Wayfaring, featuring James Falzone, clarinet and vocals, and Katie Ernst, bass and vocals. The Parlor Room, 32 Masonic St., Northampton, MA. Tickets: $15
Taking its name from a beloved American folk song, Wayfaring is a duo project between Katie Ernst and James Falzone. What began as a casual meeting between like-minded players has formed into a collective of unusual nuance and depth, drawing on source material from the jazz tradition, hymns, folk songs, and original compositions from Ernst and Falzone. Wayfaring was featured at the 2016 Hyde Park Jazz Festival and released their debut recording, I Move, You Move, in Fall 2017 on the Allos Documents label.
“One of the most austerely beautiful recordings of the year sounds very much like a balm for troubled times,” writes Howard Reich. “Not that Chicago bassist-vocalist Katie Ernst and former Chicago woodwinds master James Falzone necessarily set out to offer comfort and solace. But there’s something ethereal, mystical — even spiritual — about I Move, You Move, the haunting debut album of the duo Wayfaring.”
Before becoming chair of the music department at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, James Falzone spent almost 15 years as a crucial part of the Chicago jazz and improvised-music scene, leading groups such as Allos Musica Ensemble, Renga Ensemble, and Klang as well as working as a sideman with Vox Arcana and Frank Rosaly’s Cicada Music.
“His expertise and curiosity allow him to stretch from traditional to modern in both classical music and jazz, with forays into folk and liturgical music well,” writes Neil Tesser. “Some artists like to blast through the walls that separate genres. Falzone turns them into putty and lets each side seep through to the other.”
Katie Ernst, who was born in Naperville, Illinois, graduated from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., as a jazz double bass major in 2011 and gravitated to Chicago’s ever-expanding jazz scene. Her project Little Words, features compositions inspired by writer Dorothy Parker.
She can be heard on pianist Jason Moran’s recent album Looks of a Lot, a project that began as a commission for Moran from Chicago Symphony Center and encored at the Kennedy Center in Washington D. C. The project also features Nasheet Waits, Tarus Mateen, Ken Vandermark, Theaster Gates, and the Kenwood Academy Jazz Band. The album was included in the New York Times ‘The Playlist’ as a new album to hear. Moran called her “a great bassist, composer, and lyricist, she has an uncanny ability to mix traditions… following her voice is like reading a great novel.”