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Publication: All About Jazz
Author: Elliott Simon
Friday, April 11, 2008
HARLEM IN THE HIMALAYAS
Performer: Joey Calderazzo, Pianist
7:00 pm | Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th Street -NYC
Box Office: 212.620.5000 ext. 344
$18 in advance | $20 at door
Joey Calderazzo is one of the leading pianists in the jazz realm. Ashe approaches nearly two decades as a definitive accompanist, and sees his output, as a composer, performer and leader grow deeper and more diverse, Calderazzo sustains a trajectory of growing command and maturity.
Calderazzo was born on February 27, 1965 in New Rochelle, New York. Inspired by a friend who lived next door, Calderazzo began his piano studies at age seven. He progressed rapidly in a house where other family members were also playing drums and singing, and at 14 became the youngest member of brother Gene’s rock band. When the other, significantly older band members enrolled at Boston’s Berklee College of Music and switched their allegiance to jazz, the younger Calderazzo set aside his passions for the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, began listening to Oscar Peterson, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner, and proved that he was still able to hang with the bigger boys, including the many musicians in New York with whom he began sitting in at age 17.
While Calderazzo has partnered with a resume-choking list of musical greats, relationships with two tenor saxophonists that began in his teenage years have given critical impetus to his growing stature. The pianist met the late Michael Brecker at a clinic, and soon Brecker was introducing Calderazzo to the jazz world as part of the touring Michael Brecker Quintet beginning in 1987 and on two tracks of the saxophonist’s 1988 album Don’t Try This at Home. “Michael put me on the map,” Calderazzo acknowledges. “There was no philosophy, no metaphysics behind playing…it was just life, just music and one of the best experiences I’ve had.” Brecker produced Calderazzo’s first disc, In the Door (Blue Note, recorded 1990) and played on it along with two other tenor saxophonists who Calderazzo had met in Boston, Jerry Bergonzi and brother Gene’s Berklee roommate Branford Marsalis.
As the ’90s progressed, Calderazzo built his reputation as one of the most fearless and commanding of the new jazz generation. Two more Blue Note albums, To Know One (recorded 1991) with Bergonzi and Marsalis again featured and the rhythm section completed by Dave Holland and producer Jack DeJohnette, and The Traveler (recorded 1992) featuring two different trios, included more impressive playing and writing, while Secrets (Audioquest, recorded 1995), took new imaginative leaps as Bob Belden, this month’s co-instructor of Jazz for Curious Listeners, surrounded Calderazzo’s trio with a seven-piece ensemble. The ongoing relationship with Brecker found Calderazzo contributing as composer as well as pianist on the saxophonist’s Tales from the Hudson, and as pianist, composer and co-producer on Two Blocks from the Edge. There were further encounters with Bergonzi as well, most frequently in a well-documented quintet led by bassist Bruce Gertz, and the beginning of a more active relationship with Marsalis when Calderazzo assumed one of the keyboard chairs in Marsalis’ Buckshot Le Fonque, touring with the group and contributing to its second disc, Music Evolution.
When the great Kenny Kirkland died in 1998, Calderazzo assumed Kirkland’s chair in the Branford Marsalis Quartet. The intense working relationship with Marsalis, which remains active to this day, called upon a new scope and maturity from the pianist that complements his own emergence as both man and musician. “In the last ten years, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve changed my point of view and gained focus. I’ve gone backward in the sense of absorbing earlier giants such as Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Jelly Roll Morton and James P. Johnson. I’ve put myself in difficult musical situations, playing music I never previously tried with people I never previously worked with, because difficult situations are what make musicians improve. I’ve started a process which is establishing my own path.”
Friday, April 18, 2008
HARLEM IN THE HIMALAYAS Performer: Chris Byars, Saxophonist and Composer Presents Jazz Pictures at an Exhibition of Himalayan Art 7:00 pm | Rubin Museum of Art 150 West 17th Street Box Office: 212.620.5000 ext. 344 $18 in advance | $20 at door
Chris Byars, alto saxophone/flute (+ composer) John Mosca, trombone Ari Roland, bass Stefan Schatz, drums
Chris Byars wrote: Jazz Pictures at an Exhibition of Himalayan Art adds an element of the exotic. The art and culture of the Himalayas is emerging from obscurity since the opening of the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. Using images on loan from this vast collection, Byars provides an interpretation of the colors, curves, and themes shown in paintings and sculptures that date back 500 years. His music includes the sounds and concepts of the Asian culture without departing from the jazz idiom; these are truly “Jazz Pictures.” The listener will witness jazz embracing something so culturally different, build a new understanding of Himalayan art and culture through jazz, and enjoy the neural fireworks as they observe, comprehend, and enjoy this groundbreaking collaboration of music and visual art.
Chris Byars was born in New York City on Nov. 2, 1970 into a family of Juilliard-trained musicians. The artistic resources of NYC were made accessible to the youngster, who soon found himself in musical situations with the top talents of the world. Throughout his childhood, he was granted private study with the great teachers in the area, devoting much effort to learning drums, voice, saxophone, musicianship and ballet technique. From age 6 to 14, Chris enjoyed a successful career as an opera singer, performing, touring, and appearing on television with the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera and New York City Ballet. At age 14 he devoted himself exclusively to the idiom of jazz.
In the next ten years Byars undertook a period of apprenticeship that transformed him from a jazz novice into a fully functioning jazz composer, arranger and multi- instrumentalist. A Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree were earned from Manhattan School of Music, but perhaps the most impact was gained by 2 years of intensive private study with musicianship guru Helen Jordan.
In 1994 he began a nine-year run of steady engagements at the Greenwich Village “cutting-edge jazz club” Smalls, appearing on average twice weekly with jazz legends Frank Hewitt and Jimmy Lovelace. This decade of late-night gigs saw the birth of two bands: the quintet Across 7 Street (co-led by bassist Ari Roland) and The Chris Byars Octet. Both have recorded with the indie label Smalls Records to great critical acclaim.
After three summer tours to Russia and Turkmenistan, The Chris Byars Quartet re-configured as a piano-less band, adding John Mosca on trombone. There is a notable shift towards new compositions, challenging counterpoint, increased melodic development and more prominent song structure. The “New” Chris Byars Quartet presented an innovative combination of original music and visual art at the Rubin Museum in October, 2007, premiering the program “Jazz Pictures at an Exhibition of Himalayan Art,” ten compositions set to a larger-than-life slideshow, cast on the back wall of this beautiful performance space.
Friday, April 25, 2008
HARLEM IN THE HIMALAYAS Performer: Randy Sandke, Trumpet 7:00 pm | Rubin Museum of Art 150 West 17th Street Box Office: 212.620.5000 ext. 344 $18 in advance | $20 at door
Rande Sandke, trumpet Ted Rosenthal, piano Nicki Parrott, Bass & Vocals
Born and raised in Chicago, trumpeter, composer and arranger Randy Sandke was introduced to jazz and the trumpet by his older brother, Jordan. He says he got into jazz “kind of chronologically,” beginning with Bix Beiderbecke and Louis Armstrong, followed by Dizzy Gillespie, Clifford Brown, Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard. He studied at Roosevelt University with Reinhold Schilke, a legendary teacher and trumpet maker, who was with the Chicago Symphony for many years.
Gaining a reputation as a teenage demon trumpet player at local jam sessions, Sandke entered the music school at the University of Indiana in Bloomington, where he met Michael Brecker. Together they formed a rock band with a jazz oriented horn section.
Since then he has recorded over twenty albums as a leader, primarily on the Concord, Nagel-Heyer, and Evening Star labels. A recent discography, published by the Dutch jazz scholar Gerard Beilderman, runs to 53 pages. In addition there are guest appearances with instrumentalists Michael Brecker, Benny Goodman, Kenny Barron, Dick Hyman, Mulgrew Miller, Bill Charlap, Eric Reed, Frank Wess, Ray Anderson, Chris Potter, Sweets Edison, Flip Phillips, Scott Hamilton, Wycliffe Gordon, Warren Vach, and Mel Lewis. Singers include Mel Torm, Jon Hendricks, Rosemary Clooney, Cab Calloway, John Pizzarelli, Gregory Hines, Art Garfunkel, Barbara Carroll, Dr. John, Karrin Allyson, Susannah McCorkle, as well as appearances with Diane Reeves, Sting, Elton John, Billy Joel, Bette Midler, James Taylor, Chaka Khan, Ruth Brown, Billy Eckstine, and Joe Williams.
The Carnegie Hall Jazz Band has performed six of his suites and in 1998, the Concord Concerto label released an album featuring several orchestral compositions performed by the Bulgarian National Orchestra. Over fifty pieces have been recorded. In July of 2003 his “Subway Ballet” was performed at the 92nd St. Y in New York City.
He has written arrangements for Sting, Elton John, the King of Thailand, and transcriptions for Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.