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Angela Morris, Drew Williams, and Hye Seon Hong. Photos courtesy of the artists.

This Thursday, January 17, The Jazz Gallery is proud to present the latest volume of our large ensemble Jazz Composers’ Showcase. This long-running series has given emerging composers the opportunity to work with a top-flight New York big band, many of whom have gone onto lead acclaimed ensembles of their own. This week’s show will feature work by composers Angela Morris, Drew Williams, and Hye Seon Hong.

Morris is a saxophonist originally from Toronto and an alumna of the BMI Jazz Composer’s Workshop. She performs with a number of aesthetically omnivorous groups, including her quintet Rallidae and co-leads “a jagged-edged [big] band,” with saxophonist Anna Webber, “that has begun to turn musicians’ heads,” according to Giovanni Russonello of the New York Times. Check out Morris’s composition “Both Are True” performed by that ensemble, below.

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Photo by John Watson

This weekend, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society back to our stage for two sets. The group has been playing at the Gallery for over eleven years now, helping pave the way for a new generation of distinctive, independent big bands. In a recent articleon contemporary big bands in The New York Times, Argue notes, “It seems like no matter what, the possibilities of writing for big band are so musically irresistible that people keep finding a way to make it work,” much like Secret Society has.

For this performance at the Gallery, Secret Society will perform a mix of old favorites from their records Infernal Machines, Brooklyn Babylon, and Real Enemies, as well as less-frequently heard pieces such as Argue’s Duke Ellington tribute “Tensile Curves” and the New England Conservatory-commissioned “Wingèd Beasts.” The group also welcomes a few first-time co-conspirators to the fold—trumpeters Rachel Therrien and Riley Mulhekar, and trombonist Natalie Cressman.

Before checking out the band at the Gallery this weekend, take a listen to some of the group’s rarer repertoire performed live at the Newport Jazz Festival in 2014, below:

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Photo by Aljosa Videtic, courtesy of the artist.

This Thursday, January 10, The Jazz Gallery welcomes saxophonist Jure Pukl and his band Doubtless back to our stage for two sets. The quartet, featuring Pukl’s fellow acclaimed tenor saxophonist (and wife) Melissa Aldana, released their eponymous debut album last May. In an interview with Jazz Speaks, Pukl told of the band’s origins:

We were teaching and playing at the clinic in different settings. The band started as a friendship, a family thing. Joe [Sanders] was at my wedding to Melissa, for example. Our first gig was at Porgy And Bess in Vienna, and our second gig was in my hometown at our annual workshop. After the clinic week, we did a few more gigs, then went to a studio in Slovenia and tracked all the music. We made the record in three hours. We know each other so well, we were hungry for music, and it just poured out.

For this Gallery performance, Pukl and Aldana will be joined by some new faces—bassist Harish Raghavan, drummer Kush Abadey, and special guest pianist Kris Davis. Before hearing the group’s repertoire evolve in new ways, give the record a listen below.
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From L to R: Eric McPherson, Kris Davis, and Stephan Crump. Photo courtesy of the artists.

This Saturday, December 8, The Jazz Gallery welcomes the Borderlands Trio to our stage for two sets. Featuring bassist Stephan Crump, pianist Kris Davis, and drummer Eric McPherson, the band last graced our stage a year ago to celebrate the release of their debut album, Asteroidea (Intakt). In an interview with Jazz Speaks, Crump spoke about the group’s unique sense of collective orchestration:

I think we all share an orchestral sense, a sense of structure, as far as each member has a broad conception of the range of possibilities on his or her instrument, and the various colors and textures and overtones, and thinking about what one can offer to the music that orchestrates it properly at any given moment based on what the others are offering. That might take each of us into areas that aren’t necessarily traditional areas on the instrument, but everybody in the band percieves the music on that level as well. I think of it as orchestration. So that’s really satisfying, because on a simple level it means that everybody’s always making things work. Whatever anybody offers to the music, the rest of the band will contextualize it instantly so it works, even as things are always morphing.

Before coming out the Gallery to hear the trio’s ever-deepening interplay, check out the sprawling and shapeshifting title track from the group’s album.

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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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