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Photo by Claudio Roman.

This Friday, November 17th, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome guitarist Charles Altura back to our stage. With his unmatched fluidity and multifaceted sound, Altura has become one of the most sought-after sidemen on the jazz scene, playing with the likes of Chick Corea, Terrence Blanchard, Tom Harrell, and Ambrose Akinmusire.

For his two sets at the Gallery, Altura has assembled a quartet of players not afraid to throw down and mix it up—John Escreet on piano, Harish Raghavan on bass, and E.J. Strickland on drums. Before checking out Altura’s development as a leader, watch his potent solo on tour with Terrence Blanchard’s E-Collective.


Photo courtesy of the artist.

Guitarist and lifelong New Yorker Adam Rogers returns to The Jazz Gallery this week with DICE, his band featuring Fima Ephron on bass and Nate Smith on drums. If you’re not familiar with Rogers’ guitar playing, you’ve surely heard him alongside artists such as Michael Brecker, Norah Jones, Paul Simon, Regina Carter, John Zorn, Marcus Miller, The Mingus Orchestra, Chris Potter, and Ravi Coltrane, among others.

Known as a guitar virtuoso of eclectic taste and unimpeachable technique, Rogers cultivates a sound on DICE that at once elicits comparisons to guitarists Jimi Hendrix, Allan Holdsworth, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and Roy Buchanan. Released last summer, DICE has both raw and immersive, spacious qualities, with tracks contrasting blistering trio jams with dense, swirling sonic layers. Rogers himself plays a wide range of instruments on the album, including clarinets, synthesizers, organs, and different loops and samples. We spoke at length with Rogers about the recording process, the role of compositional limitations, and the importance of mic’ing the room.

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The Jazz Gallery: Thanks for sharing the DICE record in anticipation of the show. I really enjoyed listening to it, and it sounded like it was a fun record to make.

Adam Rogers: The actual recording part was fun, yeah. When you’re making a record, there’s a certain part of your brain that doesn’t allow for as much fun as you’d like to be having. It was very rewarding, but it was a lot of work.

TJG: Is there a part of the process that necessitates the ‘fun’ being shut off?

AR: That’s hard to articulate. For this record, we recorded for a couple days, then I worked on it for a long time before releasing it. Recording was as fun as could be. And I’ve played with Fima and Nate for a long time, so as far as their parts are concerned, there’s not much I had to worry about. But when you’re only in the studio for a couple of days, there are a lot of concerns on your mind. When self-producing, there are a lot of ‘i’s and ‘t’s that need to be dotted and crossed, in terms of getting the takes you need, the sound you want, being in the music while also taking care of things. Doing that while also having fun can be a tricky combination.

TJG: Was it helpful that your sound was ‘limited’ in a way? In your Guitar Player Magazine interview, you talked a bit about a limited gear setup, which gave you some boundaries.

AR: Not really. That’s my setup. If I had twenty years to make the record I’d use the same setup. I don’t really use pedals. I use three guitars on the record, mostly the Strat, the Telecaster, the Les Paul, plus the amps. That’s my desert island setup. There’s no overarching principle that says I shouldn’t play with pedals, but I like the idea of having one sound or one thing that doesn’t give you 25,000 choices at the click of a mouse. Working within sonic and compositional limitations forces you to explore, to go deeper.

TJG: Regarding musical limitations, you’ve said that “With DICE, I wanted to explore mostly one sound. That limits things, but through limitations you can discover things.” Could you talk a bit about those discoveries?

AR: With DICE, when I conceptualized the band, I was thinking about the sound of an electric bass, specifically Fender Precision, drums, and a Fender Stratocaster. With this instrumentation, there are things I don’t hear where I might hear them with a “jazz trio.” As broad a swath of musics as I’m interested in, I like to explore one concept, even if it’s very broad, when working with one specific band. I like to create a framework that, without explicitly limiting me, informs what the music can be, and provides compositional ideas. So as a composer, you can choose to break out of those limitations, or explore within those limits.


Photos courtesy of the artists.

This week, The Jazz Gallery kicks off the next edition of its Mentorship Series with saxophonist Yosvany Terry mentoring bassist Daryl Johns. For nearly two decades, Terry has been at the forefront of progressive Afro-Cuban jazz in New York. Whether leading his own groups, or playing alongside his talented fellow countrymen like Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Dafnis Prieto, and Manuel Valera, to name a few. In 2015, Terry was named Director of Jazz Ensembles at Harvard, where he has mentored many talented young musicians and programmed exciting collaborations, including recent concerts with Jeff “Tain” Watts. In the video below, watch Terry talk about improvisation and the shekere—an Afro-Cuban percussion instrument—with fellow Harvard professor Vijay Iyer.

Daryl Johns has been making waves in the New York jazz community for several years, belying his age. He was a semi-finalist for the 2009 Thelonious Monk Competition at the age of 13, and since then, has played with both talented peers and elder statesmen. Check out his musicianship and poise playing knotty, risk-taking music with the Kassa Overall trio this past summer, below the fold. (more…)

Jonathan Finlayson. Photo by Everett McCourt.

Trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson returns to The Jazz Gallery this Thursday, November 16th, with his quintet Sicilian Defense, just days after returning from a European tour with Steve Coleman and Five Elements. Sicilian Defense has morphed continuously over the years, with different incarnations of the ensemble appearing on The Jazz Gallery’s stage. The group’s most recent album is Moving Still, released in 2016 on Pi Recordings.

With far-reaching praise by Downbeat and the New York Times, Finlayson is a modern, forward-thinking trumpeter marked by a compositional drive and an adaptable style. Throughout his already long career, Finlayson has collaborated with Ambrose Akinmusire, Ravi Coltrane, Mary Halvorson, Craig Taborn, Henry Threadgill, Von Freeman, Jason Moran, Dafnis Prieto and Vijay Iyer.

Finlayson has been featured many times as a bandleader at The Jazz Gallery over the last decade, and we’re delighted to welcome Sicilian Defense back to the Gallery stage. For this show, the ensemble will include guitarist Miles Okazaki, pianist David Bryant, bassist Chris Tordini, and drummer Craig Weinrib. (more…)

Photo courtesy of the artist.

For nearly two decades, flautist-composer-improviser Jamie Baum has produced stunning and wide-ranging music with her acclaimed Septet+, drawing from modernist classical composers like Stravinsky, Bartok, and Ives, as well as music she encountered on tours of South Asia. The group’s latest record, Bridges, will come out on Sunnyside next spring.

While Septet+ has proven an ideal outlet for Baum’s knack for arranging and sensitivity to tone color, it only captures part of her musical personality. Her band Short Stories is much younger, having first performed in January 2015, and eschews Septet+’s long-form compositional palette. Instead, Baum has composed a book of pithy, memorable tunes for the group in the vein of Wayne Shorter and Thelonious Monk. Featuring a core quartet of Baum, pianist Andy Milne, bassist Joe Martin, and drummer Jeff Hirshfeld, the group has welcomed a range of special guests, including saxophonist Ben Wendel, guitarist Gilad Hekselman, and harmonicist Gregoire Maret. Check out the group’s first show at Greenwich Music House, filmed for French television.

This Saturday, November 11th, Baum will convene short stories at The Jazz Gallery for two sets. In addition to the core quartet, the group will be joined by Mr. Maret and guitarist David Gilmore. (more…)