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Photo via Glenn Zaleski

Photo via Glenn Zaleski

Glenn Zaleski has a sound,” writes Becca Pulliam for NPR. “I heard bells ring when he played.” His pianism displays “a perfect balance of excitement and coherence,” according to JazzTimes.

Born and raised in Bolyston, MA, Glenn began taking piano lessons at age seven. His elementary school had a jazz band, and it wasn’t long before the young pianist graduated to performing around the city. He shared many of these early musical experiences with his older brother Mark, a Boston-based saxophonist. Both Glenn and Mark were selected to attend the Brubeck Institute in California; afterwards, Glenn made the move to New York to finish his undergraduate studies at the New School.

Glenn maintains an active performance schedule as a sideperson, and has worked with Ravi Coltrane, Ari Hoenig, Lage Lund, Ben van Gelder, and Maria Neckam during his time in New York. His piano playing has been recognized by some of jazz’s leading competitions, including the 2011 APA Cole Porter Fellowship in Jazz, in which Glenn was a finalist, and the 2011 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition, in which he reached the semi-finals. He also co-leads the trio Stranahan/Zaleski/Rosato, which also features the bassist Rick Rosato and the drummer Colin Stranahan. The band’s first release, Anticipation (Capri), was praised as “an estimable album” with “meticulously flowing sound” by The New York Times.

Glenn has performed at The Jazz Gallery as a sideperson on several occasions, and we are pleased to present his group for the first time on our stage this Thursday as a part of our debut series. The band features the trumpeter Mat Jodrell, the saxophonist Lucas Pino, the bassist Desmond White, and the drummer Cory Cox. Glenn speaks:

The band playing next week was put together specifically for this date at The Gallery. It’s a combination of some of my favorite musicians around, and we’ll be playing some new music, as well as some older and more familiar music, that will allow each of us to stretch out and have a good time.

Lucas, Cory and I met in high school, went to the Brubeck Institute, and then moved to New York together to go to the New School. To be playing together again at The Gallery feels kind of like a family reunion, so to celebrate we’ll be revisiting some of the material that we played together as teenagers. I met Desmond and Mat here in New York. We play together in Lucas Pino’s “No Net” Nonet, and playing with them has always been exciting and inspiring for me. Basically this quintet is a blast to play with!

Listen to Stranahan/Zaleski/Rosato’s version of “All The Things You Are.”

Photo via // Filter by Pixlr

Photo via // Filter by Pixlr

It’s true that Chris Dingman conveys “the picture of accommodation and restraint,” to borrow words from The New York Times. Yes, he’s adaptable, as evidenced by his lengthy list of employers, which includes Steve LehmanAmbrose Akinmusire, Gerald Clayton, Anthony Braxton, and numerous others. But Chris is also “dazzling” in the limelight; his “fondness for airtight logic and burnished lyricism” has been recognized by the DownBeat Critics’ poll (Rising Star Vibraphonist of the Year), the Jazz Journalist Association (Up-and-Coming Artist of the Year nominee), and NPR (Piano Jazz: Rising Stars).

Chris was raised in San Jose, California, and studied music at both Wesleyan University and the Thelonious Monk Institute, as well as abroad in Kerala, India. In 2007, he moved to New York, and quickly found himself in demand in a breadth of situations. The vibraphonist’s self-released debut album, aptly titled Waking Dreams, has been described as ”gorgeous” (Time Out New York), “brilliant” (All About Jazz), and “deeply lyrical” (New York Times). “The thing that happens to me most, actually, is [that] fragments or pieces or repeating pieces of music are ringing in my head as I’m dreaming, and often during the waking hours,” explains Chris during an interview with NPR. “And on occasion, I have woken up with these fragments in my head and written them down.”

On Saturday, Chris makes his first appearance on our new stage (1160 Broadway, 5th floor) with a brand new group called Soundscapes, which features the guitarist Ryan Ferreira and the cellist Okkyung Lee.

Read our 2012 interview with Chris, and listen to him on NPR‘s Piano Jazz: Rising Stars.

Photo by Nadja von Massow via Flickr // Filter by Pixlr

Photo by Nadja von Massow via Flickr // Filter by Pixlr

The New York Times describes Michael Rodriguez as a “precise and resourceful trumpeter” who “brings a sleek postbop modernity to his engagement with Latin jazz.”

Michael grew up in a world filled with music. “We lived in Queens for the first nine or ten years of our lives, and our dad always had a drum set set up in the living room, with miscellaneous instruments lying around…He had an alto saxophone that my brother and I used to just honk on.” After the family moved to Miami, FL in 1987, Michael decided to focus his curiosities on the trumpet, setting his sights upon the symphonic band. Before long however, he and his brother (the pianist Robert Rodriguez) began gaining notoriety in improvising groups throughout the region.

Nonetheless, the trumpeter returned to New York before the end of college, and began a lengthy immersion in the local scene. “It wasn’t until about 2004 that I got a phone call from Charlie Haden,” says Michael. “I came recommended to him through Gonzalo Rubalcaba, who’s an amazing pianist from Cuba. That was my first break…it kind of just went on after that.” In addition to his tenures with Haden and Rubalcaba, Michael has also worked with Eric Reed, Clark Terry, Bobby Watson, Quincy Jones, Joe Lovano, and countless others. He and Robert co-lead the Rodriguez Brothers Band, and have released several recordings together.

Michael has appeared at The Jazz Gallery in various configurations over the years, and we are pleased to present his quartet, featuring the saxophonist John Ellis, the bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa, and the drummer Rodney Green, to our new home (1160 Broadway) this Friday night.

Watch the Rodriguez Brothers performing “Promenade in Gitmo” live at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola.

Photo via // Filter by Pixlr

Photo via // Filter by Pixlr

According to Exodus to Jazz, the pianist Carolina Calvache plays with “an engaging lyricism that encompasses a full range of fire and finesse.” The pianist and composer-arranger Toshiko Akiyoshi describes her music in one word: “Marvelous.”

Born and raised in Cali, Colombia, Carolina started formal training on the piano at the tender age of 6, courtesy of the local conservatory. Her early interests included salsa and Colombian traditional music, but she expanded her focus to include jazz at age 14 after hearing records by Miles DavisJerry Gonzales & The Fort Apache BandTito PuenteChick Corea and Keith Jarrett.

After continuing her studies through college in Colombia, Carolina was awarded a scholarship to the Master’s Degree Program at the University of North Texas. Soon thereafter, the pianist moved to New York, where she began working with the likes of John BenitezSamuel TorresLudwig Afonso, and Jose Armando Gola. Carolina was showcased during the 2011 Mary Lou Williams Women In Jazz Festival, and recently recorded her debut album featuring the trumpeter Michael Rodriguez, the bassist Hans Glawischnig, the drummer Ludwig Afonso, and special guests including the saxophonist Jaleel Shaw and the drummer Antonio Sánchez. On the subject of the music and recording in New York, Carolina speaks:

It is a mix of all my roots, the countries that I feel part of, plus a special harmonic jazz sound. There is no other place [that could have] inspired [me] to produce an album like this than…NYC, where you can [experience,] through [the] people, the beauty of each country in the same place.

We are excited to welcome Carolina’s quartet, featuring Roman Filiu, Ricky Rodriguez, and Rodney Green, to our new home (1160 Broadway, 5th floor) this Thursday as a part of our debut series.

Watch the EPK for Carolina’s forthcoming debut album, Sotareño.

Photograph by Yann Renoult //

Photograph by Yann Renoult //

“If you’ve put an ear to some of the most talked-about jazz bands of the last few years, you’ve likely heard saxophonist Walter Smith III,” writes NPR’s Patrick Jarenwattananon. He’s “one of the hottest saxophonists on the postmodern scene,” proclaims the London Evening Standard. Perhaps best known as the front-line foil to the Blue Note recording artist (and Jazz Gallery veteran) Ambrose Akinmusire, Walter has performed with every from Jason Moran, Terence Blanchard, and Eric Harland to Destiny’s Child, Bilal, and Lauryn Hill, not to mention a rapidly growing number of others. He’s also released three albums under his own name: Casually Introducing (Fresh Sound), Live In Paris, (Space Time), and III (Criss Cross).

Walter brings his own group to our stage this weekend for a two-night run on Friday and Saturday. The band features the guitarist Matthew Stevens, the pianists Taylor Eigsti (Friday) and Fabian Almazan (Saturday), the bassist Harish Raghavan, and the drummer Clarence Penn.

We caught up with Walter a few weeks ago during his travels across the pond, and he was kind enough to answer a few of our questions. Without further ado, Walter Smith III speaks:



What have you been up to lately? What have you got coming up?

The beginning of 2013 is hectic. I’m in the middle of a UK tour with my group for two weeks, and then I’ll be recording a couple albums with some great French musicians for a week in France. After that, I’m on to Chicago to play with Dave Douglas for a night, then headed to NYC to play with the NEXT Collective. Our album [Cover Art] comes out on Concord Records on the day of the show and should be really cool. Then, I’m off to Milan with Dave Douglas again and right back to Boston for NPR/WBGO’s The Checkout Live with my group, and that brings us to The Gallery gigs on the 8th & 9th. Only about 5 days off during that stretch. Fun, fun!

Tell us about about your early exposure to and training in music growing up in Houston. Can you recall a memorable musical experience you had during that period?

My father taught band and I attended his elementary school. I started on violin in kindergarten and then began studying the clarinet and the saxophone in second grade. The funniest thing I remember from that early time is that I challenged a fifth grader for 1st chair in the sax section on our part to [Bobby Helm’s] “Jingle Bell Rock” because I knew she had been playing the rhythm incorrectly, and I won!

When and why did you decide to become a musician? 

I officially decided to do it in twelfth grade, after lots of encouragement from my teachers and peers. Also, winning an award from the Young Arts Foundation kind of made me want to pursue music in college and beyond.

You’ve apprenticed under a lot of great musicians – Jason Moran, Terence Blanchard, Eric Harland, etc. Pick a memorable story from one of those experiences and let us hear it.

Moran once found a YouTube clip of me playing rhythm changes at Berklee. I was just regurgitating all this stuff that I had been learning, and he sent me a long email about things to think about and check out. He also sent me some recordings of things that really helped me get my stuff together. Safe to say that I haven’t played like that since then. Also they won’t take the clip off of YouTube!

Tell us about the band you’ll be bringing to The Gallery this weekend.

The band includes Taylor Eigsti, piano; Harish Raghavan, bass; and Clarence Penn, drums.

I’ve known Taylor for a long time and we’ve played together a lot in Eric Harland’s band. I’ve grown to love his approach to music more and more as I listen to his playing on records, like Gretchen [Parlato]’s Lost and Found and also my current favorite song to listen to titled “The Art Teacher” from Taylor’s album Daylight to Midnight. Love it. I’ve played with Harish almost every day it seems like for the last two years with Ambrose Akinmusire’s band. He always plays with a lot of energy and creativity and I really enjoy playing with him. I see Clarence in airports all over the world and here and there at festivals, but I’ve never had the chance to play with him. I grew up listening to him and have always wanted to [do something together], and when this stuff came up it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

We’ll be performing all original music; some from my last album, and a bunch of new stuff. I’ve been trying to really work on composition and on extending my songs and melodies with several sections, more so than on my previous projects.

When can we expect a new WSIII album, and what might that sound like?

I’ll be recording a new album this summer for Concord and you can expect that at the top of 2014. Hopefully we can expect it to sound good!

List a few albums you’re listening to these days: