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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Photo by Alan Nahigian.

This week, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome guitarist Liberty Ellman and his sextet back to our stage for two nights of performances. Ellman is an acclaimed and versatile sideman, holding down the guitar chair in acclaimed groups including Henry Threadgill’s Zooid, Stephan Crump’s Rosetta Trio, Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret, and Joe Lovano’s Universal Band. Ellman’s work as a leader builds on the relationships he has cultivated as a sideman. His last album—2015’s Radiate on Pi Recordings—features a sextet composed of longtime collaborators, including trombonist/tubaist Jose Davila from Zooid and bassist Stephan Crump from Rosetta. You can take a listen to two tracks from the record—the knotty “Supercell” and “Rhinocerisms”—below.
At the Gallery this week, Ellman’s sextet will be presenting new music commissioned as part of Chamber Music America’s 2018 New Jazz Works grants. While Ellman has worked with great musical system-makers like Threadgill, Butch Morris, and Steve Coleman, he says his own music comes from a more intuitive place. In an interview with JazzTimes, Ellman says:

I haven’t yet developed anything that I could say is purely mine in terms of a codified system. For me, it’s more about things that I’ve learned from being around these people and listening to their music. When I write music, basically I start from an idea. A lot of times it’s something rhythmic, either a groove or a bassline or a small fragment of a melody, and then I try to see where it goes, and that’s an intuitive process. Sometimes I find a melody that I feel is really strong, and I keep writing, and if I’m in the zone, 20 bars later is where I actually find the piece, and I throw away everything else. [But] there has to be a melodic shape. I make sure that every line has its own melody. Every part someone plays should stand on its own. That’s one of my rules.

Don’t miss these two nights of both fierce and fiercely melodic new music from Liberty Ellman and his sextet.

The Liberty Ellman Sextet plays The Jazz Gallery on Wednesday, June 26, and Thursday, June 27, 2019. The group features Mr. Ellman on guitar, Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Steve Lehman on alto saxophone, Jose Davila on tuba & trombone, Stephan Crump on bass, and Damion Reid on drums. Sets are at 7:30 and 9:30 P.M. each night. $20 general admission ($10 for members), $30 reserved cabaret seating ($20 for members) for each set. Purchase tickets here.