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Photo courtesy of the artist

Photo courtesy of the artist

At age 19, pianist James Francies is continuing to prove himself to be one of the leading pianists of his generation. Like Robert Glasper, Chris Dave, Jason Moran, Eric Harland, Kendrick Scott, and numerous others before him, Francies is a graduate of Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA) and has aligned himself with this lineage of Houston jazz artists who have emerged as leaders on the international jazz scene. Francies, currently on tour in Europe with Chris Dave and the Drumhedz, brings back his Kinetic band to The Jazz Gallery this Friday, November 7th, 2014.

We presented Kinetic in April and also interviewed Francies around the same time; read our conversation here. We will also be presenting Francies as part of The Jazz Gallery’s Mentoring Series: Volume 1, Edition 4, with Jason Lindner’s Now vs. Now, over the next couple months. We hope that you’ll us in welcoming this young talent back to our stage on Friday.

James Francies KINETIC performs this Friday, November 7th, 2014 at The Jazz Gallery. The band features Francies on piano, Nir Felder on guitar, Matt Brewer on bass, and Jeremy Dutton on drums. Sets are at 8 and 10 p.m., and tickets are $22.00 ($12.00 for Members). Purchase tickets here.

Courtesy of John Chin

Courtesy of John Chin

Although already a known quantity on the New York jazz scene since he moved to the city in 1998, pianist John Chin has been patient in deciding when to record and release his original music. His first album, 2007’s Blackout Conception (Fresh Sound Records), featured saxophonist Mark Turner, bassists Chris Higgins and Alexis Cuadrado, and Bill Campbell on drums. He released his new sophomore album, Undercover, earlier this year, which documents the rich, fluid sound of his working trio at the time, with Orlando le Fleming on bass and Dan Rieser on drums.

We spoke transatlantically with John Chin, who was in London performing with trumpeter Irvin Mayfield.

The Jazz Gallery: Could you say a bit about the band you’ve assembled?

John Chin: I’ve known Ari since 1996 and we’ve done a few gigs together; we just did a gig in Los Angeles at the Blue Whale. While he’s not on the record, he and I have been playing a bit and I thought it’d be really fun to have him. I love Dan [Rieser], of course, who’s on the record, but I think Dan is actually on the road with Rosanne Cash right now, so how luxurious is my life that Ari Hoenig is subbing for Dan Rieser? [laughs]

It’s kind of remarkable, but it’s what I love about being here in New York: that’s the kind of stuff that happens here that I can’t imagine would happen anywhere else. Orlando’s on the record and, on top of that, Orlando and Ari play a lot together, so with the chemistry that the two of them have, it’s this love triangle between the three of us.

It’s funny because even though I’ve played with each of them individually, this combination is something that happens not so often. I’m excited to see what happens.

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Photo courtesy of the artist

Photo courtesy of the artist

According to The New York Times, Bryan Copeland “specializes in an unabashedly pretty strain of postbop, chamberlike and euphonious.” While the bassist-composer, originally from Texas, is noted for his work as a sideman alongside Toby Goodshank (formerly of Moldy Peaches), Ashley Arrison, David Binneyand Roy Hargrove, he has steadily led Bryan and the Aardvarks in the New York area since the release of Heroes of Make Believe (Biophilia, 2011). The Aardvarks, taking on jazz “infused with a wistful pop sensibility” (Time Out New York), were formed as a quartet configuration, but have expanded over time to include Bryan Copeland on bass, Camila Meza on vocals, Chris Dingman on vibraphone, Jesse Lewis on guitar, Fabian Almazan on piano, and Joe Nero on drums. Having brought the Aardvarks to our stage in an earlier formation, Bryan returns again to present all new music this Tuesday. Glenn Zaleski will be featured on piano this evening.

Bryan was kind enough to sit down on the phone and discuss the new material and some backstory behind the Aardvarks:

The Jazz Gallery: You’re prepared to debut all new material for the up coming performance. Could you give some context about the material?

Bryan Copeland: Yeah, I mean there will probably be a few new tunes that we’ve played before and three or four brand new songs that I’m hoping to unveil. We’re going to rehearse later and see how it goes. It’s pretty complex stuff, a lot more involved than the former stuff. Some of these scores for these tunes are about 25 pages long. [laughs] Hopefully we’ll be able to work them out. We’ll have to see how the solo parts sit next to the melodies we wrote for some of the “heads,” which can be up to six minutes long or so themselves.

We’re going to record soon. We’ve been trying to get it going but it’s been tough with everyone’s scheduling. I think Fabian and I will likely produce it. I want to record it at this place upstate called The Clubhouse. Chris recorded his last project there and had a great experience. It sounds like a nice getaway; they let you stay there.

TJG: Is there a certain inspiration you’re drawing on in these new compositions?

BC: Yeah, this new stuff has a strong science fiction influence—definitely a futuristic, outer-spacey vibe. I’m a huge movie fan: I’ve seen thousands of movies and sci-fi has always been my favorite genre. Definitely into Ridley Scott stuff like Blade Runner and Alien or the original Solaris or Brazil. I particularly love the music in sci-fi films. The more films I’ve watched the more I’ve gotten inspired to write.

The last album was very heavy influenced by composer Jon Brion; he’s been a really big influence of mine for a long time. I think this new stuff is really organic. It’s just straight out of my imagination or sub-conscious or something.

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