Ralph Alessi photo by John Rogers, ECM Records
Thursday, February 6, 8pm
Ralph Alessiís Baida
Ralph Alessi, trumpet
Gary Versace, piano
Drew Gress, bass
Nasheet Waits, drums
PONCHO Concert Hall, 8pm
Cornish College of the Arts, Kerry Hall, 710 E. Roy Street (Capitol Hill)
Advance tickets available at www.brownpapertickets.com and 1-800-838-3006.
$22 Adult, $20 Seniors and Earshot Jazz members, $11 Students
The quartet conducts a free masterclass at the Cornish College, February 6, noon.
Ralph Alessi’s Baida project – his ECM debut as a bandleader – is breathtaking in its atmospheric depth and melodic allure. Jazz Times says Alessi has “drop-dead trumpet chops” and calls his music “as clean and airy and sophisticated and disciplined as post-modern progressive jazz gets.” On the album, Alessi’s steely quartet – with pianist Jason Moran, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Nasheet Waits – performs with extraordinary strength, clarity and finesse, an enthralling and captivating album experience at-length. Pianist Gary Versace subs on tour for Moran. These are four fearless improvisers dancing on Alessi’s scaffolding.
Alessi was born in San Francisco, the son of classical trumpeter Joe Alessi and opera singer Maria Leone. He studied with legendary bassist Charlie Haden at the California Institute for the Arts, moved to New York City, and soon became a ubiquitous presence on the downtown and Brooklyn scenes. Alessi has been a member of the faculty of the Eastman School of Music and is the founder and director of the Center and School for Improvisational Music, an improvisational music workshops non-profit in Brooklyn. Since 2002, he has been on the jazz faculty at New York University. Alessi has excelled as an improviser in groups led by Steve Coleman, Uri Caine, Ravi Coltrane, Fred Hersch and Don Byron, as well as leading his own bands. Alessi’s Cognitive Dissonance (2010) and This Against That (2002) also feature Moran, Gress and Waits.
Alessi has been playing with Drew Gress since the late 1990s. “What I love about Drew’s playing are the choices he makes as a bass player. … His ears are amazing, and he’s a great composer himself, so he brings that sensibility to the music,” Alessi says.
Organist, pianist, and accordionist Gary Versace has featured in bands led by John Scofield, John Abercrombie, Maria Schneider, Matt Wilson, Lee Konitz, John Hollenbeck and many others. A DownBeat rising star on the Hammond organ, in critics polls in the noughts, Versace has appeared as a leader and a sideman on over 50 recordings with artists on labels including Palmetto, ACT, Omnitone, Songlines, Pirouet, High Note, Justin Time, ArtistShare, Fresh Sound, Kind of Blue, and many others.
Piano Jazz’s Marian McPartland has called him, “endlessly inventive.” Versace has a master’s degree in music performance from the Eastman School of Music, and spent eight years as a tenured associate professor in the jazz studies department at the University of Oregon. He remains active as a clinician and guest soloist both nationally and around the world.
Nasheet Waits – one of New York’s most creative drummers, deeply musical – provides the sound of surprise as well as groove in the group.