HIP Fest presents its third year on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, 9/22-23

The New Orleans International Sound Exchange continues its fine tradition of bringing some of the biggest and best names in improvisational and/or free jazz music to New Orleans this week at two separate venues—the Blue Nile and the Contemporary Arts Center.

During the first two iterations of HIP (Hosting Improvising Performers) Fest, the most prominent names for casual jazz fans were the local performers who are typically paired in inventive configurations with the visiting artists. The guest musicians have all been well-known in the esoteric field of improvised jazz, but with a couple of exceptions, virtually unknown to all but the most ardent fans.

This year, two of the four guest musicians are household names in the jazz world. Pianist Vijay Iyer is a MacArthur “genius” grant recipient, multiple Downbeat magazine award winner, and a Harvard professor. Drummer/ composer/ multi-instrumentalist Tyshawn Sorey (pictured at top) tears up every performance and is musically associated with such jazz greats as Wadada Leo Smith, Steve Coleman, Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Dave Douglas. Saxophonist Steve Lehman, a young musician who has been turning ears, and Italian pianist Fabrizio Puglisi round out the list.

The festival kicks off with Trio and Duo Night at the Blue Nile on Tuesday. Local musicians who will be appearing with the guests including trombonist Mark McGrain, bassist Nobu Ozaki, cellist Helen Gillet, drummer and HIP Fest organizer Marcello Benetti, percussionist Mike Dillon, and others. The full schedule is here.

Wednesday night in the Freeport-McMoRan Theater at the CAC, Fabrizio Puglisi will play a solo piano set followed by Fieldwork, a band featuring Vijay Iyer, Steve Lehman, and Tyshawn Sorey.

Tickets for the Blue Nile are $10 and the show begins at 9 PM. Tickets for the CAC are $25 and the show begins at 8 PM.

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