Speaking in The New York Times about Ralph Alessi‘s album This Against That, Nate Chinen praises the artists’ “prodigious trumpet technique,” noting that “what Mr. Alessi prizes in music is not the impeccable but the ineffable: the thrill of seeking but not knowing.” As Chinen has claimed elsewhere, Ralph and his collaborators propel the music forward with “the urgent force and clarity of a manifesto.”
Born and raised in San Francisco, Ralph comes from a musical family – both of his parents are musicians (in fact, his first trumpet lessons were with his father), and his brother Joseph Jr. is currently the principle trombonist of the New York Philharmonic. While still a teenager, Ralph began freelancing as a classical trumpeter, performing with the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, and various chamber orchestras. Soon thereafter, Ralph enrolled the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), where he received a bachelors’ degree in trumpet performance and a master’s degree in jazz bass performance (he studied under the legendary Charlie Haden, and also apprenticed in Charlie’s Liberation Music Orchestra during his time there).
After finishing his studies, Ralph made the move to New York, where he immersed himself in the city’s vibrant downtown scene. In the years following his arrival, he performed and recorded regularly with bands led by Steve Coleman, Don Byron, Uri Caine, Ravi Coltrane, Sam Rivers, and others. As a leader, he has released several critically acclaimed albums – This Against That (RKM) was selected by JazzTimes as one of the “Ten Best Recordings of 2002”, and Cognitive Dissonance (CAMJazz) received a four star review in DownBeat. Ralph is also active as an educator – he is the co-founder and director of the non-profit School for Improvisational Music (SIM) and serves on the faculty of New York University.
On Friday and Saturday, we welcome Ralph and the current This Against That band (featuring the reedist Tony Malaby, the keyboardist Andy Milne, the bassist Drew Gress, and the drummer Mark Ferber) to our stage for a two-night run.
Listen to This Against That performing Ralph’s composition “Near Cry.”