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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

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Photo courtesy of the artist.

Photo courtesy of the artist.

Originally from Berkeley, CA, Charles Altura is a guitarist and composer. He now lives in Brooklyn and is fond of cats, keeping two of his own. Noted for his “quicksilver technique” by the New York Times, he is a consistent face among many groups and has collaborated with Chick CoreaAmbrose AkinmusireJustin BrownTerence BlanchardStanley ClarkeTigran Hamasyan and Linda Oh among others.

With an album in the works, Altura returns to the Gallery this Saturday to further explore his compositions with long time bay area friends Akinmusire and Brown who he’s known since high school, in addition to friends and collaborators Fabian Almazan and Matt Brewer who he plays with regularly.

We sat down with him this week in Brooklyn to learn a bit more about his musical journey thus far:

The Jazz Gallery: You’re looking to put out your first record as a leader soon?

Charles Altura: Yeah we recorded a little while ago. Then I did another session with Justin and Harish Raghavan as a trio. The record includes Ambrose, Justin, Harish and Taylor Eigsti. This performance will feature material from the album and a few new ideas.

TJG: The timbral roles in your group mirror E-Collective. Is the confluence of piano, guitar and trumpet important to you?

CA: Yes. For some reason, that instrumentation seems to have clicked. I’ve listened to a lot of trumpet players. Ambrose and I played together quite a bit growing up too, so the combination of trumpet and guitar is very natural to me.

TJG: Can you discuss your musical upbringing?

CA: I started on piano, I was about nine. Then I worked on classical piano and started playing guitar. I taught myself guitar from piano when I was about 13 and got into jazz soon after that. My older brother is a guitarist. He introduced me to a lot of music, a lot of jazz music. I always heard him walking around playing these solos. I liked the idea that you could walk around and practice anywhere. I like how it crosses genres easily. You can go wherever you want with guitar. It’s a chordal instrument but you can also be lyrical like a singer. When I got into jazz, the guitar provided a way to be like a horn player or a piano player.

I kept the piano going and at certain points I even quit guitar for a while and just played piano. Two or three times in high school. I would always end up back on guitar because I felt like I could somehow do more. Most of my composition happens at the piano, and I still play classical piano.

TJG: Were your parents musical? What was playing in the house?

CA: Yeah, my mom is musical, she plays piano and accordion. My dad was a big music fan. He got me into classical music and my mom has a very good ear. She taught me how to learn things by ear. There was a lot of classical music in the house—Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin. I was also into rock music, like Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix, so I always had that going too.

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Photo courtesy of the artist.

Photo courtesy of the artist.

This Wednesday, September 14th, The Jazz Gallery is proud to present a special concert celebrating guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli’s 90th birthday. Pizzarelli has had a long and storied career, performing as a member of the Tonight Show Band with Doc Severinson, touring with Benny Goodman, performing multiple times at the White House, and releasing many acclaimed records as a leader and co-leader. He continues to be a true jazz ambassador and “keeper of the flame”—his playing continues to shine a light on the enduring influence of guitarists like Django Reinhardt and Freddy Green.

For his special birthday celebration, Pizzarelli has convened a guitar-army of close friends, including Gene Bertoncini, Jack Wilkins, and Ed Laub, as well as saxophonist Harry Allen. Don’t miss this opportunity to see a true jazz master in such an intimate space. (more…)

Design courtesy of the artist.

Design courtesy of the artist.

Throughout the month of September, The Jazz Gallery will be exhibiting the work of photographer Adriana Mateo to help celebrate the release of her new book, Three Generations Under the Lens. A native of Argentina, Mateo has been a fervent documenter of the New York jazz scene since her arrival in 1992. Her book is a varied collection of her work, featuring portraits of jazz masters, as well as kinetic depictions of live performances.

This Tuesday, September 13th, the Gallery will host a special exhibition opening featuring live performances by an all-star group including saxophonist Jimmy Heath (who wrote the book’s forward), saxophonist Mark Gross, pianist Jeb Patton, bassist David Wong, drummer Willie Jones III, and singer Roberta Gambarini. Discounted and autographed copies of the book will be available for sale at this celebration.

Admission is free, but space is limited, so contact nerissa@jazzgallery.org to RSVP. If you cannot make it on Tuesday, make sure to check out Ms. Mateo’s wonderful photographs the next time you stop by the Gallery this month.

Photo courtesy of the artist.

Photo courtesy of the artist.

Fresh off his work with pianist Aaron Parks in our Mentorship Series, vibraphonist Joel Ross returns to The Jazz Gallery this Saturday for two sets with an expanded version of his Good Vibes band. During his mini tour with Parks, Ross more than held his own and received sparkling praise from All About Jazz, who reviewed the group’s concert in Philadelphia.

On Saturday, Ross will convene a band made up of both his talented peers like drummer Jeremy Dutton, and established veterans like saxophonist Dayna Stephens and pianist Fabian Almazan. If Ross’s performances with Parks are any indication, this cross-generational collaboration will feature a glove-like fit. (more…)

Photo by Peter Gannushkin, http://downtownmusic.net

Photo by Peter Gannushkin, http://downtownmusic.net

This Friday, June 3rd, The Jazz Gallery is proud to welcome pianist Kris Davis and her band Capricorn Climber to our stage for two sets. The group is made up of many of Davis’s longtime musical partners, each of whom is an adventurous band leader in his or her own right—saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, violist Mat Maneri, bassist Trevor Dunn, and drummer Tom Rainey.

Before coming out to the Gallery for these two exploratory sets, check out Jazz Speaks’ interview with Davis from last spring, and one of the standout tracks from the group’s eponymous album, “Pass the Magic Hat,” a track that Nate Chinen of the New York Times described as “…an engrossing lesson in ensemble flux, carried out with finesse.”

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