A look inside The Jazz Gallery

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Photo by Jimmy Katz, courtesy of the artist.

This week at The Jazz Gallery has turned into a mini-residency for guitarist Mike Moreno. After joining the Kendrick Scott/Kanoa Mendenhall Mentoring Series band on Thursday and vocalist Sachal Vasandani on Friday, Moreno returns on Saturday evening for two sets with a new quartet. Featuring pianist Jon Cowherd, bassist Matt Brewer, and drummer Nate Smith, the quartet has a decidedly electric tilt and will perform new Moreno compositions.

Before coming out to hear this brand new material, take a listen to Moreno performing one of his longtime favorite compositions—Wayne Shorter’s “The Big Push”—at the Blue Whale in Los Angeles last month.


Photo by Jati Lindsay, courtesy of the artist.

This Friday, December 6, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome vocalist Sachal Vasandani back to our stage for a special, one-off evening of song with pianist Vijay Iyer and guitarist Mike Moreno. An immensely versatile vocalist, Vasandani is as comfortable performing classic repertoire with a lusch backing (check out his Nat King Cole project here) as he is mixing it up in stripped down settings, like this performance of Thelonious Monk’s “Reflections,” below:

With adventurous collaborators like Iyer and Moreno in the mix, who knows what sparks will fly at the Gallery on Friday. (more…)

Kendrick Scott & Kanoa Mendenhall. Photos courtesy of the artists.

This Thursday, The Jazz Gallery continues the sixth edition of its Mentoring Series with two sets of performances by mentor-drummer Kendrick Scott and mentee-bassist Kanoa Mendenhall. Having cut his teeth as a longtime member of trumpeter Terence Blanchard’s groups, Kendrick Scott now has a reputation as a bandleader to match his acclaimed drumming. This past April, Scott released A Wall Becomes A Bridge on Blue Note Records, where Scott’s strong social conscience is channeled through a suite of original compositions, including “Mocean,” below.

Mendenhall is a recent graduate of Columbia University, but has already become a favorite collaborator of musicians ranging from saxophonist Maria Grand to vibraphonists Joel Ross and Sasha Berliner. She even has the seal of approval from bassist Christian McBride, as she’s held down the bottom for his big band. Before hearing Mendenhall perform alongside Scott, pianist Taylor Eigsti, and guitarist Mike Moreno at the Gallery this week, check out her performance with Maria Grand at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola this past summer, below.


L to R: Dan Weiss, Ohad Talmor, Miles Okazaki. Photo courtesy of the artist.

When we at Jazz Speaks have sat down to speak with saxophonist and composer Ohad Talmor, our conversations tend to focus on his expansive sonic palettes. We’ve spoken about counterpoint in the work of Györgi Ligeti and A Tribe Called Quest, building fantastical soundscapes in Ableton, and turning well-worn standards into experimental playgrounds. However, for his performance at The Jazz Gallery this week, Talmor isn’t working with a lush, large ensemble, but a stripped-down trio featuring guitarist Miles Okazaki and drummer Dan Weiss.

Okazaki and Weiss have been friends of Talmor’s for over two decades. Talmor calls them “great ‘rhythmicians’ and positive influences on me.” A mark of Weiss’s influence is Talmor’s interest in Hindustani music. In an interview with Jazz Speaks, Talmor spoke of his ongoing practice on the Hindustani bansuri flute:

That’s simply an ongoing practice. I humbly sit, go through daily exercises, and integrate myself into the traditional material. I’m fortunate because Dan Weiss is my neighbor, so I get to work with him sometimes. It’s ever-present in my life. I listen to a lot of the music, and I play it daily. It’s part of my routine, and if I get a good half an hour in, I’m happy.

This fall, Talmor went into the studio with Okazaki and Weiss to record a new album of material inspired by Hindustani tabla repertoire. At the Gallery this Wednesday, the trio will play music from this forthcoming album before heading out on a European tour. (more…)