Photograph by Jati Linday
Marcus Strickland Quartet
The great Miles Davis once said, "The thing to judge in any jazz artist is, does the man project and does he have ideas?" If these are indeed the canonical essentials of a jazz artist at his best, then saxophonist Marcus Strickland is one of today's truest exemplars.
Triumph of the Heavy: Volume 1 & 2 is Strickland's fourth release from his independent Strick Muzik record label, and his seventh as a leader. The music lives up to its title, and Strickland's distinctive artistry is synonymous with its concept. With a professional career that has just passed the ten-year mark, Strickland's influential sound, distinguished body of work, impressive set of credentials and steady acknowledgement from every credible jazz critic since emerging on the scene has earned him a rightful place alongside the very best narrators of modern jazz.
Triumph of the Heavy: Volume 1 & 2 is an excellent summation of not only invention, commanding execution and highly conceptualized music, but of a brotherhood which is translated on the bandstand and transmitted to the audience. Volume 1 features Strickland's quartet of bassist Ben Williams and drummer E.J. Strickland, as well as the more recent addition of newcomer pianist David Bryant. Volume 2 captures Strickland's seasoned trio of Williams and E.J. live at Firehouse 12; a venue which is both a recording studio and performance space, in New Haven, Connecticut. Strickland shows masterful versatility with an unconventional set of original tunes; all but one per disc penned by the gifted composer. This time around, Strickland is less interested in impressing his listeners per se, although he succeeds brilliantly at just that. Intensely, he's focused on engaging both is loyal and new listeners in a personable way, "I just want them to enjoy themselves," says Strickland of his audience. "I don't want them to walk away with their brains hurting. I don't want them walking away with a calculator trying to figure out what happened. I want them to walk away thinking, wow that was a great hang."
Opening track Lilt is easily a celebratory theme for that mission victoriously accomplished. Triumph of the Heavy: Volume 1 & 2 is a jubilant and rejoiceful outing, intriguingly defying the stigma of intimidation by which jazz music is so often haunted. Strickland's delicate balance of intricacy and familiarity, and tradition without borders or restrictions, offers assimilation to both aficionados and the less acquainted.
Performance by the Marcus Strickland Quartet featuring Marcus Strickland (saxophones), David Bryant (piano), Ben Williams (bass), and E.J. Strickland (drums).
Jason Moran and The Bandwagon
Since his formidable emergence on the music scene in the late 90s, jazz pianist Jason Moran has proven more than his brilliance as a performer. The Blue Note Records recording artist has established himself as a risk-taker and innovator of new directions for jazz as a whole.
In almost every category that matters – improvisation, composition, group concept, repertoire, technique and experimentation – Moran, and his group The Bandwagon – with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits – have challenged the status quo, and earned the reputation as “the future of jazz.”
Frequently influenced by the wider world of art as his muse, Moran has found inspiration in edgy 20th century painters like Jean-Michel Basquiat (check out “JAMO Meets SAMO” from Soundtrack to Human Motion, as well as his ongoing series of “Gangsterism” compositions); Egon Schiele (whose painting “Facing Left” provided the eponymous title to Moran’s second album); and Robert Rauschenberg, whose chaotic refinement inspired Moran’s third album Black Stars, featuring the legendary Sam Rivers."
Moran is currently preparing for the release of TEN, his 10th anniversary album with The Bandwagon, on June 22, 2010. The trailblazing trio has proven to be one of the most enduring and creative piano trios in jazz today. TEN represents their most assured and focused album to date.
Performance by Jason Moran and The Bandwagon featuring Jason Moran (piano), Tarus Mateen (bass), and Nasheet Waits (drums).
Photograph by James Adams
Gary Thomas Duo featuring Special Guest Jack DeJohnette
In a career that spans five decades and includes collaborations with some of the most iconic figures in modern jazz, 2012 NEA Jazz Master and Grammy winner Jack DeJohnette has established an unchallenged reputation as one of the greatest drummers in the history of the genre. The list of creative associations throughout his career is lengthy and diverse: John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Keith Jarrett, Chet Baker, George Benson, Stanley Turrentine, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, Joe Henderson, Freddy Hubbard, Betty Carter and so many more. Along the way, he has developed a versatility that allows room for hard bop, R&B, world music, avant-garde, and just about every other style to emerge in the past half-century.
Last year, DeJohnette celebrated his 70th birthday, touring extensively and headlining major festivals including both 2012 and 2013 Newport Jazz Festivals. He currently leads several projects including the Jack DeJohnette Group featuring Rudresh Mahanthappa, Dave Fiuczynski, George Colligan, and Jerome Harris. His most recent recording is Sound Travels, a nine-song, genre-spanning album that includes guest players Esperanza Spalding, Bobby McFerrin, Bruce Hornsby, and Jason Moran.
DeJohnette's discography is enormous. He has held countless pivotal roles as leader and collaborator - too many to name here - but his late 80's to early 90's Special Edition groups occupy a meaningful space in the career of tonight's duo partner, Peabody's Director of Jazz Studies, saxophonist Gary Thomas. In fact, Thomas performed as a member of Special Edition for several years, and is featured on the band's last three releases. DeJohnette and Thomas have never played in the duo format together. This reunion marks both artists' fervent interest in mutual creative directions and respect for their histories together.
Performance by saxophonist Gary Thomas featuring special guest drummer Jack DeJohnette.
Photograph by Chick Corea Productions
Chick Corea, Piano Solo Concert
An NEA Jazz Master, 18-time Grammy winner, brilliant American composer and keyboard virtuoso, Chick Corea has attained living legend status after five decades of unparalleled creativity and an artistic output that is simply staggering.
From his 2012 Grammy win for Best Improvised Jazz Solo, through his enormously prolific career, Chick has touched an astonishing number of musical bases in his illustrious career – from straight ahead to avant-garde, bebop to fusion, children’s songs to chamber music, along with some far-reaching forays into symphonic works –while maintaining a standard of excellence that is awe-inspiring. A tirelessly creative spirit, Chick continues to forge ahead, continually reinventing himself in the process.
Solo concert performance by Chick Corea (piano).