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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Posts from the Listen Category

Kris Davis

Photo by Caroline Mardok, courtesy of the artist.

If the New York improv scene is an ecosystem, then pianist Kris Davis can be well-described as a spider. First, there’s the spidery way she moves along the keyboard, with agile slides giving way to delicately-wound harmonies. Second, there’s the particular web of collaborators she has spun, connecting players across styles and practices like Terri Lynne Carrington, Craig Taborn, and Julian Lage.

This Friday and Saturday, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome Davis back to our stage with one of her many groups, Capricorn Climber. Featuring Ingrid Laubrock on saxophones, Mat Maneri on viola, Trevor Dunn on bass, and Tom Rainey on drums, the band released a self-titled album back in 2013.

To get a sense of the kind of improvisational mischief that can arise with this group, check out Davis and Laubrock performing live on the Gallery stage as part of the 2020 Skopje Jazz Festival, below.

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Dezron Douglas

Photo courtesy of the artist.

It’s a truism that jazz is a music defined by the spontaneous interactions between performer and listener. So during the COVID-19 pandemic, jazz musicians have used every last bit of guile to keep the music flowing over wires and screens. One of the earliest and most memorable COVID jazz events were the performances by harpist Brandee Younger and bassist Dezron Douglas, streamed from their East Harlem apartment:

They eventually gathered their favorite tracks—a mix of originals as well as pieces by Pharaoh Sanders, Kate Bush, and others—into an album, Force Majeure.
Outside the home, Douglas has stayed active doing livestreams at Smalls and Bar Bayeux, working with elder statesmen like Cyrus Chestnut and Victor Lewis, as well as his home-base quartet. This Thursday, Douglas will play live and in person at The Jazz Gallery with this quartet, joined by saxophonist Emilio Modeste, pianist George Burton, and drummer Joe Dyson (the show will be livestreamed as well). Before coming out to the Gallery to be a part of the spontaneous music-making, check out the quartet’s performance of “Atalaya,” below.

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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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Sam Blakeslee, Elijah Shiffer, and Inés Velasco. Photos courtesy of the artists.

This week marks the return of The Jazz Gallery’s Jazz Composers’ Showcase featuring new music for large ensemble. For this fourteenth edition of the series, the Gallery is pleased to welcome three new composers to the stage—Sam Blakeslee, Elijah Shiffer, and Inés Velasco.

A trombonist originally from Columbus, Ohio, Blakeslee has been based in New York since 2017. You can frequently find him playing in a number of New York’s acclaimed large jazz ensembles, including Manuel Valera’s New Cuban Express Big Band, Brian Krock’s Big Heart Machine, and the Terraza Big Band. Before moving to New York, Blakeslee led his own big band in Northeast Ohio, holding a monthly residency at Blu Jazz in Akron. Check out his pungent and forceful tribute to fellow trombonist/composer Bob Brookmeyer, below.

While Blakeslee is a relatively recent arrival in New York City, saxophonist Elijah Shiffer is a native of the New York area and graduate of the Manhattan School of Music. With his working band The Robber Crabs, Shiffer has devised a quirky book of music where hot swing nestles in alongside skronky timbres. Take a listen to Shiffer and company’s distinctive brew on their debut album, Unhinged (OneTrickDog), below.
Drummer Inés Velasco hails from Guadalajara, Mexico and is a recent graduate of the Berklee College of Music. Fluent in many musical styles, Velasco has composed and arranged music for flamenco performers Javier Limón and José Mercé, as well as the National Jazz Orchestra of Mexico. Take a listen to her evocative take on the standard “Be My Love,” performed by the Metropole Orkest.
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Kendrick Scott & Kanoa Mendenhall. Photos courtesy of the artists.

This Thursday, The Jazz Gallery continues the sixth edition of its Mentoring Series with two sets of performances by mentor-drummer Kendrick Scott and mentee-bassist Kanoa Mendenhall. Having cut his teeth as a longtime member of trumpeter Terence Blanchard’s groups, Kendrick Scott now has a reputation as a bandleader to match his acclaimed drumming. This past April, Scott released A Wall Becomes A Bridge on Blue Note Records, where Scott’s strong social conscience is channeled through a suite of original compositions, including “Mocean,” below.

Mendenhall is a recent graduate of Columbia University, but has already become a favorite collaborator of musicians ranging from saxophonist Maria Grand to vibraphonists Joel Ross and Sasha Berliner. She even has the seal of approval from bassist Christian McBride, as she’s held down the bottom for his big band. Before hearing Mendenhall perform alongside Scott, pianist Taylor Eigsti, and guitarist Mike Moreno at the Gallery this week, check out her performance with Maria Grand at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola this past summer, below.

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