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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

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Photo courtesy of the artist.

This Friday, August 16, cornettist Taylor Ho Bynum returns to The Jazz Gallery stage with his 9-tette. The group strikes a balance between the well-honed interplay of Bynum’s long-running sextet and the expansive palette of  his fifteen-piece PlusTet, providing a rich environment to explore varying combinations of structures and colors. The group ignites creativity both through the contrasting personalities of its players and its instrumentation of nested pairs—four treble instruments and four bass instruments, as well as high-low pairs of brass, saxophones, guitars, and strings.

At the Gallery this weekend, Bynum and company will be playing material from their upcoming release, The Ambiguity Manifesto, coming out on Firehouse 12 Records in September (though you can pick up an advanced copy at the show). To get a taste of what the 9-tette has in store, check out their studio performance of Bynum’s composition “neither when nor where” in the video below.

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Photo by Dan Chmielinski, courtesy of the artist.

This Wednesday and thursday, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome saxophonist Michael Thomas to our stage for two nights of performances. Since moving to New York in 2011, Thomas has become an ace big band sideman, appearing on big band records by Miguel Zenon and Dafnis Prieto, as well as performing with Maria Schneider and John Hollenbeck. He’s an accomplished big band composer as well, writing regularly for Brooklyn’s Terraza Big Band, and receiving a commission from the New York Youth Symphony’s jazz ensemble in 2016. As a leader, Thomas released his debut album The Long Way in 2011, featuring music written during his stint in Boston.
While in Boston, Thomas performed weekly with trumpeter Jason Palmer, who appears with Thomas on the front line for this week’s Gallery shows. With the support of photographer Jimmy Katz’s Giant Steps Arts, these performances will be recorded for future release. 2019 has marked some of the first fruits of Giant Steps’ work with the release of albums by Palmer, saxophonist Eric Alexander, and drummer Johnathan Blake (who also joins Thomas on the bandstand this week). Before coming to the Gallery to witness this live document of an emerging voice, check out Thomas’s slippery version of the standard “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” below.

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Photo courtesy of the artist.

This weekend, pianist Manuel Valera’s New Cuban Express Big Band fills The Jazz Gallery stage over two nights of performances. As an extension of his long-running New Cuban Express project, Valera’s big band takes musical inspiration from Cuban artists of the 1970s and 80s, fusing Afro-Cuban rhythms with the sounds of American pop music and post-bop improvisation.

For these performances at the Gallery, the band will be performing compositions from Valera’s 2015 project, José Martí en Nueva York, originally premiered at The Jazz Gallery. The work features settings of poems by the Cuban writer José Martí, which he wrote while in exile in New York. Valera’s contemporary perspective, featuring knotty and richly-layered settings, show that Martí’s words have continuing relevance.

Before coming out to the Gallery to hear Valera’s José Martí compositions and others, take a listen to the composition “Por tus ojos encendidos” in the video below.
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Photo by Peter Gannushkin, courtesy of the artist.

Chad Taylor is one shapeshifting drummer, as comfortable backing up indie rock acts like Iron & Wine and the Swell Season as he is mixing it up with the legendary experimental improvisers of his hometown, Chicago. Currently based in Philadelphia, Taylor has recently been touring extensively with guitarist Marc Ribot, bassist Eric Revis, and trumpeter Jaimie Branch, and frequently stops at The Jazz Gallery on his way through New York.

This Thursday, April 8, Taylor steps out as a leader on the Gallery stage with a trio featuring saxophonist Brian Settles and pianist Neil Podgurski. Check out the group’s set from happy lucky no. 1 in Brooklyn, recorded last summer.

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Photo courtesy of the artist.

In contexts both on and off the bandstand, Massimo Biolcati epitomizes the role of a supportive rhythm section player. As a bassist, Biolcati is known for holding down the shapeshifting grooves in guitarist Lionel Loueke’s music. As a programmer, Bolcati designed the iReal Pro mobile app, supporting musicians in their quests to learn the jazz songbook.

This Wednesday, August 7, Biolcati steps out as a leader at The Jazz Gallery, bringing together a new quartet. With pianist Jon Cowherd, guitarist Gilad Hekselman, and drummer Jimmy Macbride, the band will present Biolcati’s original compositions, as well as some choice reinterpretations of contemporary pop tunes. Before checking out the band on Wednesday at the Gallery, watch Biolcati perform his composition “Birthday Song, Almost” alongside pianist Yago Vazquez and drummer Jochen Rueckert, below.

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