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Justin Brown isn’t one of those drummers who fades into the background of a group. Whether playing with the likes of Gerald Clayton, Ambrose Akinmusire, or Flying Lotus, Brown always throws himself into the heat of battle, pushing and prodding the music into exciting new directions.

With his group NYEUSI, Brown steps out as a leader, creating an electric concoction that draws from his huge range of musical experiences. Ahead of the group’s show at The Jazz Gallery this Saturday, January 31st, 2015, we caught up with Justin at his apartment to talk about his writing process and his musical motivations.

Justin Brown’s NYEUSI plays at The Jazz Gallery on Saturday, January 31st, 2015. Sets are at 8 and 10 p.m. The group features Brown on drums, Jason Lindner and Fabian Almazan on keyboards, Burniss Travis on bass, and special guest Dayna Stevens on EWI. $22 general admission ($12 for Members). Purchase Tickets Here.

Colin Stranahan (Photo by Brian Payne)

Colin Stranahan (Photo by Brian Payne)

Colin Stranahan is a sensitive and precise drummer. He moves around his left-handed kit with aplomb, his warm haze of cymbals punctuated by a crackling snare. Whether playing with Kurt Rosenwinkel or his collaborative trio Stranahan/Zaleski/Rosato, Stranahan has established himself as a force to be reckoned with behind the kit. Even ?uestlove has been known to check out Mr. Stranahan at the Bar Next Door.

While Stranahan may be best known for his work in hard-grooving, post-bop settings, there is another side to his musical personality, a side that is impressionistic and mysterious. Stranahan will showcase this Mr. Hyde side of his personality with his new band Pacemaker at The Jazz Gallery on Friday, January 30th, 2015. The group plays a mixture of original tunes by Stranahan and his compatriots, as well as favorite songs by the legendary drummer Paul Motian.

The name Pacemaker makes sense for a group led by a drummer, the heartbeat of the band. But on his Facebook page, Stranahan shows the name has a deeper meaning than just a metaphor for timekeeping.

My grandfather, Glen Stranahan, had a Pacemaker for most of his life. When I was a young boy, I remember him always telling me that when someone was going to use the microwave he had to go to the other room. I would follow him and always ask the same question. “What is a pacemaker? Does it make you feel better?” He would always nod with an intriguing grin on his face. It made me think the pacemaker had special powers. I believe the members of my band also have special powers. None of us have pacemakers.

Don’t miss this performance of magic and mystery at The Jazz Gallery on Friday night.

The Jazz Gallery presents Colin Stranahan’s Pacemaker on Friday, January 30th. Sets are at 8 and 10 p.m. The group features Mr. Stranahan on drums, Mark Turner on saxophone, Pete Rende on keyboards, Andres Matos on guitar, and Joe Martin on bass. $22 general admission ($10 for Members). Purchase Tickets Here.

Photo via

Photo via

Since the release of his debut album Beyond a Dream (Fresh Sound) a decade ago, Philip Dizack has established himself as a trumpeter of technical poise and unabashed lyricism. His sound is warm and enveloping, evoking a lush color that few trumpet players can match. On his second album, End of an Era (Truth Revolution Records), Dizack bathed his trumpet sound in a wash of strings.

Even when stripping the band down to a quintet on his follow-up album Single Soul (Criss Cross), Dizack’s music is still full-bodied and romantic. The track “Jacob and the Archangel” starts with a moody vamp before opening up to feature Dizack’s inimitable sound.

We at The Jazz Gallery are proud to present Philip and his band for an evening of gorgeous and expansive post-bop.

The Philip Dizack Quintet plays The Jazz Gallery on Thursday, January 29th. The group features Mr. Dizack on trumpet, Gilad Hekselman on guitar, Sam Harris on piano, Matt Penman on bass, and a drummer to be announced. Sets are at 8 and 10 p.m. $15 general admission ($10 for Members) for the first set, $10 general admission ($8 for Members for the second). Purchase Tickets Here.


Courtesy of Mario Castro. Design by Lydia Liebman.

Saxophonist Mario Castro was a part of some of the most memorable moments at The Jazz Gallery in 2014—whether cutting his teeth with Miguel Zenon during our mentorship series or presenting music from his new album, Estrella de Mar (Interrobang Records)—so it’s only appropriate that we bring him back this coming Saturday, at the start of 2015. Estrella has garnered major praise from Nextbop, All About Jazz, and was recently named “Album of the Week” by Latin Jazz Network. You can also read our interview with Mario about the album here.

Once again, Castro will be presenting music for his quintet with strings. To whet your appetite for the sound of saxophone and strings, here’s a playlist of great string-based pieces from across the history of jazz.

Just Friends – Charlie Parker – Bird with Strings

Produced by jazz impresario Norman Granz in 1949-50, Charlie Parker’s two Bird with Strings records were the best-selling of his career. However, the records weren’t a simple commercial cop-out by the record company: according to biographical sources, Parker himself had long desired to record with a string section. While a lot of pop orchestral recordings from this era sound intensely dated now, Parker propels the idiom to new heights, the strings bathing Parker’s inimitable lines in a lush, hazy light. (more…)


Charles Altura. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Called a “…blazingly precise young guitarist,” by the New York Times, Charles Altura has put the international jazz world on notice with his unique blend of effortless lyricism and rich, atmospheric sound. Altura is as comfortable hanging with Chick Corea’s fusion pyrotechnics as he is with Ambrose Akinmusire’s reflective post-bop. While Altura always seems to be on the road—most recently with Terrence Blanchard—we at The Jazz Gallery are proud to present Altura’s debut as a leader in our space this Friday, January 23rd. We met up with Charles this week to talk about how all this travel has affected the music that he will present this weekend.

The Jazz Gallery: Over the past few years, you’ve really established yourself as a first-call sideman with the likes of Terence Blanchard, Chick Corea, and Ambrose Akinmusire, to name a few. How has playing with these artists shaped you as a musician?

Charles Altura: Well, I feel like I’ve been lucky enough to play with a lot of artists that I really like, and I definitely have learned a lot being on the road with them. I’ve learned a lot about how to lead a band, in particular.

TJG: What has it been like working on so many different projects at the same time?

CA: I try to balance doing the right thing for each situation with always wanting to have my own voice, you know, always trying to just play how I feel like playing.

TJG: Are there any pieces of musical knowledge or experiences from 2014 that you will take with you into the new year?

CA: Over the of past few years I’ve been on the road a lot of the time, so I would say I learned the most from that, just from playing every night with people who I love to listen to, and playing their compositions. I think just hanging out with everybody on the road so much and getting close as people—just seeing how that changed the way we played every night was really cool.