Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Reimagining America / Connecting Loops: Songwriter and Violinist Joe Kye Threads Sonic Paths from Korea to a Reimagined America on Full-Length, Migrants

“I’m looking to create a sound and a vision for what might be,” exclaims Korean-born, Seattle-raised Joe Kye, a violinist, composer, and vocalist who blew open his diverse musical world when he discovered the magic of the loop pedal in college. That vision has fractures and fragments, wounds and gaps, but it resonates with a bittersweet optimism, a measured hope for change and coming together on Migrants, his debut full-length album and third release.

Kye’s crisp playing, layered in swirls of pizzicato arpeggios and percussive elements, forms the foundation for clever and reflexive lyrics and a tender, urgent voice. He bounces his own distinctive sound around in collaboration with everyone from friend and LA-based MC Jason Chu and Vegas-based MC Rasar (“Fall In”), to NYC composer/percussionist William Catanzaro (“Migrants”), to a full string section (“Joseph Rests His Head”), a lush contrast to Kye’s taut loops.

Music has been a lifelong refuge for Kye. “Music is essential and therapeutic for me, and has been since childhood,” Kye recalls. “I remember in Korea, borrowing my dad’s walkman and putting on the headphones, how powerful and adult that felt. That personal and transportative experience has stayed with me.”

Joe Kye / APAP 2018 Showcase Schedule

Thursday January 11, 2018. 8-8:40 PM at DROM (85 Avenue A, NYC 10009). Full info here. Free for APAP badge holders

Friday, January 12, 2018. 6:30-7:30 PM. Migrants: Joe Kye and William Catanzaro at Chhandayan Center for Indian Music (4 W 43rd Street #618, NYC 10036). Full info here. Free for APAP badge holders. General public: $20 ($16 for students and senior with valid photo ID).

Saturday January 13, 2018. 7:30-8:15 PM at Rockwood Music Hall (196 Allen St, NYC 10002), as part of SORI: The Global Sounds of Korea Showcase. (APAP badge holders can RSVP for a 6 PM VIP reception and free showcase admission to

Kye’s family moved from Korea to the US when he was six, struggling with the economic and cultural challenges immigrants often face. Thanks to the strong music education program in the Seattle public schools, Kye picked up the violin. Practicing became an escape, a space he could control, as well as a way of expressing his feelings. He experimented over time with songwriting on the guitar and with singing, inspired by everyone from Mel Torme to Stevie Wonder.

Kye gained impressive technique on the violin via classical training, but he often found himself quietly trying other approaches, pushing the instrument and seeking new sounds. “I would sit during section rehearsals for the orchestra and goof around, just to see what I could get my instrument to do,” he laughs. Those plunks, pops, and purrs form a foundation for the loops Kye later perfected after he discovered the approach as a student at Yale.

“So many of the objects and sounds around us can be a musical instrument if we let our ears lead the way. The violin can sometimes feel limited in terms of its range and in its classical playing customs,” reflects Kye. “If you’re a looping artist and one-person band, you have to find the snare without using a sample or having to hire a drummer. I love inventing and the pedal allowed me to dive into that,” bridging Kye’s indie rock, a cappella, pop, jazz, and classical fascinations.

Exploratory technique serves a distinct purpose for Kye as an artist: “For me, over the past few years leading up to Migrants, the mission has been to leave some positive energy before I go. One of my central life experiences is my migrant life. Granted, it led to issues that I could discuss in therapy, but it’s given me perspective on how to understand the equality of humanity.”

Kye grapples with migration and its psychic impacts very personally, teasing out details that become emotional touchstones. On the song “Migrants,” Kye points to one key wardrobe item that defined his experience. “I lived in Boston for the first two years of my life in the US. I took to covering up my otherness by wearing a baseball cap,” he recalls. “Baseball was something that I recognized, as there’s a lot of it in Korea. It was the avenue I could connect with to ease the transition.”

To further unpack this transition, Kye explores the resonances of the “first migrant story,” the biblical tale of Joseph. (“Joseph Rests His Head”) It’s a tale he’s touched on in previous work, but for Migrants, Kye chooses the moment when Joseph has just been sold into slavery far from home, before he rises to prominence in Egypt, an in-between place fraught with feeling.

“He’s not in his homeland or his place of eventual triumph. He’s neither here nor there, and emotionally I often feel that way,” Kye notes. “I don’t feel Korean, nor do I feel wholly American. More and more I’m reclaiming what it means to be American, by digging into that tension, which includes how, for Korean Protestants, religion can be a complicated avenue for assimilation.” Strings swell around Kye’s delicate vocals in a chamber ballad that swoops and pulses.

Kye highlights the emotional complexities of living in and in between cultures on “Bambam’s Lullaby,” a song from the perspective of Kye’s 100-pound Akita. “I imagine how she feels when I leave the house, wondering where I’ve gone and why,” explains Kye. “But Bambam is also an avatar for myself. My parents moved back to Korea in 2008, and while I understand why they left, it’s a difficult emotional, linguistic, and geographic obstacle in our relationship. The song is a cry to them that stretches over the Pacific Ocean.”

The struggle with identity, its global loops between disparate homelands, came to the fore for Kye late last year, as many Americans reeled in shock. “‘Ready’ was written in the wake of the election. I was filled with fear and anger and confusion and creative paralysis,” Kye remembers. “It was written to combat that paralysis, to take the feelings of fear and not belonging, and make something of them. I decided to embrace a romping blues chord progression and not over-intellectualize. I want to take people from this boiling emotion and inspire them to go and do something.”

Kye’s awareness of his own journey and tensions intersects with this impetus, in imagined dialog on tracks like “Stick On Me,” when reverb-drenched lines create ear-candy timbres. “We all have our personal struggles. In spite of that, we need to rise to the challenge and give of ourselves even in our feelings of weakness. You have to let it come from within, an internal fire that blazes. Once we do that, we can then grow together and rekindle.”

Kye, with open ear, heart, and a commitment to connection, avoids sentimental oversimplification. His grounded perspective, like the earthy hints in his voice and the edge to his playing, keeps Pollyanna-ish pronouncements at bay. “It’s easy to fall into the trope that everyone is wonderful! No, we’re all human, with our selfishness, insecurities, and issues,” muses Kye. “I’m striving, like a lot of artists, to bridge isolated spheres, to provide avenues of expression so we can understand them and belong to a greater whole.”

Julian Lage - Modern Lore (MACK AVENUE RECORDS February 2, 2018)

Modern Lore finds Lage playfully flipping the script he followed on his acclaimed 2016 Mack Avenue debut, Arclight. That album — produced, like Modern Lore, by Lage’s friend and collaborator, the singer-songwriter Jesse Harris — was his first trio set on electric guitar and found Lage inspired by the sounds and the attitude of the freewheeling, pre-bebop jazz era, when, as he puts it, “country music and jazz and swing were in this weird wild-west period.” This time he incorporates the sensibility, if not the outright sound, of early rock and roll, a similarly hybrid form driven by rhythm, personality and a passion for the electric guitar.

The Ramble
Atlantic Limited
General Thunder
Roger The Dodger
Splendor Riot
Look Book
Whatever You Say, Henry
Earth Science

Julian Lage – guitar
Scott Colley – bass
Kenny Wollesen – drums, vibraphone

Robert Kennedy - Closer to Home (January 12, 2018)

“I met Robert at the beginning of his Hammond journey, and where that journey has taken him just amazes me. Everything about this CD delights me, especially the writing, Robert’s choice of players and the musical interplay among them, and most importantly, the development of Robert’s distinctive and uniquely melodic voice on the instrument, both as a player and composer. For me, Hammond players make the world a better place, and I am so glad Robert is doing his part! I hope he continues on this journey!” Nancy Wright [saxophonist to B.B. King, Elvin Bishop, John Lee Hooker, etc.]

Robert Kennedy is a Hammond organist and pianist born and raised in the American South who has lived and worked in the San Francisco bay area since 1988. He played piano in the Stanford University Jazz Band and studied jazz piano with the great jazz pianist, band director, and educator Bill Bell.

Robert was a founding member of the groups Hip Pocket Jazz Quintet and Double Funk Crunch, and has had the pleasure of playing venues such as Yoshi’s, the Boom Boom Room, Doc’s Lab, the Agenda Lounge (back in the day), and the SFJAZZ Miner Auditorium, and has shared stages with renowned players such as Nancy Wright, Calvin Keys, Will Weston, Terrence Brewer, and many more, playing jazz, blues, R&B, and rock and roll.

On his 2015 release Big Shoes, he debuted as a leader playing Hammond B-3 organ, and his new album Closer to Home is set for release in January, 2018 .

Among his many inspirations Robert counts the playing of Jack McDuff, Billy Childs, Larry Goldings, Herbie Hancock, and Tony Monaco.

1. Wild Bill
2. Dat Dere
3. Robert's Reflection
4. Come On, Come In
5. Do You Know a Good Thing (When You See One)?
6. Sista Rissy
7. Rakin' and Scrapin'
8. Carrot Cake
9. Sandu
10. Alligator Strut

Hammond B-3 Organ: Robert Kennedy
Guitar: Terrence Brewer
Tenor Saxophone: Ben Torres
Drums: Cody Rhodes

James Weidman - Spiritual Impressions (INNER CIRCLE MUSIC February 2018)

A valued pianist, James Weidman has been a sideman and accompanist in many settings over the past 30 years, from Abbey Lincoln, Cassandra Wilson, Steve Coleman to Kevin Mahogany and the Grammy nominated Joe Lovano Us Five. His latest recordings as a leader include Truth and Actuality and October.

Feeling on Inner Circle Music. Weidman's music fits into the modern mainstream of jazz without being predictable. With original chord changes and voicings, his mastery is demonstrated with various changes in rhythm and time. Weidman is on the faculty of William Paterson University.

The Spirituals is a genre of music created in the 19th century by the Black people trapped into a forced labor system during the turbulent period that ultimately led to war and liberation. This poignant music was both an expression of devotion to their God and an expressed longing for freedom from the state of bondage.

These two concepts were not mutually exclusive. Just as in the scriptures, where God delivered the Israelites from Egypt-land and Daniel from the lion's den, surely this same God would deliver every man, woman and child from the inhuman, involuntary servitude that had existed in the south. The Spirituals is music whose tones and rhythms range from the jubilant, to the mournful from song to song. In the 20th century in Black churches, these songs were often included as part of devotional services that preceded the actual Sunday Service. They were often sung during communion and baptisms. They were sung by choirs in arrangements by Black composers who while trained in the European classical music tradition, understood the importance of the legacy of these works. Today, more than ever, it is important to note that the musical testaments that are evoked from these collections of songs serve not just as windows of some exclusive history of African-Americans but indeed, it is an important part of the shared history of all Americans.

The music as conceived by James Weidman is re-interpretations and sonic re-imaginings of these historic songs. Besides piano, James plays melodica on "No Hiding Place" and organ on "Wade in the Water." All the tunes on Spiritual Impressions, are arrangements of the spirituals except for "African Spirals" that is a homage to the ancestral continent and the ancestors of the people brought here in the middle passage. The spiritual, "Walk Together, Children" the last track on the album is a solo piano piece performed by Weidman.

Ruth Naomi Floyd is the vocalist. Weidman has had a long association with Floyd as producer and arranger on three of her critically acclaimed recordings. Multi-reed instrumentalist, Anthony Nelson plays tenor, soprano saxophones, bass clarinet and flute, Harvie S plays acoustic bass and electric bass, and Vince Ector plays drums, djembe, sangba for an indelible experience and journey of the collective spirit.

Ruth Naomi Floyd, voice
Anthony Nelson, tenor, soprano saxophones, bass clarinet and flute
Harvie S, acoustic and electric bass
Vince Ector, drums, djembe, sangba

1. Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel 6:06 arranged by James Weidman
2. Deep River 7:19 arranged by James Weidman
3. No Hiding Place 4:34 arranged by James Weidman; Ruth Naomi Floyd Sesac Naru Music
4. Prelude To Freedom Troubled Waters 1:23 composed by James Weidman
5. Wade In The Water 5:41 arranged by James Weidman
6. 6 Nobody Knows The Trouble I See 5:12 arranged by Aaron Graves Imani's Faith Publishing BMI
7. Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho 6:21 arranged by James Weidman
8. You Hear The Lamb A Cryin 7:19 arranged by James Weidman
9. African Spirals 6:36 composed by James Weidman
10. Let My People Go 5:36 arranged by James Weidman
11. Walk Together Children 4:35 arranged by James Weidman

Bob Holz (with very special guest Stanley Clarke) - Visions: Coast To Coast Connection (MVD Entertainment Group February 23, 2018)

Jazz-fusion composer and drummer Bob Holz will be releasing his third album "VISIONS: Coast to Coast Connection," featuring bass legend Stanley Clarke on February 23, 2018! "This collaboration with the jazz star and Return to Forever bassist/composer, Stanley Clarke involved the recording of new compositions I wrote taken from my roots in jazz, classical, blues and rock music," says Holz. Joining Holz and Clarke is former Mahavishnu Orchestra bassist Ralphe Armstrong who currently plays in Holz's touring band, Bob Holz and A Vision Forward featuring Jamie Glaser and Ralphe Armstrong. "My compositions have plenty of room for interplay between both bass players," adds Holz. Bob Holz is presently managed by Roy Holland Productions and is signed to MVD Entertainment Group.

"I'm really honored to record with Stanley Clarke as his music has been a strong influence on me," added Holz. Clarke has written the music for over 70 major motion pictures in addition to his successful solo career and long tenure as a member of Return To Forever with Chick Corea, Al Di Meola and Lenny White. "I enjoyed playing this music very much. Good players along with good compositions is always a winning combination!" - Stanley Clarke The recording took place in Los Angeles with famed sound engineer, Dennis Moody recording, mixing and mastering the performances. "Dennis mixed my last album and really knows how to create a world class record," continued Holz.

Moody also helped out with mixing Holz's band live last May at Catalina Bar and Grill Jazz Club in Hollywood, California. Stanley Clarke also attended that concert which led to the upcoming recording session for Holz's next album. Additionally, Executive Producer Rob Stathis once again contributed his production skills to the making of the record. Rob Stathis has been involved with producing Holz's past collaborations with guitarist/composer the late Larry Coryell.

"The loss of Larry Coryell last February was really rough. Bob and I want to continue in the tradition which Larry excelled in," says Stathis. "Many years I have been friends with Stanley Clarke, we talked about recording together!! Bob Holz made it happen on this recording!" - Ralphe Armstrong Since the February 2017 release of Holz's second album, "Visions and Friends," Holz's touring band, Bob Holz and A Vision Forward featuring Jamie Glaser and Ralphe Armstrong has played numerous live concerts from New York to California.

The band features guitar guru Jamie Glaser (Chick Corea, Jean Luc Ponty, Bryan Adams) and bass virtuoso Ralphe Armstrong (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Herbie Hancock). Los Angeles based keyboardist Billy Steinway has been an integral contributor to Holz's efforts playing both live shows and recording sessions. Steinway also joined Holz, Clarke and Armstrong on the recordings for the new album.

Playlist for Tom Ossana – The Thin Edge – January 10, 2018 MST 7:00 to 9:00p.m. ~ Use this link to access the show online.

Setting up this week’s program, I began looking for Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage”, a tune I haven’t played in twenty years. The search led me to some fascinating sides, none of which included Hancock’s Voyage. French newcomer saxophonist and composer Gael Horellou kicks off the first half with the support of his quartet and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt in a cover of pianist Etienne Déconfin’s “Melody” from Gael’s “Coup De Vent” (Fresh Sound Records 2017). Brad Mehldau follows with “Ron’s Place” – a reference to a Texas craft beer eatery – from his “The Art of the Trio Recordings: 1996-2001 Disc 7” (Nonesuch Records 2011). “Brownie Speaks” is next from Lou Donaldson/Clifford Brown Quintet’s 1953 Blue Note recording of the same name. Lou’s alto and Clifford trumpet get help from pianist Elmo Hope, bassist Percy Heath and the drums of Philly Joe Jones. Finnish pianist Olli Ahvenlahti’s “Thinking, Whistling” (WE JAZZ RECORDS 2017) closes this half-hour with his “Miles Away” featuring Finland’s Jussi Kannaste’s on tenor sax.

When I was loading manure on top of ladies’ vehicles in 1949 for Long Beach, California’s Sears, I had a contraption that would wake me up playing Lee Konitz’s “Subconscious Lee”, a tune that should yank us out of our lethargy to begin the second half. Lennie Tristano’s piano begins the soloing followed by Billy Bauer’s guitar and Lee’s alto. It was recorded on shellac by Prestige in 1949. Steve Heckman & Matt Clark’s “Some Other Time / Slow Café” (World City Music 2017) follows with a tenor sax/piano duet cover of Heckman’s “Admiring-Lee” – a definite nod in the direction of Konitz. Pianist Eldar Djangirov, a Russian émigré, follows with his “Point of View” from his “Eldar” (Sony 2005). Eldar’s percussive approach, similar to that of McCoy Tyner, is supported by the late great tenor of Michael Brecker. Herbie Hancock & Bobby Hutcherson Quartet’s circa 1967 “Sketched in the Theme” ends this half with a cover of Hutcherson’s “Little B’s Poem” – a tune dedicated to Bobby’s young son, Barry

One of my unsung heroes, alto saxophonist Gary Bartz, gets the third half cooking with a cover of Monk’s “Let’s Cool One” from his “Reflections of Monk – The Final Frontier” (Steeplechase 1989) featuring another personal favorite, trumpeter Eddie Henderson and Bob Butta’s piano. Baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber follows with a cover of Horace Silver’s “Nica’s Dream” from his “Live at the Blue Note” (Projazz 1986). Featured artists include Randy Brecker’s trumpet and Lonnie Smiths’ organ. Bobby Hutcherson and Harold Land Live: “Blow Up” (Antibes 1969) brings us closer to romance with a cover of Hancock’s “Blow-Up” – the theme song from Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 movie of the same name.

Audrey Silver, one of today’s preeminent female jazz vocalists, gets us holding hands with her treatment of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” – a song from the 1955 movie “Oklahoma!” – from her “Very Early” (Messy House Productions/KARI-ON Productions 2016). Pianist Bruce Barth and trumpeter Alex Pope Norris make their presence felt. From one of Bill Evans earliest outings with bassist Scotty LaFaro, we get Bill’s exquisite treatment of Richard Rodgers’ “Spring Is Here” - this coming from his “Portrait in Jazz” (Riverside 1959). Mark Murphy joins forces with The Five Corners Quintet to cover Steve Allen’s “This Could Be the Start of Something” from the group’s “Chasin’ the Jazz Gone By” (Ricky-Tick Records 2005). Karrin Allyson’s “Ballads: Remember John Coltrane” (Pure Audiophile Records 2001) is next with a previously unheard cover of Rodgers and Hart’s “It’s Easy to Remember”. Bassist John Patitucci and pianist James Williams provide the backup. “Jazz Calls: Best of Australian Jazz 2017” (AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION MUSIC) keeps us cuddling with a cover of Brianna Gaither/Kelcy White’s “Love Is Patient” as imagined by vocalist Gian Slater and the Hieronymus Trio.

If thou remember'st not the slightest folly
That ever love did make thee run into,
Thou hast not loved. Shakespeare ~ (As You Like It, 2.4.33-5) 

Let's have some fun!

Thanks to Music Director Serah and friends around the world for the program's content.

Sat, Jan. 27: Wadada Leo Smith's America's National Parks at Univ. of VA

Wadada Leo Smith © Michael Jackson

Iconic composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and his Golden Quintet Perform Music from America’s National Parks

“A trumpeter and composer of penetrating insight.”– Nate Chinen, The New York Times

Iconic composer, trumpeter and Pulitzer Prize finalist, Wadada Leo Smith and his Golden Quintet – Smith, pianist Anthony Davis, bassist John Lindberg, drummer Pheeroan akLaff, and cellist Ashley Walters along with video artist Jesse Gilbert – will perform music from Smith’s masterwork America’s National Parks on Saturday, January 27 at the University of Virgina’s Old Cabel Hall as part of the school’s Impulse Festival. The performance is part of the group’s residency, which includes a public talk, a gallery exhibition of Smith’s Ankhrasmation scores, workshops by Quintet members and more. The performance takes place at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for the general public, $13 for UVA faculty and staff, $10 for students and free for UVA students in advance from the UVA Box Office.  For a full schedule and more information, log on to

America’s National Parks is a six-movement suite inspired by the scenic splendor, historic legacy, and political controversies of the country’s public landscapes. Cuneiform’s 2-CD recording of the work was named the Jazz Album of the Year by DownBeat’s 65th International Critics Poll and was at or near the top of most annual lists of best releases. JazzTimes wrote that the album “unites political engagement with a soul-deep connection to nature… rich with ineffable majesty, [the suite] fully engages with tensions at the heart of the American experience.” 

Wadada Leo Smith © Jimmy Katz

Trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and improviser Wadada Leo Smith is one of the most boldly original and influential artists of his time. Transcending the bounds of genre or idiom, he distinctly defines his music, tirelessly inventive in both sound and approach, as "Creative Music."

For the last five decades, Smith has been a member of the legendary AACM collective, pivotal in its wide-open perspectives on music and art in general. He has carried those all-embracing concepts into his own work, expanding upon them in myriad ways.

Throughout his career, Smith has been recognized for his groundbreaking work.  A finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, he received the 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award and earned an honorary doctorate from CalArts, where he was also celebrated as Faculty Emeritus. In addition, he received the Hammer Museum's 2016 Mohn Award for Career Achievement "honoring brilliance and resilience." 

In 2017 Smith topped three categories in DownBeat Magazine’s 65th Annual Critics Poll: Best Jazz Artist, Trumpeter of the Year and Jazz Album of the Year, and was featured as the subject of a cover story in August 2017. The Jazz Journalists Association also honored Smith as their 2017 Musician of the Year as well as 2017 Duo of the Year for his work with Vijay Iyer. The JJA named him their 2016 Trumpeter of the Year, 2015 Composer of the Year, and 2013 Musician of the Year, and he earned top billing in two categories in the JazzTimes 2016 Critics Poll: Artist of the Year and Composer of the Year.

In October 2015 The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago presented the first comprehensive exhibition of Smith's Ankhrasmation scores, which use non-standard visual directions, making them works of art in themselves as well as igniting creative sparks in the musicians who perform them. In 2016, these scores were also featured in exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Kadist in San Francisco.

Born December 18, 1941 in Leland, Mississippi, Smith's early musical life began at age thirteen when he became involved with the Delta blues and jazz traditions performing with his stepfather, bluesman Alex Wallace. He received his formal musical education from the U.S. Military band program (1963), the Sherwood School of Music (1967-69), and Wesleyan University (1975-76).

Smith has released more than 50 albums as a leader on labels including ECM, Moers, Black Saint, Tzadik, Pi Recordings, TUM, Leo and Cuneiform. His diverse discography reveals a recorded history centered around important issues that have impacted his world, exploring the social, natural and political environment of his times with passion and fierce intelligence. His 2016 recording, America’s National Parks earned a place on numerous best of the year lists including the New York Times, NPR Music and many others. Smith’s landmark 2012 civil rights opus Ten Freedom Summers was called “A staggering achievement [that] merits comparison to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in sobriety and reach.”

The Impulse Festival is sponsored by: McIntire Department of Music, McIntire Department of Art, Arts Administration, Gassmann Fund for Innovation in Music, Acquavella Family, Office of the Provost & the Vice Provost for the Arts, UVA Arts Council, President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences’ Collective Response: Moving Forward committee, Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, Charlottesville Jazz Society, Office of the Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity, Hampton Inn and Suites, University Programs Council and WTJU Radio.

NEC's Jazz Studies, CI Departments feature world premieres and guest artists in exciting 2018 spring season

New England Conservatory’s Jazz Studies and Contemporary Improvisation Departments Present Performances and Events for 150th Season 

2018 Spring Season highlights include: 

• Ran Blake and Aaron Hartley’s annual Film Noir concert

The Legacy of Bob Brookmeyer with world premiere by Darcy James Argue

• World premiere of “Streams,” new work by Anthony Coleman  

• Music of Jerry Bergonzi and Ken Schaphorst

Photo of Brian Landrus by Vince Segalla

New England Conservatory’s (NEC) internationally renowned Jazz Studies and Contemporary Improvisation (CI) Departments continue to celebrate their 150th anniversary season with some 50 concerts and events in the Spring 2018 season. The lineup continues to build on NEC’s rich legacy featuring 150 years of innovation showcasing the work of the first fully accredited jazz studies program at a music conservatory as well as the pioneering CI department. It showcases diverse musical offerings from today’s most talented artists performed in NEC’s renowned concert halls, including three new state-of-the-art venues at the Student Life and Performance Center (SLPC).

Highlights include Ran Blake and Aaron Hartley’s annual film noir concert; the world premiere of a newly commissioned work by alumnus Darcy James Argue as part of a concert honoring the legacy of Bob Brookmeyer; the premiere of alumnus and faculty member Anthony Coleman’s new work, “Streams,” a composition commissioned for NEC’s sesquicentennial; the music of Jerry Bergonzi and Ken Schaphorst; and CI Salon Nights and Jazz Ensemble Concerts featuring hour-long concerts by rising star NEC students from the Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation departments. 

NEC is pleased to offer the following concerts, free and open to the public. For more information, visit or call 617-585-1122.


January 2018

Monday, January 29 – Jazz and CI Faculty Spotlight
7:30 p.m. Jordan Hall 

February 2018

Thursday, February 15 – The Music of Dave Holland Residency Concert
7:30 p.m. Brown Hall

Wednesday, February 21 – Film Noir: Cría Cuervos
7:30 p.m. Jordan Hall
Co-producers Aaron Hartley and Ran Blake present their 13th Annual Film Noir project, featuring students and faculty of NEC's groundbreaking Contemporary Improvisation department. This year's performance explores Carlos Saura's film Cría Cuervos heightened by new music created by NEC musicians and special alumni guest artists percussionist Tupac Mantilla and vocalist Burcu Gulec.

Thursday, February 28 – Bob Brookmeyer Panel Discussion
4 p.m. Brown Hall

March 2018

Thursday, March 1 – Celebration: The Legacy of Bob Brookmeyer 
7:30 p.m. Jordan Hall
The NEC Jazz Orchestra will perform music by Bob Brookmeyer and six of Brookmeyer’s former NEC students, including the world premiere of a new composition commissioned for NEC’s 150th Anniversary by alumnus Darcy James Argue. Argue was a Doris Duke Artist Award recipient in 2015. Music by NEC alumni Ayn Inserto, Mehmet Ali Sanlikol, Ryan Truesdell and Nicholas Urie will also be featured. Saxophonist, low reed expert and NEC alumnus Brian Landrus will be featured playing Brookmeyer’s “Celebration Suite.” Brookmeyer taught composition at NEC between 1997 and 2007.

Tuesday, March 13 – Eden MacAdam-Somer Faculty Recital
7:30 p.m. Jordan Hall
This concert will feature The Shooting Gallery, a new work for string quartet by CI Co-Chair Eden MacAdam-Somer commissioned by Cuatro Puntos, a non-profit dedicated to international dialogue and outreach through music. Based on a series of lithographs by Czech surrealist Toyen, the work deals with violence in our world as seen through the eyes of children. MacAdam-Somer will also be joined by Anthony Coleman on piano, with a series of new pieces based on songs by George Jones and Loretta Lynn. CI Co-Chair Eden MacAdam-Somer is one of the most exciting and versatile artists performing today. Hailed by The New York Times as reflecting “astonishing virtuosity and raw expression,” her music transcends genre through soaring violin, sweet vocals, and percussive dance, weaving in and out of the many cultures that have formed her experience.

Monday, March 26 – Jazz and Wild Card Honors Ensemble Concert
7:30 p.m. Jordan Hall
Each year, an audition committee selects a few exceptional students to represent NEC in the Honors Jazz and Wild Card ensembles. Tonight’s performance showcases Wildcard Ensemble “Escargot,” featuring Rubin Hohlbein, Taichiro Ei, Andres Abenante, and Robert Murphy, and the Jazz Honors Ensemble featuring Bobby Lane, Nathan Reising, Andrew Boudreau, James Dale, and Avery Logan.
April 2018

Wednesday, April 4 – Jazz Ensemble Concerts: Lockwood Ensemble
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
Discover the musical innovators of tomorrow with these one-hour concerts featuring NEC’s student ensembles. Tonight’s ensemble is coached by bassist John Lockwood.

Thursday, April 5 – NEC Gospel and NEC Composers Ensemble
7:30 p.m. Brown Hall
This concert showcases two of NEC’s exceptional student ensembles. The NEC Gospel Ensemble, coached by Nedelka Prescod, explores contemporary gospel music as it is currently being created and performed. This ensemble works with repertoire composed within the last 20 years and highlights key composers and choir leaders. The NEC Jazz Composers Ensemble, coached by Jorrit Dijkstra, gives student composers the opportunity to develop their work for small jazz ensemble through rehearsal and performance.

Monday, April 9 – CI Salon Night: Reichman CI, Zaleski Monk/Mingus, and Prescod R&B Ensembles
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Pierce Hall 
Discover the musical innovators of tomorrow in these three one-hour performances by CI student small ensembles. Tonight’s lineup features: Ted Reichman’s Contemporary Music Ensemble; Mark Zaleski’s Thelonious Monk/Charles Mingus Ensemble; Nedelka Prescod’s Rhythm and Blues Ensemble.

Tuesday, April 10 – Jazz Ensemble Concerts: Moses and Nieske Ensembles
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
Discover the musical innovators of tomorrow with these one-hour concerts featuring NEC’s student ensembles. Tonight’s ensembles coached by Ra Kalam Bob Moses and Bob Nieske.

Wednesday, April 11 – Jazz Ensemble Concerts: Reichman and Levy Ensembles
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
Discover the musical innovators of tomorrow with these one-hour concerts featuring NEC’s student ensembles. Tonight’s ensembles coached by Ted Reichman and Brian Levy.

Thursday, April 12 – Jazz Ensemble Concerts: Eade Ensembles
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
Discover the musical innovators of tomorrow with these one-hour concerts featuring NEC’s student ensembles. Tonight’s ensembles coached by vocalist Dominique Eade.

Monday, April 16 – Jazz Ensemble Concerts: McNeil and Carlberg Ensembles
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
Discover the musical innovators of tomorrow with these one-hour concerts featuring NEC’s student ensembles, each coached by a member of NEC’s renowned faculty. Tonight’s ensembles coached by John McNeil and Frank Carlberg.

Tuesday, April 17 – CI Salon Night: Kalmanovitch Improv, MacAdam-Somer American Roots, and CI Chamber Ensembles
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Pierce Hall 
Discover the musical innovators of tomorrow in these three one-hour performances by CI student small ensembles. Tonight features Tanya Kalmanovitch’s Composition/Improvisation Ensemble and Eden MacAdam-Somer’s American Roots and CI Chamber Ensembles.

Wednesday, April 18 – CI Salon Night: Netsky Jewish Music and Mantilla Contemporary Rock
7 and 8 p.m. Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
Discover the musical innovators of tomorrow in these two one-hour performances by CI student small ensembles. Tonight features Hankus Netsky’s Jewish Music Ensemble and Lautaro Mantilla’s Contemporary Rock Ensemble.

Thursday, April 19 – The Seven Rays: Music of Jerry Bergonzi and Ken Schaphorst 
7:30 p.m. Jordan Hall
This concert features the NEC Jazz Orchestra with saxophonist/composer Jerry Bergonzi in the performance of his composition “The Seven Rays,” a seven movement suite inspired by mystical associations with the number seven. Ken Schaphorst arranged the suite for the HfMT Big Band in Hamburg in 2016. This will be the first time the arrangement has been played in the United States. Bergonzi has taught at NEC for over twenty years, developing an international reputation as saxophonist, author, composer and educator.

Monday, April 23 – CI Salon Night: Zaleski CI Non-Majors, Barsamian and Coleman Survivors
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Pierce Hall 
Discover the musical innovators of tomorrow in these three one-hour performances by CI student small ensembles. Tonight features Mark Zaleski’s Non Majors Ensemble, Mal Barsamian’s Middle Eastern Ensemble, and Survivors Breakfast led by Anthony Coleman.

Tuesday, April 24 – Jazz Composers Workshop Orchestra 
7:30 p.m. Jordan Hall

Wednesday, April 25 – Jazz Ensemble Concerts: Seager and Morris Ensembles
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
Discover the musical innovators of tomorrow with these one-hour concerts featuring NEC’s student ensembles, each coached by a member of NEC’s renowned faculty. Tonight’s ensembles coached by Bert Seager and Joe Morris.

Thursday, April 26 – Jazz Ensemble Concerts: McBee and Moran Ensembles
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
Discover the musical innovators of tomorrow with these one-hour concerts featuring NEC’s student ensembles, each coached by a member of NEC’s renowned faculty. Tonight’s ensembles coached by Cecil McBee and Jason Moran.

Monday, April 30 – International Jazz Day
7:30 p.m. Brown Hall
UNESCO has designated April 30 as International Jazz Day in order to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe. NEC joins the celebration with a performance featuring NEC faculty and students playing music embodying the ongoing dialogue between jazz and musical cultures from throughout the world.

May 2018

Tuesday, May 1 – Jazz Ensemble Concerts: Bergonzi Ensembles
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
Discover the musical innovators of tomorrow with these one-hour concerts featuring NEC’s student ensembles, each coached by a member of NEC’s renowned faculty. Tonight’s ensembles coached by Jerry Bergonzi.

Wednesday, May 2 – World premiere of Streams by Anthony Coleman
7:30 p.m. Jordan Hall
For its first 150 years one of NEC’s most important contributions to music education has been the school’s efforts to confront the convergence of various musical idioms and genres. These efforts only intensified in the late 1960s, when NEC president Gunther Schuller brought his “Third Stream” idea to the conservatory, creating a department (now called “Contemporary Improvisation”) with the specific mission of crafting a new approach to teaching music that could adapt as a new global approach to composition, performance, and improvisation took shape. This concert features the world premiere of “Streams,” a new composition commissioned for NEC’s 150th Anniversary. In this work CI alum, faculty member, and maverick composer Anthony Coleman bring the forces of today’s Contemporary Improvisation department (both students and faculty) together to explore and confront the problems and possibilities inherent in creating a global music for the 21st century.

Thursday, May 3 – Jazz Ensemble Concerts: Zaleski Jazz Non-Majors, Eisenmann and Leake Ensembles
7, 8 and 9 p.m. Eben Jordan Ensemble Room
Discover the musical innovators of tomorrow with these one-hour concerts featuring NEC’s student ensembles, each coached by a member of NEC’s renowned faculty. Tonight’s ensembles coached by Mark Zaleski, Henrique Eisenmann, and Jerry Leake.

NEC's Jazz Studies Department was the first fully accredited jazz studies program at a music conservatory. The brainchild of Gunther Schuller, who moved quickly to incorporate jazz into the curriculum when he became president of the Conservatory in 1967, the Jazz Studies faculty has included six MacArthur "genius" grant recipients (three currently teaching) and four NEA Jazz Masters. The program has spawned numerous Grammy winning composers and performers and has an alumni list that reads like a who's who of jazz. As Mike West writes in JazzTimes: “NEC's jazz studies department is among the most acclaimed and successful in the world; so says the roster of visionary artists that have comprised both its faculty and alumni.” The program currently has 101 students; 52 undergraduate and 49 graduate students from 18 countries.

Founded in 1972 by musical visionaries Gunther Schuller and Ran Blake, New England Conservatory's Contemporary Improvisation (CI) program is “one of the most versatile in all of music education” (JazzEd). CI trains composers, performers, and improvisers to broaden their musical palettes and develop unique voices. It is unparalleled in its structured approach to ear training and its emphasis on singing, memorization, harmonic sophistication, aesthetic integrity, and stylistic openness. Under Blake's inspired guidance for its first thirty-three years, the program grew considerably and has expanded its offerings under current co-chairs Hankus Netsky and Eden MacAdam-Somer. Alumni include Don Byron, John Medeski, Jacqueline Schwab, Aoife O'Donovan and Sarah Jarosz; faculty include Carla Kihlstedt, Blake, Dominique Eade, and Anthony Coleman. “A thriving hub of musical exploration,” (Jeremy Goodwin, Boston Globe), the program currently has more than 50 undergrad and graduate students from 14 countries.