Next week is the first time I’m back at the Village Vanguard with my name at the top since leaving the Bad Plus.
(TBP is playing the same week across town at the Jazz Standard, so the fully committed can check out the status of both scenarios…)
These Vanguard gigs are kind of a bridge between two ECM records, the duo with Mark Turner Temporary Kings and a forthcoming live date with Tom Harrell, Ben Street, and Eric McPherson, Common Practice.
In the year since Temporary Kings has come out, Mark Turner and I have played quite a bit in both Europe and America, finishing up with 8 performances at the top of June on the West Coast and at the Spoleto festival (see below). Mark and I both wanted to really get into the deep duo vibe in the manner of Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron, and it’s really coming together. The repertoire includes many originals and a few specialty items like “Giant Steps.” (We will tour Europe again in November.)
With Tom Harrell we will do all jazz standards and common practice forms: There’s no one I rather hear blow on the blues and rhythm changes than Tom, and of course Ben Street and eMac have incredible wisdom separately and together.
Two weeks ago, after a groovy gig at the generous and intimate space at the California JazzSchool in Berkeley, Mark Turner drove us an hour away to Healdsburg.
Jessica Felix has been running the Healdsburg Jazz Festival for over 20 years: Here’s a profile of a life dedicated to jazz. Jessica is old friends with Billy Hart and put on an incredible series of concerts “Honoring Billy Hart” in 2016. Mark and I were involved in those performances, and it was a real pleasure for us to return to Healdsburg as part of Jessica’s series “ECM at 50.”
Andrew Gilbert reviewed the concert for JazzTimes, a double bill with the Carla Bley Trio with Steve Swallow and Andy Sheppard. Two full sets without drums might be a big ask for some festival crowds, but the big Raven Theatre was packed with a beautifully attentive audience.
Afterwards the band(s) went to Jessica’s house, where she took one of my all-time favorite photos, a moment where I am sharing dessert with Carla Bley. (An anecdote from our conversation turns up in “Are Polychords Problematic?”)
Mark and I then flew to Charleston, South Carolina, for six performances at the Spoleto Festival USA. Larry Blumenfeld curates the jazz at Spoleto and is an interesting thinker and important commentator on the music. I’ve read Larry for years.
It’s a rare opportunity to play six concerts in a row in a good venue out on the road in America. Mark and I didn’t even teach or do any community outreach, we simply performed.
Geoff Nuttall from the St. Lawrence String Quartet is in charge of the epic series of chamber music Spoleto presents at the historic Dock Street Theatre. I was in the audience for one program:
I know Inon Barnatan slightly (hell of a pianist!) and the Fauré Quartet was a pleasure in every way. But the highlight was unquestionably a great piece by Matthew Aucoin, “Dual,” played to death by Joshua Roman and Doug Balliett. Cello and bass duo for the epic win! Aucoin is now on my “must watch” list.
There was quite a bit of press coverage for the duo in Spoleto. Sincere thanks to all the writers!
Jazz duo Turner and Iverson kick off contemplative six-show residency (by Leah M. Suárez)
Mark Turner and Ethan Iverson Bring Chamber Jazz to Spoleto Festival USA (by Hakim Abdul-Ali)
It was also a pleasure to meet and chat with our host, Quentin Baxter, who I know from his great drumming with Rene Marie. A lot of people are involved in making an arts community happen. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!