A look inside The Jazz Gallery

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Photo courtesy of the artist.

Writing about the guitarist Mike Moreno in JazzTimes magazine, Nate Chinen declares, “There are many other guitarists out there pushing towards a modern ideal, but none with the precise coordinates that Mike Moreno has charted.” In an interview for the same magazine, Pat Metheny recommends Mike as, “a really talented guy who impressed me beyond the notes, for his general feeling, and what he’s going for.”

Since his arrival in New York, Mike has been in demand as a sideperson, performing with Greg Osby, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Joshua Redman, Wynton Marsalis, Nicholas Payton, Kenny Garrett, and many others. He has also recorded with Bilal and Q-Tip, as well as peers such as Aaron Parks, Robert Glasper, Jeremy Pelt, Marcus Strickland, to name just a few.

We’ve been presenting Mike’s groups since 2003, and we look forward to hearing this band with the pianist Sam Yahel, the bassist Matt Clohesy, and the drummer Ted Poor on Friday night.

Mike has released four albums as a leader: Between The Lines (World Culture), Third Wish (Criss Cross), First In Mind (Criss Cross), and, as of January, Another Way (World Culture). Listen to samples from Mike’s newest recording, Another Way, here and here.

Photo by Don Mount (via All About Jazz)

“Free jazz orchestras tend to be even more spontaneous—improvising music that’s even less pre-composed—than their small-group counterparts,” writes Will Friedwald in The Wall Street Journal. “Yet the compositions of Karl Berger have a clear-cut destination, with a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Mr. Berger (best known as a vibraphonist, but here playing piano) focuses on the relationship between noise and music. He lingers on those transitional moments wherein a swirling morass of chaotic sounds gradually coalesces into a genuine melody.”

Karl Berger is a man of many hats: composer, arranger, conductor, vibraphonist, pianist. He has collaborated with a range of artists including Don Cherry, Lee Konitz, John McLaughlin, Gunther Schuller, and many more, and won the Downbeat Critics’ Poll for six consecutive years in the jazz vibraphone category. Karl’s arrangements have also been featured on recordings by Jeff Buckley, The Cardigans, Bootsy Collins,  and Angelique Kidjo, among others.

Karl developed his approach at the Creative Music Studio (CMS), which he co-founded with Ornette Coleman and Ingrid Sertso in Woodstock, NY. An organization dedicated to the study of new and creative directions in music, CMS was instrumental in bringing together leading innovators representing traditions from around the world. The initial advisory council included luminaries John Cage, Gil Evans, Buckminster Fuller, Willem de Kooning, George Russell, and Gunther Schuller.

The Jazz Gallery will present Karl’s Improvisers Orchestra every two weeks starting this Tuesday, March 20th. Following Karl’s critically acclaimed workshop series last year at The Stone,  the Improvisers Orchestra will “turn improvisational ideas developed in the 7:30 pm workshop/rehearsal into a fully formed 9:00 pm performance.” All net proceeds will benefit the CMS Archive Project.

Karl speaks:

While we study our instruments and discipline our musical minds, our materials begin to surface. Finally, there can be the liberating experience that the material is not the point at all: we train ourselves to become instruments when the music can flow through freely, like electricity through a transmitter. We don’t know where it is going. We don’t even know what it is doing. We are only as ready as possible, keeping the tools sharp, keeping fine tuning, essentially empty so we can vibrate.

The New York Times has listed Karl’s run as a Critics’ Pick.

Watch footage taken from Karl’s run at The Stone last year: “Transitions” and “Nameless Child

Photo by Ziga Koritnik via

Without question, Henry Threadgill is one of the most innovative and singular artists working today. You don’t have to take our word for it: as early as 1988, The New York Times refers to Henry as “perhaps the most important jazz composer of his generation.” Briefly summarizing Henry’s history and contributions to music is a daunting task, but the All Music Guide makes a good effort here.

Henry’s current flagship ensemble, Zooid, specializes in a highly unique blend that might be described as “fractured funk,” to borrow the words of The New York Times critic Nate Chinen. “It’s as if you took a hypnotic James Brown bass line and drum part, and then you kind of chopped it up, applied almost a sort of deconstruction to it, and then reassembled it to look like some kind of strange new creation.”

Henry has been an important part of The Jazz Gallery since our inception: he’s performed and led workshops here, and even donated a piano to us. Henry also personally mentored the artists selected to participate in our very first composers series in 2002. We very much look forward to presenting Zooid for three nights this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

We hope to feature an in-depth interview with Henry soon, but in the meantime, we highly recommend two recent conversations that can be found at Do The Math and NPR.

Photo courtesy of Melissa Aldana

On the subject of the saxophonist Melissa Aldana, Greg Osby proclaims: “She will absolutely be a trend-setter for her generation.”

Melissa was born in Santiago, Chile, and exposed to music under the tutelage of her father, Marcos Aldana, who helped her hone her skills as a saxophonist and improviser. A meeting with the pianist Danilo Perez in 2006 led to an audition at Berklee College of Music, where Melissa received the Presidential Scholarship.

Arriving in Boston with very little money and without the ability to speak English, Melissa persevered, seeking out the guidance of the saxophonists George Coleman, George Garzone, and Joe Lovano, among several others. During her time in Boston, she also forged a relationship with Osby, who invited her to record for his label, Inner Circle Music.

The resulting album, Free Fall, features Melissa “swing[ing] confidently and solo[ing] with verve” (Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes) alongside the pianist Michael Palma, the bassist Lyles West, and the drummer Ralph Peterson, Jr. Stream the title track below:

Since moving to New York in 2009, Melissa has performed with Osby, Garzone, and Coleman, as well as Benny Golson, Francisco Mela, and Antonio Sanchez. On Thursday, we will present Melissa and her quartet as part of our debut series. The lineup will feature the trumpeter Gordon Au, the bassist Joseph Lepore, and the drummer Colin Stranahan, all of whom have been regular members of Melissa’s group for the past two years. The band will perform some of the material from Free Fall, a few of Gordon’s compositions, and some brand new music that Melissa hopes to record later this year.

Photo via

LA Weekly describes Dapp Theory as a group that blends “contemporary funk, groove and hip-hop into jazz with such seamless, casual precision it’s almost freaky.” This precision can be traced at least in part to Dapp Theory’s history: they are a well-oiled machine, a unit that has been performing together for the better part of the past decade. In a review of the band’s most recent release, Layers of Chance (ObliqSound), Michael J. West of JazzTimes praises the band’s “remarkable chemistry” as being “so impeccable, it’s practically a musical Unified Field Theory”.

After moving to New York on the recommendation of saxophonist Steve Coleman and performing in Steve’s Five Elements, as well as in the bands of fellow M-BASE associates Greg Osby and Cassandra Wilson, Andy Milne started Dapp Theory in 1998. Andy explains that the idea behind the group is to “create complete musical compositions that groove as hard as they express melodic and poetic lyricism.”

We’ve been presenting Andy’s music in various configurations for over ten years, and we are pleased to host a FREE live video recording session with Dapp Theory tomorrow, Tuesday, March 13th. Doors will open at 8 p.m., and the performance will begin at 9 p.m. In order to limit disruptions to the recording, we kindly request that the audience arrive no later than 8:30 p.m. and be willing to stay until the conclusion of the session at 10:30 p.m.

Again, this performance is FREE, but RSVP’s are required: please send yours to if you’d like to attend.