CareFusion Jazz Festival, June 17-26
Sun Ra Arkestra
The Studio Museum in Harlem; 6/17 at 7 p.m.; 144 W. 125th St., nr. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.; 212-864-4500 x237
For all its spaced-out weirdness, Sun Ra's music always had a classic lushness, rooted in the big band tradition and the blues of his adopted Alabama (Ra was born on Saturn). Now under the direction of the 86-year-old Marshall Allen, one of Ra's longtime sideman, the Philadelphia-based Arkestra synthesizes its founder's dual legacy: grand harmonic innovations and a performance-art life.
John Ellis - The Ice Siren
The Jazz Gallery; 6/18 at 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.; 290 Hudson St., nr. Spring St.; 212-242-1063
The pork-pie hat-wearing North Carolinian is best known for his funky saxophone work with guitarist Charlie Hunter, but he's also an engaging, unpredictable composer. Last year, he premiered The Ice Siren, a jazz opera about a young man visiting his dead lover's crypt. Here, he revisits the macabre work with a 9-piece chamber ensemble and the singers Miles Griffith and Gretchen Parlato.
Darcy James Argue's Secret Society
Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola; 6/21 at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.; 33 W. 60th St., at Broadway.; 212-258-9595
This political, hyper-literate composer writes sprawling pieces that appeal to jazz fans, indie rockers, and hip-hop heads alike. In an inspired bit of programming, Argue brings Secret Society, his 18-piece steampunk big band, to Jazz at Lincoln Center, citadel of the jazz traditionalism Argue strives to upend.
McCoy Tyner Quartet/Stanley Clarke Group
Central Park SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield; 6/23 at 6 p.m.; Fifth Avenue at 69th St., 212-360-2777
The legendary pianist fronts a free Central Park show with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, bass sensation Esperanza Spalding (who played at President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize ceremony), and Cuban drummer Francisco Mela. With bassist Stanley Clarke's new group featuring the whirligig Japanese pianist Hiromi.
Jason Moran, Mary Halvorson, Ron Miles
Jazz Standard; 6/24 at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.; 116 E. 27th St., nr. Park Ave.; 212-576-2232
There aren't many points of intersection between pianist Jason Moran, guitarist Mary Halvorson, and trumpeter Ron Miles, so it's hard to know what to expect from their three-way partnership (convening for only the second time). But in a festival filled with seasoned bands and little potential for big surprises, this show's risk alone should make it worth a listen.
Late Night Jam Session
City Winery; 6/24 at 11 p.m.; 155 Varick St., at Van Dam St.; 212-608-0555
Earlier in the evening, Herbie Hancock will lead a 70th-birthday homage to himself that will enlist extraordinary musicians and almost certainly feel overblown and mildly disappointing. Afterward, more than 20 of the best younger musicians in the city will gather for a Jeff "Tain" Watts-hosted jam session (also dedicated to Hancock) that might prove the more fitting tribute. Among the assembled will be saxophonist Chris Potter, guitarist Adam Rogers, and a few "special surprise" guests. (Wink, wink, they want us to think it's you, Herbie! Come...if you're not too tired?).