A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Photo courtesy of

This Thursday, The Jazz Gallery welcomes saxophonist Godwin Louis and his band, Xplosion. Godwin was born in Harlem to parents of Haitian descent, and spent his childhood in Bridgeport, CT and Port au Prince, Haiti. He is a graduate of both the Berklee College of Music and The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, where he studied and performed with an array of the most legendary living jazz artists, including Herbie Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Clark Terry, Ron Carter, and Jack DeJohnette, among many others.

We first heard Godwin in another recent Gallery debut performance by pianist Kris Bowers, who was the winner of the 2011 Thelonious Monk Competition (read The New York Times review of that concert here).

Godwin took a few moments to tell us about his band and the music we will be hearing on Thursday. Godwin speaks:

This is a very special band. I’ve known all of the members collectively for 10 years now. I met Jonathan Michel (the bassist) at the Litchfield Jazz Camp in Connecticut, and I’ve always enjoyed playing with him.  Jonathan is of Haitian decent, as am I. We both grew up listening to a lot of Haitian folklores, and he understands the message that I’m trying to preach musically.

I met Ilan Bar-Lavi, the guitarist, at Berklee College of Music. We’ve been playing together since 2006. He and I used to host a jam session at the legendary Wally’s Cafe in Boston. Ilan is one of my favorite guitarists alive today.

I attended Berklee College of Music with the other members of the Xplosion (Billy Buss, Victor Gould, Nicholas Falk). We were also very fortunate to spend two years together studying and developing our crafts together at the Thelonious Monk institute of Jazz Performance, in New Orleans, LA, under the artistic direction of GRAMMY award-winning trumpeter, composer, and educator Mr. Terence Blanchard.

While studying at the Institute, we rehearsed every day, composed regularly, and had a weekly performance together at a leading jazz club in New Orleans called Snug Harbor Bistro. We had many magical nights there as a band. We understand each other musically quite well. Since most of us moved to NYC after graduation, we have decided to continue playing together.

The music that you will hear on Thursday night will mostly consist of original compositions by members of the band, as well as a few Haitian folklores. Again, my parents are Haitian, and I grew up listening to a lot of that music; it is a part of me. I’ve decided to arrange a couple of Haitian folklores to share a little taste of Haiti with our audience on Thursday.

Again, we are looking forward to sharing some music with you.  We hope to see you then.