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If you go check out a big band show in New York, there’s a high probability that you’ll see Alan Ferber in the trombone section. He somehow seems to play with everyone—John Hollenbeck, Joel Harrison, Nicholas Urie, Pedro Giraudo, and Miguel Zenón, for starters—and morphs to fit each composer’s unique aesthetic. Recently, Ferber has added his big sound to records by indie rock trailblazers Sufjan Stevens (check out the bone-crunching hits on “All Delighted People”) and The National.  He’s also delighted audiences young and old as a performer and arranger with the Asphalt Orchestra, a genre-agnostic marching band created by the New York classical music consortium Bang on a Can.

But Ferber isn’t just a sideman’s sideman. He’s recorded several of his own albums, including 2009’s gorgeous Chamber Songs (Sunnyside) for jazz nonet and strings. This past year, Ferber released March Sublime (Sunnyside), his first record of his own big band music. We caught up with Alan by phone to talk about why he decided it was time to step out in front of a big band and how his diverse musical experiences influence his compositional voice.

The Jazz Gallery: Your musical home base has been your nonet, the core instrumentation from your last three albums. Why did you decide to augment that group into a big band for this new record, March Sublime?

Alan Ferber: My friend JC Sanford had asked me to present an ensemble for his big band series. He did say it was open to any kind of instrumentation, so I thought, “I don’t really have a big band, but because it’s a big band series, let me see if I can figure out what kind of charts I have available.” And I went through, and between all of the commissions that I had done for various schools and what not, I realized I had enough big band charts that I could pull off a little gig. I just assembled a bunch of my friends. We didn’t rehearse—we just went in and played on a Monday night and it was very relaxed.

I’ve played in a lot of big bands and I think when I heard my own music for big band that night, I was addicted from the get-go. I think part of it was some of the music that I had written for nonet; I think maybe I was subconsciously thinking about big band as I was writing it, because some of the things I ended up orchestrating for that gig were nonet tunes that I had done in the past. I fleshed them out for big band and realized, “Wow, I think these tunes are more effective as big band charts,” just the way the compositions work. I think from that experience I realized that I was really excited about fitting more of my music for big band. I just departed down that road and started arranging existing tunes and writing new tunes. One thing led to another and I had enough for an album.


Marcus Gilmore, Mark Turner, Joe Martin (l-r)

Marcus Gilmore, Mark Turner, Joe Martin (l-r)

Called “one of the most productive and vital artists of the last dozen years” by The New York Times, tenor saxophonist Mark Turner is one of the most influential jazz artists on the international scene today. A quick survey of jam sessions around New York will reveal how dominant his distinctive instrumental voice has become, as hordes of tenor saxophonists continue to emulate his serpentine lines and impeccable altissimo-register intonation.

It has been noted by Mark Turner enthusiasts and critics alike that Mark hasn’t released a record under his own name in over a decade (the last was 2001’s Dharma Days), but there is something exciting in the pipeline: this past June, Mark recorded with his quartet for ECM, which will yield an album scheduled for release sometime next year. The quartet, which features trumpeter Avishai Cohen, bassist Joe Martin, and drummer Marcus Gilmore, performed a much-anticipated run at the Village Vanguard around the time of the ECM recording, and this same rhythm section will be joining Mark for two nights of trio performances this weekend. Here’s a live recording of the quartet performing in the Netherlands in 2012:

In terms of trio playing, Mark is probably best known for his work with FLY, which features Larry Grenadier on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums and is notably the same drum-bass duo of the Brad Mehldau Trio. FLY’s most recent release was 2012’s Year of the Snake (ECM). A live performance of the title track can be heard here: (more…)

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Having released two albums this year while performing diligently across the world, Adam Larson is clearly demonstrating that he is, in the words of Nate Chinen writing for The New York Times, “a self-assured young saxophonist.” A veteran of our stage, Larson has been pursuing a Master’s degree at the Manhattan School of Music while maintaining a busy schedule performing, recording, and traveling alongside both his quintet in addition to playing with a slew of other groups.

In September, Larson released his sophomore effort, Overdue Ovation. This album includes six new compositions from Larson, one by co-producer and frequent collaborator Nils Weinhold, and a standard, Irving Berlin’s “Remember.” The title for the album is a tribute to Larson’s parents; he comments, “They are such a huge part of my musical upbringing, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.” We look forward to having Adam back this week as he continues to develop his artistry on our stage.

This Thursday, November 21st, saxophonist-composer Adam Larson will return to The Jazz Gallery’s stage, with his quintet, which features Nils Weinhold on guitar, Fabian Almazan on piano, Harish Raghavan on bass, and Jimmy Macbride on drums. The first set is $15 general admission and $10 for Members. The second set is $10 general admission and $5 for Members. Purchase tickets here.

The Jazz Gallery's Fall Fantasy and Fun Auction

The Jazz Gallery’s Fall Fantasy and Fun Auction

We’re pleased to announce the opening of our “Fall Fantasy and Fun” auction, which features a fabulous assortment of jazz-related goodies for the holiday season. The auction closes on November 25th at 7:30 EST, so be sure to get in on the action before it’s too late. Here’s a message from our Executive Director, Janet Luhrs:

The Jazz Gallery online auction is filled with so many treasures, it’s going to hard to decide on what to bid.   We have One of Kind Jazz Weekends in New York, Jazz Performances, Jazz Gallery Celebrity Artists Offering Music Lessons, Jazz memorabilia including posters autographed by Jazz Greats…even Some instruments.   But that’s not all there are Trips to New Orleans, St. Lucia, Bali and other exotic vacation spots, designer items, collector items, antiques and art.

Whether you’re looking for something unique for yourself, searching for a gift for a special someone, or looking to add a little adventure to your life, you’re sure to find something in our auction. Every bid helps support The Jazz Gallery and our mission to nurture and showcase Jazz Artist of tomorrow and our concerts throughout the year.

Spread the Word…Tell Your Friends about this great opportunity.
The success of this online auction depends on involving as many people as possible. Please Refer a Friend and encourage them to participate so they don’t miss a single moment of the fun and excitement. 

Happy Bidding!

Janet Luhrs, Executive Director

There really is something for everyone: lessons for musicians by Walter Smith III, Taylor Eigsti, and a host of great artists; original artwork and photographs; and even a Spanish dinner for four, prepared by bassist Alexis Cuadrado, who performed his A Lorca Landscape on our stage in September. We hope you’ll join us for this special event, and feel free to let friends know, too!

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“I will step into the realm of all possibilities,” saxophonist and composer Oliver Lake writes in his poem, “What can I do.” It seems as though he already has, for although though Lake may be a musician first and foremost, he actively engages in a myriad of art forms, listing painter, poet, and performance artist among the hats he wears. Within the music world, Lake’s output is equally as eclectic, ranging from performances with rapper Mos Def and Me’shell Ndegeocello to collaborations with poet Amiri Baraka and Native American vocalist Mary Redhouse. He was a founding member of the World Saxophone Quartet and has also composed and arranged for the Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Björk, and Lou Reed, not to mention his own free-leaning Organ Quartet, Steel Quartet, and Big Band.

Big bands can be tough to maintain, but Lake’s has managed to stay afloat in various iterations since 2003; he’ll bring the newest version to The Jazz Gallery on November 15th and 16th. Their recent release, Wheels, features a cadre of established New York players, including altoist Darius Jones, tenor man Mike Lee, and trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, all of whom will be onstage at the Gallery. “This is a unit that should keep evolving,” JazzTimes said of the ensemble. We’re excited to welcome Lake and the band back to our stage, where our audiences can see this evolution in action.

The Oliver Lake Big Band performs this Friday and Saturday, November 15th and 16th, at The Jazz Gallery. The band features Oliver Lake, Darius Jones, Bruce Williams, Mike Stewart, Mike Lee, and Jason Marshall on saxophones; Terry Greene, Alfred Patterson, Stafford Hunter, and Aaron Johnson on trombone; Josh Evans, Greg Glassman, Nabate Isles, and Freddie Hendrix on trumpet; and Yoichi Uzeki on piano, Robert Sabin on bass, and Chris Beck on drums. Sets are at 9:00 and 11:00 p.m., $20 general admission and $10 for members. Purchase tickets here