Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pomegranate: New Music for Bill Dixon

Pomegranate: New Music for Bill Dixon
2012 Pork Pie Hat Jazz Series
Hartford, CT

Stephen Haynes/trumpet
Joe Morris/guitar
Pat Kuehn, Dorsey Bass, Jesse Heasly/contrabass violins
Warren Smith/drums and percussion

I was recently invited to present new work here in Hartford.  Andres Chaparro curates the Pork Pie Hat Jazz Series for the Marketing, Events and Cultural Affairs (MECA) Division at the City of Hartford.  Andres founded this series long before the creation of MECA and has been a steady advocate for the arts in Hartford.  Andres is a friend and also a wonderful painter.  Check out his work here.

The notion for this ensemble has been in my mind for some time, attached to an invitation to record from a small label.  I wanted to record a two-bass quartet, something I avoided doing while Bill Dixon was alive.  Bill loved the sound of two basses together and used the instrumentation on many of his small group recordings.  I planned to have Joe Morris and William Parker work in tandem on contrabass violin.  William had last-minute scheduling problems, and could not join us for the Hartford premier of this project.  When I called Joe Morris looking for help with covering William's position, Joe ticked off a short list of great bass players in New York and then said,  "But I have these three students at NEC (New England Conservatory, where Joe is a faculty member) who are killing the bass!  I could bring all three of them down to play with us."

This impromptu bass choir consisted of Pat Kuehn, Dorsey Bass and Jesse Heasly and they made a glorious sound together.  Joe moved from bass to guitar, the position he holds in my trio Parrhesia.  We had a delightful time together on and off stage.  During dinner downstairs before the concert, Warren Smith regaled us with stories of his work with Janis Joplin (Gil Evans told Joplin to hire him to write/arrange for her) and his recent activity with the Ebony Hillbillies, a black bluegrass group that he plays washboard with in the NYC subways. 

Images of Stephen Haynes and Pomegranate by Rob Miller (b&w) and Byron Dean

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