Photo by Dan Chmielinski, courtesy of the artist.
This Wednesday and thursday, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome saxophonist Michael Thomas to our stage for two nights of performances. Since moving to New York in 2011, Thomas has become an ace big band sideman, appearing on big band records by Miguel Zenon and Dafnis Prieto, as well as performing with Maria Schneider and John Hollenbeck. He’s an accomplished big band composer as well, writing regularly for Brooklyn’s Terraza Big Band, and receiving a commission from the New York Youth Symphony’s jazz ensemble in 2016. As a leader, Thomas released his debut album The Long Way in 2011, featuring music written during his stint in Boston.
While in Boston, Thomas performed weekly with trumpeter Jason Palmer, who appears with Thomas on the front line for this week’s Gallery shows. With the support of photographer Jimmy Katz’s Giant Steps Arts, these performances will be recorded for future release. 2019 has marked some of the first fruits of Giant Steps’ work with the release of albums by Palmer, saxophonist Eric Alexander, and drummer Johnathan Blake (who also joins Thomas on the bandstand this week). Before coming to the Gallery to witness this live document of an emerging voice, check out Thomas’s slippery version of the standard “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” below.
L to R: Alfredo Colon, Steve Williams, Andres Valbuena, and Edward Gavitt. Photo courtesy of the artist.
This Thursday, August 1, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome Secret Mall back to our stage for two sets. Two years ago, the collective made a splash with their self-released debut YeEP, mining meme culture and contemporary electronic music styles like vaporwave to find raw materials for their original compositions. Since then, the band has played at the Gallery regularly and been written up in the New Yorker.
Their show this week celebrates the release of their first full-length album, System32. In addition to further honing their atmospheric group sound, Secret Mall opens space for new collaborators on the album, including bassist Chris Morrissey and vibraphonist Joel Ross. Before joining the record release party at the Gallery on Thursday, check out the track “Dubai” from the album, below.
Photo courtesy of the artist.
This Saturday, July 20, multi-instrumentalist Morgan Guerin returns to The Jazz Gallery for two sets. With his abilities on saxophone, bass, drums, and keyboards, Guerin has become a choice sideman for stylistically-fluid bandleaders like Esperanza Spalding and Terri Lynne Carrington. As a leader, Guerin has released two chapters of an ongoing project that he calls The Saga, where he plays most of the instrumental parts alongside smart contributions from peers like vibraphonist Sasha Berliner and keyboardist Julius Rodriguez. You can stream The Saga II below:
In a previous interview with Jazz Speaks, Guerin spoke about how he keeps up with all of his different instruments:
I wake up and immediately pick up my bass every day, out of habit. I have a lot of instruments and recording equipment in my room, and my bass is on the wall above my bead, so every time I wake up, I pick it up without thinking. I’ve been trying to hone in on the bass, because it’s new to me, and I’m in love with the instrument. With the others, I try to practice everything at least once a day, every day. There are times where I don’t get to touch my horn for maybe a day or two, and there are other times where I don’t touch the bass for a day or two and I’m playing a lot of saxophone, drums, or something else instead. It’s a constant cycle, but I can feel when I’m losing familiarity with an instrument [laughs]. I have to stay on top of it.
For his performance this weekend at the Gallery, Guerin will be performing on saxophone, EWI, bass and synthesizer, alongside Alina Engibaryan on vocals and Rhodes piano; Julius Rodriguez on piano, keyboards, and synthesizer; JK Kim on drums; and Val Jeanty on electronics. (more…)
Photo by Alan Nahigian.
This week, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome guitarist Liberty Ellman and his sextet back to our stage for two nights of performances. Ellman is an acclaimed and versatile sideman, holding down the guitar chair in acclaimed groups including Henry Threadgill’s Zooid, Stephan Crump’s Rosetta Trio, Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret, and Joe Lovano’s Universal Band. Ellman’s work as a leader builds on the relationships he has cultivated as a sideman. His last album—2015’s Radiate on Pi Recordings—features a sextet composed of longtime collaborators, including trombonist/tubaist Jose Davila from Zooid and bassist Stephan Crump from Rosetta. You can take a listen to two tracks from the record—the knotty “Supercell” and “Rhinocerisms”—below.
At the Gallery this week, Ellman’s sextet will be presenting new music commissioned as part of Chamber Music America’s 2018 New Jazz Works grants. While Ellman has worked with great musical system-makers like Threadgill, Butch Morris, and Steve Coleman, he says his own music comes from a more intuitive place. In an interview with JazzTimes, Ellman says:
I haven’t yet developed anything that I could say is purely mine in terms of a codified system. For me, it’s more about things that I’ve learned from being around these people and listening to their music. When I write music, basically I start from an idea. A lot of times it’s something rhythmic, either a groove or a bassline or a small fragment of a melody, and then I try to see where it goes, and that’s an intuitive process. Sometimes I find a melody that I feel is really strong, and I keep writing, and if I’m in the zone, 20 bars later is where I actually find the piece, and I throw away everything else. [But] there has to be a melodic shape. I make sure that every line has its own melody. Every part someone plays should stand on its own. That’s one of my rules.
Don’t miss these two nights of both fierce and fiercely melodic new music from Liberty Ellman and his sextet. (more…)
Design courtesy of the artist.
Saxophonist Alfredo Colon would be the first to tell you that he has a big head. That outsized cranium birthed an inside joke with bassist Nick Dunston, which in turn became the name of Colon’s newest project. While Colon has established himself as an adept practitioner of the Electronic Wind Instrument (EWI), with Big Head, he seeks to spawn energetic interplay in an acoustic environment. In an interview with Jazz Speaks, Colon spoke about how the timbral possibilities of the EWI have impacted his sound on saxophone:
On saxophone, there are range limits and there’s resistance on the instrument so you get a lot of notes that sound crackly and broken up, and they don’t sound anywhere near as clean as on the EWI. That’s something which I personally like about that sound—just the distressed sound of reaching for something that isn’t easily accessed. I like the sound of struggling to play around your limits. A lot of my favorite players have that kind of sound—if you listen to Jackie McLean records like Dr. Jackle, that music sounds evil, you know? It sounds like they recorded it in the Black Lodge. Or when you hear Logan Richardson start going into it, and his sound just starts gurgling or cracking up, that’s when it gets the best for me.
This Thursday, June 6, Colon and Big Head return to The Jazz Gallery for two sets. Colon will be joined by regular bandmates Jacob Sacks on piano and Connor Parks on drums, while bassist Steve Williams will fill in for Nick Dunston. Before coming out to hear the band, take a listen to the band’s recording from their previous show at the Gallery, below.