Company Of Heaven Jazz Festival

January 7, 2010

Company of Heaven, the booking agency for many of creative improvised music’s biggest names, will hold its second annual jazz festival at New York’s Cornelia Street Café this weekend as part of the festivities surrounding the 2010 Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) Conference.

The Thirteenth Assembly, featuring Taylor Ho Bynum, Mary Halvorson, Jessica Pavone and Tomas Fujiwara, will be performing, as will Playscape Recordings artists, the Michael Musillami Trio + 3, Mario Pavone‘s Totem Quartet and George Schuller’s Circle Wide. A complete schedule of events for the three-night festival is available here.


2010 NYC Winter JazzFest

January 7, 2010


Three of our clients’ ensembles, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society (also playing two sets at Jazz Gallery the following night), the Mary Halvorson Trio and the William Parker Quartet, will be part of the highly anticipated 2010 NYC Winter JazzFest this weekend.

The two-night extravaganza will feature over 50 performances at five different venues in the West Village.

Argue and his acclaimed 18-piece big band will kick off Friday night’s festivities at (Le) Poisson Rouge at 6:20 p.m.

Parker’s all-star quartet, which features Lewis Barnes (trumpet), Rob Brown (alto saxophone) and Hamid Drake (drums), is a last-minute 10:30 p.m. addition to Saturday’s line-up at Sullivan Hall.

Ms. Halvorson’s longstanding trio, with bassist John Hébert and drummer Tomas Fujiwara (sitting in for Ches Smith), will also perform on Saturday night. Their set at Kenny’s Castaways is scheduled to start just after midnight.


Festival Of New Trumpet Music To Honor Wilmer Wise January 13th

December 15, 2009

Wilmer Wise

On Wednesday, January 13th at 7:30 p.m., The Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT Music) will honor esteemed trumpet player Wilmer Wise with a special concert and reception at Abrons Arts Center in New York. This festive presentation, which will feature performances by FONT Music co-founder Dave Douglas, Wise himself and a number of surprise special guests, will serve as both a fundraiser for the organization and the opening night of Forward Flight, its third and final event of the 2009-10 concert season. Forward Flight, which celebrates the eclecticism of the trumpet in contemporary music with a variety of concerts and free workshops on both of Abrons Arts Center stages, will continue through Saturday, January 16th.

Tickets for the opening night benefit concert are $35, which also includes a membership in FONT Music and admission to the pre-concert reception, and can be purchased here. Tickets for the other three nights are $15 ($12 for students with ID and FONT Music members) per night and can be purchased at (212) 352-3101 or online. A festival pass is also available for $40 ($30 students with ID and FONT members). Passes can be purchased here. The Abrons Arts Center is located at 466 Grand Street (at the corner of Pitt Street) on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Venue information is available at (212) 598-0400 and http://www.abronsartscenter.org

FONT Music is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that sustains trumpeters and new trumpet music by commissioning composers, producing concerts, presenting workshops and panels, and supporting music programs in New York City’s public schools. Founded in 2003 by trumpeters for trumpeters, the organization and its diverse programs are currently overseen by Douglas and a volunteer board featuring some of contemporary trumpet music’s most celebrated practitioners.

It has presented over 200 concerts by emerging artists and creative pioneers alike at venues all over New York, commissioned new works from more than a dozen young trumpet players and paid tribute to a variety to the instrument’s legendary performers. “By definition,” adds the New York Times‘ Nate Chinen, “the Festival of New Trumpet Music prizes a spirit of innovation; that ‘new’ in the title is no accident.” Learn more about FONT Music at http://fontmusic.org

About Wilmer Wise:

More than two decades before Wynton Marsalis was famously straddling the worlds of jazz and classical music in the 1980’s, trumpeter Wilmer Wise was blazing a trail for musicians with the versatility to perform in settings ranging from jazz to Broadway to the highest levels of the classical music establishment. As an African-American musician of advanced abilities and an impressive classical pedigree coming onto the scene in the years leading up to the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Wise carved a unique path as the only black trumpet player in the ensembles he performed with in the early days of his career.

Fifty years and a wealth of experience later, his eclectic and groundbreaking body of work includes faculty positions at Morgan State University and Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Conservatory and countless collaborations with many of the most prominent musicians, composers, conductors and ensembles of the 20th Century. Working with everyone from Pablo Casals to Placido Domingo, Philip Glass to Steven Sondheim, Rudolph Serkin to Leonard Bernstein, the Marlboro Festival Orchestra to the New York Philharmonic, Quincy Jones to Weather Report and many others in between, Wise has truly been there and done that.

Born in Philadelphia on December 21st, 1936, Wise began playing the trumpet when he was eight years old. His first teacher was Anthony DelCampo, a general music teacher at the local high school who also taught Wise’s fellow Philadelphians, Eddie Fisher and Mario Lanza. DelCampo’s class featured students on various instruments, giving Wise early experience playing with other musicians, transposing music into various keys and reading in different clefs thanks to the teacher’s insistence that the students learn solfeggio.

Growing up, his main musical influences at home were his mother’s player piano, which his sister also practiced on, and the radio shows favored by his father, including live broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic. He was also a fan of cornetist James F. Burke, a veteran of Dr. Edwin Franko Goldman’s famous band and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, thanks to Burke’s performances as a soloist with the The Cities Service Band of America, which had its own weekly radio show from 1948-1954. Little did he know at the time that he would fulfill his childhood dreams by performing with both Burke (as a member of the Trenton Symphony) and the New York Philharmonic in the coming years.

Wise went on to study for six years with the legendary Sigmund Hering, a forty-year veteran of the Philadelphia Orchestra and widely considered the most influential trumpet teacher of his day, as well as Hering student Gil Johnson, Sam Krauss and Nat Prager, before turning professional in 1960. He began his career as the only black musician in the orchestras for the Broadway show previews in Philadelphia, including Showgirl with Carol Channing, and also performed as a guest soloist with groups such as Quincy Jones’ band as they passed through town. In the early 60’s, he also joined the trumpet section of Johnny Lynch’s Club Harlem Band of Atlantic City, which already included Johnny Coles and Lamar Wright.

In 1965, Wise began a five-year stint as the Baltimore Symphony’s Assistant Principal Trumpet. In a city that was slow to accept racial integration, the only place he could live was the Mount Royal Hotel, a well-known haven for African-American entertainers such as Flip Wilson and Richard Pryor, who Wise already knew from his days in Philadelphia. That same year, he also joined the Symphony of the New World, a fully integrated orchestra that featured both black and white performers, as well as men and women. The group, which also featured Joe Wilder on first cornet, was sponsored in part by the Ford Foundation and played its own concert at Carnegie Hall. 1965 was also the year he toured Europe as first trumpet in the Marlboro Festival Orchestra, conducted by Rudolf Serkin, and played on the ensemble’s famous recordings with cellist Pablo Casals.

One of the first jobs he got upon relocating to New York in 1970 was playing in the American Symphony conducted by Leopold Stokowski. A year later, he played in his first show on Broadway, Lovely Ladies and Kind Gentlemen, an unmemorable flop that actually led to a more lucrative job at Madison Square Garden. Wise would go on to become a first-call trumpeter on Broadway, playing lead trumpet in more than 30 shows, including five of Steven Sondheim’s biggest hits and their original cast recordings. He also played lead trumpet on the only recording of West Side Story conducted by Leonard Bernstein, as well as on many of Philip Glass’ movie soundtracks. His most long-lasting job was as the Brooklyn Philharmonic’s principal trumpet, a position he held for more than three decades until his retirement in 2003.

“At nearly 73, he is still playing at the top of his game,” declares cornetist/composer and fellow Festival of New Trumpet Music board member, Taylor Ho Bynum. “Wilmer shows that all these streams of contemporary music are deeply intertwined; that American music is not about the differences between genres, but the conversations and exchanges amongst them. It’s a great honor to work with him on the FONT Music board, and to hear him and fellow trumpet legend Lew Soloff perform Ornette Coleman’s ‘The Sacred Mind of Johnny Dolphin’, and talk about his long and prestigious career as part of the free FONT Music Workshop Series, is going to be amazing. I’m so glad we’ll be able to honor him, hear him play and give him the recognition he deserves at this year’s Forward Flight event. ”


Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society To Perform Twice During 2010 APAP Conference

December 8, 2009

Photo by Chad Batka for The New York Times

Composer Darcy James Argue and his acclaimed ensemble, Secret Society, will perform on back-to-back nights in early January during the 2010 Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) Conference in New York. On Friday, January 8th at 6:20 p.m., the group will play a short set at Le Poisson Rouge as part of the 2010 NYC Winter JazzFest. The following night at The Jazz Gallery, the band will play two full sets, starting at 9:00 and 10:30 p.m. respectively, and unveil a newly written composition.

“Le Poisson Rouge and The Jazz Gallery are our two favorite venues to play in New York,” Argue explains, “as you can probably tell by the frequency with which we return. They put the music first and treat the artists with basic human decency—qualities that are vanishingly rare, especially in today’s climate. These venues are exceptional in other ways: the Jazz Gallery is one of NYC’s few independent, not-for-profit performance spaces devoted exclusively to jazz, while Le Poisson Rouge is the only club in town where you can listen to a performance of the complete Xenakis string quartets while knocking back a Red Stripe.”

“A year ago,” he continues, “we kicked off The Jazz Gallery’s Large Ensemble Commissions Series. Immediately thereafter we went into the studio to record Infernal Machines. It would appear The Jazz Gallery is an auspicious spot to present new works. I figured we’d best do it again. Also, we are extremely excited to be a part of this year’s Winter JazzFest, which is a rare opportunity to hear sets by established artists like Nicholas Payton and Matt Wilson on the same bill as killing new talent like Mark Guiliana and Chelsea Baratz. The lineup represents a broad spectrum of the most exciting music coming out of the New York jazz scene right now, without getting hung up on a particular scene or sound.”

After slowly developing his sound over the course of the past four years, Argue became one of the most talked about new voices of 2009 thanks to the response to his debut release, Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam Records), and the series of performances that followed in New York, Germany, The Netherlands and his native Canada. The new decade begins where the last one left off, with two notable January performances in New York followed by upcoming dates in Boston and beyond. In addition to the new piece being premiered at The Jazz Gallery, Argue will also be working on a new composition for the new music ensemble, Newspeak, thanks to a grant from the American Composers Forum’s Jerome Composers Commissioning Program.


Jessica Pavone CD Release Concert At Roulette Tonight

November 10, 2009


Tonight at Roulette in New York, violist/composer Jessica Pavone will leave the playing to the Toomai String Quintet, as the group performs selections from her new release, Songs of Synastry and Solitude (Tzadik).

The record, part of the label’s Oracles series celebrating “the diversity and creativity of women in experimental music making,” is a collection of string quartets (violin, viola, cello and double bass) inspired by the simple beauty of American folk songs, and modeled after singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Songs of Love and Hate (Columbia).

Critics have called the music “simple and stately, with a sombre grace” (Nilan Perera, Exclaim!), “wordless distillations of feeling and reflection” (Julian Cowley, The Wire) and “patient and clear, occasionally swinging and always heartfelt” (Time Out New York).

AllAboutJazz.com’s Troy Collins adds, “Songs of Synastry and Solitude is Pavone’s highest profile release as a composer to date, demonstrating her flair as a lyrical writer and supple orchestrator. A straightforward contemplation on the power of song, Songs of Synastry and Solitude is a timeless collection of elegant themes from a young composer of significant merit.”


Jessica Pavone Interview

November 5, 2009
Photo by Erica Magrey

Photo by Erica Magrey

Roulette has posted an interview with violist/composer Jessica Pavone on its blog in advance of her upcoming concert on November 10th.

Ms. Pavone and the Toomai String Quintet will be celebrating the release of her new CD, Songs of Synastry and Solitude (Tzadik).


Jessica Pavone’s Songs Of Synastry And Solitude (Tzadik)

October 27, 2009


Today is the official street date for violist/composer Jessica Pavone‘s latest recording, Songs of Synastry and Solitude (Tzadik). This release is part of the label’s Oracles series, which celebrates “the diversity and creativity of women in experimental music making.”

Inspired by the simple beauty of American folk songs, and singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen‘s Songs of Love and Hate (Columbia), this recording features 11 of Ms. Pavone’s original compositions for string quartet (violin, viola, cello and double bass) performed by members of the Toomai String Quintet.

Ms. Pavone and the group will celebrate the release of the record on Tuesday, November 10th with a live performance at Roulette in New York.

“Violist and composer Jessica Pavone has been a fixture on the New York scene for over a decade. Songs of Synastry and Solitude is Pavone’s highest profile release as a composer to date, demonstrating her flair as a lyrical writer and supple orchestrator. A straightforward contemplation on the power of song, Songs of Synastry and Solitude is a timeless collection of elegant themes from a young composer of significant merit.”
Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz.com

“…a set of 11 original compositions that are emotionally weighty and dark, yet ultimately uplifting. While there is no direct stylistic or thematic link to Cohen’s songs, Pavone communicates the same sense of inevitability and universal suffering as the singer does, and leaves the listener with the same sense that there is hope in living—if only hope that daily suffering will be alleviated by the joy of song, love, spiritual enlightenment, and other forms of grace. This is measured, deliberate music that might be a love song, a prayer or just an acknowledgment that, as John Lee Hooker and Van Morrison once sang, you’ll never get out of these blues alive.”
James Hale, Jazz Chronicles

“In this release, she has presented compositions that are simple and stately, with a sombre grace that stands in wary contrast to Cohen’s finite pronouncements. The thoroughness and narrative direction of a songwriter inform her work, much as a good folk song would…pieces are performed with sensitivity and rigor by members of the Toomai String Quintet, projecting a sober view softened occasionally by a considered wistfulness. Pavone’s music reflects an austere but tender landscape where watchfulness orders reality.”
Nilan Perera, Exclaim!

“These 11 instrumentals are songs, too, in scale and shape, wordless distillations of feeling and reflection, brief musical narratives of relationship, star-blest or star-crossed…it’s a bittersweet chamber music evoking accord or aloneness that she is after, simply rendered and neatly crafted. The inclusion of double bass heightens both mellowness and melancholy, and it serves as a pivot for elegant dance rhythms that crop up among the wistful melodies.”
Julian Cowley, The Wire