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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

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Photo by Jimmy Katz, courtesy of the artist.

This Tuesday, August 7, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome saxophonist Eric Alexander and his trio back to our stage for a live recording. With over three dozen albums as a leader to his name, Alexander is among the most prominent saxophonists of his generation. His sound is firmly built on bebop and the blues, a foundation that he has passed on to many musicians as a faculty member at William Patterson University.

This live video recording is presented with Giant Steps Arts, a new organization founded by famed jazz photographer and recording engineer Jimmy Katz. The mission of the organization is to create a sustainable system for jazz musicians to record and release their work. Under Katz’s perceptive eyes and ears, these recordings will be given free of charge to the performers, who can release and market the recordings without a label middleman. Katz is also making biographical profiles of these musicians, such as this one with Marcus Gilmore, below.

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From L to R: Anna Webber, Matt Holman, Brian Krock. Photos courtesy of the artists.

This Friday, August 3, The Jazz Gallery is proud to present the latest edition of our Jazz Composers’ Showcase. Curated by composer and conductor Miho Hazama, the Showcase gives up-and-coming composers the increasingly rare opportunity to have their work for large ensemble performed by a top-notch group. The two sets on Friday will feature music by Anna Webber, Matt Holman, and Brian Krock.

Whether working with her flexible Simple Trio—featuring pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer John Hollenbeck—or writing more precisely detailed music for larger ensembles, multi-instrumentalist Anna Webber makes music that has been described as “bracing and argumentative” by critic Ben Ratliff. Webber’s most recent project features music for a septet inspired by 20th century works for percussion by the likes of Varese and Cage. To get a sense of how her musical ideas scale up for large ensemble, check out her composition “Parallelissimo,” performed by the Jazz-Institut Berlin Big Band.

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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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