The traditional jazz group includes a drummer. This group is without one, meaning each musician’s rhythmic role is heightened. Clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre (who was the first to form a drummerless trio) referred to this as “implied rhythm, supplied by collective musicianship”.
Also, there is generally a chordal instrument in jazz groups, such as guitar or piano. Not having one creates a challenge to compose clear harmonies, but also allows more melodic freedom for compositions and improvisation.
There are three musical approaches we will present tonight:
Moments/pieces that feature the composer- similar to how a string trio or other classical group features the composer. These sections are full of melodies, rhythms, and harmonies that are very intentionally written.
At other times, an improviser will create melodies within the confines of the structure the composer has laid. This is what is most common throughout the history of jazz improvisation.
Finally, other moments are about creating a sound in the moment, free from preconceived ideas. This approach is often referred to as “free jazz”, and presents a different set of challenges for both the musician and listener. First, it is easy to “fall back” into harmonic and melodic ideas that a soloist is comfortable with. Second, the lack of structure can create pure chaos, where there is no context whatsoever. When playing free jazz, our goal is to find a middle ground between rigidity and chaos. Art Lande, a free jazz pioneer uses the visual world as an analogy, “Don’t try to make it sound like a body of a dog with the head of a dog, let it become what it becomes. If it’s the body of a dog with a tennis ball for a head, so be it!” The image of a tennis ball-headed dog is new and abstract, but it is not unrecognizable.
We sincerely hope you enjoy the performance.
Tom Gershwin is a trumpeter, back home in Colorado after several years in New York. In NYC, he recorded his debut album “Sweet Pastimes”, a duo project featuring Perry Smith on acoustic guitar. The album revisits early jazz and folk songs, and is on the Dazzle Recordings label. He has also recently toured with The Motet, and plays trumpet all throughout Colorado in salsa and jazz bands.
His early professional experiences have included 3 years in the Army Band, several cruise line contracts, and freelance work as a performer and composer. Through these times, He’s learned to excel in many styles. In May 2012, Tom graduated from NYU, where he was an adjunct faculty member. Here, he also performed and worked with a wonderful faculty including Kenny Werner, Brian Lynch, Chris Potter, Ralph Alessi, Tony Moreno, and trumpet guru Laurie Frink, who all inspire him as a musician and a teacher. While in New York, Tom was a faculty member at Douglaston School of Music and Art, where he worked with younger students .
Tom believes that discipline and technique are necessary elements that allow emotion and creativity to thrive. Through this process, he strives to inspire students, fellow musicians, and listeners.
Bassist Jean-Luc Davis is an active performer in the Denver/Boulder area. In addition to leading his own groups, Jean-Luc is a member of the Aakash Mittal Quartet, Carmen Sandim Sextet, Andy Hackbarth Band, the Joints, the Expedition Quartet, Adam Revell and Essence Rider, the Thurston Group, and the Matt Fuller Group. Additionally, Jean-Luc has performed with Ron Miles, 9th and Lincoln Orchestra, Greg Harris, and Amir ElSaffar.
A Colorado native, Jean-Luc Davis began playing bass in high school and was a student in the inaugural session of the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts (CCJA) where he studied with Paul Romaine, Greg Gisbert, John Gunther, and Eric Gunnison. In recent years he has become a regular teacher for CCJA. Jean-Luc studied classical bass performance at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Currently, Jean-Luc Davis is one of the most in demand bassists in the Denver Metro Area and works with a handful of private students.
Eric Erhardt, originally from Philadelphia, PA is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and the New England Conservatory. He has performed internationally as a multi-instumentalist in several touring productions, including Fosse, A Chorus Line, Grease, She Loves Me, Ragtime, and The Big Apple Circus. Eric also toured and was featured with such diverse artists and groups as Ken Peplowski, The Artie Shaw Orchestra, Steve March-Tormé (son of jazz legend Mel Tormé), The Stylistics, The Drifters, The Either Orchestra, and many others. As clarinet soloist on Benny Goodmanʼs Sing, Sing, Sing with the musical Fosse, Eric shared the stage with Broadway icon Ben Vereen in Paris, France, and West End star Ruthie Henshall throughout the United Kingdom. Currently residing in Denver, CO, Eric maintains an active performance schedule along the Colorado Front Range and beyond.