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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Posts from the Watch Category

Photo by Caroline Mardok, courtesy of the artist.

This Monday, September 23, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to have saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock back on our stage presenting new music for a new sextet. Much of Laubrock’s recent work as a leader builds on concepts of instrumentation and sound color. Ubatuba is a wind-powered band, with trombone, tuba, and saxophones. Serpentines adds live electronic processing into the mix. And Contemporary Chaos Practices expands Laubrock’s canvass to the size of a full orchestra. Her latest sextet fits into this pattern, as Laubrock surrounds her saxophone with an array of strings—guitarist Brandon Seabrook, bassist Michael Formanek, violinist Mazz Swift, and cellist Tomeka Reid, orbiting around Tom Rainey’s combustible drumming.

Before coming out to the Gallery, take a listen to Laubrock, Rainey, and Seabrook’s prickly rapport in a performance with bassist Brandon Lopez at Three’s Brewing this past July.

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Photo by Abishek Mangla.

This Friday, September 20, The Jazz Gallery welcomes pianist Paul Cornish back to our stage for two sets. A native of Houston, Texas and an alumnus of its famed High School for the Visual & Performing Arts, Cornish is currently based in Los Angeles, studying at UCLA’s Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz. Back in the summer of 2016, Cornish participated in The Jazz Gallery’s Mentoring Series, holding his own on guitarist Miles Okazaki’s fiendish and slippery music from the album Trickster.

In addition to his studies at the Hancock Institute, Cornish has become a conspicuous presence in the Los Angeles scene, playing surreal and ecstatic funk with Thumpasaurus, and backing up acclaimed artists like saxophonist David Binney.

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Photo courtesy of the artist.

Vocalist Roopa Mahadevan returns to The Jazz Gallery on Thursday, September 19 for two sets of traditional Carnatic music. Building on her extensive training in traditional Carnatic music, Mahadevan frequently puts the music in dialogue with other traditions—in 2018, Mahadevan participated in the Banff Resonant Bodies program, while this year, she was a recipient of a Hedgebrook Songwriter’s residency.

For this performance, Mahadevan will be joined by violinist Arun Ramamurthy and mridangam player Sriram Raman. In an earlier interview with Jazz Speaks, Mahadevan discussed her approach to playing traditional Carnatic forms with this instrumentation:

I don’t think it’s perfect. Because I think it gives a little too much agency to the vocalist, honestly. For example, if I were to do improv on a scale, do a raga alap, I do it first, and then the violinist has to do her own version, but not as long as me, a little less long, and during my alap, she’s shadowing me also, she’s echoing the last part of each phrase. You know, these kinds of things that become part of the protocol. But it’s kind of silly.

I’ve actually thought that if you can have a beautiful exchange, between the vocalist and violinist, that can stand alone as the alap, you don’t need to then do a separate violin alap, or think of it as just the vocal alap. It could be this beautiful coming together of two ideas.

The mridangam player has an interesting role because they’re kind of ever-present. They don’t do the alap, for example, that’s arrhythmic. But when you start the composition, they’re always playing, depending on the school or the specific aesthetic of the mridangam player, sometimes they’re right under you all the time, and sometimes it’s more sparse. Sometimes they actually have another rhythm that’s going, that’s kind of counter to what you’re doing, but complementary.

Before coming out to the Gallery, check out Mahadevan performing live in the studio, with Rajna Swaminathan on mridangam.

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Photo courtesy of the artist.

Bassist Nick Dunston and his band Atlantic Extraction return to The Jazz Gallery this Saturday, September 14. Dunston has had a busy summer, touring with drummer Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom, and playing with Marc Ribot at the annual Vision Festival.

Last week, Dunston announced that the group will be releasing their eponymous debut album on November 1. In an interview with Jazz Speaks, Dunston spoke about how the particular combination of musicians—including performer-improvisers from outside the explicit jazz tradition—impacted his writing for the group.

I didn’t pick players to move toward a sound I had in my head. That freed me from a lot of my own expectations as a composer, and allowed me to open up and grow in accordance to what the band is shaping up to be. Choosing musicians to fulfill a sonic vision is a totally valid approach, and I’ve done stuff like that, but it’s not what I’m interested in right now. These musicians and people are so special. It would be selling the band short if I were to simply write music, then decide whether they “played it well” or not. I’m a decisive and particular person, and I write music that challenges the band and myself in many ways, but at the same time, I’m not looking to take any shortcuts in terms of development. I’m not looking for them to check off some kind of box along the way. I’m looking for a balance, a mix of patience, open-mindedness, and more importantly, indulgence. I’m just obsessed with all of their playing, and I have no doubt that this group will become something I couldn’t have possibly imagined. Every time we get together, whether it’s a gig or rehearsal, my expectations are completely shattered and surpassed.

Don’t miss this chance to hear the group’s deepening interplay, and keep your ears peeled for their album, out November 1 on Out Of Your Head Records. (more…)

Photos courtesy of the artists.

This Wednesday, September 11, The Jazz Gallery kicks off the sixth season of its Mentoring Series where emerging performers are paired with established mentors for a run of concerts. The first pair of the season features bassist Harish Raghavan mentoring drummer Savannah Harris.

Raghavan is a longtime Gallery regular, having played here dozens of times over the past several years as both a leader and sideman. Most recently, Raghavan has used the Gallery as a proving ground for his working quintet, featuring a slew young musicians with strong personalities—vibraphonist Joel Ross, saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, pianist Micah Thomas, and drummer Jeremy Dutton. Hear them perform Raghavan’s composition “Anjou” at ShapeShifter Lab, below.

Harris is a native of Oakland, California, where she grew up studying drums with her father Fred Harris and stepfather Khalil Shaheed. She later attended Howard University, becoming an active member of the Washington, D.C. scene, performing at the Kennedy Center and writing for CapitalBop. She then moved to New York to study at the Manhattan School of Music and has recently performed with the likes of pianist Aaron Parks and saxophonist Maria Grand (check out Harris performing with Grand and bassist Kanoa Mendenhall, below).

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