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From L to R: Broc Hempel, Jeff Taylor, and Jason Rigby. Photo courtesy of the artist.

From L to R: Broc Hempel, Jeff Taylor, and Jason Rigby. Photo courtesy of the artist.

The music of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Taylor doesn’t really suggest strong roots in the Great American Songbook. In projects such as Dumpter Hunter and Beat Music, his voice can be raw and intense, his lyrics evocative and elliptical. However, when Taylor sat down with Jazz Speaks for an interview last September, he spoke of the importance and lasting impact of his training in the standards of jazz.

That night, I sat on the futon in [the Rosenthal’s] living room and Tom Rosenthal got the vinyl out: Sinatra Live at the Sands, with Count Basie and Orchestra. Then Kind of Blue. Well, you hear that for the first time and… Wow, I didn’t know what to say.

Tom takes the record off and says “Listen, I’m going to call up a pianist friend of mine. You have a 4-track, right? Buy yourself a couple of tapes, let’s pick an Eddie Jefferson song where he sings the Charlie Parker solos with lyrics put to them, and make an audition tape.” So I did “Disappointed.” I spent every day learning how to nail it. Then I did “When Somebody Loves You” in Sinatra style, as well as “Fly Me To The Moon,” all with piano accompaniment in the Rosenthal’s living room.

Later, when I was at William Patterson University, it was the first year that the late great James Williams, of The Jazz Messengers, was the co-director there. James Williams, of all the faculty, was hands-on with singers in the best possible way. By all rights the guy really had some chops, he could have been hanging with all the other cats. But he would stay late and work with the vocalists. Sarah Versprille (of Pure Bathing Culture) and I were the vocalists at William Paterson—she had a deep knowledge of the American songbook, where I knew whatever Tom Rosenthal had shown me.

This Friday, April 1st, Taylor returns to The Jazz Gallery to sing two sets of standards with a top-notch band. While the repertoire may be recognizable, Taylor and company will be sure to take the tunes in unexpected and exciting directions. Come out and see a group of highly talented individuals leave their distinctive marks on jazz classics. (more…)

Photo courtesy of the artist.

Photo courtesy of the artist.

Grammy-winning pianist Cory Smythe keeps company with quite the array of musicians. He’s the longtime musical partner of violinist Hilary Hahn and a core member of the acclaimed International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), not to mention a member of drummer Tyshawn Sorey’s trio. You could describe Smythe as a musical shapeshifter, but that would undersell how Smythe is able to channel diverse styles of music through his singular voice.

Smythe’s ability to weave a single musical fabric out of diverse strands is on full display on his recent solo album, Pluripotent. Smythe’s thirteen miniatures cover a huge expressive range, blurring the spontaneous and the preconceived, and questioning the stylistic divisions between jazz, classical, and beyond.

This Thursday, March 31st, The Jazz Gallery is proud to welcome Smythe to our stage for the first time as a leader. Before stopping by for one his two sets, check out Pluripotent below to get a sense of the kind of daring and exploratory music that will be on display.

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Photo via www.youtube.com

Photo via www.youtube.com

Henry Cole is a poly-cultural, shape-shifting drummer whose versatile and polyrhythmic style seems to be able to fit seamlessly into any. In that same vein, this Friday and Saturday, The Jazz Gallery is proud to present two different ensembles of Cole’s, featuring different musicians and instrumentation.

Cole is a native of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, and began playing percussion at a young age. Initially inspired by Latin percussionists like Giovanni Hidalgo and Ray Barretto, Cole discovered a passion for Jazz and improvised music while attending Berklee College of Music in Boston. After moving back to Puerto Rico and cultivating a reputation for himself in the small but mighty San Juan scene, Cole moved to New York City and quickly became one of the most in-demand sidemen in the city. He has occupied the drum chair in the working bands of luminaries such as Miguel Zenon, David Sanchez, Fabian Almazan, Stephon Harris, Nicholas Payton, and Alfredo Rodriguez. No matter the setting, from Almazan’s heady and ruminative ballads to Zenon’s Rhumba rave-ups, Cole’s style is centered by a deep pocket. (more…)

Ben Wolfe, Samora Pinderhughes, and Donald Edwards. Photos courtesy of the artists.

Ben Wolfe, Samora Pinderhughes, and Donald Edwards. Photos courtesy of the artists.

In an interview with Ethan Iverson, pianist Fred Hersch spoke about how he turned many of his earliest New York gigs into masterclasses:

When I first started getting trio gigs, if the gig paid 200 dollars, I would hire [bassist] Buster Williams and [drummer] Billy Hart, and give them each 100 dollars.

The conventional wisdom in jazz is that experienced elder statesmen find up-and-comers to hire and mentor, not the other way around. But like Hersch and many others, pianist Samora Pinderhughes is hungry for musical growth and has sought out these kind of bandstand learning experiences.

This past winter, Pinderhughes showed himself to be an able and enthusiastic student through a series of Jazz Gallery mentorship concerts with vocalist Claudia Acuña. This Thursday, March 24th, Pinderhughes returns to the Gallery with two hard swinging elders for another masterclass—bassist Ben Wolfe and drummer Donald Edwards. Both Wolfe and Edwards and deeply steeped in the jazz tradition. Wolfe has performed with the likes of Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, as well as top-tier vocalists like Diane Schuur, Diana Krall, and Harry Connick, Jr. Edwards is a regular in the Mingus Big Band and Dynasty band and has helped propel pianist Orrin Evans’s bands for many years.

Through his work as both a leader and sideman, Samora Pinderhughes has exhibited a musical maturity that belies his young age. Comes see that maturity on full display at The Jazz Gallery this Thursday. (more…)

The Tomoko Omura Roots Quintet. Photo courtesy of the artist.

The Tomoko Omura Roots Quintet. Photo courtesy of the artist.

This Thursday, March 17th, The Jazz Gallery is proud to welcome violinist Tomoko Omura to our stage for the first time as a leader. Since coming to the United States from Japan in 2004 to study at the Berklee College of Music, Omura has established herself as a versatile collaborator and leader with a unique improvisational voice. She’s earned the respect of established violinists like Christian Howes (he calls her “…both informed and boldly creative), and has performed with the likes of pianist Fabian Almazan (on his Rhizome project) and the clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera.

In 2015, Omura released her first album on Greg Osby’s Inner Circle Music label—Roots. Featuring a band of talented peers, including pianist Glenn Zaleski, Roots explores popular and folk songs from Japan through Omura’s cosmopolitan style. This Thursday, Omura and her quintet will be presenting music from this record, along with new compositions and arrangements that push the project in new directions. Check out one of these new arrangements in the video below, and be sure to come out for more on Thursday.

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