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(Video) NYC creative string stars play Motian Poetry w/ Joel Harrison

Feels like coming home whenever I get to play with a group like this, featuring today’s loosely compiled “downtown” NY string quartet. Joel Harrison composes all kinds of music, but he’s distinguished as one of the hippest composers/bandleaders to persistently seek out string players , along with modern jazz rhythm sections, to play his music. He’s settled on this particular combination for the recording we’re doing this weekend of music by Paul Motian arranged for “string choir”, i.e. two guitars and string quartet. We perform Saturday evening, Jan 16 (tomorrow) at Cornelia Street Cafe.
Joel Harrison

Joel Harrison

In the 90’s Mark Feldman and Erik Friedlander dominated the NYC string improvisers scene, especially when it came to music that was improvised but not-necessarily”jazz” (think John Zorn, for example). Those guys presumably are busy with bigger and better things than taking every little gig in NYC these days, and they have both inspired and left an opening for a younger generation to fill and/or augment.

These video excerpts from our concert at Jalopy in Brooklyn last fall include Choi Fairbanks on cello. Speaking of fighting for your art, I don’t know anyone who’s done more than Choi. She came from South Korea with barely any English skills close to 10 years ago with the single goal of learning to play jazz on the cello and has made a place for herself among the top creative string players in NYC.
The rest of the band in the video is: Sam Bardfeld, vln- In addition to his book on Latin violin, his Stuff Smith tribute trio, his work with numerous downtown groups, his other conceptual solo projects, Sam also plays in the Bruce Springsteen band for the Pete Seeger project.

Mat Maneri, viola- Sometimes microtonal, sometimes downtown, sometimes jazz, “I’m happy to play in ANY scene” for sure one of the reigning creative voices on viola in NY.

Cornelia Street Cafe

Cornelia Street Cafe

Liberty Ellman, gtr- Liberty has worked w Greg Osby and dozens of top leaders in NYC. Joel Harrison, gtr/arrangements- This project of Joel’s is just the tip of the iceberg-he is probably the most prolific composer I know, and his range is ridiculously broad, from songwriter stuff to modern classical, downtown, and everywhere in between.

Also, tomorrow at Cornelia Street Cafe we’re going to be joined by the super rock star cellist Dana Leong! Dana is basically taking over the world with his Milk and Jade band, featuring his hip hop-to-jazz compositions with keys, drums, rapper, and Dana on cello and trombone. He prefers a laptop to a guitar pedal. If you’re a string player and you don’t know about Dana yet, you must be sleeping under a rock.

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