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. (more…)
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.
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…)
Photos from the band’s August recording session. Photos and design by Tracy Yang.
This Saturday, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome the Erica Seguine & Shan Baker Jazz Orchestra back to our stage for two sets of performances. The band has built a sturdy presence in the New York area over the past decade, developing a substantial book of tunes that reflects the composer/bandleaders multifaceted personalities. This summer, the band went into the studio to record their debut album—the album is currently in the editing & mixing phase, so stay tuned for news about its release.
When composing, I try to tell a story. Things often need to take time to develop. If you try to introduce a theme and suddenly say “We’re going this way instead, or we’re going to do this whole arc in three minutes,” it doesn’t feel like enough time to develop. Even in a small group, soloists take their time developing ideas. Rarely do you hear someone jump in, then jump right back out. As a composer, regardless of the size of the group, I want to develop the progression of the story by giving each section the time it needs.
This patient sense of gesture comes across clearly in Seguine’s composition, “Leaves Swirling Through the Dusk Sky,” which you can check out below.