My email address is connected to the TinyLetter account but please don’t be offended if I don’t respond to prodding, even if your incoming communication is comprised of nothing but praise or good intentions. The title of Gary Graffman’s book says it all: I Really Should Be Practicing
Quick press bio:
Pianist, composer, and writer Ethan Iverson was a founding member of The Bad Plus, a game-changing collective with Reid Anderson and David King. The New York Times called TBP “…Better than anyone at melding the sensibilities of post-60’s jazz and indie rock.” During his 17-year tenure TBP performed in venues as diverse as the Village Vanguard, Carnegie Hall, and Bonnaroo; collaborated with Joshua Redman, Bill Frisell, and the Mark Morris Dance Group; and created a faithful arrangement of Igor Stravinky’s The Rite of Spring and a radical reinvention of Ornette Coleman’s Science Fiction.
Iverson also has been in the critically-acclaimed Billy Hart quartet for well over a decade and occasionally performs with an elder statesman like Albert “Tootie” Heath or Ron Carter. For over 15 years Iverson’s website Do the Math has been a repository of musician-to-musician interviews and analysis, surely one reason Time Out New York selected Iverson as one of 25 essential New York jazz icons: “Perhaps NYC’s most thoughtful and passionate student of jazz tradition—the most admirable sort of artist-scholar.”
In 2017 Iverson premiered the score “Pepperland” for the Mark Morris Dance Group and with Aaron Greenwald co-curated a major centennial celebration of Thelonious Monk at Duke University. In spring 2018 Iverson premiered Concerto to Scale with the American Composers Orchestra and in fall 2018 released Temporary Kings, a duo album with Mark Turner on ECM.
Other musicians Iverson has shared the stage with in the last two years include Miranda Cuckson, Tom Harrell, David Williams, Victor Lewis, Houston Person, Ben Street, Eric McPherson, Dayna Stephens, Thomas Morgan, Chris Potter, Joe Sanders, Melissa Aldana, Ravi Coltrane, Jorge Rossy, Josephine Bode, Dodo Kis, and Gerald Cleaver.
Andre Guess: Jazz and Race with Wynton Marsalis and Ethan Iverson
Shaun Brady: A Decade of Do the Math
Seth Colter Walls: American Composers Orchestra brings Jazz to Classical, effortlessly
Anthony Tommasini: A Tiny Garage Explodes in Pianistic Madness
Brian Seibert: Dance Heginbotham Shows Off Its Eccentric Style at the Joyce
Born February 11, 1973 in Menomonie, Wisconsin – moved to New York City in 1991 and played dance classes, comedy sports, theatre pits, and in the New York Tango Trio with Raul Jaurena and Pablo Aslan – studied with Fred Hersch, then Sophia Rosoff, – became music director of Mark Morris Dance Group in 1998 – was part of late-’90s indie jazz scene along with Bill McHenry, Jeff Williams, Reid Anderson and others, mainly documented on Fresh Sound New Talent, thanks to Jorge Rossy – worked as a sideman with Kurt Rosenwinkel and Mark Turner in 2000/2001.
The Bad Plus with Anderson and Dave King formed in 2001, the Billy Hart Quartet with Turner and Ben Street formed in 2003, Do the Math debuted in 2005.
Iverson’s 30-minute solo piano score for Dance Heginbotham, “Easy Win” (2015) and the string quartet movement for Brooklyn Rider, “Morris Dance” (2011) are through-composed.
“Pepperland” for the Mark Morris Dance Group is an evening length work meditating on the classic Beatles album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. When crafting the original masterpiece, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Starr and Martin took cues from classical, jazz and world music, resulting in a complex set of songs that have always remained far too hard for the average cover band. Iverson’s score for an unprecedented chamber music ensemble of voice, theremin, soprano sax, trombone, and two keyboards will teases out and elaborates on Pepper’s non-rock and roll influences. Arrangements of half a dozen songs from the album intermingle with Pepper-inspired original pieces intended especially for Morris’s profound understanding of classical forms: Allegro, Scherzo, Adagio, and the blues.
Program notes to Concerto to Scale
My first piece for orchestra is intentionally modest in dimension, or “to scale.” While composing, I re-read some of my favorite books from when I was a young adult and tried to capture that sort of joyful emotion. The work is dedicated to John Bloomfield.
Allegro. Sonata form in C major with plenty of scales. My left hand and the bass drum soloist are the rhythm section offering syncopations in dialogue with the orchestra’s conventional string material.
Andante. A 19th-centutry nocturne atmosphere meets modern polyrhythms. This is a dramatic elaboration of a piece originally written for Mark Turner called “We Come From the Future.”
Rondo. The tempo mark is, “Misfit Rag.” Ragtime is the way American composers traditionally insert a touch of jazz onto the concert stage, and who am I to disagree? The orchestra gets a chance to improvise and the pianist and percussionist enjoy a dual cadenza.
His current piano teacher is John Bloomfield of the Dorothy Taubman tradition. Iverson resides in Park Slope with his wife Sarah Deming.
2016 photos by Jimmy Katz: