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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

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Photo by Florence Gallez

Photo by Florence Gallez

In the liner notes to their latest record, Pa’lante (Quadrant Records), drummer Zack O’ Farrill of the collective Marques-Stinson-O’ Farrill writes:

Together we’re not sure how to label the music we play.  International rural-suburban-urban through-composed free Latin groove jazz?  The label isn’t important.  What is important is that this music is the product of three friends, none of whom really fits in with any group of people.

Bassist Walter Stinson and pianist Albert Marques make up the other two pillars of this band, and we caught up with the trio by phone to talk about how the band came together, musical eclecticism, and Power Rangers, among other things.

The Jazz Gallery: How’d you guys meet? 

Zack O’ Farrill: When Albert first came to New York from Paris, he started coming to a youth jazz orchestra that my dad and I run at Fat Cat. He started coming and playing, and even though he was just a little bit older than the other students—like, between 7-10 years old than anyone else there—I thought it was very humble of a young pianist to come. He wasn’t looking to come and press my dad and get my dad’s sponsorship as a new pianist—he really just came to hang out. It was actually a few weeks until I spoke to him.

Albert Marques: I moved here from Paris without a visa, money, or contacts. I knew zero musicians and had zero money.

ZO: Albert was working 12 hours a day, six days a week, at a restaurant and then going to jam sessions every night until 4 or 5. And on Sunday, his one day off, he went to rehearse with us!

AM: But you know what, you have to love it!

Walter Stinson: I met Albert first; he had a concert at his house and I met him through a friend. We played one gig at his house and then we were playing in the same band, and I remember Albert said, ‘Yeah man, we’re going to do something. It was really nice to play together.’ He told me he had met this drummer Zack, whom I had met very briefly at Purchase—

ZO: Small world story right there.

WS: —And we didn’t formally meet then, but Albert set up a band and I had just moved to New York. It was exactly what I needed at the time: we met and played and that’s where it started, at our first rehearsal at City College. (more…)

Photo by Christian Ducasse via http://tonymalaby.net

Photo by Christian Ducasse via http://tonymalaby.net

When Tony Malaby blows into his horn, it doesn’t sound only like a saxophone—it sounds like a bamboo flute or an english horn, or even a growling tiger. As pianist Angelica Sanchez puts it, “[He] has an uncanny ability to make the tenor sax sound like a whole jungle,” (Jazz Times, June 2013). Armed with this endlessly adaptable sound, Malaby has forged his place as one of the most in-demand saxophonists in New York, playing with everyone from pianist Fred Hersch to bassist William Parker. Malaby leads several of his own acclaimed bands of various shapes and sizes, from his “Tamarindo” trio with Parker and drummer Nasheet Waits, to his large-canvas “Novela” group. On Saturday, Malaby brings his so-called “Reading Band” to The Jazz Gallery, featuring long-time partners Ralph Alessi on trumpet, Drew Gress on bass, and Billy Drummond on drums. For Malaby, the Reading Band is way to tap into a more intuitive and emotional way of playing by working with compositions that none of the performers have seen before. Needless to say, this set is going to be full of surprises, but as a little primer for what could go down on Saturday, here are some choice Tony Malaby cuts that showcase both his aesthetic and sonic breadth.

“Miss B.” and “Lee’s Dream” — Fred Hersch Trio + 2

While pianist Fred Hersch has a reputation for unparalleled lyricism, he can mix it up too—especially when an improviser like Malaby is in the ring. Check out Malaby’s scurrying solo on “Miss B.” that brings the upbeat song to a fever pitch, then skip ahead a few tracks to the Lee Konitz tribute “Lee’s Dream” and hear Malaby gracefully thread a solo through Hersch’s rich harmonies. (more…)

Photo courtesy of http://aaronparks.com

Photo courtesy of http://aaronparks.com

To the audience of The Jazz Gallery, pianist Aaron Parks needs no introduction—he’s performed on our stage numerous times and received a commission for The Jazz Gallery Composers’ Series in 2007. He’s one of the most well-traveled young pianists in jazz, having toured and recorded with trumpeter Terence Blanchard as well as the group James Farm, which is includes saxophonist Joshua Redman, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Eric Harland. His 2008 Blue Note Records début Invisible Cinema was released to international acclaim.

On Parks’s new album Arborescence (ECM), however, the pianist moves in a new direction. Instead of working with a rhythm section in a tightly-controlled studio environment, Parks plays unaccompanied in a warm, reverberant hall. And, while Parks’s previous releases have been an outlet for his compositional acumen, almost all of the music on this album was improvised on the spot.

We caught up with Aaron by phone to talk about how the album came about, his improvisational process, and what listeners can expect at his performance at the Gallery this Friday, October 18th.

The Jazz Gallery: Why a solo album?

Aaron Parks: Honestly, the funny thing about this recording is that it wasn’t something that I would say I thought out at all. The record came about through a friendship that I have with the producer of the record, whose name is Sun Chung. He heard me playing solo piano before in various contexts and suggested that he was interested in trying to make some solo piano recordings and seeing what happens.

We did that a little bit here in the city, in a sort of cheap studio, and then he did some research and found this beautiful hall: Mechanic’s Hall [in Worcester, Massachusetts]. At the time we decided to do this, we had no connection with ECM, and we weren’t really sure what we were going to do with it. We were going to make it, and then maybe Sun was going to put it out himself. It was some months later that Sun ended up getting a job at ECM, and he brought his catalog and played some of it for Manfred [Eicher, head of ECM Records], and Manfred was open to the idea of putting it out.  (more…)

Photo via martasanchezmusic.com

Photo via martasanchezmusic.com

Although pianist Marta Sanchez originally studied to become a filmmaker, she realized during her studies that jazz was her passion and shortly after became a full-time musician in Madrid. She released her début as a leader, Lunas, Soles y Elefantes, in 2007 with her trio and moved to New York City to study jazz performance at New York University on a Fulbright Scholarship. In 2010, she released her sophomore effort as a leader, La Espiral Amarilla, which featured her quartet; this Thursday, she’ll be performing with a quintet that features a number of top-flight New York-based musicians, including Roman Filiu on alto saxophone, Jerome Sabbagh on tenor saxophone, Desmond White on bass, and Devin Gray on drums. We’re pleased to present the Marta Sanchez Quintet this Thursday as part of our début series and hope that you’ll join us to welcome this promising young pianist-composer to our stage.

Marta Sanchez performs at The Jazz Gallery this Thursday, October 17th, with Roman Filiu (alto saxophone), Jerome Sabbagh (tenor saxophone), Desmond White (bass), and Devin Gray (drums). Sets at 9 and 10:30 p.m. The first set is $15 general admission and $10 for Members. The second set is $10 general admission and $5 for Members. Purchase tickets here.

Joe Fiedler's Big Sackbut. Photo by Scott Friedlander

Joe Fiedler’s Big Sackbut. Photo by Scott Friedlander

On paper, trombonist Joe Fiedler might seem like he has a serious case of multiple personality disorder. When the sun is up, Fiedler works as music director for Sesame Street, crafting song arrangements and incidental music cues. When the sun goes down, though, a different beast emerges: a trombonist who’s steeped in the extended techniques of the avant-garde, has recorded a tribute album to trombone multiphonics master Albert Mangelsdorff, and was an early member of legendary pianist Cecil Taylor’s large ensemble.

But when you talk to Fiedler, you learn that his wide variety of musical activities stem from his singular aesthetic, which observes no boundaries between old and new, inside and outside, seriousness and playfulness. This Saturday, October 12th, Fiedler brings his “Big Sackbut” brass quartet to The Jazz Gallery for a night of music celebrating the release of the group’s new album, Sackbut Stomp (Multiphonics Music). We caught up with Fiedler by phone to talk about how the group came about and where the humor in his music comes from.

The Jazz Gallery: Why did you want to put together a low brass quartet and how did you find these particular players?

Joe Fiedler: I’ve always been intrigued by saxophone quartets. In my formative years in the ’80s, there were a lot of saxophone groups, like the World Saxophone Quartet, the 29th Street Saxophone Quartet, and the Microscopic Septet. I was being drawn to more avant-garde stuff. I was a huge fan of the World Saxophone Quartet and I always thought, “How could this be applicable to the trombone?”

Over the years I wrote a little. I had a trio at one time with a saxophone, tuba, and trombone and we used to play on the street about 20-plus years ago. But it was many years later while I was doing a Broadway show—I’m not really from that world, but through the back door I did a show called In the Heights—and the other trombone player was Ryan Keberle. We just started talking about that concept [of a trombone quartet], and that I’d really like to get this working. He was actually curating a series at this place in Brooklyn, and he said, “Well, listen, I’ll give you a gig if you think you can get enough music together,” so that kind of gave me the final push to get some music together and call the musicians.

Over the years I had tried trombone quartets, and the one of the things that I really found missing versus the saxophone quartet is the baritone sax, which has such versatility with its all-present sound and really is the driving force. I felt that low trombones and bass trombones didn’t have that same kind of presence, so that’s why I decided to use tuba and three trombones.

For the second part of your question, all of the players that have been in the group at different times have been friends that I’ve played with over the years. We started with a certain few guys, then mutated, and now the group is Ryan Keberle and Luis Bonilla on trombone, and Marcus Rojas on tuba. (more…)