Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith open Harvard’s “Creative Music Convergences.”
Some might call it avant-garde jazz, free improvisation, spontaneous composition or sonic sculpting. Or try “Creative Music Convergences,” the name of a free two-night Harvard series at Paine Hall that concludes on Friday with special guest Wadada Leo Smith. The Chicago-bred trumpet veteran, a composition Pulitzer finalist for his 2012 civil-rights opus Ten Freedom Summers, began the program on Thursday with composer/pianist and Harvard professor Vijay Iyer. In pensive dialogue based on their new album A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke, Smith floated clarion tones and breathy edges against Iyer’s punctuating swells on acoustic and Fender Rhodes pianos as well as a laptop to trigger subtle, sonar-like pulses — an evolution of this New York performance. Electronics will color the sonic environment again on Friday when Smith pairs with New York experimentalist Ikue Mori after solo piano improvisations from Craig Taborn. The program, which offers musical collaborations rarely seen north of NYC, ends with solo pianist Courtney Bryan and drummer Tyshawn Sorey’s Double Trio.———————————-
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble preliminaries also roar to a conclusion on Friday and Saturday at Cuisine en Locale’s Once Ballroom in Somerville after this week’s wins by Weakened Friends, Analog Heart, Salem Wolves and – on Thursday — Abbie Barrett. The room has proven to be a comfortable hang for the annual contest for Boston bands previously housed at now-closed T.T. the Bear’s Place, with solid sound (from T.T.’s old system, btw) and a free photo station for friends to pose with their best rock ‘n’ roll mugs. You can see Friday and Saturday’s Rumble lineups here. Over at Thunder Road in Union Squre on Friday, Otis Grove also gets its funky groove on.
Smashing Pumpkins has been mixing it up, even having estranged guitarist James Iha join the current lineup with original drummer Jimmy Chamberlin and leader Billy Corgan in LA. For the Pumpkins’ Boston show at the Orpheum Theatre on Saturday, expect more acoustic treatments and some rarities from ’90s alt-rock landmarks Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (and maybe a cameo by opener Liz Phair). The same night, country-folk legend John Prine shares a bill with fellow singer/songwriter Iris Dement at the Shubert Theatre while chamber-pop rocker Andrew Bird — who sings, whistles and plays violin and guitar – holds court across the street at the Citi Wang Theatre in support of his charming new album Are You Serious.
Sunday blooms with big shows, from R&B-pop siren Rihanna at TD Garden to spirited Americana-rockers the Avett Brothers out at Worcester’s DCU Center with dynamic opener Brandi Carlile, while banjo ace Bela Fleck joins jazz pianist Chick Corea for a duo concert at the Wilbur Theatre. You can’t say the weekend doesn’t span stylistic options for live music.