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Courtesy of Laurent Coq

Courtesy of Laurent Coq

In the liner notes to his newest release, Dialogue (Sunnyside Records), French-born pianist Laurent Coq shares the story of the production of his album:

On August 22, 2012 I returned to Paris after spending three intense weeks in New York where I rediscovered that energy so specific to the city and the musicians that give it life. I was tired, but I didn’t have the time to take a deep breath because the next morning, at dawn, I was on the train and on my way to the next performance. When I got to the hotel very late that night, I was already starting to feel out of sorts and was experiencing symptoms that I couldn’t attribute solely to jet-lag. I was becoming sick. Five torturous days later I was admitted to Saint Antoine Hospital in Paris where I would spend two unforgettable weeks. Unforgettable as much as for the care and devotion of the staff as for the unconditional love and support I received from my family and friends.

The recording he completed shortly before he fell ill was a new creative endeavor for him: a trio with piano, guitar, and vocals, which originally began as a duo with his former composition student, Ralph Lavital. As Coq describes in the EPK for Dialogue, the precedent for the piano-guitar duo format in jazz was “both intimidating and a source of inspiration.” Coq cites the Bill Evans/Jim Hall duo record Undercurrent as one notable point of reference, and notes that one major challenge of the format is the sonic similarity of the piano and guitar, which allows them to blend easily but also forces them to be resourceful in terms of sound and color. Notable Creole and Caribbean influences can be heard in the music on this record, which Ralph and Nicholas talk about at greater length in the EPK:

We’re pleased to present Laurent Coq as he celebrates the release of his newest collaborative effort.

Pianist Laurent Coq performs at The Jazz Gallery this Thursday, November 14th, to celebrate the release of his newest CD, ‘Dialogue’ (Sunnyside Records). He will be joined by Ralph Lavital on guitar and Nicholas Pelage on vocals. Sets at 9 and 11 p.m. 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.

Photo by Michael Hoefner (Wikimedia Commons)

Photo by Michael Hoefner (Wikimedia Commons)

Improvisational freedom and structured composition might seem like an unlikely combination, but for Taylor Ho Bynum, the two go hand in hand. Bynum’s virtuosic yet playful cornet style has made him a favorite of forward-thinking artists from Anthony Braxton to Cecil Taylor, and in his own work, he strives to write music that gives his band as much flexibility as possible. His latest release, Navigation (Firehouse 12 Records), is a four-album set that showcases some of his most improvisational work yet. The album chronicles four performances of the work, two with his working sextet and two with an expanded 7-tette, and the modular, collaborative nature of the composition makes Navigation a collection of four very different performances.

It’s a typically ambitious move from Bynum, whose work has also included collaborations with dancers and visual artists as well as solo tours conducted entirely on his bicycle. On Saturday, November 9th, he’ll perform Navigation live at The Jazz Gallery with his sextet, which features saxophonist Jim Hobbs, trombonist/tubist Bill Lowe, guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Ken Filiano, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara. We caught up with Bynum by phone to talk about the album, his influences, and what listeners can expect from Saturday’s show.

The Jazz Gallery: Why four performances of the same composition? How’d the piece come together?

Taylor Ho Bynum: I always try to give musicians in my group as much freedom as possible, but I’ve generally done it with a relatively fixed road map. I compose material A and then we improvise and they can take it wherever they want, but eventually we’re going to get to area B. After [2012’s Apparent Distance], I really had realized [the musicians in the group] were kind of busting at those seams. I really wanted to give the musicians the freedom not just to improvise in the moment, but really to make choices in the compositional material so the musicians themselves can make the choices of what the road map is. There’s not a fixed road map; instead, it’s sort of a playground of opportunity. There are all these different places we know we can go together as an ensemble, and each of the musicians is responsible for where we can go next. (more…)

Photo by Michael Hoefner (Wikimedia Commons)

Photo by Michael Hoefner (Wikimedia Commons)

Brooklyn-based composer-bandleader Darcy James Argue and his 18-piece Secret Society are long-time veterans of The Jazz Gallery. From their debut album Infernal Machines in 2009—produced immediately after the premiere of his Jazz Gallery commission that year—to their most recent release Brooklyn Babylon this year, Darcy and his Society have been credited for their fresh and innovative take on the big band tradition. The New York Times calls it a “wickedly intelligent dispatch from the fading border between orchestral jazz and post-rock and classical minimalism,” and rightfully so: Infernal Machines landed itself on over 100 Best-of-the-Year Lists and earned itself a Grammy Nomination for “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album” in 2009. As we noted in our first post ever here at Jazz Speaks, Darcy and his Society are no strangers to the Jazz Gallery, and we hope you’ll join us for their return to our stage.

This Thursday, November 7th, composer-conductor-ringleader Darcy James Argue and his Secret Society will perform at The Jazz Gallery. The band features Erica von Kleist, Sharel Cassity, Sam Sadigursky, John Ellis, and Josh Sinton on winds; Seneca Black, Tom Goehring, Jonathan Powell, Nadje Noordhuis, and Mike Rodriguez on trumpets; Mike Fahie, Ryan Keberle, James Hirschfeld, and Jennifer Wharton on trombones; and in the rhythm section, Sebastian Noelle (guitar), Red Wieringa (keyboards), Matt Clohesy (contrabass and electric bass), and Eric Doob (drums and percussion). Sets are at 9:00 and 11:00 p.m., $20 general admission and $10 for members. Purchase tickets here

Via EyeShot Jazz

Via EyeShot Jazz

Alto saxophonist and composer Steve Lehman has a busy year ahead of him. In addition to touring with his octet, which performs at The Jazz Gallery this Friday, November 8th, Steve will be composing a commissioned work for the PRISM Saxophone quartet, making his West Coast debut with his trio, and working with MC and electronic experimentalist HPRIZM as part of the Bud Powell/Thelonious Monk project, alongside Wadada Leo Smith, David Virelles, and Emmanuel Pidre.

We’re pleased to welcome Steve back to our stage this weekend, and caught up with him by phone to learn a bit more about his recent musical pursuits and what he’ll have in store on Friday.

The Jazz Gallery: Much has been made about your exploration of spectral harmony, particularly in the octet setting. Have you encountered any common misconceptions about this approach to composition and dealing with sound?

Steve Lehman: Not really, mostly because it’s a specialized area of music, which isn’t a good or bad thing—even the term spectral music is a little specialized. I don’t know so much about misconceptions because it’s new, to a certain extent, to a lot of people who are engaged with the jazz community, whether they be listeners or musicians. Once in a while, you’ll come across somebody suspicious about the term, like it’s supposed to be some magical way of working with harmony that should sound totally different; you’ll hear a critic or a listener say, “I don’t hear anything special.”

I think that’s good! Whether I’m using spectral techniques or not, at the end of the day, the most important thing is if it sounds special and like something unique, something people can get excited about. That’s the most important thing, whether there are spectral techniques or not.

In a way, as I’ve said, I don’t really feel like it’s such a divergence from the history of the music, especially when I think about somebody like Charlie Parker making plans to study with Edgar Varèse in Paris. It’s not the same thing—I’m not Charlie Parker by any stretch of the imagination—but Varèse is often thought of as a kind of proto-spectral composer. That’s an important precedent, something I look at and think, ‘It’s not something so unusual.”  (more…)