A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Posts by Kevin Laskey

Photo by John Watson

This weekend, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society back to our stage for two sets. The group has been playing at the Gallery for over eleven years now, helping pave the way for a new generation of distinctive, independent big bands. In a recent articleon contemporary big bands in The New York Times, Argue notes, “It seems like no matter what, the possibilities of writing for big band are so musically irresistible that people keep finding a way to make it work,” much like Secret Society has.

For this performance at the Gallery, Secret Society will perform a mix of old favorites from their records Infernal Machines, Brooklyn Babylon, and Real Enemies, as well as less-frequently heard pieces such as Argue’s Duke Ellington tribute “Tensile Curves” and the New England Conservatory-commissioned “Wingèd Beasts.” The group also welcomes a few first-time co-conspirators to the fold—trumpeters Rachel Therrien and Riley Mulhekar, and trombonist Natalie Cressman.

Before checking out the band at the Gallery this weekend, take a listen to some of the group’s rarer repertoire performed live at the Newport Jazz Festival in 2014, below:


Photo by Aljosa Videtic, courtesy of the artist.

This Thursday, January 10, The Jazz Gallery welcomes saxophonist Jure Pukl and his band Doubtless back to our stage for two sets. The quartet, featuring Pukl’s fellow acclaimed tenor saxophonist (and wife) Melissa Aldana, released their eponymous debut album last May. In an interview with Jazz Speaks, Pukl told of the band’s origins:

We were teaching and playing at the clinic in different settings. The band started as a friendship, a family thing. Joe [Sanders] was at my wedding to Melissa, for example. Our first gig was at Porgy And Bess in Vienna, and our second gig was in my hometown at our annual workshop. After the clinic week, we did a few more gigs, then went to a studio in Slovenia and tracked all the music. We made the record in three hours. We know each other so well, we were hungry for music, and it just poured out.

For this Gallery performance, Pukl and Aldana will be joined by some new faces—bassist Harish Raghavan, drummer Kush Abadey, and special guest pianist Kris Davis. Before hearing the group’s repertoire evolve in new ways, give the record a listen below.

Photo courtesy of the artist.

This Tuesday, January 8, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome pianist Lex Korten to our stage for two sets with his Quartet+. Korten made his Gallery debut in 2018, presenting new music for his working quartet, plus his more fantastical Make/Believe project. This week, Korten will showcase an expanded version of his quartet, featuring trombonist Kalia Vandever, saxophonist Alex Hitchcock, and vocalist Olivia Chindamo alongside regulars Ben Tiberio on bass and Morgan Guerin on drums.

A major thread of Korten’s music for the quartet is highlighting social issues and the work of contemporary activists. In a previous interview with Jazz Speaks, Korten spoke about his approach to dealing with these ideas musically:

Over the last two years, there have been many moments when I’ve wanted to express things about activist figures in American society today. But I’ve been careful to try to find an appropriate way to reflect that desire in my music which doesn’t claim any of their attention, or detract from what they’ve done and try to apply it to myself. There’s a suite of music that I wrote in response to many recent incidents in which the rights of Americans have been grossly infringed upon by law enforcement. As part of what I said before, I prefer not to name anyone in my song titles. One song of mine was previously named after a person I greatly admired, and I decided I needed to change that song’s name, because the implication of my having any ownership of that person’s actions was ridiculous. I’m trying to find different ways to express admiration.

Come out to The Jazz Gallery to hear Korten and his peers explore their place in the world through their collective music-making. (more…)

Tim Berne (L) and Steve Byram (R). Photo by Wes Orshoski.

During his time on Columbia Records in the mid 1980s, saxophonist Tim Berne was introduced to visual artist and graphic designer Steve Byram. Byram had already gained notice for his album art, particularly for the European jazz/avant label JMT and the Beastie Boys’ classic Licensed to Ill. A review of Byram’s work in Eye Magazine described his style thusly: “His illustrations are messy, sprawling, some-times tentative and at other times explosively confident. His typography is obsessive but rarely conventionally neat.” Byram and Berne hit it off immediately, their explosive aesthetics proving a strong match. Since 1987, Byram has done album art for almost all of Berne’s work, as well as for Berne’s peers and collaborators including Craig Taborn, Django Bates, and Drew Gress.

This Monday, January 7, Berne and Byram will celebrate their three-plus decade collaboration with the opening of their art exhibition Old & Unwise at The Jazz Gallery. The exhibition features drawings by Byram and photographs by Berne and is based on a series of images compiled for their 2015 art book, Spare.  Byram’s drawing are composed digitally from an assortment of source drawings—or “spare parts”—while Berne’s photographs were taken during his spare time while on tour. To celebrate the exhibition opening, Berne will perform brand new music with pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer Dave King. (more…)

Photo courtesy of the artist.

This Friday, January 4, The Jazz Gallery kicks off the new year with a performance by saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins and his quartet. Fresh off his Mentoring Series experience with trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, Wilkins is now preparing to record his debut album. In a recent conversation with Jazz Speaks, Wilkins spoke about his plans for the record:

I’m excited about it; I’ve mapped it out. At this point, it’s kind of about [putting] people in place to facilitate that for me. That’s also kind of why I didn’t try to wait for a label. I’m trying to do it myself and pitch it later. My vision is pretty clear now as [far as] how I want to be represented, and I’d rather not have something getting in the way of that. I’m in full-stubborn mode: “I know what I want. This is what I want.” Even if it’s immature, it’s what I want right now. That’s how I want to be represented, and that’s how I want to be documented. Especially on my first record, I want it to be whatever I’m doing right now.

For his Gallery show this Friday, Wilkins will be joined by bassist Daryl Johns and drummer Kweku Sumbry of his working group, but with Jason Moran filling in on piano (Moran is set to help produce the quartet’s record). Don’t miss seeing these talented young musicians mix it up with an influential mentor like Moran. (more…)