Trombonist Alan Ferber is one of the most well-traveled jazz musicians in New York, both literally and figuratively—his recording credits and international touring gigs run the gamut from jazz to contemporary classical to rock and back. Ferber is among the most in-demand big band trombonists, playing in groups led by John Hollenbeck, Darcy James Argue, Michael Formanek, Ted Nash, and Miguel Zenon to name just a few. He’s played and arranged for Bang on a Can’s Asphalt Orchestra, and has worked with some of Indie rock’s most acclaimed groups, including Beirut, The National, and Sufjan Stevens.
Through these varied experiences, Ferber has found himself at the nexus of different musical communities. On his newest big band record, Jigsaw (Sunnyside)—his followup to the Grammy-nominated March Sublime—Ferber draws from his eclectic mix of musical relationships in both personnel and repertoire. The band features longtime collaborators like saxophonists John O’Gallagher and John Ellis, as well as mentors and former bandleaders like trombonist John Fedchock, trumpeter Tony Kadleck, and guitarist Anthony Wilson. The repertoire is especially-geared to the members of the band, featuring a mix of originals and Ferber’s own arrangements of favorite tunes. Below, check out the album’s title track, a blistering workout written especially for John O’Gallagher, and “Lost in The Hours,” a lyrical bossa nova by the multi-reedist Paul McCandless.
This weekend, Ferber and his full band will celebrate the release of Jigsaw with two nights of performances. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear Ferber’s fresh and deeply felt music played by the people it was written for. (more…)
For over four decades, percussionist and composer Adam Rudolph has forged a singular place in the music world, living at the nexus between jazz improvisation and folkloric music from around the world. He’s worked with and learned from a number of international musical explorers, including Fred Anderson, Yuseef Lateef, and Don Cherry, and has carried those experiences into the music he has composed for his own bands, Go: Organic Orchestra and Moving Pictures.
This Tuesday and Wednesday, October 3rd and 4th, Rudolph will convene Moving Pictures at The Jazz Gallery to play music from their most recent record, Glare of the Tiger (Meta). Filled with adventurous improvisers like Hamid Drake, James Hurt, and Graham Haynes, Moving Pictures has developed a deep musical chemistry, yielding lush and ecstatic results. Before hearing the group take Rudolph’s music to new heights at the Gallery, check out the album streaming below, and a short making-of featurette.
L to R: Gyan Riley, David Cossin, Sharon Monk, Tom Kolor. Photos courtesy of the artists.
This Monday, September 25th, The Jazz Gallery is proud to present a double bill of genre-spanning duos—Super Balls and Tiny Rhymes. Both groups feature percussionists from the ensemble Talujon, one of The Jazz Gallery’s partners in the NewMusicUSA Impact Fund cohort.
Super Balls is a long-running duo project of guitarist Gyan Riley and percussionist David Cossin. With both Talujon and the Bang on a Can All-Starts, Cossin has worked with numerous composers from across the stylistic spectrum, and has an ideal collaborator in Riley, a guitarist whose work straddles free improvisation and more formal scoring techniques. Watch them perform a collaboratively-composed score to the classic Buster Keaton silent film, The Goat.
Tiny Rhymes is a Buffalo, New York-based chamber-folk group lead by singer-songwriter Sharon Mok. The group met through the University of Buffalo music department, where Mok was a piano technician, and their music reflects substantial and diverse musical training. For this performance, Mok will team up with Talujon percussionist (and University of Buffalo faculty) Tom Kolor to give her songs a distinctly different color. Before hearing these new interpretations, check out Tiny Rhymes’ EP A Kinder History, below.
Drummer Tomas Fujiwara has been a central figure in a number of different communities of forward thinking improvisers, including Anthony Braxton, Taylor Ho Bynum, Mary Halvorson, and many others. This Friday, September 22nd, Fujiwara returns to the Gallery with his Triple Double ensemble to celebrate the upcoming release of their newest eponymous album on Firehouse 12. The group features 3 pairs of exhaustively-creative improvisers—brass players Taylor Ho Bynum and Ralph Alessi; guitarists Mary Halvorson and Brandon Seabrook, and drummer Gerald Cleaver paired up with Fujiwara. Check out the new track “Blueberry Eyes” below.
We caught up with Fujiwara by phone to talk through the conceptual underpinnings of the music for the band, especially how he uses different combinations of players in each piece.
The Jazz Gallery: Over the years, you’ve played in Taylor Ho Bynum’s Sextet, Mary Halvorson has been in previous ensembles of yours, and you released a trio album with Brandon Seabrook and Ralph Alessi. So for this band, how did Gerald Cleaver come into the fold?
Tomas Fujiwara: I’ve always admired Gerald’s playing, his work as a drummer, composer, bandleader, artist, and he’s been a friend for some years. As drummers, we rarely get to play together in an ensemble context. So when assembling this group with the ‘mirror instrumentation,’ he was the first one to come to mind. I wanted to sit at the drums and have a musical conversation with him. I’ve worked with other drummers before, such as on an Anthony Braxton trio record with Tom Rainey, and with Living By Lanterns, Mike Reed and Jason Adasiewicz’s group. I’ve done a fair amount of double drumming, considering how infrequent it usually is. But with this group it was less about Gerald being a drummer and more about putting different voices together. The instrumentation came more into focus once we started to explore different configurations of the ensemble.
TJG: Speaking of ‘different configurations,’ you mentioned in an interview with us last year that “I wrote specific parts for everyone. There will be a lot of multiple ensembles happening.” Could you talk about that idea, of ‘multiple ensembles,’ and how that concept has evolved as the group has matured?
TF: In the composing and arranging process, I look at every combination possible with these six musicians. From solo to sextet, and every duo and trio in between. In terms of the evolution, I was initially thinking about two trios. Visually, almost facing each other, each person having their foil. We do have moments like that in the group. But the idea of three duos has also emerged gradually. On the album, there are some clear duo moments. Gerald and I have a drum duet, Mary and Brandon have a guitar duet, and so on. That being said, there are plenty of moments of two drummers and one guitar player, two horns and one drum. We tried every combination of the six of us. Just looking at three names on paper, knowing these musicians, would give me a new, different trio sound in your head. When arranging these pieces and searching for a mood, I’d think of the configurations as a kind of color palette, while at the same time trying to give a lot to the unknown, to be open to the experience of exploration.
TJG: Does the ensemble naturally fall into two ‘trios’ of drums, guitar, and brass, and if so, who gravitates towards whom?
TF: No, that never happens. I would say that most of the improvised sections have a fixed grouping of people, specific to the arrangement of the song. Places where people have free agency to jump in or out, people are being guided by what’s happening in the moment. I never get the sense of “Oh, so-and-so’s playing, I want to play with him now.” Everyone’s thinking of it as a whole, with balance, texture, and so on.
This Tuesday, September 19th, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome pianist Theo Hill and his trio back to our stage. Over the past decade-plus in New York, Hill has become a highly-regarded sideman with the likes of the Mingus Big Band, drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, and trombonist Frank Lacy, his irrepressible energy always raising the band to new heights. Hill has only recently begun to step out as a leader, releasing his debut record Live at Smalls (SmallsLIVE) in 2014, and a followup, Promethean (Posi-tone) earlier this year. Check out his decidedly funky reimagining of Bobby Timmons’ “This Here” below.