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Since moving to New York over three decades ago, guitarist David Gilmore has traversed a huge range of the city’s music scenes. He’s been active member of M-Base and the plugged-in collective Lost Tribe. He’s been a sideman with the likes of Wayne Shorter and Ronald Shannon Jackson. And he’s been an in-demand session musician, recording with Elton John, Cassandra Wilson, and Joss Stone, among others. This Friday at the Gallery, Gilmore will present music from his most recent solo record Transitions (CrissCross) with the original quintet. The record features a few Gilmore originals, as well as several tributes to recently-deceased jazz legends. We caught up with Gilmore to talk about his band, influences, and musical direction; excerpts from that conversation are below.

The Jazz Gallery: You’re  performing with your quintet. How did you guys form?

David Gilmore: This quintet came about as a result of a record I did last September for Criss Cross records. They approached me to record something, and I had not had this thing in mind until approached by them. I thought of having a tribute to some recently deceased jazz ambassadors, like Toots Thieleman, we do a version of “Bluesette” by him; also Victor Bailey, a bass player who recently passed away—we did one of his songs. Bobby Hutcherson also passed away last year, so we played two of his songs, and Paul Bley, not a song of his but one he recorded by Annette Peacock, a tune that sort of encapsulates what he was all about in my opinion. I then wrote two originals, and we did another by Hermeto Pascoal, a tune called “Nem Un Talvez.” It’s sort of a mixture, but it’s mostly paying homage to a few of the recently deceased jazz greats, and so together these jazz guys I’ve worked with in various situations—like Mark Shim and Carlo DeRosa and E.J. Strickland—I thought it be good to take this direction. Victor Gould is a pianist I’ve known since he was a student at Berkeley, and he’s played my music before. So that’s how it came about. I called them up, and fortunately they were available and we knocked it out in the studio.

TJG: For the show on Friday will you be playing tunes from the record?

DG: It’s the original cast of characters from the CD, minus the guest artists, so the core quintet playing, and we’re going to play most of the tunes from the CD.

TJG: What do you see as the challenges and highlights of the ensemble?

DG: The highlights are the level of artistry that each musician brings. We’ve only done a handful of gigs since the record was recorded, so it’s different every time, and it’s just a level of artistry and chemistry that I think is great amongst these guys. What’s also great is the fact that we can actually get along—there are bands that don’t get along, but I always like working with people that I have a good time with, there’s that factor.

As far as the challenges, I could say on a personal level I find some of the music challenging. One tune of mine, “End of Daze,” is one that’s always a challenge to play, and some of the Bobby Hutcherson blues are not the repertoire I’m known for playing. To me this is more of a—dare I use the word—straight ahead kind of a vibe, which you’ll find on a lot of Criss Cross releases. My thought was to sort of bring in a concept in tune with the label and what it generally does and represents. For me that’s sort of stepping outside the box stylistically; it’s more straight ahead—I hate that word—but you know what I’m saying? There’s some out there stuff in there, but there’s some 4/4 straight-ahead swing. For me that’s actually a challenge to get inside that box, more traditional yet kind of still retain a modern edge to it. I’m not being ultra traditional—that’s not what I’m after in my music—but it is a tribute to older jazz. It is one foot in that world and one foot in the modern world, trying to bring a fresh interpretation.

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Photo by William Brown, courtesy of the artist

This Thursday, August 17th, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome bassist Ricky Rodríguez back to our stage. A native of Ponce, Puerto Rico, Rodríguez came to New York at age twenty and has since made a name for himself playing alongside fellow Puerto Ricans like David Sánchez and Miguel Zenon, as well as the likes of Ray Barretto and Joe Locke, among others. Last year, Rodríguez released Looking Beyond (Destiny Records), a record of sprightly original compositions played by a top-flight quintet featuring the likes of Luis Perdomo and Obed Calvaire.

This Thursday at the Gallery, Rodríguez will reconvene the quintet to perform favorite tunes from the album, as well as a slate of new compositions. Before coming to the Gallery on Thursday, check out Looking Beyond, below.

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Photo courtesy of the artist.

This Tuesday, August 15th, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome harmonica player Grégoire Maret to our stage. Called “the new champ” of harmonica by critic Ted Gioia in The Daily Beast, Maret has shared the stage with a huge range of musical luminaries, from Sting to Pat Metheny to Steve Coleman. In 2016, Maret released his record Wanted on Sunnyside, assembling an all-star cast of players to showcase both his astonishing facility and multifaceted aesthetic. Check out a preview of the album below, including guest appearances from the rapper Koyaki and singer Diane Reeves.
At the Gallery this Tuesday, Maret will convene his band Innervoice, featuring a richly-textured, multi-keyboard rhythm section. To get a sense of the sparks of interplay that can fly with Maret on the bandstand, check out their performance at the 2016 Lotos Jazz Festival, below.
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Photo courtesy of the artist.

This Friday, August 11th, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome pianist Manuel Valera and his trio to our stage. Throughout his career, Valera has been an expert at blending high concept and visceral groove. His recent projects have included a sprawling song cycle based on the writings of José Martí (premiered at the Gallery in 2014) and a suite inspired by Antonio Vivaldi’s famous concerto grosso, The Four Seasons, released on record this past spring.

This Friday at the Gallery, Valera will present another classically-inspired project called “The Planets,” inspired by the Gustav Holst composition of the same name. Like Valera’s José Martí project, “The Planets” was the winner of a Chamber Music America New Jazz Works grant. To get a taste of what Valera has in store, check out the trio—featuring Hans Glawishnig on bass and E.J. Strickland on drums—running through some of the music.

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Photo by Mike Goldstein.

This Thursday, August 10th, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome guitarist Rotem Sivan and his trio back to our stage. A native of Israel, Sivan’s style is marked by a rare grace and intimacy—his athletic lines aren’t just empty chops, but delicate sinews that deftly spin out in surprising ways.

This summer, Sivan released his latest trio record, Antidote (Aima). Featuring his working band of Haggai Cohen Milo on bass, Colin Stranahan on drums, and guest vocalist Gracie Terzian, the tightly-constructed 38-minute record finds the band putting both jazz standards and Sivan-penned originals through their paces.

Sivan will surely draw from this strong material at the Gallery on Thursday evening; before stopping by, check out the original composition “Shahar” in the video below.

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