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Photo courtesy of the artist.

Steel pan player Victor Provost grew up on the island of St. John, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. One of his early professional experiences was playing solo pan with backing tracks at a resort in Caneel Bay. In his previous interview with Jazz Speaks, Provost talked about the importance of that experience:

I treated it like paid practice. That’s where I really started to experiment with improvisation. On steel pan, you traditionally play in a group, learning melodies, arrangements, and songs by rote. Having those solo gigs allowed me to break away and start experimenting with improvisation. By the five hundredth time you’ve played an arrangement of a tune, you get tired of doing it the same way. It was a unique opportunity. There aren’t a lot of situations that allow you to experiment as a young person.

Since then, Provost’s musical pursuits have brought him through Pittsburgh and Washington D.C., where he’s a leading member of the jazz scene and teaches at George Mason University. Provost’s album from 2017, Bright Eyes (Sunnyside), received acclaim from Downbeat, the Washington Post, and elsewhere, helping to establish Provost as a leading voice on his instrument.

This Friday, July 13, Provost returns to The Jazz Gallery to present new music composed in the aftermath of last year’s Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which devastated the Virgin Islands. The hotel where Provost honed his craft was almost completely destroyed and has yet to reopen. For this new project, Provost will be joined by some of his regular collaborators, as well as new additions—Alex Brown on keyboards, Bob Bruya on bass, Zane Rodulfo on drums, Kweku Sumbry on percussion, and Jacques Schwarz-Bart on saxophones. Before coming to hear this deeply-felt new music at the Gallery this weekend, check out Provost and his working band take on Alex Brown’s exuberant composition “Victor’s Tune.”

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Photo by Gavin Koepke.

After a short break, The Jazz Gallery returns this week to kick off the 2018 summer season. Like in years past, you can purchase a Gallery SummerPass and attend as many shows as you like for one price. Stay tuned for shows featuring the likes of Vijay Iyer, Lee Konitz, and Matana Roberts, as well as two Gallery Residency Commission premieres from James Francies and Charles Altura.

With an exciting summer season ahead, we couldn’t think of a better opening night than having an emerging artist make his Gallery debut as a leader—drummer JK Kim. Kim hails from South Korea, where he grew up studying classical piano and play drum set in church. He came to the US in 2010 to study at Berklee on a full scholarship, and has recently settled in New York full-time. Kim is no stranger to the Gallery stage, as he has appeared alongside talented peers including Julius Rodriguez and Morgan Guerin. Check out Kim, Rodriguez, Guerin, and bassist Daniel Winshaw put the George Cables tune “Think On Me” through its paces:

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Photo by Jati Lindsey.

Just over a year ago, vibraphonist Joel Ross premiered his evening-length project, Being a Young Black Man, at The Jazz Gallery as part of 2017 Residency Commission Series. The work is a series of compositions responding to different events in Ross’s world, organized around themes of family, faith, and the harsh realities of day-to-day life. In an interview with Jazz Speaks, Ross spoke about the socio-political practices of his and his peers’ art:

Since I moved to New York about three years ago, I noticed that all of my peers are very cognizant and very vocal about what’s going on, both with music and outside of it. On social media, I feel we’re all really vocal about what’s going on. I think that’s a great thing.

Jazz has always been a political music, it’s always been a protest music. It’s not surprising to me then that so many jazz musicians are so vocal right now. I feel with people my age, in particular, we’re in an age of information, 24/7. You can always know what’s going on. Because of that, at some point, you can’t just stay silent. And we have a platform for it.

This weekend, Ross will return to the Gallery to revisit this project with a deepening perspective, both personal and musical. Ross will be joined by some original collaborators—including Immanuel Wilkins and Harish Raghavan—as well as new players with their perspectives on the material. To refresh your memory of Ross’s project, check out “Dad’s Song,” below; then come to the Gallery this weekend to hear the rest.

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Photo courtesy of the artist.

In a recent interview with Jazz Speaks, saxophonist Jure Pukl spoke about his notion of risk in improvised music:

Riskiness can be an open form, or taking a certain structure then opening it up, or getting inspired from a structure and then opening it up into a newer, broader thing, maybe returning the structure. Or, having only structure, trying to be creative and risking only within that structure, so that the players move with the same mission. Fish don’t always move in the same direction, but they outline the bigger shape. Some turn left a little early, some turn left afterwards, it’s all this one moving shape.

Saxophonist Darius Jones is an equally-committed risk-taker, always experimenting with new forms, instrumental configurations, and even made-up languages. At The Jazz Gallery this Thursday, June 28, Jones and Pukl will convene their collaborative quintet Meat—featuring pianist John Escreet, bassist Carlo DeRosa, and drummer Eric McPherson—for two sets of musical surprises. Before checking out the distinctive interplay of Pukl and Jones live, take a listen to their kaleidoscopic version of Ornette Coleman’s “Intersong,” below:

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Photo by Kuo Heng-Huang, courtesy of the artist.

Bassist Ricky Rodriguez is a model of versatility on his instrument. Whatever idioms flow into the music that he’s playing—jazz, Afro-Cuban, R&B—Rodriguez speaks them with conviction. It’s no wonder that he’s held down the bass chair for bandleaders as diverse as Joe Locke, Arturo O’Farrill, and Branford Marsalis. In his own music, Rodriguez likes to explore the fluid spaces between different styles, pushing the music in different directions from gig to gig. In a previous interview with Jazz Speaks, Rodriguez described this shape-shifting approach:

As a double bass player and electric bass player, I respect the instruments’ different sounds, from classic and acoustic to electric and crazy, you know what I mean? The bass lines that I originally wrote on acoustic, I can play on electric too, and it doesn’t sound out of context. When I compose, I try to think of those days when the airline might not let me travel with my acoustic, so I have to bring the electric. So I try to make my music work for both. I can play with Fender Rhodes or acoustic piano, and it sounds good either way.

This Friday, June 22, Rodriguez returns to The Jazz Gallery with his home base group, featuring a deep lineup of heavy hitters—saxophonists Miguel Zenon and Dayna Stephens, pianist Luis Perdomo, and drummer Rudy Royston. Before coming out to see the band take on both new and old material, check out this video of Rodriguez’s record release show at the Gallery for Looking Beyond, below.
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