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Left to right: Miho Hazama (photo by Miho Aikawa), Chris Zuar (photo by Jeff Schneider), Erica Seguine (photo by Rudy Lu)

Left to right: Miho Hazama (photo by Miho Aikawa), Chris Zuar (photo by Jeff Schneider), Erica Seguine (photo by Rudy Lu)

This Thursday, September 25th, 2014, we present the large ensemble works of three composers: Miho Hazama, Erica Seguine, and Chris Zuar.

Miho Hazama‘s latest album, 2013’s Journey to Journey (Sunnyside), featured the likes of vibraphonist Stefon Harris and saxophonist Steve Wilson while showcasing Hazama’s original compositions, as well as a surprising arrangement of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi.” We welcome Miho back to our stage following her last performance with us in January, when she presented her m_unit band and sat down with us for an interview.

Erica Seguine hails from Albany, NY, and studied composition at the Eastman School of Music and William Paterson University, where she received her M.M. Seguine co-leads an 18-piece big band with saxophonist Shannon Baker, and has presented her original music at venues around the city, including the Brooklyn Tea Lounge and Somethin’ Jazz Club.

Chris Zuar‘s music has been performed by such ensembles as the Westchester Jazz Orchestra, the New York/BMI Jazz Orchestra, and Jazz Band Classic. He was the 2011 winner of the New York Youth Symphony’s First Music 28 composition competition, and had his work premiered at Symphony Space. Zuar also works as a professional music copyist and engraver and has provided his services to Mike Holober, Maria Schneider, and Bob Brookmeyer.

We’re pleased to have these three diversely talented artists present their large ensemble music on our stage, and we hope that you’ll join us in hearing their musical personalities juxtaposed set by set on Thursday.

The Jazz Composers’ Showcase will feature the compositions of Miho Hazama, Erica Seguine, and Chris Zuar this Thursday, September 25th, 2014, at The Jazz Gallery. The band will feature John O’Gallagher, Ben Kono, Jason Rigby, John Lowery, and Andrew Gutauskas on saxophones; Mark Patterson, Matt McDonald, Nick Grinder, and Max Seigel on trombone; Nathan Eklund, Matthew Jodrell, Dave Smith, and Matt Holman on trumpet; Sonia Szajnberg on vocals, Glenn Zaleski on piano, Olli Hirvonen on guitar, Aidan O’Donnell on bass, and Jeff Davis on drums. The first set is $15.00 ($10.00 for Members); the second set is $10.00 for everyone. Purchase tickets here.

Please note that sets are at 8 and 10 pm., our new set times starting in September.

Photo by Ziga Koritnik, via

Photo by Ziga Koritnik, via

We’re pleased to welcome back to our stage Slovenian saxophonist Jure Pukl this Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014. Jure returns with his “Sound Pictures” quintet, which features a couple names you’ll probably recognize: Adam Rogers on guitar, Sam Harris on piano, Joe Sanders on bass, and Rudy Royston on drums. The all-star configuration, which last convened at the Gallery in January, goes into the studio on the 26th to record Jure’s new album for Fresh Sound New Talent. For this latest release, the quintet will be augmented by two special guests: saxophonist Melissa Aldana and vocalist Sachal Vasandani.

Jure’s last record, Abstract Society (Storyville), which featured the likes of pianist Vijay Iyer, drummer Damion Reid, and Sanders on bass, was released in 2012, and it’s well-worth checking out for the global sensibility that Jure brings to his collaborative music-making. Considering the amount of time he spends across Europe and other distant reaches of the globe, we’re lucky to have Jure share his music on our stage, and we hope that you’ll join us in welcoming him back.

Jure Pukl performs with the “Sound Pictures” Quintet this Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014, at The Jazz Gallery. The performance will feature Pukl on saxophone, Adam Rogers on guitar, Sam Harris on piano, Joe Sanders on bass, and Rudy Royston on drums. The first set is $15.00 ($10.00 for Members); the second set is $10.00 for everyone. Purchase tickets here.

Please note that sets are at 8 and 10 pm., our new set times starting in September.

Photo by Steven Schreiber, courtesy of the artist

Photo by Steven Schreiber, courtesy of the artist

“Sometimes you enter a culture that’s not yours, but you feel so at home,” says Jen Shyu. “That’s what I felt in Indonesia … I didn’t speak the language at the time, but I did three months of private intensive language lessons and basically became fluent to the point that I could go to another city and do my research”

Shyu is a self-described experimental jazz vocalist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, producer, researcher, and educator, and was a 2014 recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Award. She has spent much of the past decade traveling the world to study musical traditions and particular improvisatory traditions outside of those immediately available in the United States.

That journey, according to Shyu, began in 2001 with a trip to Cuba, which was followed in 2003 by another trip to Cuba and her first trip to her father’s homeland, Taiwan, as an adult, aside from a family visit at age 7.

“2003 was a big year for me because I went to Taiwan for the first time on my own, which was closer to my roots, a sort of redefining journey,” she says. “Starting in 2003, I repeatedly went back to Taiwan on my own dime, and again in 2005 to study Mandarin.”

The information that Shyu gleaned on those trips proved valuable for future research pursuits.

“In 2007, I applied for an Asian Cultural Council fellowship, which was actually the first grant that I ever got,” she says. “Since I had gone to Taiwan on my own, I knew exactly what I wanted to look for.”

Further research trips included months spent in mainland China in 2009 to study shuo chang (resulting in commissioned works at The Jazz Gallery shortly thereafter) and East Timor, her mother’s birthplace, in 2010.

“That was my first time there, where my mom was from, which was very powerful. The trips kept getting more powerful, plus I was honing my fieldwork technique,” she says.

“I never studied ethnomusicology, but I found my own way to do fieldwork, and it was all toward creative work. Nothing for me is ever for a degree or a kind of academic requirement; it’s purely for life, the creative side of things, the inspiration.” (more…)


Photo by Michael Weintrob

Last year, clarinetist Mike McGinnis released Road*Trip, an album that featured two suites: “Concerto for Clarinet & Combo” by Bill Smith, and McGinnis’s own “Road*Trip for Clarinet and 9 Players.” The album has garnered many accolades, receiving a 4 1/2-star rating from Downbeat and landing on the Village Voice’s Top 10 Jazz Albums of 2013.  We spoke to McGinnis last year just after the album was released; you can check out our interview here.

If you’ve never heard of Bill Smith, take a look at McGinnis’s blog, where he has written a short biography of Smith and a listening guide to Smith’s music. And if you haven’t heard Road*Trip yet, here are videos of “Concerto for Clarinet & Combo,” recorded live in-studio on WNYC’s Spinning on Air with David Garland:


Photo via

Photo via

Trumpeter Jason Palmer is quite comfortable wearing many different hats. As a leader, he has recorded albums of his original music and reimaginings of songs associated with soul singer Minnie Riperton. As a sideman, he has played with a huge range of artists, from Greg Osby to Grace Kelly to Matana Roberts. He’s taught at the Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, as well as The New School in New York. And he’s even comfortable sublimating himself into a character, whether playing the iconic music of Miles Davis in the multimedia Miles Davis Experience 1949-1959 project, or the lead character in Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, an award-winning 2009 indie film by the up-and-coming writer/director Damien Chazelle.

For his next appearance at The Jazz Gallery, Palmer will wear a completely new hat—that of the science fiction storyteller. In a new project entitled City of Poets, Palmer and pianist Cedric Hanriot have reimagined author Dan Simmons’s Hugo Award-winning novel Hyperion as a work for jazz quintet. We caught up with Jason by phone to talk about his compositional process and the challenges of translating a semantic work into abstract music.

The Jazz Gallery: What are the origins of your “City of Poets” project? How did you get the idea?

Jason Palmer: It came about from speaking with Cedric Hanriot and Michael Janisch. We had gotten together to talk about collaborating on a project and applying for this grant from the French-American Cultural Exchange a couple of years ago. Fortunately, we were awarded the grant, and so we started thinking about what kind of music we wanted to present. Cedric thought it would be a cool idea to put together a project that would weave in the science fiction of this Dan Simmons novel called Hyperion. It’s a futuristic book with these seven characters traveling through the universe trying to find this one planet filled with these dementor-type people. It’s a really dense novel.

We used the seven modes of limited transposition—non-transposable scales used frequently by Olivier Messiaen—to write a suite of music about these seven characters. I wrote 5 songs based on 5 of those modes, and Cedric wrote 3, so one mode gets used twice. Working with these modes is like looking into a fridge and seeing what you have to cook with and not having what you really want, but making due with what’s there.

TJG: Did you find that using these scales was limiting creatively, or did having those boundaries help you come up with new material you wouldn’t have created otherwise?

JP: It was pretty liberating. I’m really a serial composer: I’ve written a lot of music based on numbers, Sudoku games, Social Security numbers. Just to have those new sets of colors available to me kind of helped me sit down and figure out new ways of working with material. It allowed me to be more structured, and that was something I really needed. I have a child now, so time is really valuable!