“A devotion to showcasing top-quality artists has been a constant at the Athenaeum…
“Libraries are supposed to be places where silence prevails, but the quiet of the Athenaeum feels expectant,
“one of the west coast’s more discerning jazz concert series…”
“This thoughtful series presents jazz with the seriousness and dignity becoming the art form.”
Wednesday, January 21: Ben Wendel Quartet, 7:30 PM
Friday, February 6: Kevin Hays New Day Trio, 7:30 PM
Friday, February 13: Billy Childs Quartet, 7:30 PM
Thursday, February 19: New York Standards Quartet, 7:30 PM
The 25th anniversary season of the Athenaeum’s jazz program continues with this winter series of concerts in the Music Room of the Athenaeum library (at 1008 Wall Street in La Jolla). The series features rare local appearances by internationally acclaimed jazz artists. Seating is limited, so early reservations are strongly suggested! For tickets and information, call 858-454-5872.
The series opens on Wednesday, January 21, with the Ben Wendel Quartet, featuring Wendel on sax, Taylor Eigsti on piano, Harish Raghavan on bass, and Eric Harland on drums. Wendel makes his Athenaeum debut as a leader, having previously performed at the library in a memorable concert with Cuban drummer Ignacio Berroa. Originally from Vancouver, raised in Los Angeles, and currently residing in Brooklyn, Wendel has been described as “Perhaps the best and most well-known saxophonist consistently active on both coasts” (LA Weekly). A founding member of the Grammy-nominated jazz-rock group, Kneebody, Wendel’s playing displays a remarkable range, leading the New York Times to describe him as “A literate and adaptable multireedist whose original music puts a premium on lyricism. A wide-open sensibility, about as tuned to Bach and Bjork as Monk and Shorter.” This concert marks the Athenaeum debut of Taylor Eigsti (called “the most amazing talent I’ve ever come across” by Dave Brubeck), and return visits by Raghavan (Gilbert Castellanos) and Harland (Charles Lloyd, Terence Blanchard).
Friday, February 6, brings a rare West Coast date by pianist Kevin Hays with his New Day Trio, featuring Rob Jost on bass and Greg Joseph on drums. Known to Athenaeum audience members from past appearances with bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Bill Stewart, Israeli saxophonist Eli Degibri, and trumpeter Nicholas Payton, Hays is considered as one of the leading jazz pianists of his generation. His credits include work with artists such as Sonny Rollins, John Scofield, Benny Golson, Roy Haynes, Chris Potter, Al Foster, Joe Henderson and Joshua Redman. The New Yorker wrote, “There are plenty of talented pianists…but few have Hays’s melodic charms and sense of style.” In 2011, Nonesuch Records released a two-piano CD featuring Hays and his longtime friend Brad Mehldau, who commented, “Kevin Hays is a true original. Everything he plays has a deep intelligence and swing.” With his New Day Trio, Hays performs original compositions and a diverse array of material ranging from 20th century composer Henryk Gorecki to Lerner/Lowe and singer-songwriters Bob Dylan and Rodriguez.
The series continues on Friday, February 13, with a return visit by Athenaeum favorite Billy Childs on piano, with an all-star quartet comprised of saxophonist Steve Wilson, bassist Hans Glawischnig, and drummer Johnathan Blake. JazzTimes commented, “Childs’ piano playing sings with clarity and emotion…The swing throughout is never less than compelling, but like Herbie Hancock and Bill Evans, Childs holds his muscularity in reserve, creating rhythmic tension through restraint and perfect note placement.” Winner of multiple Grammy Awards for his work as an arranger and a composer, Childs last appeared at the Athenaeum in 2010 in a duo setting with Steve Wilson. Wilson is widely recognized for his integral contribution to some of the leading ensembles in jazz: Chick Corea’s Origin sextet, Buster Williams Quartet, the Dave Holland Quintet, and many others. The New York Times wrote, “He’s among the best that New York has to offer.” The Chicago Tribune heralded him as “one of the most intelligent improvisers in jazz.”
The series concludes on Thursday, February 19, with the New York Standards Quartet, featuring Tim Armacost (Ray Drummond, Kenny Barron) on saxes and flute, David Berkman (Tom Harrell, Vanguard Orchestra) on piano, Gene Jackson (Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland) on drums, and Ugonna Okegwo (Tom Harrell, Al Foster) on bass. After creating a lifetime of original music, the NYSQ felt it would liberating to perform music based on the standard jazz repertoire, and in particular, the songs they had learned while growing up learning jazz that offer a maximum of freedom and room for interpretation. The UK Guardian, in a glowing, four-star review, asserted the NYSQ is, “a group devoted to reinvention of famous pop songs and Broadway show tunes. Plenty of contemporary jazz artists do that, but few more divertingly than this vivacious foursome, who delightedly cherish the originals while deconstructing their harmonies and tweaking their melodies, sometimes only slipping in the original theme on the way out of the piece. This is a collective class act.”
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