It’s now been three years since Red Bull came to New York for its monthlong Music Academy, with more than 60 up-and-coming artists shacking up in the city for workshops, studio time and collaborations. That’s since spawned Red Bull Studios New York, a center for the company’s arts programming, and the Red Bull Music Academy Festival, which brings a mixture of lectures, concerts and other music-based events to venues throughout New York each May.
The 2016 edition of the latter dives even deeper into the city’s musical history, looking at the No Wave movement of the late ’70s/early ’80s, a Latin jazz pioneer and even a film director known in part for making music a key to his aesthetic. Here’s a rundown of the festival’s highlights:
A Conversation with Spike Lee
As much as the director of such classics as “Do the Right Thing” and “Malcolm X” has meant to film, his contributions to music are almost as important. His soundtracks have brought legends like Stevie Wonder to younger audiences and even inspired one of the great collaborations in hip-hop history (the one-off supergroup Crooklyn Dodgers, with Buckshot, Masta Ace and Special Ed). (May 2, SVA Theatre)
Kamasi Washington, Pharoah Sanders and the Sun Ra Orchestra:
Three generations of jazz greats share the stage in one night, during an event destined to draw a straight line of lineage from the spiritual work of the Arkestra in the 1950s up to Washington’s debut, the three-disc behemoth “The Epic,” released in 2015. (May 8, Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse)
Glenn Branca’s Symphonies
The groundbreaking No Wave guitarist has been influential in the careers of bands like Sonic Youth and Swans in the way they use noise and dissonance in songwriting. He gets two spotlights during the month of events: On May 3, he’s speaking at Red Bull Studios New York about his career, and then on May 16 he’s joined by guitarists from No Age, Liturgy and the Glenn Branca Ensemble (among others) to perform a few of his compositions. at Masonic Hall NYC.
Anohni Presents “Hopelessness”
The Oscar-nominated frontwoman for Antony and the Johnsons, Anohni will be unveiling her new album with a live show including short films and the backing help of Brooklyn-based musician Oneohtrix Point Never. (May 18-19, Park Avenue Armory)
Eddie Palmieri’s “Harlem River Drive” Revisited
It’s the 45th anniversary of the landmark album, one that brought together political consciousness, Latin jazz and funk in a way that was (and, in many respects, still is) revolutionary. Palmieri and his band will perform at a to-be-announced location for the free event. (May 21, TBA)
If you go
Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York runs from Friday through May 22 at various venues throughout New York. Ticket information available at nyc.redbullmusicacademy.com.