Jason Robinson Harmonic Constituent: Jason Robinson (saxes, flute, composition), Joshua White (piano), Drew Gress (bass), Ches Smith (drums). Friday, October 15, 7:30pm. Location: Northampton Arts Trust, 33 Hawley St. Single tickets ($15) are available at www.jazzshares.org and at the door.
This event is a belated CD release concert for Jason Robinson’s 2020 recording, Harmonic Constituent, postponed because of the pandemic.
Adapted from Jason Robinson’s liner notes: “In April 2018 I spent a solitary week along the rugged coastline of Mendocino County in northern California. A self-designed artist retreat of sorts, my aim was simple: to compose an album’s worth of new material. This project assumed a focus specific to this stretch of the “north coast,” as some refer to it. Walking the rugged beaches and cliffs of that magnificent coastline, smelling the salty and kelp-imbued air, looking out at the magnificent, omnipresent Pacific, and turning around to see the tree-covered ridges of the Mendocino National Forest was not a new experience to me. I’ve been visiting that magical meeting place of sea and mountains since I was a young child.
Each piece on this album is inspired by a technical, and sometimes impressionistic, aspect of the oceanography, tidal dynamics, and geography specific to the coastline between Mendocino, CA and Westport, CA. “Harmonic constituent” is an oceanographic term that refers to the complex influences of the cyclical motion of the Earth, Sun, and Moon on tides at specific locations.”
The music of saxophonist, composer, and scholar Jason Robinson thrives in the fertile overlaps between improvisation and composition, acoustic music and electronics, tradition and experimentalism. Robinson’s primary group is his New York-based Janus Ensemble, which ranges in size from a quintet to the full nine-piece version of the group. Most recently, Robinson reconvened the group as a quartet featuring pianist Joshua White, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Ches Smith, releasing Harmonic Constituent in November 2020 on Playscape Recordings. In summer and fall 2020, Robinson also released Two Hours Early, Ten Minutes Late: Duo Music of Ken Aldcroft (Accretions), a duo featuring Boston guitarist Eric Hofbauer, and The Urgency of Now (Creative Nation), a collaboration with bassist Bruno Raberg and percussionist Bob Weiner. Robinson has released 17 albums as leader or co-leader and appeared on nearly 50 albums in total. He is Associate Professor of Music at Amherst College and received the Ph.D. in Music from the University of California, San Diego.
Joshua White is one of the Southern California’s most creative and technically accomplished pianists. Praised by legendary musicians like Herbie Hancock as having “immense talent” and lauded for his “daring and courageous approach to improvisation … on the cutting edge of innovation”, Joshua has distinguished himself as a formidable leader of distinct voice among his peers. Born and raised in Southern California, Joshua received early training at the piano and developed rapidly through rigorous study of both Western European Classical literature and the Black American Music traditions. Shortly after placing in the top two as a finalist of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition, Joshua began performing as a soloist and musical collaborator all over the world — and continues to maintain an active touring schedule throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia.
One of jazz’s most sought after bassists, Drew Gress performs extensively with artists on the cutting edge of contemporary improvised music. Also a respected composer, he has recorded a series of critically acclaimed albums under his own name. He’s best known as an invaluable collaborator who has toured and recorded widely with brilliant improvisers such as John Abercrombie, Ralph Alessi, Tim Berne, Don Byron, Uri Caine, Ravi Coltrane, Marc Copland, Mark Feldman, Fred Hersch, John Hollenbeck, Tony Malaby, and John Surman.
Percussionist Ches Smith has earned a vaunted reputation as a creative provocateur through his work with Marc Ribot, Mr. Bungle, Secret Chiefs 3, Fred Frith, Xiu Xiu, and Trevor Dunn’s Trio-Convulsant. Carving out a singular niche where jazz, rock and new music converge, Smith can be heard in several galvanizing improvisational settings including his all-star project These Arches featuring Tim Berne, Tony Malaby, Mary Halvorson, and Andrea Parkins. His latest release as a leader is We All Break-Path of Seven Colors (Pyroclastic, 2021.)