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Courtesy of Melvis Santa

Courtesy of Melvis Santa

Cuban vocalist and actress Melvis Santa has been in the spotlight since the age of 14, when she began performing in the all-female vocal group Sexto Sentido, which legendary pianist Chucho Valdés described as “the best Cuban vocal quartet of the past 30 years.” We’re pleased to announce that Santa will be appearing on our stage this weekend with Achedi, which features the likes of David Virelles, Hans Glawischnig, Adam Cruz, and master percussionist Roman Dìaz.

This won’t be any ordinary night at the Gallery, however: from 6-7 p.m., we will hold a dance workshop on popular and Afro-dance styles from Cuba with live drumming by Dìaz. The workshop will be free for Members and $5.00 for the general public, and will be followed by two sets of music and dancing with Achedi. Come dance with us as we present a leading voice of modern Afro-Cuban music on our stage this Saturday.

Melvis Santa’s Achedi performs this Saturday, November 1st, 2014, at The Jazz Gallery. The evening will feature a dance workshop on popular and Afro-dance styles from Cuba 6-7 p.m., with live drumming by master Roman Dìaz, followed by music and dance sets at 8 and 10 p.m. with Santa on vocals & hand percussion, David Virelles on piano, Hans Glawischnig on bass, Adam Cruz on drums, and Dìaz on percussion. The dance workshop is $5.00 and free for Members; the music and dancing sets at 8 and 10 p.m. are $22.00 and $12.00 for Members. Purchase tickets here.

Photo courtesy of Brian Lynch

Photo courtesy of Brian Lynch

When trumpeter Brian Lynch was 32, he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, the famed group that helped launch the careers of dozens of jazz greats. Now three decades into a celebrated career, Lynch is passing on that tradition of mentorship to new generations of musicians.

On Friday, October 31st, 2014, Lynch comes to The Jazz Gallery to celebrate the release of his newest record Questioned Answer, a collaboration with up-and-coming pianist Emmet Cohen. We caught up with Brian by phone to talk about the two-way street of working with younger players and the importance of passing on musical traditions to future generations.

The Jazz Gallery: How did you and Emmet first meet?

Brian Lynch: I originally met Emmet when I was playing a jazz cruise in 2011. Emmet was playing there with a trio of students from the University of Miami. I got to hear him play, and played with him in on board jam sessions, and I was very much impressed with his playing. Later that same year, after an interesting chain of events, I was asked to join the faculty of the University of Miami as the jazz trumpet professor.

When I started teaching, Emmet was finishing his last year there, so he started to take lessons with me, which were primarily based on playing duo together. The more we played, the more things I liked about his playing and his musical concepts. All of that time playing together, especially in the duo format, was the genesis for this record, Questioned Answer. It’s kind of like the final school project. But in the time since Emmet graduated, he’s become ubiquitous on the New York scene, playing everywhere around town—he’s very much left the student role behind!

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Photo by Miguel Mengal, via www.alexlore.com

Photo by Miguel Mengal, via www.alexlore.com

Saxophonist Alex LoRe received high praise for his debut album, Dream House (Inner Circle Music), which was released in April of this year. All About Jazz wrote, “Dream House is full of tasteful, intelligent music that’s also warm and swinging. The album has moments of pure beauty, belying a depth of experience and thoughtfulness.” Ben Ratliff of The New York Times noted, “LoRe is making the connections among about 70 years’ worth of contemplative, articulate and light-toned players, people who can find the emotional node of a ballad where modesty turns nearly to shame, and also locate a single, fine, well-placed note through abstraction or understatement.”

On the album, LoRe displays a measured and mature attention to melody. His technique, which is considerable, always services a greater melodic arc. There are few grand gestures and virtually no superfluous “runs”—rare for any jazz musician, especially remarkable for one so young. Dream House presents a consistent aesthetic, similar to the work of Jimmy Giuffre and Paul Motian’s tamer bands (and like those artists, LoRe knows how to get a variety of sounds and textures out of a trio.) Yes, it’s dreamy, but at the same time it’s earthy, reminding us of the mysteries of common objects. LoRe knows where his dream house is, and we’re excited to see what he does with the place.

LoRe is playing at The Jazz Gallery on Thursday, October 30th, 2014, with his quartet, featuring Dan Tepfer on piano, Martin Nevin on bass, and Colin Stranahan on bass. We got a chance to talk to LoRe last week about his music, his influences, and his mentors.

The Jazz Gallery: You studied with George Garzone and he plays with you on “Amnesia,” the first track of your album. This is unusual in a way because, for many jazz musicians, a début album is a chance to establish an identity independent of their teachers and the conservatories.

Alex LoRe: George and I have a very close relationship. He took me under his wing at NEC [The New England Conservatory of Music] when I was studying with him. He has this kind of relationship with a lot of his students. His family’s from southern Italy and my father’s from Sicily, so there are a lot of similarities between the two. I think that’s part of the reason we bonded so well. I studied with him at Manhattan School of Music as well, during my first year there for graduate studies. We’ve just had this relationship and we’ve played a lot.

That song on the record, I felt it was a good song to open with and I didn’t feel like I had anything to hide. Actually, it was really funny. The first song is a contrafact [on “I Remember You”]. I don’t think George realized that until the recording date. I gave him the charts to practice and he was heckling me for making him practice these lines. So then we’re in the studio and we’re about to record a take and I was like, “George, you want to blow over this?” He said, “No, no, no, you got it.” And I said, “George, it’s just ‘I Remember You.’” He’s like, “Seriously?”

TJG: He quotes it on the record.

AL: Yeah. The look he gave me when I told him that: it’s like, finally the light bulb went off.

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Photo via www.onemustwonder.com

Photo via www.onemustwonder.com

This month, we present four performances with pianist Taylor Eigsti and up-and-coming drummer Jeremy Dutton as part of our Mentoring Series. We’ve published a series of blog posts about these two artists and their ongoing musical friendship. Read Part I and Part II; the final installment is an interview with Jeremy:

The Jazz Gallery: How long have you been in New York?

Jeremy Dutton: It’s hard to say; it feels like it’s been a long time! It was 2012 [when I moved here], so I guess I’ve only been here for two years, but it feels so much longer. Time passes quicker; it’s easier for things to just go by. When I first got here, I just practiced a lot. Something that I was starting to lose at the end of high school was the access to playing a drum set all the time because, you know, 18 years of your son playing drums in the house is a lot to put up with, so by the end it was like, “Why don’t you go do homework?” I played a lot of sessions with people at New School, and I was pretty nervous about it all, honestly, because I was pretty aware that the people I was playing with were some of the best people at school.

When I first got here, there were things I had to get used to in terms of how your environment affects the way you play. To go through such a dramatic change in environment, from being able to see my family everyday to being in New York when I’m on my own every day—it changed my mind a little bit.

There was a period of time when I was trying to gain my footing mentally, and that’s something that I’m always working with and focused on: the mental aspect of playing music. I think that’s a part that goes unchecked a lot of times, and for me it’s been crucial to understanding how to play at a high level. It’s an elusive thing because the situations change so much and there’s no one solution, but generally what I’d say is just relaxing and trying to get away from judgment—getting out of your head, assigning value judgments and all that. It detracts from your focus on the music.

The way I always think of it in my mind is that there’s a door, and I know that once I open the door and go through it, I don’t have to think about anything anymore; I’m just there. The trick is that sometimes the door’s closed, so you have to figure out the way to open it, and it’s almost like you’re figuring out how to open your mind up to different things. It’s just the way life is where you’re dealing with a million other things: your rent’s due, or the homework’s not done, or the song needs to be finished by tomorrow.

Sometimes, all that stress can bring you way closer to the music because you sit down to play and you don’t have time to think about that, but other times you can get to the music and you feel like your thoughts are still somewhere else, which is a hard thing to get over. (more…)

Photo via Marsalis Music

Photo via Marsalis Music

Abbey Lincoln once said of Claudia Acuña that she “sings in the tradition of the great ones. Her sound is her own.” The jazz world seems to agree: when she moved to New York from Chile, a bold move for a then unheard-of singer who made her living recording TV jingles, Acuña was quickly absorbed into the heyday of the Small’s scene, collaborating with Brad Mehldau, Avishai Cohen (the bassist), Jeff Ballard, and Jason Lindner. She signed with Verve in 1999, recorded subsequently for MAXJAZZ, and has since toured and recorded with a who’s who of American jazz musicians, including Christian McBride, Danilo Pérez, Tom Harrell, Roy Hargrove, and George Benson.

Acuña hasn’t released an album since 2009’s En Esta Momento (Marsalis Music), but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t stayed busy. In addition to playing inspired Latin-tinged jazz with her own band, she recently collaborated with lauded composer Henry Threadgill for the Very Very Threadgill Festival. Acuña is also a mainstay at the Gallery, having performed over twenty times since 2003. Her upcoming show, which she’s titled “Canciones de Amor y Desamor,” features an ensemble of cello, bass, and drums, with Brian Blade Fellowship pianist Jon Cowherd joining the band for the second set. We’re thrilled to welcome Claudia Acuña back to the Gallery for what looks to be a standout show.

Claudia Acuña performs this Saturday, October 25th, 2014, at The Jazz Gallery. The performance will feature Acuña on vocals, Rufus Capadiocia on cello, Benjamin Willis on bass, Yayo Serka on drums, plus Jon Cowherd on piano during the second set. Sets are at 8 and 10 p.m., and tickets are $22.00 ($12.00 for Members). Purchase tickets here.