A look inside The Jazz Gallery

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Clockwise from top left: Matt Mitchell, Colin Stranahan, Mark Shim, Ches Smith. Photos courtesy of the artists.

This weekend, The Jazz Gallery will present two evenings of exploratory duos. On Friday evening, pianist Matt Mitchell will be joined by drummer/percussionist Ches Smith to perform material from Mitchell’s 2013 album, Fiction (Pi Recordings). On Saturday, drummer Colin Stranahan has invited saxophonist and EWI player Mark Shim to join him for two fully-improvised sets.

The music on Fiction began as etudes that Mitchell wrote for himself, exploring relationships between fixed and open structures, and challenging his formidable technique. While on tour with saxophonist Tim Berne’s band Snakeoil, Mitchell would warm up with these pieces during soundcheck. Over the course of the tour, Smith—the band’s drummer—would join in, laying the groundwork for this acclaimed record. Before hearing Mitchell and Smith revisit this material at the Gallery on Friday, take a listen to the tracks “Veins” and “Dadaist Flu” from the record, below.


Photo by Jonathan Chimene (courtesy of the artist)

This Friday, May 17, The Jazz Gallery welcomes pianist Ethan Iverson and his quartet back to our stage for two sets. This spring, Iverson has been busy performing Pepperland, choreographer Mark Morris’s acclaimed Beatles tribute, for which Iverson wrote and arranged the music. You can check out a podcast with Iverson talking about the music, below:

For this performance at the Gallery, Iverson will convene his current New York-based working quartet, featuring saxophonist Dayna Stephens, bassist Ben Street (filling in for Thomas Morgan), and drummer Eric McPherson. Iverson played the Gallery with this band back in September, and told Jazz Speaks about what it was like to work with these particular players:

Eric McPherson is a real jazz drummer. It’s sort of corny to talk about this, but he’s one of those guys that lives his life and plays the drums with the same texture. That’s what they used to do, actually. Now most of us are quite divided—we’re very Western in our roles. But when I hang out with the old school jazz greats, there’s less division between who you are as a person and the way you play. Of someone remotely in my age group, E-Mac is just about as close as anybody to having that feeling.

What’s hip about Dayna is that he’s got a real sense of fun play in his abstraction. I think Wayne Shorter is a real reference for him; I never played with Wayne, but when I’m comping for Dayna I’m like, “Oh, man, maybe this is like I’m comping for Wayne.” He’s sort of got this elliptical thing, but Dayna’s also really fun. That aspect reminds me of my old friend Bill McHenry, who can be a goofball sometimes. I love that.

The group plays a mix of Iverson originals and standards, and for this performance, Iverson has brought in a few new tunes, including the drolly-titled “It Was the 70’s” and “Technically Acceptable.” (more…)

Photo courtesy of the artist.

This Saturday, May 11, The Jazz Gallery welcomes pianist John Escreet back to our stage. Escreet is a composer & improviser of eclectic tastes, as comfortable building psychedelic textures will electronic instruments as he is creating collaborative, acoustic music in real time. Escreet’s most recent album, Learn To Live (Blue Room Music), embraces an electrified sound world with a top-notch band including saxophonist Greg Osby, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, bassist Matt Brewer, and a double drum team of Eric Harland and Justin Brown.

For his performance at the Gallery however, Escreet leans into the open and mysterious with a trio featuring the influential British saxophonist Evan Parker and do-anything percussionist Ches Smith. The group is likely to draw on material from Escreet’s recent pair of Sunnyside recordings, The Unknown and Sound, Space and Structures, both of which featured Parker. (more…)

From L to R: Cory Smythe, Ingrid Laubrock, and Stephan Crump. Photo courtesy of the artist.

This Saturday, April 13, the free improvising super group Crump/Laubrock/Smythe returns to The Jazz Gallery stage to celebrate the release of their newest album, Channels (Intakt). Featuring bassist Stephan Crump, saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, and pianist Cory Smythe, the trio began working together in 2015 and released their debut studio album, Planktonic Finales (Intakt) in 2017. This new record showcases their ever-deepening rapport, as it documents a live performance at Hamburg, Germany’s unerhört!-Festival in December 2017.

Before coming out to the Gallery for an evening of intrepid spontaneous composition, stream the track “Medium” from the trio’s new album.

Design courtesy of Indiana University.

This week, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome Indiana University’s Plummer Ensemble back to our stage for two nights of performances. Under the direction of saxophonist Walter Smith III, the group features top students from Indiana University’s jazz department, hailing from across the United States. To get a sense of students’ impressive artistry, take a listen to last year’s Plummer Ensembles, recorded live at WBGO.

For these performances, the ensemble will be joined by acclaimed saxophonist Ben Wendel. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see these young, talented musicians spar with one of New York’s leading soloists. (more…)