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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

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Album art courtesy of BFM Jazz.

This Sunday, December 2, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome the University of Miami’s Frost Concert Jazz Band to our stage for a special performance of American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom. This past fall, John Daversa, chair of the university’s studio music & jazz department, spearheaded an album featuring performances by “Dreamers”—undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. The album’s repertoire includes fresh takes on classic Americana, including Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever,” Bernstein’s “America,” and Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee,” interspersed with musical spoken-word segments by the Dreamer-performers.

Following in the footsteps of works by the likes of Sonny Rollins, Nina Simone, Charles Mingus, and others, the album is a work of musical activism. According to one of the album’s producers, music attorney Doug Davis, “We’re hoping to use the music for messaging purposes. We’re using the album to get these phenomenal kids in front of people who otherwise wouldn’t be aware of the issue. If lightning can strike because we hit the right notes, well that’s the goal.”

Before coming out to hear the Frost Concert Jazz Band’s special performance of this work, give a listen to the album, below.

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Mary Halvorson (L) and Joe Morris (R). Photo courtesy of RogueArt.

This Wednesday, November 28, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome guitarists Mary Halvorson and Joe Morris to our stage for two sets of exploratory duets. The pair is celebrating the release of their spontaneously-composed duo album, Traversing Orbits (RogueArt), recorded this past spring. In the album’s liner notes, cornettist Taylor Ho Bynum (a collaborator with both guitarists) describes Halvorson and Morris’s rapport thusly:

All recordings, especially those of improvised music, try to freeze the sound of a present moment, but invariably melt into the past and the future, real and imagined. Listening to this album, I can’t help but think of the classic meeting of Sonny Rollins and Coleman Hawkins, where two titans of the same instrument across different generations displayed mutual love and respect through stylistic contrast and playful jousting. Or I create a fiction, of Django Reinhardt and Freddie Green crossing paths in some distant hotel, staying up late one night and pushing each other to new ideas. (I don’t make that allusion lightly – for the abundance of virtuosic extended technique, don’t miss the profound swing of the articulated lines and the chunky chords.)

Before coming out to the Gallery, check out an excerpt from Morris and Halvorson’s improvisation “Traces of Three,” below.

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Album art by Gaya Feldheim Schorr.

This Thursday, November 15, at The Jazz Gallery, pianist/composer Gabriel Zucker celebrates the release of his newest record, Weighting (ESP-Disk). The record features Zucker’s multi-movement composition inspired by Rachel Kushner’s acclaimed novel The Flamethrowers. Alongside trumpeter Adam O’Farrill, saxophonist Eric Trudel, and drummer Tyshawn Sorey, Zucker conjures moments from the novel with bewitching harmonies and fleet-footed cross-rhythms. Check out the piece’s third movement, “The Stream of New York/and art, of course,” below.

At the Gallery, Zucker and company will play Weighting in entirety for both sets, giving listeners the opportunity to hear this evocative work take on new shadings. (more…)

Photos courtesy of the artists.

On Thursday, November 15, the next edition of The Jazz Gallery Mentoring Series kicks off at The National Jazz Museum in Harlem. This edition features pianist Kris Davis mentoring saxophonist David Leon. Throughout November, the pair will play in four different configurations, from duo to quartet. The ensembles will feature many of Davis’s regular collaborators, including drummers Tom Rainey and Tomas Fujiwara, saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, and bassist Michael Formanek.

Like Davis, Leon is an improviser of enthusiastic versatility and catholic taste. He leads his own post-bop quartet, performs with the collaborative trio Sound Underground, and frequently convenes groups for free improvisation. A native of Miami, Florida, and a graduate of the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, Leon has won an ASCAP Herb Alpert Award for jazz composition and performed at the 2017 Newport Jazz Festival. Sound Underground has just released their third album as a group, which you can check out below.
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Album design courtesy of the artist.

Pianist and composer Sam Harris returns to The Jazz Gallery this week to celebrate the release of his second album of original compositions, HARMONY. The album was recorded earlier this year at Sear Sound and mixed in house by prolific engineer Chris Allen, and features Harris’s steady trio of bassist Martin Nevin and drummer Craig Weinrib. From the excerpts we’ve heard of the album, the trio sounds strong as ever. Harris’s bold, full voicings stride thoughtfully across cyclical, cascading harmonies, as Nevin and Weinrib provide decisive and expressive support.

In a prior profile of Harris discussing his debut release as a leader, Interludes (2014), our own Kevin Laskey described Harris as “one part Herbie Hancock, one part Paul Bley.” Harris has been featured many times by this blog, and can be found regularly behind the piano at The Jazz Gallery supporting Ambrose Akinmusire, Melissa Aldana, or Ben Van Gelder. Currently on tour with Aldana across Australia and Europe, Harris will return to The Jazz Gallery for one of his only shows as a leader in New York this fall. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear new original music from one of today’s creative and sought-after pianists. (more…)