Music: Jeff Fuller & Friends celebrate “Round & Round” CD release Sat., Dec. 21

Jeff Fuller & Friends play Best Video Performance Space on Saturday, Dec. 21. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $10. It is a CD release show celebrating the group’s new disc “Round & Round.”

Jeff Fuller & Friends is made up of Jeff Fuller on bass, Darren Litzie on piano, and Ben Bilello on drums. The classic jazz trio format gives rise to—and makes room for—many delightful moments of serendipitous exchange. In no small part this is due to listening—each member of the trio evidently hears the conversation as a whole while adding their own thoughts to the process. The result is an emotional, intelligent and lucid story that carries through from the first note to the last.

On their 4th CD, Jeff Fuller & Friends provide thoughtful and engaging original jazz compositions in an intimate piano trio setting. “Round & Round” features Fuller’s virtuosic bass playing, pianist Darren Litzie’s inventive improvisations, and drummer Ben Bilello’s great soloing and accompaniment. Beautifully recorded by Norman Johnson, the trio explores new territory on such compositions as “Round & Round,” “Rest, Dear,” “Sambeleza, and the classically oriented “Never So Long,” which features Fuller’s bowed upright bass. This is music made for listening, so settle back and enjoy the journey!

The trio will also work some of their jazzy versions of holiday favorites into the set.

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Music: The Tony Purrone Trio offers jazz Thurs., Dec. 19

The Tony Purrone Trio plays Best Video Performance Space Thursday, Dec. 19. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $10.

Legendary jazz guitar virtuoso Tony Purrone will present an evening of electrifying original jazz and some rearrangements of jazz standards. Purrone will be accompanied by Preston Murphy (upright bass) and Ray Marchica (drums).

Tony Purrone was born and raised in Connecticut. His love affair with the guitar started with his first lesson at age nine. This early ability, expressed across a diversity of styles, led to acceptance by the University of Bridgeport Jazz Ensemble at a very young age. Four years later, whilst still a student, he performed with the Don Elliott Quintet and the Gerry Mulligan Sextet. After transferring to New York University, Tony graduated with a BSc in music.

In 1978, he came to the attention of Jimmy Heath in Connecticut and was invited to join the Heath Brothers Band, going on to record five albums on CBS and Island-Antilles in between touring the world.

In 1982, Tony left to carve his own impressive niche in the eclectic jazz world. He has performed with a Who’s Who of Jazz, including: Frank Foster and the Count Basie Band, Jerome Richardson, Lee Konitz, Al Cohn, Pepper Adams, Paquito D’Rivera, Sal Nistico, Nick Brignola, Bill Barron, Dave Leibman, Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, Randy Brecker, Lew Soloff, Jon Faddis, Donald Byrd, Lionel Hampton, Woody Herman band members, the Jimmy Heath Big Band, Stanley Cowell, Billy Eckstine, Johnny Hartman, the Trio (3) with Pete Levin and Lenny White, and his own groups.

Tony has taught music at Housatonic College and Wesleyan University in Connecticut and at Queens College in New York. Tony participated in two Grammy nominated albums, “Heath Brothers Live at the Public Theater”, (1980); and “Jimmy Heath-Little Man, Big Band” (1994). Tony has also recorded with Jimmy Heath on the Landmark, Verve, and Steeplechase labels, Ed Thigpen on the Reaction label and is the featured guitar soloist along with bassist, Stanley Clarke, on the song “Dark” co-written with Lenny White on Lenny’s CD, “Present Tense” (Hip Bop records).

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Music: Thimble Islands Saxophone Quartet plays Sat., Nov. 30

The Thimble Islands Saxophone Quartet plays Best Video Performance Space this Saturday, Nov. 30. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $10.

The Thimble Islands Saxophone Quartet features music from Baroque to Contemporary, including music from the Jazz, Broadway, Rock and Popular idioms. This eclectic repertoire includes works from the chamber music, symphonic, choral and vocal traditions.

Frank Vasi, tenor saxophonist, is an award winning composer and the founder of the Thimble Islands Saxophone Quartet. He graduated from the Mannes College of Music in NYC where he received a BM in Performance and Education, studying saxophone and clarinet with Joseph Allard and Frank Socolow and composition with Fred Werle and David Loeb. As a New York freelance musician and teacher in the late 70’s and 80’s, Frank also performed with his own jazz ensemble, The Frank Vasi Quartet and as a side man with such jazz greats as Benny Goodman, Doc Cheatum and Joe Jones.

Tim Moran, soprano saxophone,is widely acclaimed as an innovative jazz musician on saxophone, flute, and clarinet. He has performed in Europe, Japan and throughout the United States and Canada. In collaboration with percussionist Tony Vacca, he has released 5 CD’s, including “Dance Beneath the Diamond Sky” on Columbia Records. He has backed up such artists as Ella Fitzgerald and Gerry Mulligan. He keeps very busy in pit orchestras for the national touring companies of Broadway musicals.

Baritone saxophonist Skyler Hagner is a graduate of Temple University with a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance. While at Temple he studied under Ben Schachter, Tim Warfield, and Norman David. Under Dr. David’s influence, Skyler began composing and arranging. Passion for composing lead Skyler to score the 2015 production of the play “For Colored Girls” in Philadelphia, a series of works for jazz ensemble with a speaker, as well as the creation of the Skyler Hagner Quintet and Octet. Skyler is currently an adjunct professor of woodwinds at the University of New Haven and maintains a busy performance schedule.

Will Cleary , alto saxophone, hails from Houston, Texas, where he began his jazz studies at the Summer Jazz Workshop and Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. He then obtained his Bachelor of Music degree at the Oberlin Conservatory, studying with Gary Bartz, Robin Eubanks, and Dan Wall. He received his Master of Music degree in 2010 from the Eastman School of Music under the tutelage of Walt Weiskopf and Bill Dobbins, and was the recipient of the Raymond and Maxine Schirmer Prize in Jazz Performance. Mr. Cleary has performed with Slide Hampton, Chuck Mangione, Conrad Herwig, Marvin Stamm, Marcus Belgrave, Charles McPherson, Kim Waters, Bob Sneider, Dave Glasser, and Pat LaBarbera.

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Music: Mario Pavone 3Bass Quintet, GoBruCcio play Thurs., Nov. 14, at 7:30 PM

Mario Pavone.

Jazz bassist Mario Pavone celebrates his 79th birthday with a Thursday, Nov. 14, show at Best Video Performance Space featuring his Mario Pavone 3Bass Quintet. Also on the bill will be GoBruCcio (Bob Gorry, Peter Brunelli, and Pete Riccio) playing a short set. The show starts at 7:30 PM and the cover is $10.

Joining Pavone in the quintet are bassists Carl Testa and Zwelakhe Duma Bell de Pere along with trombonist Peter McEachern and drummer Michael Sarin.

Bassist/Composer Mario Pavone has been part of some of the most pivotal milestones in jazz over the past six decades. After being inspired by hearing John Coltrane at the Village Vanguard in 1961, Pavone began playing the bass, settling in New Yok City and making connections with pianist Paul Bley and trumpeter Bill Dixon, participating in what would eventually be called “the first loft era.” Pavone went on to tour and record with Bley and Dixon.

In New Haven, CT in the mid-70’s Pavone became involved with Wadada Leo Smith and Anthony Braxton as part of The Creative Musicians Improvisors Form (CMIF), a musician run collective based on some of the precepts of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), organizing and playing in large orchestra concerts featuring Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis, Marty Ehrlich, Oliver Lake, Ray Anderson, Carla Bley, and many others.

In the mid ’80’s Pavone became involved in the groundbreaking downtown Knitting Factory scene, building a deep relationship with alto saxophonist Thomas Chapin and becoming part of his highly acclaimed power trio. From 1990 to 1996 the trio recorded extensively, toured in Europe and the U.S., and performed at major international jazz festivals.

After Chapin’s untimely passing in 1998, Pavone began a long recording career as a leader, beginning with the New World and Knitting Factory labels. Then touring widely in Europe with an enduring core group of A-list improvisors – Tony Malaby, Steven Bernstein, Gerald Cleaver, Peter Madsen, and Michael Sarin, the bassist was also collaborating on projects with guitarist Michael Musillami and recording over a dozen CD’s for Musillami’s Playscape Recordings label. At present Pavone has recorded 30 critically acclaimed CD’s as a leader, many placing on Top 10 year-end lists.

For 25 years Pavone has been associated with Litchfield Performing Arts, serving as a board member, an educator at its Jazz Camp, and bringing many of his innovative projects to the Litchfield Jazz Festival stage.

In 2010 Pavone was recipient of a significant Doris Duke Foundation composer’s grant resulting in multiple performances and a recording of Pavone’s compositions arranged by virtuoso trumpeter Dave Ballou. Pavone and Ballou enjoy an ongoing musical collaboration.

Recently, Pavone has focused his composing and performing energies on the classic piano trio format, reconnecting with Paul Bley for a recording, releasing a live disc with Craig Taborn and Gerald Cleaver, recording 3 CD’s with his Dialect Trio featuring Matt Mitchell and Tyshawn Sorey, the latest to be released in July 2019 on Clean Feed Records. Among other recent activity this year Pavone has been touring and recording with legendary vocalist Patty Waters in a group featuring Barry Altschul and Burton Greene, and recording with long-time associate, trombonist, Peter McEachern on the trombonist’s new CD.

The trio GoBruCcio—Bob Gorry (guitar), Pete Brunelli (bass), Peter Riccio (drums)—is creating textures and rhythms, working in space and shadow, treading a line between minimalism and free ambient soundscape.

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Music: The Paul Shanley Quintet plays jazz Fri., Nov. 1

The Paul Shanley Quintet plays Best Video Performance Space on Friday, Nov. 1. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $10.

The Paul Shanley Quintet seeks to bring fresh perspectives to a wide range of jazz styles from Cole Porter to Thelonious Monk. The goal of our music is to create something in the moment that is unique, exciting, and played with energy and passion. Everyone in the group has their own thoughts and feelings about the music and how they like to play, then we come together through our common interests. Playing live is an essential part of the music and the instant response that we get is the largest reward. Nothing comes close to the experience of listening to great live music. This group will do everything in our power to create a great performance for you the listener.

Shanley plays bass. He will be acompanied by Barry Ries (drums and trumpet), Anton Kot (piano), Gary Grippo (guitar), and Kenny G (sax).

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Music: Vance Provey/Bob Gorry/Paul Gunsberg play jazz Wed., Aug. 28

The trio of Vance Provey/Bob Gorry/Paul Gunsberg plays Best Video Performance Space on Wednesday, Aug. 28. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is a sliding scale of $5-10 (pay what you can in that range).

The collective trio of Vance Provey (Trumpet) , Bob Gorry (Guitar), and Paul Gunsberg (Drums & Saxophone) will bring their music to Best Video.

Provey is a trumpet soloist with a long history as a composer and leader. His approach is rooted in the jazz idiom using strong melodic and rhythmic approaches, but now mostly in a more free improvisatory space. His work with Bill Dixon at Bennington College in The Black Music Division is a guiding influence.

Bob Gorry leads the New Haven Improvisers Collective and has developed his own approach to the guitar blending rock, free improvisation, new art music with Jazz elements. Paul Gunsberg’s drum work brings the room together and takes it somewhere else and with his saxophone work the trio reaches another level entirely. Paul announced his arrival on the New Haven scene in a trio with Joe Morris and Jaimie Branch with a stunning set at Multiplex.

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Music: Groovin’ jazz from BadSlax Thurs., Aug. 1

The jazz quartet BadSlax plays Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, Aug. 1. The music starts at 8 PM and the cover is $10.

One of the area’s liveliest and groovin’est bands, BadSlax is four seasoned musicians who love to play. Their eclectic-but-accessible repertoire which features tunes from some of the great contemporary and classic jazz composers (John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Charles Mingus, Herbie Hancock)–along with some originals–is consistently funky, sometimes swinging, and always cooking.

In March, 2017 they debuted a new drummer, Keith LeBlanc! Keith is a versatile musician and producer with a long and varied career which goes back to his work with The Sugarhill Gang–yup, the “Rapper’s Delight” guys! Keith joined the lineup of Mark Kaplan, tenor sax; Dave Mazza, guitar; and Jim Ludoviconi, bass.

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Music: Sambeleza serves up sensuous Brazilian music Fri., July 26

Sambeleza plays Best Video Performance Space on Friday, July 26. The show starts at 8 PM and the cover is $10. The group will feature Jeff Fuller (bass), Joe Carter (guitar), and Isabella Mendes (vocals, piano).

Sambeleza performs a wide variety of Brazilian songs, both old and new, with a jazz twist. Featured composers include Tom Jobim and Ary Barroso, as well as younger composers like Djavan, Debora Gurgel and Arlindo Cruz. A few originals by group members are added to the mix.

Their first CD, “Sambeleza Live,” was released in the spring of 2015. It was recorded live at Summer Solstice Samba in June, 2014 at Voices Cafe of the Unitarian Church in Westport in association with WPKN-FM. Along with Sambeleza members Isabella Mendes, Jeff Fuller and Joe Carter on that date were special guests Ali Ryerson (flute), Adriano Santos (drums) and Ze Mauricio (percussion).

Brasil (spelled with an “s” in Portuguese) is well known for its rich heritage—a blend of indigenous, African and European cultures—from which the music has risen with fascinating rhythms, soaring melodies and colorful harmonies. The musicians of Sambeleza are outstanding U. S. and Brazilian interpreters of the great songs of the bossa nova and samba traditions, as well as outstanding jazz artists in their own right. Sambeleza derives its name from two words: samba, the national dance of Brasil, and beleza, Portuguese for “beauty.”

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Music: Thabisa performs Afro-soul Thurs., July 25, at Best Video

Thabisa plays Best Video Performance Space on Thursday, July 25. The show starts at 8 PM. The cover is a sliding scale from $10-15 but $5 will also allow you to enjoy the show.

A night of reflection and openness to new beginnings as Thabisa carves and weaves her way through these grounds of unfamiliar territory. This singer songwriter from South Africa and now New Haven’s songbird will share her talents and journey through music and storytelling. Accompanied by the Hamden’s talented musicians Myke Ross (guitar) and Sam Oliver (percussion/drums) she will bring in songs unsung and a few of your favourites from both her “Eyodidi” and “The Journey” albums.

Thabisa’s story begins in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Born and raised by her grandparents in KwaZakhele township, she could always be found singing and dancing outside her home. Neighbors gave her the name “Little Brenda” for the legendary South African pop star Brenda Fassie.

In 2012 she entered the national singing competition, Idols South Africa, and finished in the Top 18. The following year, she signed on with the independent record label Tammy Music and produced two albums, Eyodidi (2015) and The Journey (2013).

Thabisa received a nomination for Best Video at the South African Traditional Music Awards (SATMA) for the song “Vula” off her first album, The Journey. Musically, she finds inspiration from the likes of Miriam Makeba and Billy Holiday, and has shared a stage with living legends Caiphus Simenya, Bebe and Cece Winans, Thandiswa Mazwai and Freshly Ground.

Thabisa currently lives with her family in the United States. “What makes my music worthwhile, is the opportunities it opens for me to work with children and inspire them to dream big” she explained. THABISA volunteers with children using music, cultural exchange, and story-telling.

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Music: The Afro-Semitic Experience presents “Letters From the Affair” Wed., July 17

The Afro-Semitic Experience performs the David Chevan composition “Letters from the Affair” at Best Video Performance space on Wednesday, July 17, at 8 PM. Advance tickets are $10; tickets at the door will be $15.

“Letters from the Affair” is a multi-media musical—there’s a little jazz, a little opera, some cantorial singing, and even a little art history. The work is based upon a series of letters written by the Impressionist painters Camille Pissarro and Edgar Degas. These letters are framed to tell a little-known story from the end of the 19th century about the relationship between these two founding members of the French Impressionist Art movement. The story centers on their friendship as artists and how it deteriorated and then completely ended because of their differing views regarding the Dreyfus affair.

“Letters from the Affair”: a new musical by David Chevan, performed by the Afro-Semitic Experience
with:

Cantor Martin Levson: Edgar Degas
Cantor Malachi Kanfer: Camille Pissarro
Alvin Carter: Narrator, drums
Jocelyn Pleasant: Zoe, percussion
Adam Matlock: accordion
Will Bartlett: saxophone and clarinets
David Chevan: bass

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