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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Photo via New York Rag.

The purpose of the Jazz Gallery’s Mentoring Program is to provide aspiring musicians with the chance to learn under the guidance of their contemporary heroes. What they learn, and how they learn it, becomes a unique product of the relationship cultivated over a series of collaborative performances and workshops.

This Tuesday, the second mentor/mentee pair of our sixth Mentoring season—mentor drummer Kendrick Scott and mentee bassist Kanoa Mendenhall—kick off their experience with a performance at The Jazz Museum in Harlem. But before you head uptown to hear Scott & Mendenhall, check out our conversation with drummer Savannah Harris about her experience with mentor bassist Harish Raghavan.

Over the course of four performances, the focus of Raghavan’s mentorship became the discussion of freedom within the musical roles dined by your instrument. In our first interview with Harris and Raghavan, topics that arose were performance anxiety, preoccupation while on the bandstand, and the paradox of providing supportive accompaniment while maintaining expressive freedom.

After performances at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, Owl Music Parlor in Brooklyn, and Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, we spoke with Harris again to discover how her thoughts had expanded and evolved throughout the performance and workshopping experience. According to Harris, the final gig at Dartmouth (which culminating in a full day of teaching and performance) encouraged her to ask some challenging yet exciting questions about what’s next for her own career.

The Jazz Gallery: You did four shows over the course of this mentorship at The Jazz Gallery, the Jazz Museum, the Owl, and Dartmouth. The Jazz Gallery space is such an incubator, a little laboratory of discovery: Did the Jazz Museum feel a little more real-world? Did those shows feel different to you?

Savannah Harris: I’ve played at The Jazz Museum a bunch of times, so it was interesting to play this kind of music at The Jazz Museum. Usually, the times I’ve played there, the music has been much more traditional, if I can use that word, or at least coming from that language. It was interesting to play the out shit there, and it was really fun. In terms of my own performance, that show felt the worst for me… I was least at ease at that show than at any of the other four.

It had to do with something useful that Harish told me. Basically, whatever energy you’re bringing in to the gig, you need to discover how to neutralize it, so that you can be musically open. To be honest, I felt a bit closed off at that show. I got in my head. That space is an interesting room. You can’t play loudly in that space, because the instruments are already so loud, so you have to navigate your volume control while maintaining intensity, which is a lot to consider. So if you’re also coming into it with a personal blockage, it makes it hard to let loose at the gig.

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Ryan Keberle, Camila Meza, Pedro Giraudo. Photos courtesy of the artists.

This past June, Ryan Keberle released The Hope I Hold (Greenleaf), the trombonist’s fourth album with his working band, Catharsis. The album finds Keberle in his favored exploratory mode, writing music that draws from diverse practices and keeps its eye fixed on greater socio-political issues. The album is composed of two contrasting “sets” so to speak—the opening “Hope I Hold Suite,” featuring the full band plus guest multi-instrumentalist Scott Robinson, and a set of tunes for a stripped down Catharsis trio, featuring Keberle, bassist Jorge Roeder, and guitarist/vocalist Camila Meza. Take a listen to Roeder’s evocative composition “Peering,” performed live in the studio, below.

This Tuesday, October 29, Keberle and the Catharsis Trio will come to The Jazz Gallery for two sets. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear the band’s wide ranging and passionate music in an intimate space. (more…)

Photo by Laura Razzano

This Saturday, October 26, The Jazz Gallery welcomes the Bohemian Trio back to our stage for two sets. Featuring Yosvany Terry on saxophone & percussion, Orlando Alonso on piano, and Yves Dharamraj on cello, the music of Bohemian Trio is grounded in the folkloric traditions of Latin America, jazz improvisation, and western chamber music. Their acclaimed 2017 debut record Okónkolo (Innova) features compositions by Terry and like-minded contemporary composer-improvisers including Miguel Valera and Pedro Giraudo, plus arrangements of works by Andre Previn and Maurice Revel.

Before checking out their playful approach to repertoire and fleet-footed interplay at the Gallery, take a listen to their recent set at Innova Records Inn-Fest at National Sawdust in Brooklyn.

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Photo courtesy of the artist.

This Friday, October 25, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome guitarist Nir Felder and his trio back to our stage. A few years out from his major label debut record, Golden Age (Okeh), Felder has recently been honing a new book of tunes, including in performance at the Gallery this past summer. For this week’s Gallery performance, Fedler will be joined a different ace rhythm team—bassist Matt Penman and drummer Dan Weiss. Before coming out to the Gallery, check out Felder weaving his way through drummer Ernesto Cervini’s quirky and slippery composition, “Stro,” recorded live in Toronto, below.

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Art by @zjarime, courtesy of the artist.

This Thursday, October 22, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome trombonist Abdulrahman Amer and his Ba Akhu project back to our stage for two sets. In a previous interview with Jazz Speaks, Amer talked about the meaning of band’s name:

It’s a combination of ancient Egyptian words—I’m Egyptian, it’s part of my heritage, and I’ve been exploring my ancient people. Ba is the term that refers to our physical container, and Akhu is about existing beyond any container, everything touching everything, no divisions. One beautiful thing about [the band members], and why they resonate with me and my vision, is that I hope for people to find the freedom to leave their container by staying true to themselves. To destroy any concept of division through acceptance, empathy, understanding, loving people who hate. We’re trying to combat the toxins that have developed over so many years of pain and harshness. We need people who are in tune with themselves in order to bring that kind of humility and honesty to the bandstand. That’s something I want people to come to terms with: Embracing vulnerability and accepting humility is part of the process of growth, the process of finding your most true and beautiful self.

For this week’s performance at the Gallery, Amer is presenting a new set of compositions exploring notions of freedom and restriction, inspired by an epigraph of the poet Rumi: “One of the marvels of the world is the sight of a soul sitting in prison with the key in its hand.” While Ba Akhu was originally formed as a quartet, Amer has expanded his palette to a full ten-piece group, complete with doubling woodwind players like Jasper Dutz and Nicola Caminiti. Don’t miss this performance of an ambitious and emotionally-probing new work. (more…)