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Taylor Eigsti (l), photo by Bill Douthart; Jeremy Dutton (r), photo via www.onemustwonder.com

Taylor Eigsti (l), photo by Bill Douthart; Jeremy Dutton (r), photo via www.onemustwonder.com

Back in October, we presented four great shows with pianist Taylor Eigsti and drummer Jeremy Dutton as part of our new Mentoring Series. Every gig featured a different lineup and different repertoire, and we had the chance to talk with Taylor and Jeremy over the course of those gigs about the work they were presenting together (read the entire trilogy here: part I, II, and III).

Now, a little over a month after their final Mentoring Series concert, we spoke with Taylor and Jeremy separately by phone to follow up with their experience and hear their thoughts.

N.B. Catch the last Mentoring Series show of this season on Thursday, January 15th, 2015, featuring Jason Lindner’s NOW vs. NOW with James Francies.

The Jazz Gallery: What were some of your favorite moments that happened over the course of the four gigs? 

Jeremy Dutton: I really liked all of them. They were all very different and gave me something to think about musically and something different to adapt to. That was my favorite part in general: how each concert I got to adapt to a new thing or tried to adapt to a new thing.

Taylor Eigsti: There were tons of musical moments that stood out, but I think just the chance to explore different musical contexts was cool. We did different music at every show, but I think the first moment that comes to mind would have been the second gig. We decided to improvise for 70 minutes straight, and that’s definitely something that takes you on a journey together. I felt like you really get to know someone musically when you’re so into that context with no safety net, just knowing you have to play for 70 minutes. I think he’s just a masterful, really great musician, and I thought, “Whoa, I know this dude musically.” He’s got a huge future and I’m proud of it.

TJG: How do you rehearse that sort of thing?

TE: There’s no way to rehearse. The only way is to hang out socially, because it’s social communication when you’re in that situation, but we get along really well so it makes it possible to have a musical conversation that doesn’t have, you know, training wheels—having tunes and things like that.

TJG: How do you decide what you’re going to play?

TE: It depends. Just like any conversation: if the wind takes you there, that’s what you’re talking about, but we could just talk about anything else. The musicians I hang with and travel with, we probably only talk about music as much as anything else. It’s just that music reflects life and so I’m very much about going and living one, and doing those elements and trying to survive all of that, and that shows up in the music. I guess that would be something different, maybe if music was newer to me or something, but I’ve been playing for 26 years and I see so much life in it, so I interact with music mainly through a lot of other means.

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Photo by Deneka Peniston, via www.markguiliana.com

Photo by Deneka Peniston, via www.markguiliana.com

Drummer Mark Guiliana has been hustling for a long time. For the last 10 odd years he’s worked tirelessly as a sideman for the likes of Gretchen Parlato, Lionel Loueke, and Avishai Cohen. But in 2014 Guiliana pushed even harder, making a shift toward band leading and songwriting. He has three releases out this year with his name receiving top billing: Taming the Dragon (Nonesuch), a highly acclaimed duo project with pianist Brad Mehldau; Beat Music: The Los Angeles Improvisations (Beat Music), with the group he founded a few years ago; and My Life Starts Now (Beat Music). In anticipation of his shows this Friday and Saturday, December 19th and 20th, 2014, at The Jazz Gallery, we caught up with him by phone:

The Jazz Gallery: Congratulations on all of your projects this year. What’s it been like juggling them all?

Mark Guiliana: There were a few moments when it was a little intimidating, for sure. My initial plan was to release four records at once. I didn’t want to be that musician guy who didn’t have label interest and just passively released something on his own. I wanted to make a confident statement and create the idea of an instant catalog.

I learned very quickly that I was in over my head. Four got reduced to two [ed. note: Taming the Dragon was recorded in May of 2013.] Even that had challenges, and each step felt like it multiplied by two. But it was great.

TJG: How was working with David Bowie this year?

MG: I’m not sure it could have gone better, actually. And I have to include Maria Schneider in the conversation: it was a true collaboration of theirs. David was there for every step of the way, and it was definitely apparent that he was committed 100%. There’s no mistake why he is who he is.

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Connections: Mind the Gap (2014), via www.bobstewartuba.com

Connections: Mind the Gap (2014), via www.bobstewartuba.com

For over four decades, tuba player Bob Stewart has been providing the low end for groups led by jazz legends across the stylistic spectrum, from Gil Evans to Charles Mingus to Lester Bowie. He’s helped move the instrument out of the shadows and into the front line as a bona fide solo instrument, expanding its expressive range through the use of multiphonics and amplification.

This past September marked the release of Stewart’s newest solo record, Connections — Mind the Gap (Sunnyside). The album acts as both a summation of Stewart’s musical associations through his career thus far and a look into the future. Over the course of the record, Stewart juxtaposes compositions by some of the illustrious bandleaders he has worked with and a new piece, In Color, for solo tuba and string quartet, composed by Jessie Montgomery. In a four and a half star review in DownBeat magazine, Jon Garelick writes, “…the grooves, as you can imagine, are just about perfect,” and “Stewart’s virtuoso brass work … is still a wonder.”

We are proud to present Bob Stewart’s Double Quartet and their new music this Saturday, December 13th, 2014, at The Jazz Gallery. To get a sense of what Stewart has in store for the Gallery audience, we caught up with him by phone.

The Jazz Gallery: Can you tell us about the origin of this Double Quartet project?

Bob Stewart: It was initiated because I commissioned a piece to be written for me by Jessie Montgomery. Jessie is a great composer and violinist who plays in the Catalyst Quartet and works through the organization Sphinx House. We worked together and figured out how to present it. I didn’t really want a typical tuba solo piece like an étude or something, but a piece that explored the sound qualities of the instrument, using multiphonics, using overtones from the extremes of the instrument—a lot of different things.

The result was the piece In Color, which is in five movements. Each movement explores a different texture that the tuba can present. My son is a violinist and he has a group called PUBLIQuartet, and when I first came to Jessie with the commission, she was in the group as well. Working with that group was a natural fit. At the same time, I was doing some recordings with my other quintet that includes trumpet, trombone, drums, and violin. I then decided to present these two different projects together on a single record.

The way this music appears on the record is different than it appears live. On the record, you’ll hear a piece featuring the string quartet, then a piece featuring the jazz quintet (or sometimes quartet), and it will kind of go back and forth. It makes the CD feel like it has five big movements, each one having a color, a texture, a timbre of its own. The jazz pieces fit into the emotion of each movement of Jessie’s composed piece.

This is where the project came from, but now—like in the performance that’s going to happen at The Jazz Gallery—it’s a real amalgamation where both groups meld and become one. What we’ve been working on now is making some of the jazz pieces on the record into full ensemble pieces. Sometimes the strings are freely-improvised, sometimes the horns are freely-improvised, sometimes everything is written out. So you have a lot of different phases of this color in the Double Quartet.

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Photo by Lisa Walters, via www.manuelvalera.com

Photo by Lisa Walters, via www.manuelvalera.com

“When I listen to a Cuban pianist like Chucho Valdés, or someone like Bill Evans or Red Garland, there’s a connection between the two worlds,” said pianist Manuel Valera for an interview with Jazz Speaks. “When I listen to drummer Elvin Jones at a slower tempo, it sounds almost Afro-Cuban—the way he plays the triplets under the ride cymbal pattern. When things are colliding with each other, something good usually comes out.”

Since releasing his début album, Forma Nuevo (MAVO), in 2004, Valera has gone on to release a total of nine albums under his name, most recently In Motion (Criss Cross), the third release by his New Cuban Express band, in September, as well as his first solo release, Self-Portrait, in August.

Valera last presented a band on our stage in June, when he premiered Martí en Nueva York, a Chamber Music America-commissioned work which honored Cuban national hero José Martí. Check out our conversation with Valera from March, when he last appeared on our stage with his trio in another iteration that featured Hans Glawischnig on bass and Jeff “Tain” Watts on drums. He’ll be appearing this weekend with Glawischnig again on bass and E.J. Strickland on drums. Here they are performing Valera’s original composition “Spiral” at Firehouse 12 in October:

The Manuel Valera Trio performs this Friday, December 12th, 2014, at The Jazz Gallery. The trio features Valera on piano, Hans Glawischnig on bass, and E.J. Strickland on drums. Sets are at 8 and 10 p.m., $22 general admission and $10 for Members. Purchase tickets here

Photo by Lauren Desberg

Photo by Lauren Desberg, via www.emmetcohen.com

Pianist-organist Emmet Cohen doesn’t have an ordinary biography page on his website; he has a history page.

He has been in the process of establishing his personal musical history since the age of three, when he began Suzuki lessons in Miami, FL. He continued his studies at the Manhattan School of Music’s Precollege Division after moving to Montclair, NJ, at age 10, and returned to Miami to attend the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. It wasn’t long before he began earning the string of accolades that reflect his ascendance as a leading artist of his generation: most recently, first place at the 2014 American Jazz Pianist Competition in Melbourne, FL, as well as third place in the 2011 Thelonious Monk Piano Competition and a spot in the finals for the 2011 American Pianist’s Association’s Cole Porter Fellowship.

At age 24, Cohen has already made his mark on the New York jazz scene, working in the bands of Kurt Elling, Brian Lynch, and many others while performing regularly at familiar rooms around the city like Smalls Jazz Club and Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.

In 2011, Emmet released his début album, In the Element, featuring Joe Sanders and Rodney Green. Most recently, he released Questioned Answer with trumpeter Brian Lynch, with whom he worked extensively while attending the Frost School of Music; the duo appeared on our stage in late October to celebrate the release of the album.

We’re pleased to welcome Emmet back to the Gallery on Thursday when he’ll make his début as a leader here. He’ll be bringing a quartet of long-time collaborators and peers: trumpeter Benny Benack III, bassist Russell Hall, and drummer Mark Whitfield Jr. We hope you’ll join us in welcoming this rising star to our stage.

The Emmet Cohen Quartet performs this Thursday, December 11th, 2014, at The Jazz Gallery. The band features Cohen on piano, Benny Benack III on trumpet, Russell Hall on bass, and Mark Whitfield Jr. on drums. Sets are at 8 & 10 p.m. The first set is $15.00 ($10.00 for Members) and the second set is $10.00 ($8.00 for Members). Purchase tickets here.