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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

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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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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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Grégoire Maret and Romain Collin. Photo courtesy of the artists.

This Friday, The Jazz Gallery is thrilled to welcome Americana, a brand new project from harmonica player Grégoire Maret and pianist Romain Collin. The project celebrates the many strains of American roots music, filtered through the co-leaders’ contemporary sensibilities. So far, the duo has been joined in performance by guitarists Marvin Sewell and Ben Monder. Check out Monder’s performance with the project from last week’s Winter Jazz Festival, below.

For this followup performance at the Gallery, Maret and Collin will be joined by guitarist Nir Felder. Don’t miss this opportunity to see three top-notch musicians from diverse backgrounds dig through the gnarled and hardy roots of American music. (more…)

Members of the California State University, Northridge jazz program. Photo courtesy of the artist.

This coming weekend, Jazz at Lincoln Center is hosting the first ever Jack Rudin Jazz Championship. The competition features 10 acclaimed college jazz bands from across the country performing in both big band and combo configurations. But before taking the stage uptown this weekend, the combos from California State University, Northridge will perform a special concert at The Jazz Gallery on Tuesday evening with special guest (and SoCal native) Ben Wendel.

To get a sense of what the talented Northridge students can do, watch their big band take on Chris Potter’s knotty and athletic “New Year’s Day,” below.

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