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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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From L to R: Abhinav Seetharaman, Anjna Swaminathan, and Roopa Mahadevan. Photos courtesy of the artists.

This Thursday, June 14, marks the season finale of The Jazz Gallery’s Thursday Night music series at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning in Queens. Over the past year, the Gallery has presented several emerging artists and bands at the JCAL, from Secret Mall, to Maria Grand, to Sam Harris.

For our final show of the 2017-18 season, The Jazz Gallery is proud to present an evening of Carnatic music, featuring vocalist Roopa Mahadevan, violinist Anjna Swaminathan, and mridangam player Abhinav Seetharaman. All three artists have graced the Gallery stage for performances co-presented with Brooklyn Raga Massive. In a prior interview with Jazz Speaks, Mahadevan described the group’s traditional Carnatic musical practices:

Carnatic musicians often don’t rehearse ahead of time, or make decisions collaboratively before they get on stage. Often the “main artist”—in this case it’s a vocal concert, so the vocalist becomes the main artist—will have a sense of what they want to do, but they may not necessarily tell the accompanists ahead of time. Because if you are a professional Carnatic artist, you’ve already spent years and years learning the technique and repertoire, so even if you don’t know a specific song, if you know the raga, or the scale, and the tala, or the rhythmic structure, you should be able to just go with it.

Before coming out to Queens to see the trio’s set, check Mahadevan and Swaminathan performing alongside pianist Guy Mintus and percussionist Rohan Krishnamurthy in the video below.

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Photo courtesy of the artist.

This Thursday, June 14, The Jazz Gallery welcomes the Theo Walentiny Group back to our stage for two sets. Walentiny and company last appeared at the Gallery in February, performing Walentiny’s original music alongside abstract canvases by painter Joe Walentiny, Theo’s father. The artistic pairing was a natural fit, as Walentiny’s compositions are rich in visual imagery, balancing impressionistic swaths of color with ample space for unpredictable exploration.

At the Gallery this week, the group will present original compositions both old and new, displaying their deepening rapport. Before checking out the young group’s progress at the Gallery, watch Walentiny and the collective Aurelia Trio perform Walentiny’s episodic “Interlude//Swaying Steel.”

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Photo by Ken Weiss, courtesy of the artist.

This Thursday, June 7, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome clarinetist Ben Goldberg back to our stage for two sets of performances. An improviser of deep imagination and eclectic taste, Goldberg has put together groups big and small for projects inspired by Thelonious Monk, Steve Lacy, and the poetry of Allen Grossman, to name a few. At the center of these wide-ranging projects, however, are Lacy’s deep musical relationships with the likes of guitarist Charlie Hunter, saxophonist Ellery Eskellin, drummer Kenny Wollesen, and pianist Myra Melford. Check out Melford’s and Goldberg’s well-honed interplay in the video below.

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Design courtesy of the artist.

This Tuesday, June 5, The Jazz Gallery is proud to present a special melding of two like-minded groups—Real Feels and Endless Field. Led by trumpeter John Raymond, the trio Real Feels has a fluid stylistic sensibility, drawing ambience and lyricism from contemporary indie rock into their chamber jazz interplay. In addition to performing Raymond’s original works, the trio has delved into the modern rock songbook with covers of tunes like Bon Iver’s “Minnesota, WI,” below.

The duo Endless Field features long-time friends/collaborators Jesse Lewis on guitar and Ike Sturm on bass. The duo’s gently fingerpicked lines and lush textures can call to mind the work of the band Oregon, or Pat Metheny, yet they’ve forged a unique path by drawing on their love of the natural world, like in the tune “Infinite Cascade.”

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