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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Photo courtesy of the artist.

This Wednesday, September 25, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome pianist David Virelles back to our stage for two sets. Presenting music in a trio format, Virelles will be joined by frequent collaborators Rashaan Carter on bass and Eric McPherson on drums.

Recently, Virelles has been busy balancing his work as a bandleader and collaborator. In August, Virelles joined drummer Andrew Cyrille’s trio for a run at the Village Vanguard, before joining Ravi Coltrane’s group at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in Harlem. Virelles then played the Chicago Jazz Festival with an all-star group of Latinx musicians (and Gallery stalwarts) including Miguel Zenon, Melissa Aldana, Ricky Rodriguez, and Antonio Sanchez. For Latinx Heritage Month, Virelles was profiled by the streaming service Tidal (alongside Zenon and Camila Meza), which you can check out here.

Before hearing Virelles and his trio live, take a listen to their recent performance at Roulette as part of the annual Vision Festival, alongside percussionist Román Diaz, below.

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Photo by Caroline Mardok, courtesy of the artist.

This Monday, September 23, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to have saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock back on our stage presenting new music for a new sextet. Much of Laubrock’s recent work as a leader builds on concepts of instrumentation and sound color. Ubatuba is a wind-powered band, with trombone, tuba, and saxophones. Serpentines adds live electronic processing into the mix. And Contemporary Chaos Practices expands Laubrock’s canvass to the size of a full orchestra. Her latest sextet fits into this pattern, as Laubrock surrounds her saxophone with an array of strings—guitarist Brandon Seabrook, bassist Michael Formanek, violinist Mazz Swift, and cellist Tomeka Reid, orbiting around Tom Rainey’s combustible drumming.

Before coming out to the Gallery, take a listen to Laubrock, Rainey, and Seabrook’s prickly rapport in a performance with bassist Brandon Lopez at Three’s Brewing this past July.

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Photos courtesy of the artists.

New projects, fresh ideas, and “first times” always have their challenges. For Harish Raghavan and Savannah Harris, their ongoing mentorship series has layers of newness. For their first show together at The Jazz Gallery, Raghavan mentioned that “not only was it my first time playing with Savannah, it was my first time with Morgan Guerin, my first time with Maria Grand, and my first time playing my own music with John Escreet, and Eden Ladin soon. Everything was new. There were no expectations. I don’t know what’s gonna happen next: That’s exciting.”

For background on the musicians and the mentorship series, we did a short piece introducing the mentorship here. Speaking on the phone with both Harris and Raghavan, we caught up after their Jazz Gallery show, and will chat with both of them once more at the end of their project.

The Jazz Gallery: Harish, was Savannah on your radar before you got paired together at The Jazz Gallery?

Harish Raghavan: Without a doubt. I met Savannah when she first moved to New York a few years ago. She grew up with some of my friends that I play with a lot, Ambrose Akinmusire and Justin Brown. They watched her grow up in Oakland, they’ve known her for a long time, so we had some familiarity. But I hadn’t heard her play until recently. I heard her with Aaron Parks, and she sounded great. Playing with her felt the same. Very talented.

TJG: Savannah, what were your first impressions of the gig at the Gallery?

Savannah Harris: It went well! I was definitely nervous, which was interesting for me. I always feel like I want to do well, but, I was nervous! The first set was cool. We were coming together and gelling. The second set was very powerful. It was tight. People we love came out and supported, it created a really nice environment.

TJG: Did your nerves change throughout the night?

SH: No! [Laughs] I can’t really say why. It wasn’t a fear of not being able to execute, though. For Harish, the execution of the music is really just at the base level for him. There’s a lot more to get into beyond just being able to play it. I was trying to get there. I had fear about getting there, and whether it would hit. It did hit, so I was very pleased after it was all said and done, and I think he did too.

TJG: What do you mean when you say that for Harish, there’s so much more than getting it right?

SH: Yesterday, we talked on the phone and had a little debrief, and shared a sense of what to do going forward. Harish said that the intention behind his music is that we are free of our traditional roles. Rather than “rhythm section being there to anchor, support, and accompany,” we actually are there as equivalent soloists. It makes the job of the rhythm section more complicated. In addition to being able to shape the music, support and accompany, you have to be so comfortable doing that that you’re able to engage as a soloist throughout the whole show. It takes it to the next level.

TJG: Harish, were catalyzing moments in your career where you started to push against the “traditional role” of the bassist?

HR: Never any particular moments, more like particular musicians. As bass players, we love the instrument, the pedagogy, the history, we love listening to everyone from Walter Page to Daryl Johns and everyone in between, you know. We’re always checking out what’s happening with the instrument. You start to understand the roles based on the history of the instrument and how different bass players were able to open up serious ideas of roles. We do have to understand what the significance of this instrument is, but it’s less about roles because often times, roles are bound by rules, and then things can become contrived. To be in the moment, you need to find the right kind of people, where understanding the foundation, history, and the role of their instruments is all secondary.

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From L to R: Tony Malaby, Jozef Doumolin, Samuel Ber. Photo courtesy of the artists.

This Saturday, September 21, saxophonist Tony Malaby returns to The Jazz Gallery for two sets with his European Trio. The group matches Malaby’s penchant for rigorous, web-like improvisational frameworks with equally rich electronic soundscapes provided by keyboardist Jozef Doumolin and drummer Samuel Ber. The group released their debut album this past April, which you can check out below:
While the group makes full use of studio effects and capabilities on the record, their live performances are just as exploratory, with Malaby pushing his saxophones to match the electronic soundscapes around him. In an earlier interview with Jazz Speaks, Malaby talked about his timbral-based improvisational practice:

I’m constantly working on having the ability to have that dynamic range—constantly trying to play softer and louder. That’s something I work on all the time just with long tones. The other thing is learning to create different types of shades. I want to have a tone that can be a shadow, or or flip it and turn that into extreme brightness. This is a really important type of expression, as is flexibility with intonation—they all fall in the same category for me. I want to merge our sounds together and dissolve into each other sounds.

Don’t miss this rare chance to hear Malaby perform with his Europe-based collaborators in this trio. (more…)

Photo by Abishek Mangla.

This Friday, September 20, The Jazz Gallery welcomes pianist Paul Cornish back to our stage for two sets. A native of Houston, Texas and an alumnus of its famed High School for the Visual & Performing Arts, Cornish is currently based in Los Angeles, studying at UCLA’s Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz. Back in the summer of 2016, Cornish participated in The Jazz Gallery’s Mentoring Series, holding his own on guitarist Miles Okazaki’s fiendish and slippery music from the album Trickster.

In addition to his studies at the Hancock Institute, Cornish has become a conspicuous presence in the Los Angeles scene, playing surreal and ecstatic funk with Thumpasaurus, and backing up acclaimed artists like saxophonist David Binney.

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