with Nels Cline (solo), Julian Lage & presented by 2016 NYC Winter Jazzfest
Sun January 17th, 2016
Minimum Age: 18+
Doors Open: 5:00PM
Show Time: 6:00PM
Event Ticket: $25
Day of Show: $30
free for members
On Sunday January 17th the festival will close with a John Coltrane project by San Francisco Bay Area saxophone quartet Rova. With an all-star cast of New York improvisers celebrating the DVD/BluRay release of Channeling Coltrane, Rova presents a NY premiere performance of their Electric Ascension – a 21st century reimagining of John Coltrane’s late master work Ascension. Famed for its monumental scale and raw emotional power, John Coltrane’s milestone recording, Ascension, was released on LP 50 years ago in 1966. It now gets a 21st century reimagining and arrangement by Rova, and its first NY show at Winter Jazzfest, featuring special guests Nels Cline (who has appeared in all but one of Rova’s 11 performances of this show since 2003), Zeena Parkins, Nate Wooley, Ikue Mori, Trevor Dunn, Gerald Cleaver, Charles Burnham and Jason Kao Hwang, plus the four Rova stalwarts on saxophones. True to Coltrane’s intentions, the sonic landscape of Electric Ascension changes with every performance, depending on the cast of musicians, and the tenor of the moment. Expect this band to take the music to places it has never been before.
2016 Winter Jazzfest 5 Day Festival Pass (includes admission to WJF events from Jan 13-17th)
$125 early bird 5 day festival pass (until October 22nd) // $145 5 day festival pass (Click here to purchase)
$30 day of show
This is a general admission, partially seated event. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. A standing room area is available by the bar. Food and drinks can be purchased either at the tables or at the bar.
Channeling Coltrane: Rova’s Electric Ascension
Famed for its monumental scale and raw emotional power, John Coltrane’s Ascension has been reimagined in electrifying style by Rova Saxophone Quartet, to be performed by a “dream team” of master improvisers.
A very special work that was once considered an uncompromising concentration of sounds is now welcomed as music to open and close major-city jazz festivals, as music with a transcendent appeal. While the electric arrangement is part of this transformation, it’s more that listeners in this time period have caught up to and now can hear the original intent of the work.
John Coltrane’s Ascension stands as a watershed that links his most creative periods. Recorded in 1965, this large-scale piece is part of his late work, which was characterized by augmentation of the early ‘60s quartet, longer compositional forms, higher energy in solos and a free dialogue in ensemble improvisations.
But John Coltrane was nothing if not a relentless innovator. In the spirit of that search for knowledge and innovation, and in the spirit of Coltrane’s search for the new, Rova proposed in 2003 to imagine a new instrumental line-up and a modified compositional form, tailored to that new line-up, for this 21st century performance of Ascension.
For any Electric Ascension performance, Rova’s Larry Ochs gathers together a group of daring improvisers whose own musics are created with the same spirit of exploration and innovation. It is not our intention to replicate the original Ascension recording, but rather to use it as a springboard to improvise in our moment of the creative continuum. So we have gone electric, and electronic. And we have chosen to employ masters of free improvisation. Musicians who, in general, have spent years learning how to listen and how to respond, and who understand intuitively when to play lead roles and when to play support or orchestral roles in a group improvisation. We are indebted to Coltrane (and other great artists) for inspiring us to engage uncompromisingly in the risky business of creativity.
The Sunday January 17 show at (le) Poisson Rouge features an amazing ensemble: Nels Cline (el gtr), Charles Burnham (violin), Gerald Cleaver (drums), Trevor Dunn (bass), Jason Kao Hwang (violin), Ikue Mori (electronics), Zeena Parkins (el. harp), Nate Wooley (trumpet, effects) plus the four Rova stalwarts on saxophones (Ochs, Raskin, Ackley, Adams).
Julian Lage (guitar) opens at 6 PM; Rova Channeling Coltrane at 7 PM.
Rova official site
Nels Cline (solo)
Guitar explorer NELS CLINE is best known these days as the lead guitarist in the band Wilco. His recording and performing career – spanning jazz, rock, punk, and experimental – is well into its fourth decade, with over 160 recordings, including at least 30 for which he is leader. Born in Los Angeles in 1956, Cline has received many accolades including Rolling Stone anointing him as both one of 20 “new guitar gods” and one of the top 100 guitarists of all time.
Beyond Wilco, he leads The Nels Cline Singers (featuring Scott Amendola and bassist Trevor Dunn), and plays with Fig (a collaboration with Yuka Honda), BB&C (a collective with Time Berne & Jim Black), Pillow Wand (duo with guitarist Thurston Moore), and a new duo project with jazz guitar prodigy Julian Lage. A few of the other musicians with whom he has performed and/or recorded include: Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Yoko Ono, Jeff Gauthier, Mike Watt, Carla Bozulich, Vinny Golia, Marc Ribot, Tinariwen, Julius Hemphill, Charlie Haden, Wadada Leo Smith, Lydia Lunch, and Lee Ranaldo.
Photo credit Yuka C. Honda
‘Arclight,’ Julian Lage’s Mack Avenue debut, marks his first recorded outing on electric guitar and in a trio format, backed by double bassist Scott Colley and drummer Kenny Wollesen. Like that titular intense white light, Lage is a performer who burns brightly: The pace he sets is brisk, the mood often upbeat, the playing so quick-witted and offhandedly dazzling that one is compelled to immediately press “repeat,” especially when tracks like “Persian Rug” and “Activate” whiz by in under two and a half minutes. For a thoughtful artist like Lage, who will research and ruminate on a project long before he sets foot in a studio, this was a liberating experience, plugging in and playing with a kind of abandon. He was encouraged along the way by his producer and friend, the eclectic singer-songwriter Jesse Harris, who helped maintain an air of spontaneity and discovery throughout the trio’s three-day stint at Brooklyn Recording.
Lage has long been heralded for his virtuosic ability as an acoustic guitarist. In fact, he was well known in musician circles as a guitar prodigy, whose early genius was captured in a 1997 Oscar-nominated documentary short, ‘Jules At 8.’ As an adult, he’s fulfilled the promise of his extraordinary youthful talent. The New Yorker’s Alec Wilkinson declared, “He is in the highest category of improvising musicians, those who can enact thoughts and impulses as they receive them.” Nate Chinen of the New York Times called Lage “one of jazz’s breezier virtuosos, possessed of an unflappable technical facility and a seemingly boundless curiosity.” After independently releasing a solo acoustic set of largely original material called ‘World’s Fair’ in 2014, that curiosity prompted Lage to reconsider the electric guitar, specifically a Fender Telecaster — “the most refined embodiment of the modern guitar,” as he puts it.
“The Telecaster has been around for more than 60 years,” says Lage, “and it’s still so present. I took that as a parameter: ‘Arclight’ focuses on my love of the electric guitar, specifically the Telecaster. And even more specifically, it’s centered on a jazz trio. It’s basically a realization of this recessive obsession I’ve had for a long time, but had never followed. I wanted to do songs that I feel maybe fell through the cracks for me when I was growing up, but now feel like a brand new kind of music.”
Though up to now Lage has largely recorded and performed original material, he wanted to explore his interpretive skills on ‘Arclight,’ concentrating on music from the early to mid-20th century, “jazz before be-bop.” This was a period that had also inspired his composing for ‘World’s Fair.’ As he did then, Lage consulted Brooklyn-based guitarist, banjo player and music scholar Matt Munestiri, who had already pored over the more obscure pages of the American Songbook. Explains Lage, “I had this conundrum. I was looking for minor songs and slightly more melancholy music from the twenties. Matt sent me about 20 songs that ranged from Willard Robison to Sidney Bechet to Jack Teagarden, Bix Biederbecke and Spike Hughes, a British band leader who had a recording of a song called ‘Nocturne’ that ended up on our record. He nailed this melancholy zone of jazz that I felt was kind of forgotten. It was really poignant, melodic music that had a quirk to it. I think of it as the pre-be-bop generation, when country music and jazz and swing were in this weird wild-west period. ”
Along with ‘Nocturne,’ Lage tackled W.C. Handy’s “Harlem Blues,” a Gus Kahn-Neil Moret piano roll number called “Persian Rug,” and “I’ll Be Seeing You,” which starts off tenderly but gives way to a lively improvisational mid-section before finding its way back to the gentle, classic melody. The rest of the album consists of originals, which, notes Lage, “celebrate the other period I’m obsessed with, the Keth Jarrett American quartet period, an improvisational jazz era that had such a rich connection to songs and to folk music. This was the concept for the album.”
Playing a Telecaster is also an affectionate nod to Lage’s childhood: When he was four years old, his dad, a visual artist, had made him a plywood guitar, based on a Fender Esquire he’d traced from a Bruce Springsteen poster. Lage “played” that guitar until his dad bought him a real electric guitar a year later and they started practicing blues progressions and improvisation together. Similarly, Lage’s all-star rhythm section on ‘Arclight’ recalls the sounds, the bands and the gigs that inspired him as a young musician. Lage remembers seeing Colley and Wollesen at famed Bay Area jazz club Yoshi’s, backing his hero, the late guitar icon Jim Hall, as well as his early mentor, Gary Burton: “I would go to these shows, sit up front, put my head on the stage and watch. They were the most formative jazz guitar experiences of my life. And they were with these guys. I didn’t specifically intend to reassemble that dream crew but then I thought I had a chance, why not call them? I love them, I know their sounds; they would get my vision. And that’s what tied everything together. This was not only a band where I could get to play all this stuff that I’ve come up with, this is band of people I love listening to. And that was so refreshing coming from the solo guitar thing, which was a very personal quest to build a solid individual foundation of music on the guitar. ”
Jesse Harris became both observer and arbiter as the sessions unfolded, an invaluable role. While Lage would perceive a take as merely the first in a series, Harris, as Lage recounts, would say: “‘That’s it! Do you hear the spirit, the narrative, the build? Do you see how you struggle there but nail it here? That’s the ebb and flow.’ I absolutely loved it. This was very different than the solo guitar record, where I felt as though only I knew when it was done. I was outnumbered on this one, and by all my favorite people and musicians. ‘Arclight’ also has a spirit to it, this raucous energy, a thing that I felt was so strongly connected to this music and this band. There was a concept, a philosophy, a tonal palette, but that kind of energy, that almost dance-band vibe — Jesse could see it a mile away. It was so much fun to turn it up loud in the studio, and feel the music that way.”
Concludes Lage, “I feel like I’ve been on this very focused mission to make certain things a part of my musical life, and the electric guitar was one of the things that was missing. I’m very excited to share this. ”
— Michael Hill