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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Posts by Tree Palmedo

Photo by Vincent Soyez, via www.jamiebaum.com

Photo by Vincent Soyez, via www.jamiebaum.com

She may be a consistent presence in DownBeat Critics polls, but to call Jamie Baum a jazz flutist is extremely limiting. Her extensive output has included collaborations with Dave Douglas and Kenny Werner as well as forays into Latin and new music, and her latest album, In This Life (Sunnyside), finds its roots in South Asia and the music of the late Pakistani Qawwali vocalist Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn. The album features her “Septet +,” the latest iteration of her ever-expanding large ensemble, which features freewheeling playing from trumpeter Amir Elsaffar, guitarist Brad Shepik, and French hornist Chris Kormer, among others. Although the group stretches out and the album is steeped in the avant-garde, In This Life retains an anthemic melodicism rooted in the folk music from which it’s drawn.

Baum’s “little big band” last came to the Gallery in February, fresh off the release of In This Life (our preview of that show has more info on Baum, including an excerpt from an interview with NPR). The band’s Friday performance will likely showcase some of that material, but you can expect more chances to be taken with the now lived-in compositions. For a taste of what the band’s doing these days, check out this footage from the this year’s NYC Winter Jazzfest, which features the sprawling “Monkeys of Gokarna Forest” as well as Baum’s true-to-life story of how the piece got its name.

The Jamie Baum Septet + performs this Friday, October 24th, 2014, at The Jazz Gallery. The band features Baum on flutes, Amir Elsaffar on trumpet, Douglas Yates on alto saxophone and bass clarinet, Chris Komer on French horn, Brad Shepik on guitar, John Escreet on piano, Zack Lober on bass, and Jeff Hirshfield on drums. Sets are at 8 and 10 p.m., and tickets are $22.00 ($12.00 for Members). Purchase tickets here.

Catharsis (l-r): Jorge Roeder, Mike Rodriguez, Ryan Keberle, Eric Doob. Via www.ryankeberle.com

Catharsis (l-r): Jorge Roeder, Mike Rodriguez, Ryan Keberle, Eric Doob. Via www.ryankeberle.com

As usual, Ryan Keberle is having a busy year. When not touring with a who’s who of New York big bands, from Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society to the Ryan Truesdell Gil Evans Project, the versatile trombonist has been working on a new record with Catharsis, his longtime pianoless quartet. Titled Into the Zone, the album is due out on September 30 on Greenleaf Music. The record’s mix of standard tunes and long-form originals might be typical for Keberle, but few other chordless ensembles are as meticulously arranged or have influences as widespread; the new album draws from Keberle’s rainbow of career experiences, with a Gil Evans tune he picked up on the Ryan Truesdell tour, a Uruguayan groove inspired by his time in Latin bands, and a particularly sprawling composition that recalls Keberle’s most idiosyncratic employer, Sufjan Stevens.

The record’s title reflects a concept that Keberle calls “elusively familiar”: a creatively flowing state of mind unfettered by self-critique. In the liner notes, Keberle reflects on his own pursuit of “The Zone”:

I’ve found that the key to success, aside from a regular practice regimen, is to accept one’s musical strengths and weaknesses while striving for honest, authentic, and personal musical output.  Another great source of insight on this topic has come from playing with other improvisers who have mastered such mindful creativity.

As on the trombonist’s last album, Into the Zone features vocalist Camila Meza, an accomplished guitarist and songwriter in her own right. Meza and the rest of the band (trumpeter Mike Rodriguez, bassist Jorge Roeder, and drummer Eric Doob) will appear with Keberle this weekend at the Gallery.

In February, we interviewed Keberle and discussed his composition process and why he likes leading ensembles with unusual instrumentation. You can read that interview here, and Keberle’s full liner notes for Into the Zone are available on his website.

Ryan Keberle and Catharsis perform this Saturday, August 2nd, at The Jazz Gallery. The performance features Keberle on trombone, Mike Rodriguez on trumpet, Jorge Roeder on bass, Eric Doob on drums, plus special guest Camila Meza on voice. Sets are at 9 and 11 pm. $22 general admission, $10 for Members, and free for SummerPass HoldersPurchase tickets here.

Photo by Andy Newcombe (Wikimedia Commons) // filter via pixlr

Photo by Andy Newcombe (Wikimedia Commons) // filter via pixlr

Peter Evans sounds good with anyone. Whether he’s by himself, backed up by his friends in Mostly Other People Do The Killing, or leading any of his own groups, Evans’s unmistakeable fluidity makes him a focal point in the sonic environment. Over several records, many of them released on his own label, More Is More, Evans has experimented with several formats, including a laptop-assisted quintet that received praise from The New York Times. That group’s 2011 album Ghosts (More Is More) was also curiously praised by All About Jazz as a “modern classic of the future.”

On Thursday, he brings one of his sparser lineups, the chordless Zebulon Trio, back to The Jazz Gallery. Named after the now-closed Brooklyn club at which they recorded a live album, the group pairs Evans with bassist John Hébert and drummer Kassa Overall. Here’s an interview we did with Evans back in September, in which he talked about his approach to the group.

Peter Evans Zebulon Trio performs at The Jazz Gallery this Thursday, April 17th, 2014. Zebulon Trio features Evans on trumpet, John Hébert on bass, and Kassa Overall on drums. Sets are at 9 and 11 p.m. $15 general admission ($10 for members) for the first set, $10 general admission ($5 for members) for the second. Purchase tickets here.

Filter via pixlr

Filter via pixlr

Setting poetry to music is delicate business, yet Frank Carlberg has nearly perfected the process. Over five quintet albums spanning 13 years, the Finnish-born, Brooklyn-based pianist has crafted full bodied compositions from the poems of Wallace Stevens, Jack Kerouac, Kenneth Rexroth, and more, placing longtime collaborator Christine Correa’s vocals front and center. The group’s most recent release, 2009’s The American Dream (Red Piano Records), features settings of Robert Creeley poems commissioned by Chamber Music America. Carlberg’s strong, idiosyncratic melodies would stand on their own without words; the poetry only adds depth to an already nuanced collection of compositions. All About Jazz called the album an “inventive recreation” of Creeley’s work, and the Boston Phoenix praised Carlberg’s “full art-song arrangements.”

The quintet Carlberg brings to Thursday’s double-billed show with the Michigan-based Songsmith Collective will include longstanding members Correa and drummer Michael Sarin as well as saxophonist Jeremy Udden and bassist Jay Anderson. Outside of this group, Carlberg teaches at multiple schools and leads his own trio and big band, but even if you limited his output solely to quintet projects, the result would be impressively prolific.

The Frank Carlberg Quintet and Songsmith Collective will perform at The Jazz Gallery this Thursday, March 27th, 2014. The Frank Carlberg Quintet features Carlberg on piano, Christine Correa on voice, Jeremy Udden on saxophones, Jay Anderson on bass, and Michael Sarin on drums. Songsmith Collective features Elliot Weeks and Brooke Lauritzen on voice, Curtis James on trumpet, Dominic Carioti on soprano and tenor saxophone, Blake Cross on tenor saxophone, Luke Marlow on trombone, Marcus Johnson on baritone saxophone and bass clarinet, Kellen Boersma on guitar, Mark Niskanen on piano, Denis Shebukov on bass, and Steven Perry on drums. Both ensembles will perform short sets at 9:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. $20 general admission ($10 for Members). Purchase tickets here.

Photo via ryankeberle.com

Photo via ryankeberle.com

Ryan Keberle is everywhere. The protean trombonist has made a name for himself as an in-demand sideman on seemingly every New York scene, performing in Latin bands, Broadway pits, and the horn sections of everyone from Alicia Keys to Sufjan Stevens. But even with all these gigs on his resume, Keberle considers himself a composer and improviser first.

His most recent album, Music Is Emotion (Alternate Side), features involved arrangements deftly performed by his pianoless quartet, Catharsis, with Mike Rodriguez on trumpet, Jorge Roeder on bass, and Eric Doob on drums. For the group’s next album, which they recorded in January, Keberle has added to the mix vocalist Camila Meza, who will also be at the group’s upcoming Gallery performance. We caught up with Ryan by phone to talk about his variegated career and current projects.

The Jazz Gallery: In addition to your solo work, you’re active in many musical fields. Do you change your mindset in some way when you enter a different setting?

Ryan Keberle: I definitely do. I think that the trick is to get to know each genre well enough so that you’re not having to think too hard, because otherwise…it sounds unnatural, and it sounds forced. Really, the key is to immerse yourself in whatever genre you’re looking to participate in so it really becomes a part of you and a part of your own musical language.

If you think you’ve got it, you probably don’t. You don’t have it until you don’t have to think about it anymore. (more…)