A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Eli Degibri photo by Orit Pnini // Kevin Hays photo via Dazzle

Herbie Hancock noticed Eli Degibiri early. In 1999, the venerable pianist selected the then-unknown saxophonist to perform internationally with his group, citing Eli’s “natural ability toward effective teamwork, focus, willingness to listen, and eagerness to learn, the caliber of which is a rare find in jazz today.” Hancock saw potential: “Eli’s music treads uncharted waters…he has the potential to be a formidable force in the evolution of jazz.”

In the last decade, Eli has recorded five albums as a leader, and toured with veterans such as Al Foster, Clark Terry, Jimmy Heath, Eric Reed and the Mingus Big Band. “Don’t miss him,” cautions Ben Ratliff in The New York Times, “He is a very modern improviser, super-artful; his creations are spiky and fractured, but immaculately sculptured.”

Kevin Hays has known Brad Mehldau for years; their relationship dates back to high school. On the subject of Hays, his fellow pianist exclaims, “Stellar! Kevin Hays is a true original. Everything he plays has a deep intelligence and swing.” The two artists recently recorded together for the Nonesuch imprint, which is among the latest of Kevin’s dozen releases as a leader or co-leader on labels such as Blue Note, Artist Share, and Steeplechase. Kevin is also highly in-demand as a sideperson, having performed and/or recorded with the likes of Eddie Henderson, Nicholas Payton, Jack DeJohnette, and John Scofield, who proclaims, “[Kevin]’s all-encompassing; phenomenally so!”

We’ve been presenting both Eli and Kevin’s groups intermittently since 2002, and we look forward to the second performance by the duo at The Gallery this Thursday, April 26th. This show will launch a short tour for the pair, which also includes stops at An die Musik LIVE (Baltimore), Dazzle (Denver), and SFJAZZ’s Israeli JazzFest (San Francisco).

You can stream tracks from One Little Song courtesy of our friends at SFJAZZ (the audio player is on the right towards the bottom).