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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Posts by Kevin Laskey

Or Bareket

Photo courtesy of the artist.

This Saturday, June 5, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome bassist Or Bareket back to our stage, along with his home-base quartet. Bareket grew up speaking three languages in Tel-Aviv and Buenos Aires before coming to New York in 2011. Fluent in many musical idioms, Bareket has worked with similarly cosmopolitan bandleaders like Etienne Charles, Jacques Schwartz-Bart, and Camila Meza, to name a few. He’s released two albums as a bandleader, his agile music speaking in a distinct rhythmic cadence informed by the many communities he’s been a part of.

At the Gallery this weekend, Bareket will be joined by frequent collaborator (and fellow Etienne Charles band member) Savannah Harris on drums, as well as young standouts Jeremy Corren on piano and Morgan Guerin on saxophones. Before coming to the Gallery, check out Bareket’s quartet slithering through his composition “Shosh,” from his debut album Ob1.

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Trina Basu (L) and Arun Ramamurthy (R). Photo courtesy of the artists.

This week, we at The Jazz Gallery are thrilled to open our doors and welcome back listeners for in-person concerts. We are so grateful for all of you who have come to our Monday night lockdown sessions and Thursday night livestreams, supporting our community of musicians during this trying time.

On Thursday, June 3, we’re teaming up with Brooklyn Raga Massive to present violinists Trina Basu & Arun Ramamurthy. As collaborators in both life and music, they’ve spent the pandemic trying to balance music with teaching and taking care of their family, as they highlight in a BRM livestream from February, below.

In a 2018 interview with Jazz Speaks, Basu discussed her and Ramamurthy’s synthesis of different musical traditions:

Our music is rooted in the Carnatic ragas and rhythmic structures. As a string quartet we can tap into the chamber music sound and create beautiful rich drones which is perfect for raga improvisations. There is a lot of experimentation and “breaking rules,” if you will, but we do try our best to retain the spirit of the raga or whatever it is we are tapping into at the moment. We’re both influenced by so many different styles of music but I think you will also find threads of jazz, western classical, and some version of experimental minimalist music.

For this performance, the duo will be joined by bassist Damon Banks and percussionist Dan Kurfirst, further expanding the palette of their music. (more…)

Photo by Harrison Weinstein, courtesy of the artist.

This Thursday, September 24, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome saxophonist Melissa Aldana and her quartet to our stage for a livestream performance. Back in April, just a few weeks after live performances were shut down across the world, we caught up with Aldana to see how she was dealing with the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic. She spoke about practicing long tones, picking out J.S. Bach pieces on piano, and writing new material for an upcoming album.

As livestreams and outdoor performances have started in earnest, Aldana has gotten back out there, playing at Smalls in New York, the Arts Center at Duck Creek in the Hamptons (below), and even joining pianist Dan Tepfer for some live quarantine improvisations.

For this performance at the Gallery, Aldana will be joined by pianist Sullivan Fortner, bassist Pablo Menares, and drummer Kush Abadey—a tight working quartet that sounds like it hasn’t skipped a beat.

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From L to R: Eric McPherson, Kris Davis, and Stephan Crump. Photo courtesy of the artists.

This Thursday, September 17, The Jazz Gallery continues its Fall Livestream Concerts Series with a performance by the Borderlands Trio. A collaborative effort from bassist Stephan Crump, pianist Kris Davis, and drummer Eric McPherson, Borderlands Trio’s improvisations feature pointedly unstable textures alongside earthy groove. Before tuning in to the group’s fresh, spontaneous compositions on Thursday evening, check out the prickly and patient improvisation “Flockwork” from their debut album, below:
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Dafnis Prieto

Photo courtesy of the artist.

When Cuban drummer Dafnis Prieto moved to New York full time in 1999, he made an immediate splash. Seemingly overnight, Prieto began playing the likes of Henry Threadgill, Steve Coleman, and Brian Lynch, showcasing his ability to execute the knotty counterpoint of a full Cuban percussion section with a single drum kit. Since then, Prieto has released seven acclaimed albums as a leader, taught at NYU and the University of Miami, and received a MacArthur fellowship. Prieto has also developed a close relationship with The Jazz Gallery, performing on the “Jazz Cubano” series, writing commissioned works, and most recently, celebrating the release of his Grammy-winning big band album.

This evening, June 12, Prieto will guest on The Jazz Gallery’s online “Words and Music” series. Before joining the conversation, check out the following interview with Prieto where he remembers his earliest days in New York and his musical growth at the Gallery.

The Jazz Gallery: When you first moved to New York full-time, how did you go about meeting other people to play with? You started playing with Henry Threadgill and Brian Lynch seemingly overnight.

Dafnis Prieto: I got to New York in 1999. I already knew a few musicians there, like Brian and Henry and Steve Coleman. I had met them all over the previous five years or so on different occasions. I met Brian at Stanford University during a previous trip to the states for a residency. I met Steve when he came to Cuba in 1996. And I met Henry the previous time I had come through New York on a tour—Henry came to see the band. It was a band that I was part of in Cuba called Columna B and the members were Yosvany Terry, Roberto Carcassés on piano, and Descemer Bueno on bass. So in any case, when I arrived, because I already knew these musicians, I just called them up. Henry had expressed interest in working with me previously, as well as Steve, so I was looking forward to that.

I started playing around with other musicians, too. I think something that was really helpful was that I liked going from one genre to another, even in a matter of hours. Like I could have a more avant-garde gig, or a more straight ahead-jazz gig, and then four hours later had a gig that was completely Latin. I learned how to swim in different waters, and that helped balance my exposure, as well just make a living.

At the same time, in the early 2000s, there were a lot of other musicians coming to New York for the first time. I mean, there are always musicians coming to New York, but at that time, but I feel there was a particularly big wave at that time. One of those musicians was Yosvany Terry, who happened to be a good friend of mine. We had played together in Cuba a lot, and we kept doing that in New York. Yosvany started doing the “Jazz Cubano” series at The Jazz Gallery in 2000 and I played with him there. That was how I first got introduced to The Jazz Gallery and Dale Fitzgerald and Rio.

After that, I started presenting my own projects at the Gallery, too. One of the projects had Luis Perdomo on piano, Hans Glawischnig on bass, Ravi Coltrane on tenor saxophone, and Henry Threadgill on alto.

TJG: I want to hear that recording!

DP: Yeah! That was a really fun performance. And the relationship with The Jazz Gallery just grew from there. I basically debuted every project I came up with there. It really felt like a laboratory for the musicians, allowing us to experiment and bring things to life for people to experience in the audience. We were really blessed to have a place like The Jazz Gallery that was so open to different kinds of music. I think a lot about the quality with which the Gallery treated musicians. It really felt like a pleasant community, and I think that’s reflected in the quality of the music presented.

TJG: So the Gallery was clearly an important spot for you from the beginning, but you also mentioned that you would play a huge range of gigs. Were there other venues that you played a lot, or met future collaborators?

DP: One of the other big places for me was the old Zinc Bar on Houston Street. I used to play there almost every week, and sometimes two or three times a week! The music presented there was at a very high level. I met so many musicians who would come and hang out because it was one of the places that would stay open until 2 or 3 A.M. People would finish their gigs at 11 or 12 and then come over to hang at Zinc Bar.

TJG: Smalls wasn’t too far from there and stayed open late. Did you hang there as well?

DP: I never did that much at Smalls. I probably played there a couple of times. I mean, I played lots of different places. But in terms of places I would go to almost every week, either to play or check other people out, it was Zinc Bar and The Jazz Gallery.

TJG: I’d like to move on to your work as a composer. Had you written a lot of music before coming to New York?

DP: I had written some tunes in Cuba, and I played a few of them with Columna B. But I wasn’t fully into writing music. I was more into playing drums. When I got to New York, the city really invited me, or challenged me, or inspired me because of the amount of different music happening. I started feeling a sense that I needed to create my own music. I needed to express myself not just in my own drumming, but in composition. I don’t think I would have developed the music that I make now without the New York experience. It helped me believe that I could write music of my own, have great musicians play it, and have it be personal and different.

I was developing that voice through the drums, but I wanted to go farther than that. When I visualize what I wanted to do, I see it as creating my own water to swim in. It became a necessity for me, and it grew more important. New York was the perfect scenario for this growth because I had met all of these great musicians who were willing to play my music.

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