A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Posts by Kevin Laskey

Photo courtesy of the artist.

This Wednesday, September 25, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome pianist David Virelles back to our stage for two sets. Presenting music in a trio format, Virelles will be joined by frequent collaborators Rashaan Carter on bass and Eric McPherson on drums.

Recently, Virelles has been busy balancing his work as a bandleader and collaborator. In August, Virelles joined drummer Andrew Cyrille’s trio for a run at the Village Vanguard, before joining Ravi Coltrane’s group at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in Harlem. Virelles then played the Chicago Jazz Festival with an all-star group of Latinx musicians (and Gallery stalwarts) including Miguel Zenon, Melissa Aldana, Ricky Rodriguez, and Antonio Sanchez. For Latinx Heritage Month, Virelles was profiled by the streaming service Tidal (alongside Zenon and Camila Meza), which you can check out here.

Before hearing Virelles and his trio live, take a listen to their recent performance at Roulette as part of the annual Vision Festival, alongside percussionist Román Diaz, below.


Photo by Caroline Mardok, courtesy of the artist.

This Monday, September 23, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to have saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock back on our stage presenting new music for a new sextet. Much of Laubrock’s recent work as a leader builds on concepts of instrumentation and sound color. Ubatuba is a wind-powered band, with trombone, tuba, and saxophones. Serpentines adds live electronic processing into the mix. And Contemporary Chaos Practices expands Laubrock’s canvass to the size of a full orchestra. Her latest sextet fits into this pattern, as Laubrock surrounds her saxophone with an array of strings—guitarist Brandon Seabrook, bassist Michael Formanek, violinist Mazz Swift, and cellist Tomeka Reid, orbiting around Tom Rainey’s combustible drumming.

Before coming out to the Gallery, take a listen to Laubrock, Rainey, and Seabrook’s prickly rapport in a performance with bassist Brandon Lopez at Three’s Brewing this past July.


From L to R: Tony Malaby, Jozef Doumolin, Samuel Ber. Photo courtesy of the artists.

This Saturday, September 21, saxophonist Tony Malaby returns to The Jazz Gallery for two sets with his European Trio. The group matches Malaby’s penchant for rigorous, web-like improvisational frameworks with equally rich electronic soundscapes provided by keyboardist Jozef Doumolin and drummer Samuel Ber. The group released their debut album this past April, which you can check out below:
While the group makes full use of studio effects and capabilities on the record, their live performances are just as exploratory, with Malaby pushing his saxophones to match the electronic soundscapes around him. In an earlier interview with Jazz Speaks, Malaby talked about his timbral-based improvisational practice:

I’m constantly working on having the ability to have that dynamic range—constantly trying to play softer and louder. That’s something I work on all the time just with long tones. The other thing is learning to create different types of shades. I want to have a tone that can be a shadow, or or flip it and turn that into extreme brightness. This is a really important type of expression, as is flexibility with intonation—they all fall in the same category for me. I want to merge our sounds together and dissolve into each other sounds.

Don’t miss this rare chance to hear Malaby perform with his Europe-based collaborators in this trio. (more…)

Photo by Abishek Mangla.

This Friday, September 20, The Jazz Gallery welcomes pianist Paul Cornish back to our stage for two sets. A native of Houston, Texas and an alumnus of its famed High School for the Visual & Performing Arts, Cornish is currently based in Los Angeles, studying at UCLA’s Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz. Back in the summer of 2016, Cornish participated in The Jazz Gallery’s Mentoring Series, holding his own on guitarist Miles Okazaki’s fiendish and slippery music from the album Trickster.

In addition to his studies at the Hancock Institute, Cornish has become a conspicuous presence in the Los Angeles scene, playing surreal and ecstatic funk with Thumpasaurus, and backing up acclaimed artists like saxophonist David Binney.


Photo courtesy of the artist.

Vocalist Roopa Mahadevan returns to The Jazz Gallery on Thursday, September 19 for two sets of traditional Carnatic music. Building on her extensive training in traditional Carnatic music, Mahadevan frequently puts the music in dialogue with other traditions—in 2018, Mahadevan participated in the Banff Resonant Bodies program, while this year, she was a recipient of a Hedgebrook Songwriter’s residency.

For this performance, Mahadevan will be joined by violinist Arun Ramamurthy and mridangam player Sriram Raman. In an earlier interview with Jazz Speaks, Mahadevan discussed her approach to playing traditional Carnatic forms with this instrumentation:

I don’t think it’s perfect. Because I think it gives a little too much agency to the vocalist, honestly. For example, if I were to do improv on a scale, do a raga alap, I do it first, and then the violinist has to do her own version, but not as long as me, a little less long, and during my alap, she’s shadowing me also, she’s echoing the last part of each phrase. You know, these kinds of things that become part of the protocol. But it’s kind of silly.

I’ve actually thought that if you can have a beautiful exchange, between the vocalist and violinist, that can stand alone as the alap, you don’t need to then do a separate violin alap, or think of it as just the vocal alap. It could be this beautiful coming together of two ideas.

The mridangam player has an interesting role because they’re kind of ever-present. They don’t do the alap, for example, that’s arrhythmic. But when you start the composition, they’re always playing, depending on the school or the specific aesthetic of the mridangam player, sometimes they’re right under you all the time, and sometimes it’s more sparse. Sometimes they actually have another rhythm that’s going, that’s kind of counter to what you’re doing, but complementary.

Before coming out to the Gallery, check out Mahadevan performing live in the studio, with Rajna Swaminathan on mridangam.