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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

From Left to Right: Nate Wood, Harish Raghavan, Ben Wendel

According to The New York Times, the collectively-led trio ACT “pursues a style both hypnotic and rough-and-tumble, drawing freely from the saxophone-trio playbook but guarding its independence.”

Longtime friends and collaborators Ben Wendel, Harish Raghavan, and Nate Wood have each worked with some of the leading lights in music; between the three of them, the list includes Ignacio Berroa, Chaka Khan, Greg Osby, Vijay IyerWayne Krantz, Daedelus, Snoop Dogg, and many more. The three came together out of a mutual admiration, friendship, and interest in this particular instrumentation, and released their eponymous debut album in 2010 on Brooklyn Jazz Underground. At the time of the release, Ben described the groups’ history and process:

The three of us have known each other for quite some time – we’ve played in a lot of different groups together but always gravitated towards the trio format. Making this album has been something we’ve wanted to do for a while. We ended up with two free days last year and tracked the music down at Steve Wood’s private studio (Steve is Nate’s father and one of the best engineers on the West Coast).

The standards we chose came naturally out of a few warm up gigs leading to the recording. The originals were written with the trio in mind, and a few (like “Act”) were written quickly just before tracking. “News” was loosely inspired by a blues that my friend Walter Smith III wrote off of his first album. “What Was” is based on a sketch that has eventually turned into a movement of a jazz suite I’m writing for the Chamber Music of America New Works grant. Although this is mostly a trio format, I added piano and bassoon on a few tracks to change the soundscape up a bit.

Each of ACT’s members has performed at The Jazz Gallery numerous times (here’s a video of Ben and Nate performing here earlier this year), and the trio celebrated the release of their album here in 2010. This Wednesday, Ben, Harish, and Nate will take the stage together for a rare appearance. The trio has kindly decided to donate all proceeds from this performance to The Jazz Gallery as we seek to stabilize our organization ahead of our transition to a new home. You can expect the trio to build upon the “hypnotic and rough-and-tumble” dichotomy of their album, and maybe also the guarded independence, but, no matter what, expect the unexpected.