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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Artwork courtesy of Monica Jane Frisell and Carole d'Inverno.This Tuesday evening, January 21, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to open a new art exhibition featuring paintings by Carole d’Inverno and photographs by Monica Jane Frisell. Despite the contrast in medium—whimsically abstract canvases versus stark photographs—both artists’ work is rooted in a sense of American place. For d’Inverno, that means researching particular historical events and translating them into a pattern of specific visual motifs. Frisell, on the other hand, uses a 4×5 large format camera, slowing down her process and creating a unique sense of intimacy between artist and subject.

To celebrate the exhibition opening at 6 P.M. this Tuesday, guitarist David Torn will perform a special set of improvisations. And if you can’t make this week’s opening, be sure to check out d’Inverno and Frisell’s work the next time you catch a Gallery show. (more…)

Photos from the band’s August recording session. Photos and design by Tracy Yang.

This Saturday, The Jazz Gallery is pleased to welcome the Erica Seguine & Shan Baker Jazz Orchestra back to our stage for two sets of performances. The band has built a sturdy presence in the New York area over the past decade, developing a substantial book of tunes that reflects the composer/bandleaders multifaceted personalities. This summer, the band went into the studio to record their debut album—the album is currently in the editing & mixing phase, so stay tuned for news about its release.

In a previous interview with Jazz Speaks, Seguine & Baker talked about how they go about developing each composition. Seguine offered this perspective:

When composing, I try to tell a story. Things often need to take time to develop. If you try to introduce a theme and suddenly say “We’re going this way instead, or we’re going to do this whole arc in three minutes,” it doesn’t feel like enough time to develop. Even in a small group, soloists take their time developing ideas. Rarely do you hear someone jump in, then jump right back out. As a composer, regardless of the size of the group, I want to develop the progression of the story by giving each section the time it needs.

This patient sense of gesture comes across clearly in Seguine’s composition, “Leaves Swirling Through the Dusk Sky,” which you can check out below.

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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…)

Photo courtesy of the artist.

Chris Tordini holds the bass chair in so many bands that the list is a bit dizzying: Andy Milne, Steve Lehman, Becca Stevens, Tyshawn Sorey, Michael Dessen, Matt Mitchell, John Hollenbeck… not to mention that he subs for the Tony-winning Broadway musical Hadestown. It’s a rare moment when such a busy sideman steps into a leadership role. He’ll be arriving at The Jazz Gallery with a new collection of music which, in his words, “runs the gamut from rhythmic angularity to avuncular lyricism.” The new band features Anna Webber (tenor saxophone & flute), Red Wierenga (piano & accordion), and Dan Weiss (drums), each of whom has collaborated with Tordini, but never in this exact configuration. In a phone conversation, Tordini took us inside his process, from practice to performance.

The Jazz Gallery: How’s it going? Making it through the winter?

Chris Tordini: Things are pretty good. It’s that’s time of when we’re all trying to get through the cold. I’m at home now, was just practicing a little bit.

TJG: Do you mind if I ask what you’re practicing and how you’re practicing it?

CT: Sure. This is totally random, but I was just practicing a bass and trombone soli from “Tiptoe” by Thad Jones. I was looking for something to practice reading. I don’t do this often, you just happened to catch me when I was looking for something new to read. Before that, I was doing an exercise that I do a lot, putting the metronome on super slow–anywhere between 20 and 35 beats per minute–and playing quarter notes, eighth notes, triplets, subdivisions like that. This slow-quarter-note-thing is something you’d find me doing on any given day when I have the time to practice.

TJG: Was there a reason you wanted to brush up on your reading chops?

CT: Lately, I’ve been trying to get out of my head, as far as reading new music. I’ve been doing exercises where I read music and try to hear it while I’m reading it, as opposed to mechanically, robotically reading notes. I’m trying to engage my ear more in the sight-reading process, which is difficult for me. Left to my own devices while reading music, I can be quite mechanical. I do consider myself a good reader, in the utility kind of way, so I’ve been trying to actively engage my ear in my practice lately, to make up for that.

TJG: Tell me about each of the musicians you picked for this upcoming show–Anna Webber, Red Wierenga, Dan Weiss–and how you met each of them.

CT: I’ll start with Dan, because I’ve played with him the most. Dan is a good friend of mine, and is one of my favorite drummers on the planet. I met him over ten years ago, when we started playing in a trio with Michael Dessen, a trombone player based in California. We clicked early on. Dan intimidated me at first because I had heard him a lot with other groups. We immediately clicked musically and personally, and we’ve been playing in a lot of projects together. We played with Matt Mitchell together, we’ve played in many different groups. He’s an inspiring guy, dedicated to music, to the craft of jazz drumming, to tabla.

Red Wierenga is an amazing piano player and accordion player. Most of the playing I’ve done with him has been in The Claudia Quintet, John Hollenbeck’s band, where I often sub for Drew Gress. I’ve loved playing with Red and hanging out with him. I’ve heard him play piano on recordings and have seen him live, but the playing we’ve done has almost exclusively featured him on accordion. As I’ve been playing through my new music, I knew I needed piano. Then I started hearing the possibility of accordion on a few things, and immediately thought of Red, because he’s such a great player on both instruments.

I’ve known Anna Weber for quite a while. We’ve known each other from the scene, I’ve seen her bands play, I’m always a fan of her music. A couple of years ago, she asked me to play on a record of hers, Clockwise, which came out last year. I was super happy to do that because I was already a fan of her music and playing. It was a pleasure working on her amazing, often difficult and complex music. We got to know each other a lot better through that process. She’s a friend of mine, she’s one of my favorite saxophone players. Anna is a great flute player as well, so I’m trying to figure out having her double in the same way as Red on piano and accordion.

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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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