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The Alan Ferber Big Band recording "March Sublime" at Systems II // via

The Alan Ferber Big Band recording “March Sublime” at Systems II // via

Will the Alan Ferber Big Band become a Gallery Thanksgiving tradition? We hope so.

Last year at The Jazz Gallery, over the weekend after Thanksgiving , trombonist and composer Ferber played music from his 2013 big band release, March Sublime. Ferber is a frequent presence in DownBeat polls who has played with a varied roster of musicians including Lee Konitz, Kenny Wheeler, Charlie Hunter, John Hollenbeck, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Sufjan Stevens, The National, and Dr. Dre, and who has led his own Nonet for over a decade. A short while after he played the Gallery, he picked up a Grammy nomination for March Sublime, his first large ensemble recording. You can hear him talk about the Grammies and learn what his favorite coffee place in New York is on the Wing Walker podcast.

Check out our interview from last year with Ferber in which he talks about March Sublime, as well as these videos of his big band from a few years back. This is a band with a lineup that’s sure to knock the stuffing out of you.

The Alan Ferber Big Band performs this Friday and Saturday, November 28th and 29th, 2014, at The Jazz Gallery. The band features Taylor Haskins, Scott Wendholt, Alex Norris, and Clay Jenkins on trumpets; Alan Ferber, Tim Albright, Josh Roseman, and Jennifer Wharton on trombones; John O’Gallagher, Rob Wilkerson, and Jason Rigby on saxophones; Anthony Wilson on guitar, David Cook on piano, Matt Pavolka on bass, and, last, but not least, Mark Ferber  on drums. Sets are at 8 and 10 p.m., $22 general admission ($12 for Members). Purchase tickets here.

Photo by John Abbott

Photo by John Abbott

Saxophonist Steve Wilson and drummer Lewis Nash are used to sharing the spotlight. Wilson was featured in a 1996 New York Times profile entitled “A Sideman’s Life” and has spent time in the bands of Dave Holland and Chick Corea; Nash has sat behind Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Lovano, and McCoy Tyner.

But the pair of supporting actors will share their music this Saturday at The Jazz Gallery in celebration of their joint début, Duologue (MCG Jazz).

The album came out in August and features just these two musicians at their collaborative best, expounding on each other’s themes and exploring rhythmic outer regions. It’s hard to make a sax-and-drums album without it sounding empty, but the pair uses the lack of clutter to their advantage, forcing the listener to pay even more attention to every squawk or soft tom roll.

“It’s a very direct way of playing,” Nash said in an interview. “It’s like you and me speaking right now—our focus is solely on one person. That leads to some real honest improvising.” (more…)

Photo via // filter via pixlr

Photo via // filter via pixlr

Since coming to New York a decade ago, bassist Ricky Rodriguez has been a shapeshifting force, slipping in and out of jazz groups from across the stylistic spectrum. A native of Ponce, Puerto Rico, Rodriguez quickly found a home in the city, playing with fellow Nuyoricans like saxophonist Miguel Zenón and drummer Henry Cole.

But as you can hear from the performance above, Rodriguez’s improvisational style transcends his Puerto Rican roots. His authoritative sense of groove holds any rhythm section together, which is why he’s been the bassist of choice for artists ranging from vibraphonist Joe Locke(more…)

Photo by Katherine Tom, via

Photo by Katherine Tom, via

Throughout 2014, The Jazz Gallery has paired today’s leading jazz musicians with some of New York’s most exciting up-and-comers in our Mentoring Series. As the year heads into its final months, we are proud to present the fourth and final pairing in our series: Jason Lindner’s Now vs. Now featuring the young pianist James Francies.

A Houston native and alumnus of the prestigious High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA) like Jeremy Dutton, a fellow Gallery mentee, Francies has spent the last year in New York studying at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. During that time, he has already become a regular at venues across the city, playing with the likes of Stefon Harris, Chris Dave, and Mike Moreno. Francies and Lindner’s Now vs. Now will inaugurate their Mentoring Series performances this Thursday, November 20th, 2014, at SEEDS::Brooklyn Arts (617 Vanderbilt Ave.).

We caught up with James this week by phone to talk about the joys and challenges of playing with one of his favorite current pianists.

The Jazz Gallery: Can you tell us a bit about your experience with Jason’s music? When did you first hear it and what drew you to it?

James Francies: I first heard Jason’s music when I was a sophomore or junior in high school. I remember really enjoying the fact that he could make anything groove, no matter how complex or how tightly-arranged something was. He can use all these keyboards and synthesizers, but it would never get in the way of the flow of the music. It was just brilliant. It became something that I really tried to incorporate in my music as well.

TJG: In the past, you’ve talked about your varied musical upbringing—getting jazz from your dad and Earth, Wind & Fire from your mom, as well as funk and R&B from your uncle. Were you drawn to how Jason draws from this combination of styles as well?

JF: Definitely, because if you listen to some of Jason’s music—like the song “Worrisome” that we’re going to do—it just grooves so hard. When I first heard the trio version, I was like, “Oh, my goodness! This is great!” It sounded like something that should be heard on the radio, like D’Angelo or some other neo-soul-type thing. But at the same time, it challenges the listener because not everything is in 4/4 time. It’s not completely typical. I could see people my age who aren’t necessarily into jazz or aren’t musicians listening to it and really getting into it. In some ways, that’s the ultimate goal for me.


Photo by David Garten, courtesy of the artist.

Photo by David Garten, courtesy of the artist.

Adam O’Farrill is a force to be reckoned with. The 20-year-old trumpeter from Brooklyn has been on the radar of jazz cognoscenti for some time, having released Giant Peach, the début album of the co-led O’Farrill Brothers Band with his older brother, drummer Zack O’Farrill, in 2011. Sensing Flight followed in 2013, receiving a 4-star review in DownBeat in addition to being listed in the Top 50 Albums of 2013 by JazzTimes.

More recently, Adam has been performing with the likes of pianists Vijay Iyer and Arturo O’Farrill as well as alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, with whom Adam recently recorded Bird Calls (ACT Music), featuring Mahanthappa’s new project inspired by the spirit of Charlie Parker; the album is slated for release in 2015. And if that wasn’t enough, just last weekend Adam competed in and was awarded third place in the 2014 Thelonious Monk International Trumpet Competition by a panel of judges that included Ambrose Akinmusire, Randy Brecker, Roy Hargrove, Quincy Jones, Jimmy Owens, and Arturo Sandoval.

We last featured Adam on our stage in April when he appeared with an iteration of the O’Farrill Brothers band called “Super O’Farrill Bros.” This time, Adam leads a group of his own: a chordless quartet called Stranger Days, which will feature Chad Lefkowitz-Brown on tenor saxophone, Walter Stinson on bass, and Zack O’Farrill on drums. The band recently played a string of gigs at Yale University, Williams College, and the Lily Pad in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We’re pleased that they’ll be finishing out their run at the Gallery, and we hope that you’ll join us to welcome Adam as he brings the band home.

We recently spoke with Adam about the band, the Monk competition, and recent interests outside of music:

The Jazz Gallery: How did Stranger Days form? 

Adam O’Farrill: What happened was my friend had this triple-bill at ShapeShifter Lab in February, and I had wanted to do this big project based on a book by Nathanael West called Miss Lonelyhearts . I realized that I had no time to develop that and really write, so I was thinking, “Who are people I’ve played with a bunch and I could just put together?” So that February gig was our first together.

It’s probably the most personal group I’ve had just. It’s similar with my dad’s group; we’ve always been playing with each other: my dad, my brother, and I. It’s just like goofing around and beating each other up; it’s all the same family. I feel a similar thing with this group. They’re kind of my big brothers and it’s really just amazing to hang with them.