A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Archive for

Photo via Worldwide Scene

Photo via Worldwide Scene

In a review of the guitarist Gilad Hekselman‘s 2011 album, Hearts Wide Open (Le Chant du Monde), The New York Times‘ Ben Ratliff writes: “Crucially, this record isn’t only understandable as jazz-guitar music, a maze of speed and soloing. Some of these tracks…are actually songs, singable, playable on other instruments. They are melodies that stay with you.”

“Fifteen years ago he probably would have been signed to a major label,” notes Ratliff. “You might already have read about him in a men’s magazine, or seen his face on a display rack at Tower Records. But the jazz business is more modest and artist-directed now.” Yet Gilad is thriving in this climate, in no small part due to his knowledge of his instrument, and of the music. Nate Chinen’s Best of 2011 list in The New York Times describes his playing as “an object lesson in the high bar facing a young jazz guitarist today…so much fluid knowledge it’s scary.” Chris Potter, Mark Turner, John Scofield, Ari Hoenig, and Esperanza Spalding are among several bandleaders who agree, apparently; they’ve all appeared onstage with the young guitarist.

Gilad was born and raised in Israel, and began his musical training on the piano at age six. Picking up the guitar shortly thereafter, he continued to hone his abilities through performance (even appearing for a time with the band on a children’s television show) and academics. After graduating from the highly reputed Thelma Yellin School of Arts, the young guitarist moved to New York to attend the New School on a scholarship. While still a student, Gilad won the 2005 Gibson Montreux International Jazz Guitar Competition, opened for the guitarist Paco de Lucía, and released his debut album, 2006’s SplitLife (Smalls Records). Before long, he followed with more acclaimed recordings: 2009’s Words Unspoken (LateSet), and 2011’s Hearts Wide Open (Le Chant du Monde).

On April 9th, 2013, Gilad released his most recent album, This Just In (JazzVillage), featuring his frequent collaborators Joe Martin (bass), Marcus Gilmore (drums), and Mark Turner (saxophone). The album takes a formal “cue from that rapid-fire information stream” that is the modern day news cycle. Gilad speaks: “Each one of these pieces has a totally different mood to it, like they’re telling stories from different places in the world.”

We’ve been presenting Gilad in various contexts for several years, and we look forward to hosting another one of his projects on Saturday. The group will feature the keyboardist Shai Maestro, who will play both Fender Rhodes and piano, and the drummer Justin Brown.

Watch Gilad’s quartet performing live in France.

Photo by Christopher Drukker

Photo by Christopher Drukker

Dayna Stephens, a soulful and assured straight-ahead tenor man, has been making an ever-larger impression on the local scene just lately,” writes Time Out New York. He’s “a must see,” according to The New York Times. His peers agree: “Dayna is one of the people who will move music to a new place. He drives the band as he drives himself. He puts us all to a different level,” says the pianist Taylor Eigsti. “He’s just magic,” adds the vocalist Gretchen Parlato.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dayna showed promise from a young age. The saxophonist began his collegiate career at the Berklee College of Music, where he received a full scholarship, and was subsequently selected by Herbie HancockWayne Shorter, and Terence Blanchard to attend The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at USC. Since then, the saxophonist has performed internationally alongside Terence Blanchard, Kenny BarronAlbert “Tootie” HeathRoy HargroveCarlos SantanaStevie Wonder, and many others.

Dayna’s debut album, The Timeless Now (CTA), was released in 2007 to widespread critical acclaim. The guitarist John Scofield, the pianist Taylor Eigsti, the bassist Ben Street, the drummer Eric Harland, and the trombonist Nick Vayenas all make contributions to the recording, which received a four star review in DownBeat and was noted by NPR as one of the Top Ten Jazz Jewels of 2007JazzTimes predicted that the “timely debut may signal the birth of a new cool.” Criss Cross followed by releasing the saxophonist’s sophomore effort, Today Is Tomorrow, which was also well received. Dayna recently put the finishing touches on a new recording: the folks at Time Out New York “predict that his profile will soar sky-high when word gets out about That Nepenthetic Place, Stephens’s new Sunnyside CD, which confirms his prodigious chops as a soloist, bandleader, arranger and composer.”

Dayna caught our attention early on, and has been performing at The Gallery as a leader since 2007. On Friday, he returns to our stage to celebrate the release of That Nepenthetic Place (Sunnyside). Listen to a teaser from the album and read more about it here.

Photo via Chad Lefkowitz-Brown

Photo via Chad Lefkowitz-Brown

“I must have been the last musician in New York City that didn’t know about Chad [Lefkowitz-Brown],” exclaims the veteran bassist Ron McClure. “When I mention his name, everyone seems to know him and how seriously good he is.” The saxophonist Donny McCaslin concurs: “Chad is an exceptionally talented musician. His contribution to the jazz world will be a pleasure to watch in the coming years.”

Chad grew up in Horseheads, NY. After assuring his parents that he would grow up to “play the microphone” as a toddler (“I really loved singing,” he recalls), Chad took up the saxophone at age nine. His father was a music teacher, and exposed the budding musician to improvisatory approaches, as well as the music of Charlie Parker. The combination was enough to grab Chad’s interest; within two years, he was performing locally and already beginning to receive wider recognition. At the end of high school, the saxophonist was invited to join the Brubeck Institute Fellowship Program, where he spent his college years touring internationally with the institute’s quintet.

Soon after graduating, Chad made the move to New York City, and quickly became in-demand as a sideperson; you can hear him on recent recordings from Ron McClureClarence Penn, and Arturo O’Farrill. He also serves as the musical director and saxophonist for 2010 America’s Got Talent finalist Alice Tan Ridley. Chad recently finished his own debut recording, Imagery Manifesto, which features the trumpeter Adam O’Farrill, the guitarist Travis Reuter, the pianist Sam Harris, the bassist Linda Oh, and the drummer Kenneth SaltersManifesto is currently slated for a spring release.

This Thursday, we present Chad and the Imagery Manifesto band as a part of our debut series. Watch a clip of the band performing Chad’s composition, “Still Here.”

Photo via Marsalis Music

Photo via Marsalis Music

Newsday proclaims that Claudia Acuña sings with “the voice of an angel.” The New York Times praises her “strength and grace,” and the LA Times marvels, “she has mastered the essential elements of jazz with startling effectiveness.” Great artists share the sentiment of the press: Claudia has toured and/or recorded with the likes of George BensonBilly ChildsRoy HargroveTom HarrellChristian McBrideDanilo Perez and more.

A native of Santiago, Chile, Claudia was raised in Concepción. Though surrounded by the arts in her community from a young age, Claudia found that her parents did not share her enthusiasm. Nonetheless, she decided at a young age that she wanted to further her abilities, eventually making a career in music, and friends and faculty members who heard her recognized her talents from an early age. Yet finding ways to develop her skills proved to be a balancing act:

“I was the only member of a college choir who did not attend the college, for instance, and my parents approved of that because it was at a college. When I became older, and chances to perform with rock or jazz groups arose, I’d start lying about going to a friend’s house. I would also sneak into the conservatory on the way home from high school and try to memorize the lessons. I would sing anything, and after people heard me sitting in and began to hire me, the money I made became the excuse to get work. “

Claudia eventually moved back to her birthplace, continuing to pursue her art while making a living recording jingles and voice-overs for cartoons. Yet she didn’t forget about her dreams, and after meeting a few supportive musicians from New York, decided to move there four years after she arrived in Santiago. While she originally planned to attend one of the local universities, the costs were prohibitive. However, she soon found herself learning quickly on the bandstand from several of the best young musicians on the scene at the time, including, among others, Jeff BallardAvishai Cohen (the bassist), Guillermo KleinBrad Mehldau, and Jason Lindner. These experiences solidified Claudia’s foundation, and provided her with a set of like-minded peers: “It was like a little music gang. I knew then that I had made the right decision, and had arrived at the right place. I wasn’t in school, but every note I heard was a lesson.”

The vocalist signed with Verve for her first two albums, Wind from the South and Rhythm of Life, the MaxJazz imprint followed with Luna, and, most recently, Marsalis Music released En Este Momento. In addition to her musical commitments, Claudia was also recently appointed as a spokesperson for World Vision Chile, an organization which helps fight poverty through child sponsorship.

Claudia is a Jazz Gallery veteran; she has performed here over twenty times since 2003. This weekend, Claudia will make her first appearance on our new stage (1160 Broadway, 5th floor), accompanied by her close collaborator, the guitarist Juancho Herrera, and special guests.

Watch Claudia and Juancho performing “Tulum” live on CN8.

Photo via The Sirius Quartet

Photo via The Sirius Quartet

Time Out New York describes the pianist Uri Caine as “a polymath pianist at home in driving postbop, funky grooves and classical abstractions.” After apprenticing with titans Philly Joe Jones and Hank Mobley, Uri grew fluent in the aforementioned areas through deep collaborations with the likes of Don Byron, Dave Douglas, and John Zorn, which are documented on the dozens of recordings he has released as a leader or collaborator. Yet the Euro-American classical canon has been a pervasive influence in the pianist’s work for decades, and has grown even more apparent through a series of recent commissions. In at least one case, however, the pianist made the first move:

Uri recalls, “The first time I heard the Sirius Quartet was last year [2011] at The Stone in New York City, and after that, I decided I wanted to work together. So I decided to write a piece that showcased the Sirius Quartet, thinking also about a piece that we could play together.” The result is String Theories, a spellbinding work that received its world premiere at the Theaterhaus Jazz Festival  in April 2012, followed by a North American premiere at the Tribeca New Music Festival.

The New York City-based Sirius Quartet describe their own sound as a blend of “the precision of classical music with the raw energy of a rock band…challenging conventional ideas of what a string quartet is capable of.” We’ve seen them do it in the past, most recently on our stage in collaboration with Linda Oh during our 2011-2012 Residency Commissions (watch here); they’ve also worked with John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, and Steve Wilson. “Rarely do you find ensembles who master the combination of new music, avant-garde, and jazz in such a brilliant way,” proclaims the German publication Reutlinger Zeitung.

On Thursday, we are pleased to welcome the Sirius Quartet and Uri Caine to our stage. The program will place String Theories alongside new works by Quartet members Gregor Huebner, Jeremy Harman and Fung Chern Hwei. In anticipation of the show, watch a performance of String Theories.