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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

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Photo by John Rogers, courtesy of the artist.

This weekend, The Jazz Gallery is thrilled to turn over the stage to Henry Threadgill and his long-running ensemble Zooid. Since the band’s debut in 2001, Zooid has been Threadgill’s playground and laboratory, as he has developed a unique and rigorous system for group improvisation. In an interview with Jazz Speaks, Zooid’s guitarist Liberty Ellman describes some of the elements of Threadgill’s process:

Everything Henry does comes from the perspective of being a composer and a player. Music for him isn’t just a vehicle for soloing; it includes a lot regarding what he hopes to achieve in terms of ensemble sound. I always admire how varied and creative his forms are. For example, we don’t do traditional ‘ABA’ forms; there could be six or seven different sections. After he writes everything, he pretty much considers it modular, so when we rehearse, we might just play one or two sections at a time, and then reorganize the piece depending on what happens during the rehearsal. We might change who solos on what section, move melodies around, or rebuild structures as we go.

This work reached an apotheosis on Zooid’s 2015 album, In for a Penny, In for a Pound (Pi Recordings), an 80-minute epic that was awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Since then, Threadgill’s output has focused more on works for larger ensembles, including Ensemble Double Up, 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg, and a commission from the Cleveland Museum of Art for Zooid and chamber ensemble.

Zooid’s special run of performances at The Jazz Gallery is sure to showcase Threadgill’s ever-deepening musical system along with the musicians who know it best. (more…)

Photo by Jimmy Katz, courtesy of the artist.

This week at The Jazz Gallery has turned into a mini-residency for guitarist Mike Moreno. After joining the Kendrick Scott/Kanoa Mendenhall Mentoring Series band on Thursday and vocalist Sachal Vasandani on Friday, Moreno returns on Saturday evening for two sets with a new quartet. Featuring pianist Jon Cowherd, bassist Matt Brewer, and drummer Nate Smith, the quartet has a decidedly electric tilt and will perform new Moreno compositions.

Before coming out to hear this brand new material, take a listen to Moreno performing one of his longtime favorite compositions—Wayne Shorter’s “The Big Push”—at the Blue Whale in Los Angeles last month.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50wJpdCL02I

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Photo by Jati Lindsay, courtesy of the artist.

This Friday, December 6, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome vocalist Sachal Vasandani back to our stage for a special, one-off evening of song with pianist Vijay Iyer and guitarist Mike Moreno. An immensely versatile vocalist, Vasandani is as comfortable performing classic repertoire with a lusch backing (check out his Nat King Cole project here) as he is mixing it up in stripped down settings, like this performance of Thelonious Monk’s “Reflections,” below:

With adventurous collaborators like Iyer and Moreno in the mix, who knows what sparks will fly at the Gallery on Friday. (more…)

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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Photo by Anthony Dean, courtesy of the artist.

This Tuesday, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins back to our stage for two sets. Having finished his degree at Juilliard this past spring, Wilkins has been stepping out as a leader more frequently, presenting a variety of projects including reimaginings of music by John Coltrane and James Reese Europe, the latter of which you can check out below.

This week at the Gallery, Wilkins will convene his working quartet of pianist Micah Thomas, bassist Daryl John, and drummer Kweku Sumbry before heading to Washington, D.C. for a performance at the Kennedy Center.

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