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Photo via ryankeberle.com

Photo via ryankeberle.com

Ryan Keberle is everywhere. The protean trombonist has made a name for himself as an in-demand sideman on seemingly every New York scene, performing in Latin bands, Broadway pits, and the horn sections of everyone from Alicia Keys to Sufjan Stevens. But even with all these gigs on his resume, Keberle considers himself a composer and improviser first.

His most recent album, Music Is Emotion (Alternate Side), features involved arrangements deftly performed by his pianoless quartet, Catharsis, with Mike Rodriguez on trumpet, Jorge Roeder on bass, and Eric Doob on drums. For the group’s next album, which they recorded in January, Keberle has added to the mix vocalist Camila Meza, who will also be at the group’s upcoming Gallery performance. We caught up with Ryan by phone to talk about his variegated career and current projects.

The Jazz Gallery: In addition to your solo work, you’re active in many musical fields. Do you change your mindset in some way when you enter a different setting?

Ryan Keberle: I definitely do. I think that the trick is to get to know each genre well enough so that you’re not having to think too hard, because otherwise…it sounds unnatural, and it sounds forced. Really, the key is to immerse yourself in whatever genre you’re looking to participate in so it really becomes a part of you and a part of your own musical language.

If you think you’ve got it, you probably don’t. You don’t have it until you don’t have to think about it anymore. (more…)

Photo courtesy of the artist

Photo courtesy of the artist

UPDATED 4:25 P.M., 2/13/14: DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER, RANDY INGRAM’S CD RELEASE PERFORMANCE HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19th.

PATRONS WHO HAVE ALREADY PURCHASED TICKETS FOR TONIGHT’S SHOW MAY (1) USE THE TICKETS FOR ANOTHER SHOW, OR (2) GET A REFUND. PLEASE EMAIL US TO LET US KNOW WHICH OPTION YOU CHOOSE AT: info@jazzgallery.org

It’s hard to make a piano sing. You can’t breathe into it, you can’t slide from one note to another. The piano is a mechanical music-maker, and it takes a real artist—an Ahmad Jamal, a Bill Evans, a Fred Hersch—to make it come alive.

Pianist Randy Ingram is one of those artists. He has an immaculately honed touch and an unforced sense of lyricism. His graceful melodies never feel tethered to the ground.

It is appropriate then that Ingram named his new album Sky/Lift (Sunnyside). Featuring an all-star cast of collaborators—Mike Moreno on guitar, Matt Clohesy on bass, and Jochen Rueckert on drums—Ingram’s set of original compositions take flight on the backs of clear melodies and fleet-footed rhythms. We caught up Randy by phone to talk about the inspiration behind his new record.

The Jazz Gallery: You’re going to be celebrating the release of Sky/Lift on Thursday at the Gallery, which is your second record, following 2009’s The Road Ahead (BJU Records). What was your motivation behind putting out this new music? 

Randy Ingram: Ever since I made my first record, I’ve been thinking about the next one. I feel on everybody’s first record, you’re just kind of going in and doing it because you haven’t been through the process of it before. I had written a couple of tunes for that record, played a couple of other peoples’ tunes, played a couple of standards, and I sort of knew after that that I really wanted to make a record that focused on my writing and had a band identity to it.

I started playing with guitarist Mike Moreno a little bit and after we did some gigs together, I fell in love with the idea of having piano and guitar together. As I started to write the music for this next album, I didn’t write it specifically for this combination—I think it could work in other contexts—but it really started to come together once I had Mike’s sound in my ear. As soon as I had an album’s worth of music and we had played some gigs and gotten familiar with the material, I felt I was really ready to go for it. (more…)

Photo via benwendel.com

Photo via benwendel.com

“Do you mind if I cook while we talk?” said Ben Wendel over the phone late Friday afternoon. Over the past two months, Ben, as part of this year’s 2013-14 Residency Commissions series at The Jazz Gallery, has been composing new music for various projects, including his new quartet. The band features pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Joe Sanders, and drummer Henry Cole, and will perform his new music next Friday and Saturday, February 14th and 15th. We spoke with Ben in December at the beginning of his residency and caught up with him on Friday to learn more about what he has in store for us during his performances next weekend.

The Jazz Gallery: You mentioned in December that you hoped to write some duets. Did you end up sticking to that plan?

Ben Wendel: Yeah! So far I’ve written seven of twelve now, and I’m going to be trying them out over the next month. I’ve written a duet for me and Aaron Parks, for me and Julian Lage, for me and Taylor Eigsti, for me and Mark Turner, and they’re all really different. The springboard for writing these came from things about each player that I really enjoy or thought are indicative of their musical personality.

TJG: Did you encounter any unexpected challenges in writing these? 

BW: I’d say that the biggest challenge is just finding time to try these pieces out with the musicians! The nice thing is that they’re totally open to it, so it’s just a matter of coordinating times; it’s starting to come together. And you know, writing is…it’s just hard work. It’s really rewarding, but it’s a really slow, intense, laborious experience. You spend six to seven hours a day slowly putting a piece together, and there’s so much stopping and starting and going down paths that lead to nowhere, and you have to start over.

I’m over halfway through with the duets and I’ve written three new pieces for the new solo album with the quartet. I was also able to write a couple of pieces for this collaborative album I’m doing with this electronic artist called Daedelus, which has been in the works. I’ve been able to attack a few pieces there, including something I just finished that I’m really proud of; I’ve done a very, very strange arrangement of a famous tune by that band called The Cars—one of their most popular hits called “Drive.” Most people know it through some of the lyrics that are in the song itself, like “Who’s gonna drive you home tonight?” There’s a hilarious video—you’ve got to see it. (more…)

Yosvany Terry at the Stanford Jazz Workshop

Yosvany Terry at the Stanford Jazz Workshop

Though he’s a regular face on the New York jazz circuit, saxophonist, composer, and educator Yosvany Terry remains deeply connected to his Cuban roots. His music can be formally complex and technically intricate, but it always feels organic, retaining a strong sense of groove. This spring, Terry will release a new album entitled New Throned King on 5Passion, a young label maintained by one of his closest collaborators, similarly forward-thinking Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba.

The Jazz Gallery has a long history with Terry. Check out this video from 2008, when he was featured as part of our Composers’ Series:

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Photo via philgrenadierjazz.com

We’re pleased to announce that trumpeter Phil Grenadier will be presenting his quartet on our stage this Thursday night. Just last month, Grenadier released Shimmer (Fresh Sound), his latest album as a leader, which features a set of classic standards re-explored in an intimate trio setting. Grenadier says of the recording:

This recording is something I have wanted to do for a long while—a spontaneous session with long time friends playing some of our favorite standards done in a single take with absolutely no overdubs or fixes. What you hear is what you get. We are striving to rise above the songs into a realm where we are ourselves yet coming together as one. Our codas to each song are a synthesis and distillation of the material, our personalities and the moment. 

In addition to his own projects such as his Boston-based trio, Grenadier has continued to collaborate with a number of artists, including Boston-based saxophone Jerry Bergonzi; Grenadier has appeared on two of Bergonzi’s recent albums, including 2013’s By Any Other Name (Savant), which features a set of contrafact compositions (or, as the album’s subtitle puts it, “Tunes Based On Other Tunes”).

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