NYC Winter Jazzfest Presents
with Andrew Cyrille, Shahzad Ismaily, Jeremy Gustin, Marc Ribot, Kris Bowers, Richard Sears, Curtis Fowlkes, Ben Goldberg, Sam Gendel & Linda Oh
Mon January 9th, 2017
Minimum Age: 18+
Doors Open: 7:00PM
Show Time: 8:00PM
Event Ticket: $20
Day of Show: $25
On Monday, January 9, genre-bending multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Sam Amidon presents a highly unpredictable program of his own music at (le) poisson rouge. A cast of improvising musicians will support, reflect and challenge Amidon’s music, including bassist and multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily, clarinetist Ben Goldberg and others to be announced. Amidon shall be the only constant on stage. A mix of previous collaborators and artists he’s never met before will weave together a night of one-of-a-kind music.
Other confirmed musicians include saxophonist Sam Gendel, clarinetist Ben Goldberg,, bassist Linda Oh, the guitarist Marc Ribot, keyboardist Kris Bowers, pianist Richard Sears and drummer Jeremy Gustin.
The night will begin with a solo performance by Winter Jazzfest artist-in-residence Andrew Cyrille.
TABLE SEATING POLICY Table seating for all seated shows is reserved exclusively for ticket holders who purchase “Table Seating” tickets. By purchasing a “Table Seating” ticket you agree to also purchase a minimum of two food and/or beverage items per person. Table seating is first come, first seated. Please arrive early for the best choice of available seats. Seating begins when doors open. Tables are communal so you may be seated with other patrons. We do not take table reservations.
A standing room area is available by the bar for all guests who purchase “Standing Room” tickets. Food and beverage can be purchased at the bar but there is no minimum purchase required in this area. All tickets sales are final. No refund or credits.
Sam Amidon’s third album for Nonesuch, The Following Mountain, is ostensibly his first of self-penned songs. But in his decade-long career as a recording artist, the singer and multi-instrumentalist has always managed to create work that’s utterly original, even when, on previous discs, he was digging through the sounds and stories of traditional American music from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Though he cultivates the appearance of a folk singer with his shaggy hair, flannel shirts and jeans, Amidon operates more like a freewheeling jazz improviser. He uses traditional material as a point of departure for his own melodic explorations; he reassembles time-worn lyrics into evocative new cut-and-pasted texts. On The Following Mountain, his affinity for the more experimental side of jazz, which he has admired as a fan since he was a teenager, explicitly informs these new pieces, several of which have their roots in an epic jam that Amidon and his long-time collaborator, the multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily, organized at a Brooklyn recording studio last spring.
Accepting invitations to that session, much to Amidon’s delight, were the legendary percussionist Milford Graves, acclaimed for his work in the 1960’s with free jazz greats Albert Ayler, Sonny Sharrock and Paul Bley, among others; fellow percussionist Juma Sultan, perhaps best known for accompanying Jimi Hendrix in the studio and on stage at the Woodstock Festival; and the young saxophonist Sam Gendel of the Los Angeles-based meditative jazz collective Inga. A distillation of that jam, sculpted into 12 intense minutes, serves as the culmination of The Following Mountain. Called “April,” the track represents the cacophonous start of the creative journey Amidon began in 2016 — a “wander through the imagination,” as he calls it –while also serving as the dramatic final statement on this innovatively assembled album.
“After making Lily-O, I was very aware that I had come to an end of a process in terms of material,” Amidon explains, referencing the 2014 album of reworked folk songs he recorded at the Icelandic studio of engineer Valgeir Sigurosson in collaboration with guitarist Bill Frisell. “It was a moment to take stock of what was around if you took that away. That’s what drove this record. I really intentionally started from zero. The way I made those other records was by doing my own guitar parts, melodies and compositions, and then adding in the folk songs. This time I sort of tricked myself into thinking I was making a folk-songs record — then I just never added any folk songs. I started from the same place, but instead of finding a melody I would hum my own melody. This was the first time I wrote all the music this way, and eventually I had a whole record.”
Key to the process of shaping The Following Mountain was British producer Leo Abrahams, a protégé of Brian Eno, whose approach to record-making matches Amidon’s unique collagist sensibility. At a London studio last summer, Abrahams helped Amidon build the entire album from the ground up. They isolated and reconfigured sounds culled from the springtime jam Amidon and Ismaily had put together to use as its foundation. Says Amidon, “The last track, ‘April,” is like the forest, and all the other tracks are the details of flowers you might find there. You’ve fallen into some crazy thicket but all the elements of the last track are the elements that I’ve used to make the other songs.”
Abrahams eagerly plunged right into that thicket: “Leo would listen to Milford’s drums, for example, and hear an opportunity in there. He finds a rhythm and asks ‘Do you have anything for this?’ and all of a sudden a song is growing. He would say, ‘Here is a sound, what can we do with it to make it interesting?’ That’s very good for an artist. Leo was very freeing that way. “ He also guided Amidon toward the digital corollary to Amidon’s compositional cutting and pasting. “There’s a lot of saxophone from Sam Gendel, but it’s me taking a snippet and playing it on an Ableton pad. I don’t interact with that world at all but Leo has a very tactile way of dealing with all that stuff. So I hope that helps to retain a sense of spontaneity.”
Spontaneity is indeed at the heart of The Following Mountain. There is a rhythmic pulse that subtly courses through the album: gently at times (on a track like the pastoral “Juma Mountain”), more aggressively at others (the instrumental “Trouble In Mind,” the dissonant “Ghosts”). That rhythm, Amidon would say, is evidence of the irregular heartbeat, very much a human one, that reverberated through the wood-paneled room in Brooklyn where the album began. Recalling the feel of that session, Amidon says, “I came with Shahzad to Brooklyn the night before to set up. We were up all night, listening to Jimi Hendrix mostly, and had only slept about an hour when Milford came in and I was vey nervous. He has a very intense personality and bearing. He’s like Muhammad Ali; he has this pugilistic quality. He started warming up, asking ‘can I get some drum sounds?,’ and it was the loudest drumming you could ever hear, for 45 minutes. And then he said, ‘Okay. I think I’m ready, I just needed to feel the room out.’ Amazing. He was full of stories, intense yet deeply open-minded. The first improvisation we did was more conventional – -a scratchy, crazy, improv thing, and after that he came in and said, ‘I checked you out on YouTube, man. We don’t always have to be playing the free jazz thing. I’ll play anything.’ So I started in with acoustic fingerpicking. And he was ready for it to be anything. I do believe in Milford’s idea, the whole premise of his music, that it’s based on the heartbeat. Metronomic time is restrictive for him. His way of playing the drums is like the ocean in the sense that it swells, there are little details in there like patterns of waves, but there is also just this propulsive force. Nothing can get in its way even if it wanted to. “
Amidon’s lyrics, too, are pulled from deep within, not so much crafted as conjured: “It was very unconscious, writing down phrases, grabbing things. I did that over time. I had a book full of sentences and I collaged them together. Some of them were mine, some of them were from old books, some of them were from folk songs, a little mangled Proust, a line from a Manny Farber film — things that intrigued me. All of the songs have a logic to me that I wouldn’t necessarily talk about. ‘Fortune’ came from some personal things and from a letter a friend had sent, someone from North Carolina who is tied into the field-recording people I have studied from. A lot of ‘Warren’ is from an old shape-note song, but I added phrases from an old Chinese poem about a lamp running low that seemed to fit in. I tried to get to the sentiment of the song, a feeling of darkness in the winter, the feeling of things deteriorating. The lyrics to ‘Blackbird’ are from a folk song. All of the lyrics felt good to sing; whether they make sense to other people is less important, I guess. To me they are just elusive narratives and people can make up their own stories.”
There’s often been a compellingly plaintive quality to Amidon’s voice and to his arrangements, the sense of an old soul harbored within a rangy young man’s frame. Amidon released his first album, But This Chicken Proved False-Hearted, in 2007, a homemade effort produced by Amidon and Thomas Bartlett, his childhood friend from Brattleboro, Vermont. He subsequently released two albums, All Is Well and I See the Sign, on Sigursson’s Bedroom Community label. Both featured orchestrations from another New England native and frequent collaborator Nico Muhly. Amidon joined the Nonesuch roster in 2013, with the release of Bright Sunny South, recorded in London, where Amidon now resides with his wife, the singer-songwriter Beth Orton. However, Amidon’s connection to Nonesuch goes back much further; his parents, members of the famed Bread and Puppet Theatre, were also part of the Vermont-based Word of Mouth Chorus, which released Rivers of Delight: American Folk Hymns from the Sacred Harp Tradition on Nonesuch in the seventies. Amidon grew up listening to folk, shape-note and old-time music, and as a boy he was an accomplished “Irish trad” fiddle player.
It may seem like some form of rebellion for Amidon to champion free jazz as he grew older, but that ultimately helped Amidon embrace his own musical roots: “In my life, I grew up in the nourishing folk universe of Vermont, singing with my folks and playing Irish fiddle tunes and all that stuff. I loved Irish fiddle playing, which was very ornate and highly technical. The American fiddle music sounded scratchy – I liked the really ornate Irish stuff. I didn’t understand old-time music, but my parents sang it so it was always in the background. The really huge moment for me was when I heard free jazz – Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, John Coltrane, Marc Ribot, downtown NY stuff. At the same time, I heard the field recordings of Alan Lomax and the recordings of Harry Smith, the early American stuff, and for the first time ever I was able to appreciate it – -through the prism of free jazz. Through free jazz, I learned to appreciate these raw, primitive, intense sounds, and then all of a sudden the American fiddle playing, the singing style, seemed raw and deep and intense – instead of just incompetent, as my snobbish ten year-old self had been approaching it.”
In a sense, The Following Mountain is the culmination of Amidon’s exploration of the connections between improvisation, song form and the Appalachian sound – the fulfillment of what he initially came to NYC to find. Part of this was reaching out to Graves and Sultan in the same way he had learned fiddle tunes and songs from older folk musicians. “We had this day of bringing in wise elders. Milford was so intense and Juma was so gentle. There was a sense of lineage that links to my experience with folk music. In the 1920’s, fifteen year-old fiddlers would learn their tunes from the oldest players in their villages, or old guys passing through. You have to look beyond your immediate generational sphere to see what other people have to say.”
“This is what I came to New York for,” Amidon says, finally. “But I wasn’t ready back then. So The Following Mountain is deeply personal in that way. This was like my dream. There is a sound, a raw sound, that is the sound of America to me, whether it’s from Albert Ayler or Doc Boggs.”
– Michael Hill
Photo Credit: Terry Magson
Shahzad Ismaily is a leading multi-intstrumentlist who has performed or recored with: Marc Ribot, Iggy Pop, Sam Amidon, Bill Frisell, Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Jolie Holland, Laura Veirs, Bonnie Prince Billy, Faun Fables, Secret Chiefs 3, John Zorn, Elysian Fields, Shelley Hirsch, Niobe, Will Oldham, Nels Cline, Mike Doughty, Graham Haynes, David Krakauer, Billy Martin, Carla Kihlstedt’s Two Foot Yard, the Tin Hat Trio, Raz Mesinai and Burnt Sugar, etc.
Marc Ribot, who the New York Times describes as “a deceptively articulate artist who uses inarticulateness as an expressive device,” has released over 20 albums under his own name over a 30-year career, exploring everything from the pioneering jazz of Albert Ayler to the Cuban son of Arsenio Rodríguez. His latest solo release, Silent Movies (Pi Recording 2010) has been described as a “down-in-mouth-near master piece” by the Village Voice and has landed on several Best of 2010 lists including the LA Times and critical praise across the board. 2013 saw the release of “Your Turn” (Northern Spy), the sophomore effort from Ribot’s post-rock/noise trio Ceramic Dog, and 2014 saw the monumental release: “Marc Ribot Trio Live at the Village Vanguard” (Pi Recordings), documenting Marc’s first headline and the return of Henry Grimes at the historical venue in 2012 already included on Best of 2014 lists including Downbeat Magazine and NPR’s 50 Favorites.
Rolling Stone points out that “Guitarist Marc Ribot helped Tom Waits refine a new, weird Americana on 1985’s Rain Dogs, and since then he’s become the go-to guitar guy for all kinds of roots-music adventurers: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Elvis Costello, John Mellencamp.” Additional recording credits include Neko Case, Diana Krall, Elton John/Leon Russell’s The Union, Solomon Burke, John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards, Marianne Faithful, Joe Henry, Allen Toussaint, Medeski Martin & Wood, Caetono Veloso, Susana Baca, Allen Ginsburg, Madeline Peyroux, Nora Jones, Jolie Holland, Akiko Yano, The Black Keys, and many others. Marc works regularly with Grammy® award winning producer T Bone Burnett and NY composer John Zorn. He has also composed and performed on numerous film scores such as “Walk The Line” (Mangold), “The Kids Are All Right,” and “The Departed” (Scorcese).
Photo Credit: Sandlin Gaither
Pianist and film composer Kris Bowers, a Juilliard-trained musician, has never been afraid to step outside any genre’s traditional boundaries to create other forms of music. He has recorded and/or performed with artists such as Q-Tip, Aretha Franklin, Marcus Miller, José James, Ludacris, Christian Rich, Jay-Z, and Kanye West. Additionally, this rich and eclectic sensibility is evident from the very first notes of Heroes + Misfits, his debut recording on Concord Jazz. Released in March 2014, Heroes + Misfits opened at No. 1 on the iTunes jazz charts and to critical acclaim.
Bowers has also scored a diverse range of films including: Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (2013), Seeds of Time (2013), Play it Forward (2015), Kobe Bryant’s Muse (2015), and I Am Giant: Victor Cruz (2015). Most recently, Bowers composed the score for both Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You (2016), a film by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady that premiered on the opening night of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and Little Boxes (2016) by director Rob Meyer and executive producer Cary Fukunaga, which premiered at the TriBeCa Film Festival and was shortly thereafter purchased by Netflix. Through these films, Bowers showcases his talent for fusing music with storytelling. Currently, Kris is working on a 6-part series for DirecTV in conjunction with producers Michael Strahan, Tom Brady and Gotham Chopra. The series, called Religion of Sports, will examine communities around the world, and the similarities between how we organize around sports vs. religion. Kris is also working on a children’s Christmas special cartoon for Amazon, along with a couple of other documentaries slated to be released in 2017.
For his excellence in jazz performance, Bowers has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades. Most notably, in September 2011, he won the coveted Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. In 2013 he became a Steinway Artist, and in 2014, he was named one of twelve “Artists to Watch” by iTunes. Just last year, Bowers was one of 6 composers to participate in the Sundance Film Composers Lab at Skywalker Sound.
Photo Credit: Lauren Desberg
Brooklyn based pianist, Richard Sears, possesses an original voice as an improvisor and composer. His composition has been recognized by grants from the Aaron Copland Fund and the Los Angeles Jazz Society. As as performer, Richard has appeared with the likes of Chick Corea, Mark Turner, Joshua Redman, and Billy Hart. In April 2016, Richard performed a solo piano concert in Tangier presented by UNESCO in celebration of International Jazz Day. Most recently, Richard released “Altadena” on Ropeadope Records, with his sextet featuring the legendary drummer, Albert “Tootie” Heath.
Born in Malaysia, raised in, Perth, Western Australia, Linda began playing piano, bassoon and at fifteen dabbled on electric bass playing jazz in high school bands while playing a lot of Red Hot Chili Peppers. Linda studied at the W.A Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) where she graduated with first-class honors.
She was a James Morrison Scholarship Finalist in 2003 and in 2004 was an IAJE Sister in Jazz and received the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer’s award in 2008. She also received an honorary mention at the 2009 Thelonious Monk Bass Competition and received the 2010 Bell Award for Young Australian Artist of the Year. In 2010 she was nominated for the Jazz Journalist’s Awards for Up and Coming Artist of the Year, and received the award of No. 1 Acoustic Bass Rising Star in the Downbeat Critic’s Poll. This same year she received 2nd place at the BASS2010 Competition in Berlin.
Linda completed her Masters at the Manhattan School of Music in 2008 studying with Jay Anderson, John Riley, Phil Markowitz, Dave Liebman and Rodney Jones. She now teaches the precollege division there and is involved in jazz videoconference master-classes for high-schools around the US. As an active teacher she was also involved in creating a series of lessons for the up and coming BassGuru app for iPad and iPhone.
Linda has performed with the musicians such as Joe Lovano, Steve Wilson, Vijay Iyer, Dave Douglas, Kenny Barron, Geri Allen, Fabian Almazan, and Terri Lyne Carrington.
Linda is an active double bassist, electric bassist and composer, composing music for various ensembles and short films, also participating in the BMI Film Composers Workshop and Sundance Labs at Skywalker Ranch. Linda composed for Sabrina McCormick’s short film “A Good Egg” which was featured in the New York Shorts Festival.
In 2009 her self-released debut trio album “Entry” with Obed Calvaire and Ambrose Akinmusire received some critical attention. It was listed in Artforum magazine as one of Vijay Iyer’s top ten of 2009.
Her second album “Initial Here” released on Greenleaf Records in 2012 features a quartet with Dayna Stephens on tenor sax, Fabian Almazan on piano and Rudy Royston on drums with special guest Jen Shyu on vocals. This album was mentioned several times for album of the year in various jazz polls.
“Sun Pictures” is her third release – a quartet album recorded live at WKCR studios featuring Ben Wendel on tenor saxophone, James Muller on guitar and Ted Poor on drums.
Linda is currently working on her second trumpet trio album and an eight-piece group featuring a string quartet – with music that was commissioned by the Jazz Gallery in 2012. She is now a member of Pet Metheny’s most recent quartet project.
Photo Credit: John Baptiste Guillemin