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Photo courtesy of the artist.

This Friday, October 25, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome guitarist Nir Felder and his trio back to our stage. A few years out from his major label debut record, Golden Age (Okeh), Felder has recently been honing a new book of tunes, including in performance at the Gallery this past summer. For this week’s Gallery performance, Fedler will be joined a different ace rhythm team—bassist Matt Penman and drummer Dan Weiss. Before coming out to the Gallery, check out Felder weaving his way through drummer Ernesto Cervini’s quirky and slippery composition, “Stro,” recorded live in Toronto, below.

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Art by @zjarime, courtesy of the artist.

This Thursday, October 22, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome trombonist Abdulrahman Amer and his Ba Akhu project back to our stage for two sets. In a previous interview with Jazz Speaks, Amer talked about the meaning of band’s name:

It’s a combination of ancient Egyptian words—I’m Egyptian, it’s part of my heritage, and I’ve been exploring my ancient people. Ba is the term that refers to our physical container, and Akhu is about existing beyond any container, everything touching everything, no divisions. One beautiful thing about [the band members], and why they resonate with me and my vision, is that I hope for people to find the freedom to leave their container by staying true to themselves. To destroy any concept of division through acceptance, empathy, understanding, loving people who hate. We’re trying to combat the toxins that have developed over so many years of pain and harshness. We need people who are in tune with themselves in order to bring that kind of humility and honesty to the bandstand. That’s something I want people to come to terms with: Embracing vulnerability and accepting humility is part of the process of growth, the process of finding your most true and beautiful self.

For this week’s performance at the Gallery, Amer is presenting a new set of compositions exploring notions of freedom and restriction, inspired by an epigraph of the poet Rumi: “One of the marvels of the world is the sight of a soul sitting in prison with the key in its hand.” While Ba Akhu was originally formed as a quartet, Amer has expanded his palette to a full ten-piece group, complete with doubling woodwind players like Jasper Dutz and Nicola Caminiti. Don’t miss this performance of an ambitious and emotionally-probing new work. (more…)

Album art courtesy of Sunnyside Records.

When Lee Konitz makes music, folks stop and listen. This may be due to his deep connection to the repertoire, his constant search for new sound, his adoration and celebration of the tradition. It may also be because he just turned 92 years old.

How does someone like Konitz stay engaged in the music after a career of over seven decades? Over the years, Konitz has become a mentor for younger musicians, creating a community around him that approaches performance with intimacy, intricacy, and adventure. These musicians include Dan Tepfer, Florian Weber, George Schuller, and for the last two decades, saxophonist/composer/conductor Ohad Talmor. We’ve spoke with Talmor a number of times, about his composition and arranging.

For this latest project, Old Songs New (Sunnyside), Talmor and Konitz agreed on a collection of well-loved yet seldom recorded standards. Talmor’s arrangements were designed as a kind of playground for Konitz: Talmor describes them as “this prismatic object where Lee could decide to play with the arrangements, stick to the melodies, play on top, get abstract, lay out, it doesn’t matter, the music is made to work any way he wants.” The full ensemble including Konitz will be at The Jazz Gallery this Sunday, October 20, to celebrate the release of the work.

The Jazz Gallery: When it comes to you, we can always talk about almost anything musical, from film scoring and big band arranging to Hindustani music and electronic improvisation. Off the bat, where are you now, and what are you doing?

Ohad Talmor: I’m in Brazil, in São Paolo. There’s a creative big band down here that I’ve been associated with since the early 2000s, and one of the saxophone players specializes in playing modern arrangements of choro, a form of Brazilian music. I’m doing a few gigs with them as a saxophonist and improviser—I’m not a specialist, but during my first trips to Brazil, I hooked up with this big band called Soundscape, who commissioned me to write some big band material, as well as some music in the choro tradition. Since then, I’ve learned to play some on saxophone, and have listened to the repertoire: At this point, it’s very much a part of my musical fabric. Brazil is a country with such a rich heritage, and choro is just one of the things I’m dealing with here.

For this trip, I’m playing with Samuel Pompeo, a great saxophonist who has a quintet he’s been working with for a few years. Choro is a very set form, so he kind of rearranged and opened the tunes up, modernized them, and is using this phenomenal rhythm section of Brazilian guys, so I get my assed kicked just playing with them. It’s just beautiful. I’m just playing, too, I have zero responsibility with writing or conducting, so I don’t have do do anything but learn the music and play it. I love that [laughs].

TJG: Then you’re jumping right back to New York for the gig at the Gallery?

OT: Yes. Before that, I have a trio thing with Miles Okazaki and Dan Weiss. We have two days in the studio on Thursday and Friday, and we’ll bring that project to The Jazz Gallery on December 4th, because we’ll be touring Europe in December. It’s a whole new repertoire. That’s first. Then, Sunday, we’re playing at the Gallery with Lee Konitz.

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Photo courtesy of the artist.

After hosting The Jazz Gallery’s Roy Hargrove Birthday Jam on Wednesday evening, saxophonist Jaleel Shaw returns to the Gallery stage on Saturday with his working quartet. Featuring guitarist Lage Lund, bassist Rashaan Carter, and drummer Justin Brown, the group will perform Shaw compositions both new and old. Before coming to hear this top-flight band at the Gallery, check out a recent live performance of Shaw’s graceful and impassioned elegy for Tamir Rice, below.

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Photo by Frank Stewart, courtesy of the artist.

This Friday, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome pianist Micah Thomas and his trio back to our stage for two sets. Since coming to New York to study at Juilliard, Thomas has become a Gallery regular, collaborating with pears like Immanuel Wilkins and established veterans like Melissa Aldana and Lage Lund. In particular, Thomas has been an integral presence in bassist Harish Raghavan’s working band. Check out Thomas’ blistering solo on the track “Seaminer” from the group’s forthcoming debut album, Calls For Action (Whirlwind), starting at 5:45.

Recently, Thomas has been building his book of compositions for trio, performing them at Smalls and Mezzrow over the last couple of months. For this performance at the Gallery, Thomas is planning to present more new compositions, joined by bassist Tyrone Allen and drummer Kayvon Gordon. (more…)