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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

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Photo courtesy of the artist.

This Friday, May 10, The Jazz Gallery welcomes vibraphonist Nikara Warren back to our stage for the second installment of her Political Gangster Trilogy. Back in April, Warren focused on the music of Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, and Charles Mingus, but for this show, Warren will convene her Black Wall Street project. Black Wall Street is named for the affluent black neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma that was burned to the ground during the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, but for Warren, the project name isn’t meant to evoke the violence of that event. As she described in a recent interview with Jazz Speaks:

I didn’t want to focus on the negative, especially with Black Wall Street name—I actually had a pretty famous trumpet player say to me, [laughs] “Why you highlightin’ that? That’s a Klan job.” And I decided to explain to him, “nah, I’m not highlighting what happened—I’m highlighting what was, what was before.” And hopefully bringing some historical knowledge to people that are like, oh, what’s Black Wall Street? Why’d she call it that? And trying to keep my eye on the excellence portion of this, and that’s why I grabbed from all these amazing parts of Black American music. And I shouldn’t really even say Black American music—I should just say Black music. There’s a lot of African influence in there too, and Latin America.

Before coming to the Gallery to hear Warren’s potent synthesis of historic and contemporary black musics, check out Black Wall Street’s recent performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

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Photo courtesy of the artist.

This Thursday, May 9, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome saxophonist Caroline Davis back to our stage to celebrate the release of her new record, Alula (New Amsterdam). Davis has frequently found musical inspiration in natural phenomena. Her last record from 2018, Heart Tonic (Sunnyside), featured compositions inspired by the push and pull of heartbeats with arrhythmia. In animal biology, the alula is a small, anterior digit on a bird’s wing. The alula works like slats on aircraft, which allow for different amounts of lift when a bird is taking off or landing. The alula functions in particular rhythmic ways, providing Davis with yet another means of grounding her compositions in the time cycles of the natural world.

Beyond Davis’s thoughtful compositions, Alula is defined by the rapport between Davis and her two collaborators—keyboard wizard Matt Mitchell (exclusively featured here on a set of classic synthesizers) and Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier. For the record release celebration, Dan Weiss (another musician who explores rhythms from beyond the musical world) will fill in for Mr. Saunier. Before coming to the Gallery, watch the music video for Alula‘s lead single, “Wingbeat,” below.

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This Saturday, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome multi-instrumentalist Morgan Guerin back to our stage for two sets. An undergraduate at The New School and an alumnus of our Mentoring Series, Guerin has already toured with the likes of drummer Terri Lynne Carrington and bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding. In an interview with Jazz Speaks, Guerin spoke about the inspiration gained from working with these artists:

Honestly, Terri Lyne Carrington’s work ethic completely makes everything I have to do so small. She and Esperanza are the two hardest-working people I know. It’s really inspiring to watch them go from project to project, show to show, and have the energy and passion to be able to share and create all the time. It’s a blessing to see their work ethic, and it has definitely rubbed off on me. It pushes me to create more, to stay up that extra hour, to get up an hour earlier. The way they think and listen to music is so eye-opening and super new to me. 

For this show at the Gallery, Guerin will be showcasing his saxophone playing, alongside pianist Jahari Stampley, bassist Nick Dunston, and drummer Kweku Sumbry. But to get a sense of Guerin’s expansive work across instruments, check out this recording of “But I,” where he plays all of the instruments behind vocalist Alyssa McDoom.

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This week, The Jazz Gallery welcomes bassist Harish Raghavan back to our stage for two nights of performances. Over the past year and a half, Raghavan has been developing a working band with top young improvisers, including saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins and vibraphonist Joel Ross. For this week’s shows at the Gallery, however, Raghavan will convene a quartet of peers—saxophonist Logan Richardson, guitarist Charles Altura, and drummer Justin Brown. As extremely in-demand sidemen, these players don’t get to join voices very often, making these dates a special occasion.

To get a sense of the shared vocabulary of this peer group, check out Raghavan performing Denzil Best’s rhythm changes standard “Wee” with saxophonist Ben Wendel and drummer Nate Wood, below (definitely don’t miss Raghavan’s solo starting at the 6:30 mark).

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Photo by Federico Rodriguez Caldentey.

In what has become an annual tradition, bassist & composer Pedro Giraudo will bring his acclaimed tango and large jazz ensembles to The Jazz Gallery for a weekend of shows. Since moving to New York in 1996, Giraudo has released 10 albums as a leader or co-leader, including 2018’s An Argentinian in New York (Zoho) with the WDR Big Band of Köln, Germany. Giraudo leads a double life in the New York jazz and tango worlds, and spoke with Jazz Speaks about his approach to working in these different musical idioms:

I don’t believe that people must only do one thing. For me as a composer, when I write in any context, it’s all my music. I actually re-arranged some pieces for WDR big band that were originally written for my Tango ensemble: I love both versions, and I feel they’re both true to who I am. I’ve done things the other way around too, with pieces I wrote for the big band that I later adapted for the Tango quartet. It’s all my music. If you hear my Tango band and the big band, the way the music is played and the instrumentation makes things sound so different, but from an aesthetic and emotional point of view, it comes from exactly the same place.

Before coming out to Giraudo’s tango ensemble on Friday and big band on Saturday, check out the WDR Big Band performing Giraudo’s compositions in the video below:

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