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Melissa Aldana (Jimmy Katz) and Kevin Hays (Genevieve Russell)

Melissa Aldana (Jimmy Katz) and Kevin Hays (Genevieve Russell)

This Saturday, March 1st, is fit to be an exploratory evening as The Jazz Gallery hosts the convergence of two exceptional musical personalities: tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana and pianist Kevin Hays.

Described as a “trend-setter for her generation” by Greg Osby and “one of New York’s finest young saxophonists” by George Coleman, Santiago-born Melissa Aldana has been quickly making large waves in the New York and international jazz scenes over the last few years. This past September Melissa was named the winner of the 2013 Thelonious Monk Competition, establishing herself as the first female instrumentalist to win the competition. Since moving to New York in 2009 from Berklee College of Music, Melissa has performed with likes of Greg Osby, George Garzone, George Coleman, Benny GolsonFrancisco Mela, and Antonio Sanchez. Regarding her sophomore release “Second Cycle” (Inner Circle), The New York Times notes that it “…sounds like a moment of synthesis and challenge, when a jazz musician wants to squeeze the music’s history and prove herself on deeper levels.” This past winter, Melissa has been performing with her Crash Trio, accompanied by bassist Pablo Menares and drummer Francisco Mela, while making numerous stops at jazz festivals across Mexico, Spain, Italy, and Chile. We look forward to her Gallery return.

Joining Melissa will be critically acclaimed pianist Kevin Hays, whom John Scofield refers to as “…all encompassing. Phenomenally so!Kevin has been a driving force in the New York jazz community for over 20 years and is noted for his work with Bill Stewart, having led his trio with Stewart and Doug Weiss while also being a part of Stewart’s own trio. Kevin is also highly in-demand as a sideman, having performed and/or recorded with the likes of Eddie HendersonNicholas PaytonJack DeJohnette, and John Scofield. Recently, Kevin has been leading his “New Day” Trio with bassist Rob Jost and drummer Greg Joseph, which, according to The New York Times, “…has suggested a modern update to the Keith Jarrett Trio of the 1970s.” We have been presenting Kevin on various bills since 2002 and look forward to yet another exemplary performance as he and Melissa negotiate and explore ideas on our stage this Saturday.

We got in touch with Kevin Hays by email; he had this to say about this collaboration:

This is a new project for the two of us. I have played and recorded quite a bit in a duo context (with Brad Mehldau, Bill Stewart, Eli Degibri, etc) and always enjoy the intimacy of the format. I had been hearing about Melissa for a while before she won the Monk competition. She has a wonderful sound and a great, melodic sense. 

The material we have chosen to perform is a mixture of Melissa’s  and my own originals, a couple of standards (and a few surprises thrown in!). There’s a looseness to the approach we are taking to the material that I really like. Melissa or I might start a tune and not even hint at what it is for a little while. Already I feel a sense of trust growing where the music can happen organically, without forcing.

I’m excited to see what grows out of this new musical partnership!

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Photo by Laura Razzano

Photo by Laura Razzano

Freshly assembled in 2013, Bohemian Trio has positioned itself as a confluence of three distinct voices working to acknowledge their musical origin while defying boundaries. Based out of New York City, this contemporary ensemble features Yosvany Terry on saxophone & chekeré, Yves Dharamraj on cello, and Orlando Alonso on piano. With a focus on unique instrumentation and improvisation, the trio hopes to create a new sound that is rooted both in European and South American melodies and the rhythms of the African Diaspora. As Nate Chinen of The New York Times points out, Bohemian Trio “…specializes in music of traditional Latin American origin, though its methods are cosmopolitan.” (more…)

Photo courtesy of the artist

Photo courtesy of the artist

Please join us this Thursday, February 27th, to welcome singer, guitarist, composer, and arranger Camila Meza to our stage as she presents her quartet as part of our Thursday Night Début Series. Camila moved to New York from Santiago, Chile five years ago on a scholarship from The New School and quickly began collaborating with the likes of Aaron Goldberg, Greg Hutchinson, John Ellis, Clarence Penn, Shai Maestro, Sachal Vasandani, Gerald Clayton, Fabian Almazan, Kendrick Scott, Francisco Mela, and Paquito D’Rivera, among others. She’s already released three albums under her own name, the most recent of which, Prisma (2013), was co-produced with pianist Aaron Goldberg, and is featured on Fabian Almazan’s upcoming release for Blue Note/ArtistShare, Rhizome, which is due out in March.

For those unfamiliar with Camila’s work, we’ve chosen a couple choice videos from YouTube as an introduction to this talented young artist.

“Silencio” (Rafael Hernandez), performed solo by Camila Meza on Jazz Divas (2013):


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Photo by John Baptiste Guillemin

Photo by John Baptiste Guillemin

Australian-born bassist Linda Oh seems to always be in wide demand: in recent years, she could be seen performing with Sound Prints, the quintet co-led by trumpeter Dave Douglas and tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano; co-conspirators like Fabian Almazan, Marcus Strickland, and a host of other internationally prominent artists; and with her own bands. Linda released her third album as a leader, Sun Pictures (Greenleaf), in late August, and she’ll be performing music from this album as well as music from Initial Here, her sophomore release, this Saturday at the Gallery. We caught up with Linda by phone to learn a bit more about the music and the experiences that inspired some of these compositions.

The Jazz Gallery: Can you say a few words about the music you’ll be playing on Friday?

Linda Oh: Some of it’s from my second album Initial Here, so there will be some tunes from that album and other tunes I’ve been working on since then. There’ll be a couple from my latest one [Sun Pictures], but it’ll mainly be from my second one.

TJG: How has your music from Initial Here and your most recent release, Sun Pictures (Greenleaf), evolved since they were recorded?

LO: The album Initial Here was a combination of several tunes that I was working on at the time; I had just taken a trip to China and Malaysia, so there were a couple tunes related to that trip. There’s one tune in particular dedicated to my grandmothers, who were both Chinese, which has lyrics. I had Jen Shyu singing half in Mandarin and half in English, but she’s in Indonesia now so we’re going to do an instrumental version of it.

We’ve modified one in particular, “Desert Island Dream,” that was pertaining to that immigrant dream of going to a new place, so that’s just a slightly different vibe; I like exploring different ways to interpret tunes. I mean, it depends on the tune and what I want from it—obviously, if it’s a tune that’s personal to me and quite sad, I wouldn’t go nuts with it, but some of them have really changed.  (more…)

Photo by Vincent Soyez, courtesy of the artist

Photo by Vincent Soyez, courtesy of the artist

Throughout her career as a jazz musician, Jamie Baum has followed an uncommon path. It began with her choice of instrument, the flute. While you’ll see many accomplished sax players pick up the flute to play ensemble parts in a big band, very few make it a primary solo instrument these days. Over the past two decades, Baum has shown that the flute is not just a jazz novelty, but an instrument that can be the emotional epicenter of a band. Her global range of influences and intricate, uniquely-textured arrangements say loud and clear that she and her instrument must be taken seriously.

On Friday at The Jazz Gallery, Baum will lead her “Septet +” in a performance of music off her most recent, acclaimed album, In This Life (Sunnyside). Her compositions on the record draw on musical experiences from all over the world, including her trips to South Asia as a US jazz ambassador and her love of the music of legendary Sufi singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. In a recent interview on NPR’s All Things Considered program, Baum told host Arun Rath about her attempts to unlock the mysteries of the singer’s style:

I actually did some transcribing of his vocal improvisations to get, you know, an idea of what he was doing. It was rather challenging because it’s so fast and his technical ability is just uncanny. So I think I had to, you know, use a slowdown machine two or three times to finally sort of get an idea of what he was doing. And it was very revealing both rhythmically and his embellishment and the way that he develops his solos. (more…)