The great women of the jazz vocal tradition (Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Carter, Abbey Lincoln, etc.) are mostly gone, but Cecile McLorin Salvant (pictured) has quickly risen to the head of today’s class with her impeccable technique and broad stylistic reach, drawing from jazz, poetry, show tunes and classical training. And the Grammy-winning singer brings her precision pitch, delicious diction and laser wit back to Scullers Jazz Club — with accompaniment by pianist Sullivan Fortner — on Friday and Saturday on the heels of new album Dreams and Daggers.
Other great female vocal stylists take charge this weekend too. Folk-pop icon Judy Collins (best known for her interpretations of “Both Sides Now” and “Send in the Clowns”) keeps her busy touring pace in these parts, singing at Lexington’s Cary Hall on Friday and the Cabot in Beverly on Saturday. And commanding local soul-pop rocker Ruby Rose Fox debuts material from her politically pointed next album Salt in holiday shows at the Lizard Lounge on Friday and Saturday, heading bills with bold newcomer Hana Khan. Grammy-winning Rockport native Paula Cole also appears on Saturday at the Natick Center for the Arts, singing jazz and folk classics from recent album Ballads as well as a likely taste of her own pop hits.
Mid-December also brings local punk-rockers the Street Dogs to life with their annual Wreck the Halls shows, this year firing up the Sinclair both Friday and Saturday. The Boston Rock Opera stages a sprawling Happening Holiday Special at Once Ballroom on Saturday with Mick Mondo and Streaker as well as other local music celebs including Peter Moore, John Powhida, Ali McGuirk, Goddamn Glenn, Gene Dante, Ad Frank and Jim Janota. Boston-bred rock heroes Dispatch play an acoustic evening at the Paradise Rock Club on Saturday (in addition to Monday and Tuesday). Also on Saturday, Royale hosts Alone & Together, a songwriters’ circle featuring indie-rockers Elvis Perkins, Eric D. Johnson (of Fruit Bats), Sam Cohen, Josh Kaufman and Almost Dead drummer Joe Russo, who I interviewed here.
Finally, Sunday gets back to the women, with Brazilian bossa-nova scion Bebel Gilberto performing an acoustic show at the new City Winery and badass Kansas City guitarist/singer Samantha Fish tearing up the blues, R&B and roots-rock at the Sinclair. It’s enough to keep one from holiday shopping — before the show calendar slows down through the weekend that leads into Christmas.