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Clockwise from top left: Ravi Coltrane, Ben Street, Johnathan Blake, Chris Potter

This Friday, December 13th, we’ll be welcoming an all-star configuration led by Johnathan Blake: JB4 features Johnathan on drums alongside Ravi Coltrane and Chris Potter on saxophones with Ben Street on bass. Three months ago, Johnathan led another two-tenor saxophone quartet that featured the same band, except with Mark Turner instead of Ravi Coltrane on saxophone. The results were spectacular, and we we’re looking forward to seeing where Johnathan and his band will take their musical explorations this weekend.

Sets at 9 and 11 p.m., $20 general admission and $10 for members. Purchase tickets here.

Via capsulocity.com

Via capsulocity.com

Drummer Kyle Poole will be making his début as a leader at The Jazz Gallery this Thursday, December 12th. A prodigious young drummer originally from Los Angeles and currently studying at The New School on a full scholarship, Kyle was a semifinalist in the 2012 Thelonious Monk Competition and has performed with Mike LeDonne, Peter Bernstein, and many other musicians on the New York scene. We caught up with Kyle by phone to talk to him about his upcoming début and how he’s balanced school and work:

The Jazz Gallery: Can you say a bit about the music you’ll be playing? 

Kyle Poole: We’ll be playing two original tunes; I’ve written two for this particular gig with this particular group, and we’ll also playing one of Albert’s tunes, one of [Alex] Claffy’s tunes, an old church hymn as a ballad which Elena will sing, and one by my friend Jason Matthews, who’s a great piano player from Philly who lives in Miami. The music seems to fit the vibe for The Jazz Gallery. (more…)

The Jazz Gallery's Holiday Party

The Jazz Gallery’s Holiday Party

This Tuesday, December 10th, we’ll express our immense gratitude for the support that we’ve received from our Members this year with our annual holiday party. The event, which is free for Members (SOLO and above), will feature music at 8 p.m. by Becca Stevens and Sachal Vasandani on vocals, Gerald Clayton on piano, Johnathan Blake on drums, and a bassist to to be announced. Please R.S.V.P. at membership@jazzgallery.org and join us for this special occasion! This is also a fine time to consider renewing your membership or else signing up to become a Member. Happy holidays!

Photo by Przemek Wozny, http://www.blog.wozny.com/

Photo by Przemek Wozny, http://www.blog.wozny.com/

Back in September, we spoke with David Virelles about the vibrant new music that he composed as part of The Jazz Gallery’s Residency Commission Series. Due to unforeseen circumstances, however, David needed to postpone the show to a later date. This Friday and Saturday, December 6th and 7th, exactly three months later, we’ll have the pleasure of welcoming David back to our stage with Continuum to give the premiere performances of “Threefold.” The Village Voice recently recommended David’s performances this weekend as one of the five best jazz shows in NYC in December.

For more about the music that will be heard this weekend at the Gallery, here’s our reposted conversation with David from a few months back:

The Jazz Gallery: Your new piece, “Threefold,”  is written for the same group of musicians that you released your album Continuum (Pi) with last year. Is this piece a continuation or a departure from the pieces on your album?

David Virelles: Yeah, it’s a continuation. I’m just trying to keep building on something that we started. I used this piece as an opportunity to keep developing the sound of the group because we haven’t had much chance to play! We have done a lot of stuff inspired by Afro-Cuban religions, and so the whole thing kind of spins out of that. It’s not specific to any particular religion, though.

It’s not a suite or anything like that—it’s a group of pieces that have the same kind of ideal and goal. I used the opportunity to write some ideas for the group that I haven’t been able to do before.

One of the things I tried to explore with these pieces was basically rearranging forms. By form, I mean not only temporal elements, but tonal elements and timbral elements also.

TJG: What do you mean by rearranging forms? How does that process work on the bandstand?

DV: A lot of times we improvise on a fixed structure or we improvise the structure spontaneously. My idea was so that when we play on fixed structures, have them be flexible, have them be modular. By moving these elements around, you can create new forms out of elements that already exist in the composition.

To give an example, let’s say you have “ABC,” and that gives you a form to improvise on. Within that form, you have certain parameters, whether it be rhythms, or chord changes or melodies, or any combination of those elements. Usually, every time you get to the end of the form, you go back to the top and repeat the same form. One of the things that I tried with these pieces is that instead of going from left to right: “ABC,” is that you can start on C and then play A, and then play B, and then every time you come around, you can rearrange the order. And it’s up to the players to build these new forms out of the existing material.

It’s really nothing new at all. You have it in sampling, for example. Beat-makers sample things from records. They’ll sample a song or a segment of a song and assign it to a button on their drum machine. It could be a long sample or a short sample. If you have multiple samples, you can play them in any order you want, play them forward, backwards, set up the way in which they will loop (or not), but, basically, by triggering those samples you’re setting up a form.

So, that idea with this material is related to that beat-making approach, in a way.

TJG: How do you communicate these changes with the other members of the band?

DV: I’m bringing a laptop to the gig, but the laptop isn’t going to be making any sound. The laptop is going to be making what I call the “spontaneous chart.” I have a program that makes chord sequences. I’ll play the first chord and then the computer responds and creates a 16-chord sequence. It does this in real time.

Everyone’s different roles are kind of embedded in the composition. For example, in a particular section, I might want the drums to make the decisions and we all respond to that direction. I want to base all these parameters off what the musicians in the group do, as it is not my interest to dictate any particular direction. We can have certain things that have been established previously, but then have the chance to expand on them.

David Virelles and Continuum—Ben Street (bass), Eric McPherson (drums), and Román Díaz (percussion/vocals)—will be performing “Threefold” at The Jazz Gallery this Friday and Saturday, December 6th and 7th. Sets at 9 and 11 p.m., $20 general admission and $10 for members. Purchase tickets here.

Photo courtesy of Nick Sanders.

Photo courtesy of Nick Sanders.

Nick Sanders has been described by The New York Times as a pianist with “a precise touch and a wealth of information at his command,” and released his début recording Nameless Neighbors (Sunnyside) this June. The record features his original compositions performed by his trio, which includes Henry Fraser on bass and Connor Baker on drums; they performed at the Gallery in June to celebrate the release, and will be performing on our stage again this Thursday, December 5th. We caught up with Nick by phone to talk about what he’ll have in store for our audiences this week, and how he’s been adjusting to the New York scene:

The Jazz Gallery: You last played at the Gallery with your trio about six months when Nameless Neighbors was released. What’s changed since then?

Nick Sanders: Quite a bit. I’ve been doing a lot of composing and I’ve written a lot of new music since six months ago. We’re still going to be playing a couple of tunes from the record, but for the most part, it’s going to be mostly all new music. Our sense of playing together has gotten even more intuitive and is just really relaxed in the sense that we’re trusting each other, as far as the actual dynamics of the trio is concerned.

They [Henry Fraser and Connor Baker] live in Boston right now, but they’re moving to New York next summer, and I’ve been in New York a lot more; I was going back and forth for Boston for work and teaching and stuff, but I’ve been able to fully transfer to New York. As a result, we haven’t been able to rehearse as much, but they came by a couple days ago and it was like nothing had changed, even though we hadn’t played for that long. (more…)