This Saturday, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome drummer & composer Tyshawn Sorey back to our stage. Fresh off an acclaimed Composer Portraits series concert at the Miller Theatre, Sorey will convene his new sextet project at the Gallery. Featuring saxophonists Nathan Reising and Morgan Guerin, vibraphonist Sasha Berliner, pianist Lex Korten, and bassist Nick Dunston, the group made their debut this past fall at The Kitchen, and this will be their second performance.
We caught up with Tyshawn by phone to talk about the group’s inception and the new musical avenues they explore in Sorey’s compositions.
The Jazz Gallery: How was the band formed?
Tyshawn Sorey: We met at the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music in August 2018. We had rehearsed for two weeks leading up to a concert that we gave at the workshop premiering the pieces. Nick Dunston was not there for that—we had another bass player who was playing with us, and we also had a vocalist and no vibes. The group became what it is now when we performed at the Kitchen this past October as part of my three-night residency there. We performed, and on that second night we basically rehearsed for about five or six hours, and we then took a break and then we played the show. And that’s how that went!
TJG: What is the music that you’ll be performing at this show?
TS: We’ll be performing seven or eight compositions. We will be doing that as one very long show. We don’t do set breaks, so we’ll do one long show from 7:30 until about 9:30 or 10 o’clock, or maybe 10:30 even, depending on how we get through the material. We’ll be doing some very intense rehearsing and then we’ll arrive at the concert. We’ll just perform the music at the Gallery. It’s seven pieces that I created during my residency in Captiva, Florida as part of their Robert Rauschenberg artist residency, and I was one of the fellows. It was a six week program in Captiva, where I spent a great amount of time in Rauschenberg’s main studio as well as hanging around a lot of different visual artists and people like that. I was the only musician/composer who was there, at the part of that residency. I wanted to develop a set of pieces that show a side of me that not a lot of people are very familiar with, I wanted to explore another side of my work. And so all these compositions are meant to represent a side of me, in terms of my own compositional creative output, that maybe people are less familiar with.
TJG: How would you describe that side of you? What is unfamiliar about it to people?
TS: I think people know my work as mostly being very quiet and slowly unfolding and with a great deal of compositional material that people are reading and stuff like that. There is a lot of is always a lot of detail in what we do as a sextet, in terms of how we go about navigating through the material. No two performances of the music is ever the same. However, the music sort of—I guess there’s less, I don’t want to say less rigor because there’s a lot of rigor in everything that I do, but—I don’t really know how to describe it other than—the music well, you will definitely hear a lot more drumming coming from me, and you’ll also hear a lot more opportunities for creative interplay and that sort of thing so. Not that that doesn’t exist in any of my other music but it’s more about how we function as a unit together, and how we best navigate through material. As I said before, no two performances of the music is ever the same, even though people have charts in front of them. Just like in my trio, we determine certain forms ahead of time, and if train wrecks happen we find other ways of navigating through the music that work in real time. That’s generally how the group functions. I don’t like to give too much away in terms of what people should expect to hear in a given performance of what we’re doing, because I’d rather they come here and get surprised by what we’re playing. Hopefully they will take a little bit of something else about my work with them, that maybe they didn’t otherwise realize.