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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

From L to R: Nate Wood, Harish Raghavan, and Ben Wendel. Photo courtesy of the artists.

From L to R: Nate Wood, Harish Raghavan, and Ben Wendel. Photo courtesy of the artists.

Ben Wendel, Harish Raghavan, and Nate Wood comprise the trio ACT. Nate Chinen of The New York Times calls them “hypnotic and rough-and-tumble,” apt descriptions for a group of such high-caliber improvisers and forward-thinking composers. All three musicians have grown to become giants of the jazz scenes and improvised music spheres in NYC, LA, and across the globe. ACT, their chordless trio, celebrates their friendship and their musical synergy.

The Jazz Gallery spoke briefly via email with the trio about their second release, ACT II. In discussing the development of their trio sound, all three musicians cited the trio’s growing maturity:

Ben Wendel

We love playing in settings without chording instruments—there’s a lot of content that we put into the music individually and as a group. The natural interplay is what I like most about this trio: We’ve never had to have a conversation about it, we just hear music and evolve together. Nothing too specific has changed, except that we’ve all grown a little older and have more experiences to bring to the music. Since our last album, we’ve moved to NYC and started playing with folks like Wayne Krantz, Ambrose Akinmusire, Antonio Sanchez, and so forth. This has brought new layers to the group.

Harish Raghavan

We’ve actually only played a handful of gigs between the two records. We joke about doing our ‘yearly’ gig. I don’t think we really worked on cultivating a different sound for this record. Getting older and accumulating more experiences has a natural tendency to change how you play, and I think that’s reflected in this album.”

Nate Wood

ACT sounds like a group that has done a lot of playing together. There is an immediate connection regardless of how familiar we are with the material or how long its been since we’ve played.  I think that draws the listener in… We’ve all done a ton of playing in other projects with other artists, and have grown musically individually.  So that carries over into the project.  We are also older which somehow makes a difference.

ACT II was recorded in Tarrytown NY through a connection with The Jazz Gallery. In the album’s official press release, Wendel noted that the album was recorded under relaxed and free circumstances: “In the dead of winter, we stayed in a beautiful home upstate and recorded/composed for three days to make this album. It was a total blast. This record, along with our first, was recorded in one room with no headphones. It’s a very liberating way to record music as it gives the band a natural blend. It adds to the familiarity of our musical relationship, and makes it very easy to make full sounding music with just three people and no chordal component.”

On September 16th, The Jazz Gallery will host ACT for the release of their second album, the first of two back-to-back release celebrations on opposite coasts. Before seeing the band live, check out the track “Memorial” from this new album.

ACT celebrates the release of their record ACT II at The Jazz Gallery on Wednesday, September 16th, 2015. The group features Ben Wendel on saxophone & bassoon, Harish Raghavan on bass, and Nate Wood on drums. Sets are at 7:30 and 9:30 P.M. $15 general admission ($10 for members) for the first set, $10 general admission ($8 for members) for the second. Purchase tickets here.