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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

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Brandon Ross and Stomu Takeishi, photo courtesy of the artists.

Since joining Henry Threadgill’s Make a Move Band in 1996, guitarist Brandon Ross and bassist Stomu Takeishi have become a truly simpatico musical pair. Whether playing as a duo, in a quartet, or a large ensemble, the pair can seemingly play with one mind, has an uncanny knack for improvising fully complementary ideas. In an interview with Jazz Speaks, Ross spoke about how their time with Threadgill still undergirds their interplay today:

Stomu and I have [Threadgill] as a reference point in terms of musical dynamics, musical language. What we have been able to distill from that experience at that time, and evolve and mature in the duo relationship that we have. And I guess the longevity of the language that we share and that we developed is something that is has a lot to do with the instruments that we’re playing—Steve Klein-designed instruments. They have such a particular character of sound production and the way they interact with one another – we just want to hear them! In the writing that we do, I just want to hear the instruments [laughs].

This Friday, February 21, Ross and Takeishi return to The Jazz Gallery for two sets. They will be introducing new music for the duo that both clarifies their lineage and points to what’s next. (more…)

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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Photos courtesy of the artists.

This weekend at The Jazz Gallery, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Brewer, and drummer Craig Weinrib convene for a special trio performance. All three are distinct stylists in the contemporary common practice, balancing textural richness with heart-on-sleeve lyricism and slippery rhythm. Check out this balance and the interplay between Parks and Brewer in their performance with saxophonist Ben Wendel’s Seasons Band, below.

For shows like this, Parks is known to call favorite tunes by peers, so be prepared for two evenings of song made new. (more…)

Photo by Gabriel Baharlia, courtesy of the artist.

This week, The Jazz Gallery welcomes pianist Shai Maestro to the stage for two evenings of performances. In his last appearance at the Gallery, Maestro presented his 2018-19 Residency Commission project—a book of lyrical-yet-athletic tunes for a chamber trio featuring Philip Dizack and trumpet and Joel Ross on vibraphone. Since then, Maestro has toured extensively with his home base trio of bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Ofri Nehemya, as well as making special guest appearances at Antonio Sanchez’s Music for Human Rights concert and ECM Records’ 50th Anniversary Celebration this fall.

For these performances at the Gallery, Maestro has invited Dizack to join his working trio to present a new book of music that will be recorded for a new album on ECM. To get a sense of how dialed in the trio is right now—and what sparks will fly when Dizack is added to the mix—check out a live performance of Maestro’s tune “From One Soul to Another,” recorded last month in Stockholm, Sweden.

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Artwork courtesy of Monica Jane Frisell and Carole d'Inverno.This Tuesday evening, January 21, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to open a new art exhibition featuring paintings by Carole d’Inverno and photographs by Monica Jane Frisell. Despite the contrast in medium—whimsically abstract canvases versus stark photographs—both artists’ work is rooted in a sense of American place. For d’Inverno, that means researching particular historical events and translating them into a pattern of specific visual motifs. Frisell, on the other hand, uses a 4×5 large format camera, slowing down her process and creating a unique sense of intimacy between artist and subject.

To celebrate the exhibition opening at 6 P.M. this Tuesday, guitarist David Torn will perform a special set of improvisations. And if you can’t make this week’s opening, be sure to check out d’Inverno and Frisell’s work the next time you catch a Gallery show. (more…)