A look inside The Jazz Gallery

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Photo by Non Such Photography

“A bright, robust energy suffuses the playing of Jaleel Shaw”, writes Nate Chinen in The New York Times. “Mr. Shaw has a purposeful but uncomplicated relationship with the postbop tradition — he isn’t out to reinvent the wheel, just spin it as he pleases.”

The saxophonist was born and raised in Philadelphia. He absorbed the city’s rich musical heritage, and the omnivorous leanings of it’s artists; in an interview with The Revivalist, Jaleel recalls:

The great thing about coming up in Philly is that everyone was open musically. You could play with a straight ahead player one day and the next day go do a avant-garde gig, or a hip hop gig. It was all love and everyone knew and supported each other. I think it’s great that I grew up in an environment that included such a diverse group of musicians.

After cutting his teeth on local bandstands and training under Philly educators such as Rayburn Wright, Robert Landham, and Lovette Hines, Jaleel moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music. It wasn’t long before he relocated again to New York, this time to pursue a masters’ degree at the Manhattan School of Music. While still a student, Jaleel was approached by two of jazz’s premier big bands: the Mingus Big Band and the Count Basie Orchestra. He went on to contribute to two of the Mingus Big Band’s Grammy-nominated albums, Tonight at Noon and I Am Three.

Upon graduating, Jaleel began to make advances as a bandleader while continuing to work with numerous artists in New York and beyond. His debut album, Perspective, was self-released in 2005 and received strong acclaim from publications including The New York Times and JazzWise. His sophomore effort, 2008’s Optimism, saw a similarly strong reception from the Times, OkayPlayer, and AllMusic, among others. In the wake of this release, The Jazz Journalists Association recognized Jaleel as one of the “Up and Coming Musicians of 2008”; he has subsequently been heralded as a contender for Alto Saxophonist of the Year by JazzTimes (readers’ poll).

Also in 2005, Jaleel was asked to join Roy Haynes‘ band, a group which he continues to perform with today. The ensemble received a Grammy nomination for their album Whereas (Dreyfus), and performs frequently around the globe.

Jaleel has been performing at The Gallery as both a leader and a sideperson for many years; on Friday night, he returns to our stage with his quartet (which includes the pianist Lawrence Fields, the bassist Boris Kozlov, and the drummer EJ Strickland).

About a week ago, Jaleel tweeted this link to a 2011 live recording of his quartet’s performance of “Heavyweight Champion.” You can download it here.

Henry Threadgill, Claudia Acuna, Kenny Barron, Roy Hargrove, Ravi Coltrane, Gregoire Maret, Dafnis Prieto, Vijay Iyer, Lionel Loueke

Tonight is the night! Join us at 6:30 p.m. in the Langston Hughes Auditorium at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture for The Jazz Gallery Home Run Benefit.

You’ll hear music from the “outstanding lineup” (Time Out New York) of Claudia AcuñaKenny BarronRavi ColtraneRoy HargroveVijay Iyer,Lionel LouekeGrégoire MaretDafnis PrietoHenry Threadgill, and more, and will have the opportunity to join them in supporting our search for a new home.

This concert has been profiled in The New York Times ArtsBeat section and The New York Daily News, and featured as a Critics’ Pick by The New York TimesTime Out New York, and The Village Voice!

You can purchase tickets here, or buy them at the event. More details are included below. We hope to see you this evening!


The Jazz Gallery Home Run Benefit Concert
Wednesday, June 13th, 2012 | 6:30 p.m.
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Langston Hughes Auditorium
515 Malcolm X Boulevard
New York, NY 10037 (map)

Featuring Claudia Acuña, Kenny Barron, Johnathan Blake, Ravi Coltrane, Matthew Garrison, Roy Hargrove, Vijay Iyer, Kiyoshi Kitagawa, Lionel Loueke, Grégoire Maret, Andy Milne, Linda Oh, Dafnis Prieto, Henry Threadgill, and more

6:30 p.m. Wine & Cheese Reception
7:30 p.m. Seating
8:00 p.m. Performance

$250 Premium Reserved Seats
$175 General Admission + Membership
$125 Non-Member General Admission
$100 Current Members General Admission
$45 Under 30 – Concert Only (Valid ID Required for Entry)

Photo by Peter Gannushkin // DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET

The “incisive and often surprising trumpeter” (The New York Times) Jonathan Finlayson hails from Oakland, CA, where he grew up sparring with fellow young trumpet phenom Ambrose Akinmusire. Both trumpeters were surrounded by talent when they attended Berkeley High School, where their classmates included drummers such as Thomas Pridgen and Justin Brown.

After graduating, Jonathan made the move to New York to attend The New School for Social Research. Before long, he began to perform with the musical pioneer Steve Coleman, who first heard Jonathan when he was in high school. Jonathan has honed his approach as a member of the saxophonist’s ensembles for the past decade: “Playing and studying with Steve, you learn what’s behind certain musical ideas. There are the technical elements, and that’s one level to absorb. But then there are the things that are less apparent, things you have to be close to the music to grasp. This is priceless information to be privy to.” In addition, the young trumpeter has also worked regularly alongside several of the most innovative artists in the field, including Ravi Coltrane, Steve Lehman, Mary Halvorson, and Tomas Fujiwara, and has been heralded as one of “25 Trumpeters For the Future” by DownBeat.

Jonathan has been leading his own groups at The Gallery since 2004. On Friday, we will welcome him back for the return of Sicilian Defense, which features the trumpeter Shane Endsley, the pianist David Virelles, the bassist Keith Witty, and the drummer Damion Reid.

Watch footage from a 2010 performance by Sicilian Defense at The Gallery.

Henry Threadgill, Claudia Acuna, Kenny Barron, Roy Hargrove, Ravi Coltrane, Gregoire Maret, Dafnis Prieto, Vijay Iyer, Lionel Loueke

Our Home Run Benefit is just one day away!

Tomorrow night (June 13th), we will gather at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture to experience an unforgettable evening of music from the all-star lineup of Claudia AcuñaKenny BarronRavi ColtraneRoy HargroveVijay Iyer,Lionel LouekeGrégoire MaretDafnis PrietoHenry Threadgill, and more.

The Home Run Benefit was recently featured in the ArtsBeat section of The New York Times. Additionally, the performance has been selected as a Critics’ Pick by The New York TimesTimeOut New York, and The Village Voice:

★ The New York Times:

The Jazz Gallery, an essential roost and incubator for up-and-coming jazz talent, will lose its current lease in December. The club has been searching for a new home, and this benefit — with a reception at 6:30 p.m., and a concert at 8 — will aid in the effort. Among the many Jazz Gallery regulars scheduled to perform are the trumpeter Roy Hargrove; the pianists Kenny Barron and Vijay Iyer; the saxophonists Henry Threadgill and Ravi Coltrane; and the singer Claudia Acuña. (Chinen)

★ Time Out New York:

One of the city’s premier jazz venues—not to mention a frequent commissioner of new work by important young composers—is staring down an expired lease at the end of 2012, and the search for a new space has begun. Support the cause at tonight’s benefit show, which features an outstanding lineup, including Claudia Acuña, Kenny Barron, Ravi Coltrane, Roy Hargrove, Vijay Iyer, Henry Threadgill, Linda Oh, Dafnis Prieto and more.

Village Voice:

Over the last two decades, this downtown space has made a name or itself as both one of the city’s key labs for improvisers and a cozy spot to watch the ideas of young bandleaders unfold. The rub: Re-zoning has forced them to find a new location, and raising rents has required them to acquire some new loot to pay for it. Tonight’s intergenerational fundraiser program finds a spot for everyone from Henry Threadgill and Kenny Barron to Dafnis Prieto and Vijay Iyer. Need a portrait of jazz’s current scope? This will do fine. 

Tickets are still available, including a limited number of premium seats, as well as $45 concert-only tickets for persons under 30. Get yours now!

Photo by Elizabeth Leitzell

Speaking to Amsterdam News, the pianist Courtney Bryan says, “Musicians make decisions. They either support the status quo or break down barriers.” As the News points out, Courtney belongs firmly in the latter camp.

From the beginning, Courtney’s approach to music has incorporated composition. A native of New Orleans, she began writing music at age five, and was soon accumulating cassette tapes filled with recordings of her early works. Courntey’s early musical development was also shaped by both the influence of her parent’s Caribbean and West-African Anglican-based church and private studies of European classical piano repertoire, as well as by early experiences in marching bands and jazz ensembles.

After attending the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Courtney enrolled at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and later received her masters degree from Rutgers University. Her continuing search for knowledge led her to seek out George Lewis, with whom Courtney currently studies as a faculty fellow in composition at Columbia University. Even as she continues to seek new perspectives and information, Courtney also makes time to share what she has learned with her younger peers; she recently returned from a semester of teaching at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

Spirituality has continued to occupy a major role in Courntey’s work, both academically and artistically. She has devoted both her academic studies and artistic explorations to the understanding and reimagining Negro spirituals, and the notion of “composing in the spirit”. Courtney is also the organist at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark, where she has organized symposiums and panel discussions, often featuring interdisciplinary participants.

As a leader, Courtney has performed regularly at clubs and festivals in New Orleans, Detroit, New York, and beyond, and has self-released two albums, Quest For Freedom and This Little Light of Mine. Her compositions have been performed at Lincoln Center’s Rose Studio and the Corcoran Gallery of Art of Washington DC (Contemporary Music Forum), and she has been commissioned by Cleveland State University’s Jazz Heritage Orchestra, Inspira Dance Company of New Jersey, and LADance Company of Texas, among others. Courtney has also been heard around New York with the likes of Donald HarrisonImani UzuriBrandee Younger, and Marcus Strickland.

Courtney proclaims that her ambition in life is the “creation of uninhibited beauty,” and The New York Times recognizes her “panoramic interests.” We look forward to experiencing both of these things in her performance at The Gallery this Thursday night. The concert will feature the bassist Linda Oh and the drummer Damion Reid – regulars in both Courtney’s trio and on our stage – and a guest appearance by the harpist Brandee Younger. Speaking about the event,  — she’s a faculty fellow in music composition at Columbia University, and the organist at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark — Ms. Bryan has a particular yen for the affinities between African-American spirituals, classical music and jazz improvisation. Here she leads an ensemble with the harpist Brandee Younger, the bassist Linda Oh and the drummer Damion Reid.

Listen to a studio session with Courtney on WBGO’s The Checkout, in which she gives an interview and performs live renditions of spirituals.