Puccini’s great opera, which is set in the California gold rush of 1849, but Aletta Collins’s staging forms the centrepiece of Opera North’s latest season. It’s a work that encourages lavish, naturalistic presentation, but also poses enormous musical challenges. The central character, Minnie, is one of Puccini’s most demanding roles, and on this occasion is being sung by Alwyn Mellor, with Rafael Rojas as Dick Johnson and Robert Hayward as Jack Rance.
Grand Theatre Opera House, Tue to 21 Feb, touring to 21 Mar