A look inside The Jazz Gallery

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Photo via // Filter via Pixlr

Photo via // Filter via Pixlr

If you dropped Amir ElSaffar and his trumpet anywhere in the world, chances are he’d be able to make great music with whomever he came across. ElSaffar is no stranger to making do with whatever is at hand: he helped improvise the diegetic musical score to the Oscar-nominated film Rachel Getting Married while on set. In addition, ElSaffar is fluent in many musical languages. He grew up listening to his father’s Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald records, then studied classical trumpet in college; since 2002, has been a serious student of the Iraqi Maqam and other forms of traditional Arabic music. With his diverse skills and experiences, ElSaffar has the uncanny ability to make music that doesn’t feel like a self-conscious mashup of different styles, but instead something organic and whole—a fully formed traditional music from a culture that might not exist anywhere in the world, but exists in his mind.

ElSaffar’s home base ensemble, Two Rivers (seen below), features traditional Arabic instruments like the oud, a kind of lute, and santoor, a hammered dulcimer, alongside typical jazz instruments to create an otherworldly quality in the music.


Photo via

Photo via

Cuban-born pianist Osmany Paredes began studying music at the age of five when his father Guillermo, a percussionist with the Santa Clara Orquesta de Musica Moderna, introduced him to both the music of his heritage, including rumba and other Afro-Cuban musical forms, and the American jazz tradition. Osmany began to formally study classical piano at age eight, but cites Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, and McCoy Tyner as major influences while he was coming up in Cuba.

This Friday, November 1st, Osmany will perform with his trio in celebration of his newest album Trio Time, which features seven original compositions of his as well as two arrangements. Earlier this year, Osmany released a solo album entitled Passages, but he has also been in high demand as a sideman in bands led by Richard Bona, Dafnis Prieto, and Yosvany Terry, among others. We’re pleased to welcome Osmany back to our stage and hope that you’ll join us this Friday.

Pianist Osmany Paredes will be celebrating the release of his new CD “Trio Time” this Friday, November 1st, at The Jazz Gallery, with Yunior Terry on bass and Ludwig Afonso on drums. Sets are at 9 and 11 p.m. (please note our new, later set time!), $20 general admission and $10 for Members. Purchase tickets here.

Photo by Jemma Evans

Photo by Jemma Evans

With uncommon rhythmic dexterity and a delicate touch that belies his age, pianist Glenn Zaleski has quickly established himself as a musician worthy of attention amid the clamorous New York scene. The trio Stranahan/Zaleski/Rosato, which features Colin Stranahan on drums and Rick Rosato on bass and performed on our stage in August, has just released their second album Limitless, a record suffused with both lyricism and dynamic rhythmic interplay. He’s won accolades from the likes of NPR and the New York Times, and has turned heads at both the Thelonious Monk and Cole Porter Fellowship competitions.

But Zaleski feels that he is still learning. On Thursday night, Zaleski brings a new trio to The Jazz Gallery, featuring two of his relative elders, bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Ari Hoenig. We caught up with Glenn by phone to talk about how each gig is learning experience, full of surprises for both the performers and the audience.

The Jazz Gallery: This group has a bit of a different lineup than your home base trio (Stranahan/Zaleski/Rosato). What’s your experience playing with Matt and Ari and what do you like about their playing?

Glenn Zaleski: Matt is one of the most versatile and accomplished bass players on the scene now. I’ve always admired him. We played one time—it was a gig of mine at Smalls, similar to this gig coming up—except for that gig we never had a single rehearsal. We just got to Smalls and Matt was playing bass and he just read everything perfectly and just brought so much energy to the music. I was always looking for another opportunity to get together with him and this date seemed perfect.

My experience with Ari is a little bit similar. I played a handful of gigs with Ari last year and I’ve always looked up to him. I’ve listened to him as long as I’ve been studying music; he’s one of the great musicians out there. From the handful of gigs I got to play with him last year, I’m still learning from the things that he would play. I have some music that has some intricate rhythmic layouts that Ari can really get to the bottom of, really get some juice out of.

I just always wanted to play with them again, and hopefully this will be the start of a bunch of more times to come.


Ferenc Nemeth, left (Ingrid Hertfelder) and Javier Vercher, right (Carlos Pericás)

Ferenc Nemeth, left (Photo by Ingrid Hertfelder) and Javier Vercher, right (Photo by Carlos Pericás)

Hungarian-born drummer Ferenc Nemeth and Spanish-born saxophonist Javier Vercher will be celebrating the release of their new duo CD, Imaginary Realm (Dreamer’s Collective Records), this Saturday, October 26th, at The Jazz Gallery. The duo has collaborated previously, having released their first co-led record, Wheel of Time (Fresh Sound), in 2007, while also simultaneously pursuing various other projects.

Ferenc has released two albums as a leader for Dreamer’s Collective Records, Night Sounds in 2007 and Triumph in 2012, and he has worked as a sideman for artists as varied as Lionel Loueke, Omer Avital, and Hiromi. Javier, who originally studied classical clarinet in Valencia before exploring the world of jazz, has collaborated with musicians like Robert Glasper and Bob Moses, among others, and his latest record as a leader is Wish You Were Here (2011), which features Lionel Loueke, Sam Yahel, Larry Grenadier, and Francisco Mela. This Saturday, the duo will be joined by an as-yet-unannounced pianist and special guest Lionel Loueke on guitar. We hope that you’ll join us to celebrate the release of Ferenc and Javier’s latest collaboration.

Drummer Ferenc Nemeth and saxophonist Javier Vercher perform music from their new CD, “Imaginary Realm,” with a pianist (to-be-announced) plus special guest Lionel Loueke on guitar and vocals, this Saturday, October 26th, at The Jazz Gallery. Sets are at 9 and 10:30 p.m., $20 general admission and $10 for Members. Purchase tickets here.


Courtesy of Ben van Gelder

Courtesy of Ben van Gelder

Saxophonist and composer Ben van Gelder is no stranger to The Jazz Gallery’s stage: he performed here as a leader for the first time in 2007 and last performed on our stage in June with the Sam Harris Group. He’ll be performing here this Friday, October 25th, alongside vibist Peter Schlamb, bassist Matt Brewer, and drummer Craig Weinrib. Ben’s first album Frame of Reference (2011) was released to wide acclaim, and his sophomore effort Reprise (Pirouet Records) was released earlier this year. Ben was also one of 13 saxophonists who competed as a semifinalist at the 2013 Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition last month. We caught up with Ben over the phone to talk about his musical upbringing and the influences that inform his playing.

The Jazz Gallery: Can you say a bit about your musical education?

Ben van Gelder: I moved to New York when I was 17 and started studying at The New School. I was super-young, but it was good to spend my most formative years in the city, and I got to study with a lot of great people like Mark Turner and Lee Konitz and Nasheet Waits during that time. The program at The New School’s cool because it allows you to get in touch with these people on an informal level, like you can go to their houses. If there’s opportunity for further musical ventures together then that becomes apparent, so it’s cool like that. It was awesome to spend time with my heroes.

TJG: What was it like studying with Lee Konitz and Mark Turner?

BVG: They’re both very different. Lee’s gone through a lot of changes through the years, playing-wise, and at this point he’s is in a stage where he’s just trying to work from note to note and play as honestly as he can, which usually entails playing music a little slower. We spoke about that at length: playing what you hear and making melodies.

And with Mark, we just worked on applying a system of counterpoint that he’s devised for saxophone, essentially like contrapuntal exercises. We practiced those things together and he’d show them to me and we’d do them. We talked about triads and upper structures and all that, but the most important part of studying with Lee was studying melodies and the major thing I took away from studying with Mark was his deliberateness and precision and execution and focus. (more…)