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Photo by William Brown, courtesy of the artist.

Photo by William Brown, courtesy of the artist.

This Thursday, June 9th, The Jazz Gallery is proud to welcome pianist Simona Premazzi back to our stage. In her decade-plus experience in New York, Premazzi has forged a unique identity as a soloist and composer, releasing three standout records of her own and working the likes of trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and saxophonist Greg Osby. Her most recent album, The Lucid Dreamer (Inner Circle Music) received strong praise from Ben Ratliff of the New York Times, noting that “…her soloing is something special… picking up on on a complex, heavily rhythmic and idiosyncratic tradition that goes back to stride piano and runs through Thelonious Monk and Andrew Hill.”

On Thursday at the Gallery, Premazzi will be joined by her most recent project—Outspoken—featuring saxophonist Dayna Stephens, bassist Rick Rosato, and drummer Adam Arruda. Check out the group navigating Premazzi’s knotty tribute to Andrew Hill, “Up on A. Hill,” in the video below.

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Photo by Allison Williams, courtesy of the artist.

Photo by Allison Williams, courtesy of the artist.

For much of his career, pianist & guitarist Rob Clearfield has been a true musician’s musician. He’s an expert accompanist and generous sideman, so it’s no surprise that Clearfield is the pianist of choice for numerous groups in his home city of Chicago, including ensembles led by bassist Matt Ulery and saxophonist Greg Ward, as well as the prog rock band District 97. Recently though, Clearfield has begun to step out as a leader, showcasing his talents as a soloist and his unique perspective as a composer.

In 2013, Clearfield released his debut record The Long and Short of It, featuring ambitious compositions for a quintet. Last Friday, Clearfield released his followup effort, Islands (Ears & Eyes Records). If early reviews are any indication, Islands is a big step forward for Clearfield. Writing in the Chicago Tribune, Howard Reich calls Clearfield’s playing “melodically urgent and tonally warm,” and notes that “…shades of jazz and rock, classical and pop course through this recording, the music radically changing direction not only from tune to tune but sometimes within a composition.”

This Tuesday, June 7th, The Jazz Gallery is proud to welcome Clearfield to our stage for the first time as a leader. He’ll be joined by the members of his working trio from Islands–bassist Curt Bley and drummer Quin Kirchner—as well as two recent Chicago transplants who have since found homes here at the Gallery—trumpeter Marquis Hill and saxophonist Caroline Davis. Check out some tracks from Islands below, then see the music take on a whole new dimension live at the Gallery this Tuesday.

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Photo by Vincent Soyez, via www.jamiebaum.com

Photo by Vincent Soyez, via www.jamiebaum.com

Flautist Jamie Baum has traveled through countries and eras for inspiration for her compositions. “She’s into tone color and timbre and the blending of languages, jazz, and 20th-century classical and Afro-Latin music,” Ben Ratliff wrote in the New York Times in 2013. Her gig at The Jazz Gallery this Saturday has a simple framework—writing streamlined melodies for her top-notch band to improvise over—but there’s no doubt she’ll draw from her many sources to create something unique. We spoke with her this week; here are excerpts from that conversation.

TJG: How did this project, “Short Stories,” come about?

JB: I’ve been focused on this large group [the Jamie Baum Septet and Septet Plus], writing longer extended forms. As I wrote longer and longer over 15 years, I would start really hearing who would play on what: really thinking of a recording, or compositionally. It became more removed from the typical blowing thing, and I was soloing less and less. I wanted to complement that with something that was completely different. I’d been really thinking that I wanted to get back to, or at least have, another outlet focusing more on playing.

TJG: What was the inspiration for these pieces you’ve been writing?

JB: I came up, as most jazz musicians do, working on standards: Porter, Gershwin; studying the tunes of Thelonious Monk. And really being enamored by short pieces of Wayne Shorter and Miles Davis: “Nefertiti,” or “Frelon Brun,” or “Filles de Kilimanjaro.” They’re really short, but create a vibe immediately. And certainly with Monk, he has short melodies, but they’re so strong that they gave you so much material to solo on. So after writing longer and longer things, I wanted see if I could take what I learned from that, and write short pieces with those concepts with Miles or Wayne in mind.

TJG: So are you essentially writing new standards?

JB: That’s a very lofty idea. [Laughs] If they become that, wouldn’t that be cool? But I got my masters in composition. If there’s anything I learned from all the time I spent there, it’s better not to put that kind of pressure on myself when I write. That’s the kiss of death right away.

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Photo by Peter Gannushkin, http://downtownmusic.net

Photo by Peter Gannushkin, http://downtownmusic.net

This Friday, June 3rd, The Jazz Gallery is proud to welcome pianist Kris Davis and her band Capricorn Climber to our stage for two sets. The group is made up of many of Davis’s longtime musical partners, each of whom is an adventurous band leader in his or her own right—saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, violist Mat Maneri, bassist Trevor Dunn, and drummer Tom Rainey.

Before coming out to the Gallery for these two exploratory sets, check out Jazz Speaks’ interview with Davis from last spring, and one of the standout tracks from the group’s eponymous album, “Pass the Magic Hat,” a track that Nate Chinen of the New York Times described as “…an engrossing lesson in ensemble flux, carried out with finesse.”

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