What’s shakin’ in January? Plenty! Merkin Concert Hall’s Musically Speaking series continues with Chamber Jazz offering us yet another in a season of premieres by composers at work in the many diverse areas of musical utterance available to us here in the Big Apple. Midwest meets Mideast on January 10th when Ryan Cohan hits town from Chicago with his award-winning band, featuring music from his latest effort, One Sky, while Omer Avital takes the stage with his Omer Avital Ensemble. He’ll give us the world premiere of Song of a Land: Middle Eastern Afro-Jewish Music written for his hybrid ensemble of 12 musicians ranging from a string quartet to an Israeli pianist, Turkish clarinetist, Israeli saxophone, trumpet players and the maestro on the bass. Omer has been a guest at Merkin these past two seasons with appearances in the trios of Aaron Goldberg and Omer Klein in September of this year, a performance that included another world premiere.
We’ll end the month of January with Joel Harrison, featuring the great Oliver Lake and super-cellist Wendy Sutter among others. Wendy will give us the world premiere of Joel’s Sonata for Solo Cello, which is part of her amassing of solo cello literature kicked off most recently by her premiere and recording of Philip Glass’s Songs and Poems for Solo Cello.
Oliver Lake will join Joel’s ensemble for his award-winning commission from the Doris Duke Foundation of Vox Americana with another ensemble firmly rooted in the chamber jazz begun by the likes of Gil Evans, Gunther Schuller, Jimmy Giuffre, Andrew Hill and many others who followed. This medium gets taken one step further with our own Special Music School Chorus taking part in this multi-movement work exploring extended composition in an improvisational setting. Joel has also made a very special set of arrangements of the music of Paul Motian that will also feature Oliver’s inimitable sax artistry along with guitarist Liberty Ellman and an all-star cast of string greats.