Fred Ho (1957-2014) ~ Marie Incontrera Shares Memories of Her Mentor

Fred Ho

Composer/saxophonist/bandleader Fred Ho, a truly unique artist who has been creating an interesting avant-garde blend of music featuring elements of jazz, big band, opera, and Asian folk and theatrical music, has sadly passed away on April 12 after battling metastatic colorectal cancer for the last 8 years. But it is very interesting to note that Fred Ho continues to keep his legacy going through his protégés, one of them his last student, composer Marie Incontrera. I heard about him when I interviewed her about the premiere of one of her works, and sure enough, I had the brief pleasure of meeting Mr. Ho that night at the show. Marie and I later spoke of interviewing Fred to preview a concert of his, but by that time, he’d become too ill to do an interview. Continue reading

Gregg Kallor at Subculture ~ Concert Preview

Photo courtesy of Steve PoolGregg Kallor - Steve Pool

Courtesy of Two Sheps That Pass

Gregg Kallor is the recipient of an Aaron Copland Award for composition. One of ten composers nationwide selected for this prestigious residency, Kallor composed a concerto for piano and orchestra during his time at the home of the late eminent American composer. He also began several chamber music pieces while he was there, including “Undercurrent” for cello and piano – which he will premiere at SubCulture tonight at 7:30 PM with Laura Metcalf (cello).

Kallor’s new album, A Single Noon, is a nine-movement piano suite – a musical tableau of life in New York City told through a combination of classical composition and improvisation. Kallor premiered the suite at Carnegie Hall in 2011. Five-time GRAMMY®-nominee Fred Hersch calls it “the work of an extraordinary pianist, a composer of great distinction and a true conceptualist… this ambitious and unique suite really takes us somewhere that is very deeply heartfelt and dazzlingly executed. This is 21st-century music that has clearly absorbed the past and looks to a bright and borderless musical future.”

Kallor’s first music video, “Espresso Nirvana” (think caffeinated hijinks), is set to the sixth movement of the suite. His new music video, “Broken Sentences” (set to the 2nd movement), will be released tonight at SubCulture. It celebrates one of the most exciting public arts programs in NYC: the Sing For Hope Pianos – 88 artist-designed pianos that were placed in public spaces all around the 5 boroughs for anyone to play. Art for all.

Trailer for “Broken Sentences”

Gregg Kallor
SubCulture, 45 Bleecker St, Downstairs

Donal Fox ~ On Jamming with Hilary Hahn at Skaneateles

Donal FOX(Lou Jones)

Pianist-composer-improviser Donal Fox is performing this year at the 34th annual Skaneateles Festival.
Known for some incredible work in both jazz and new music, Donal has also been very active as a collaborator and experimentalist in merging styles. Besides his solo appearance at the upcoming festival on Thursday, August 15th at 8 PM, he’ll be playing with none other than a longtime favorite of The Glass and a veteran of this festival, Hilary Hahn, on Saturday the 17th at 7:30 PM at a special evening devoted to a collaboration never before seen by the public, and something that promises to be a real treat for both fans of jazz and classical. Hilary will also be appearing on Friday the 16th playing a solo recital at 8 PM.

Donal had a few minutes to talk about the show. Continue reading

Preview of Laila Biali at Subculture


“It is the ultimate task given to the musician, whether as singer or instrumentalist, to create a unique signature or fingerprint that is instantly recognisable as their own. What is surprising and delightful in Laila Biali is that both as vocalist and pianist she accomplishes this with equal aplomb. She is an exciting and unique talent, and I admire her greatly.” – Sting.

Award-winning Canadian Jazz pianist and vocalist Laila Biali has been garnering not only national attention but world-wide recognition for her music, which has been performed at prestigious venues spanning four continents including the North Sea Jazz Festival, Tokyo’s Cotton Club, Peru’s El Festival Internacional de Lima, and Carnegie Hall in New York City. She has toured with Grammy award-winners Chris Botti, Paula Cole and Suzanne Vega and recorded with and supported pop icon Sting.

Laila is performing two more shows of her residency at NYC’s Subculture on Monday, July 22nd and Monday, July 29th at 7 PM. Click here or on the bottom for info/tickets.

Laila takes the best of pop, rock, classical and soul, informs it with her knowledge of Jazz and weaves it all into her musical arrangements. Her latest studio recording Tracing Light received a JUNO nomination for “2011 Best Vocal Jazz Album of the Year” and her most recent release Live in Concert, recorded live in February 2012 in front of a gracious audience at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, Canada, captures the spirit of live performance so essential to Jazz. Live in Concert was added in rotation at 73 radio stations in North America.

Laila Biali – Show Me The Place (Leonard Cohen)

Critics have called Laila a “keyboard virtuoso” (Toronto Star) with “a voice that makes the listener shudder” (Montreal Gazette), celebrating her “bold musical ventures, youthful funkiness, ingenuity, verve and depth” (Ottawa Citizen) and her “ability to meld traditional jazz with contemporary pop so effortlessly that neither style seems out of place on the same record” (Spinner Magazine). Her accolades include “SOCAN Composer of the Year” and “Keyboardist of the Year” at Canada’s National Jazz Awards.

As an educator, Laila has been on faculty at Stanford University’s renowned summer jazz workshop. She is also a member of the all female, New York based neo-Classical quartet Rose & The Nightingale whose members have toured with Grammy award-winner Esperanza Spalding. She currently splits her time between Toronto and New York City.

Click here for tickets for Laila’s July 22nd show
Click here for tickets for Laila’s July 29th show


Alex Skolnick ~ On Geek to Guitar Hero, Alex Skolnick Trio and Other Projects

Alex Skolnick 300 RGB

I’ve been given the wonderful opportunity to speak to the great Alex Skolnick very recently!
Besides being the lead guitarist for thrash metal band Testament, he has also put together the jazz group Alex Skolnick Trio as an amazing and emboldening outlet for his musicianship, and also has been part of (and collaborated on) other projects like Skol-Patrol, Attention Deficit and with acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. He also pens the popular blog Skolnotes. Alex has recently published his memoir titled Geek to Guitar Hero, not a life story but a book that features numerous key moments from his life (You can order the book here or on the link on the bottom). He also has an ongoing but still new project titled Planetary Coalition, which promises to allow him to do further collaboration with artists around the world.

Alex had a few minutes to Skype for The Glass. Continue reading

Rose & The Nightingale ~ A Concert Preview

Rose & The Nightingale are (L to R): Sara Caswell–violin, Laila Biali–piano and voice, Jody Redhage–cello and voice, and Leala Cyr–trumpet and voice (Photo courtesy of Ari Uzi)roseandnightingale

Jazz chamber ensemble Rose & the Nightingale have officially released their debut album, Spirit of the Garden (4 songs can be previewed on the embedded link below), on Sunnyside Records, and they are having an album release concert on Wed. May 8 at 9:00 pm at SubCulture in Manhattan (45 Bleeker St. @ Lafayette, downstairs).

Rose & the Nightingale are four powerful New York based multi-instrumentalists and improvisers: Jody Redhage (voice, cello, compositions), Leala Cyr (voice, trumpet), Sara Caswell (violin, mandolin), & Laila Biali (voice, piano). The band’s warm sound of three part vocal harmonies, intricate arrangements, and burning solos has proven to cut through to a deeper level of connection with audiences.

Cellist and composer/songwriter Jody Redhage had a few minutes to talk about Spirit in The Garden.


“The whole album is based on the overall Japanese concept of haiku are always about nature, always ajudgmental, nothing is right or wrong, good or bad, and everything is observational. You just try to capture this special moment of wonder in this little poem, and the tradition is they all have a seasonal keyword, something that tells you the season of the year.

All of the lyrics of the 16 songs on Spirit in The Garden are poems, either poetry by Japanese haiku masters or by living American poets. I started collecting nature poetry in 2009–The loose overlying concept of this recording was going to be inspired by the nexus of spirituality and nature, as in nature as a place where you feel awe and where you feel a connection to something greater, or an energy force–all of these things. I was invited to be guest recitalist and composer in various places around the country over the past few years, and each of the places I went, I would find a local poet, usually somebody who was really well-known in that state, and if they didn’t have poems that fit the theme already they would write new ones. We did our first-ever concert at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park last June–We collaborated with 2 local San Francisco poets who each wrote new poems in response to the Conservatory of Flowers spaces themselves. One of the poets, Evan Karp, wrote about this indoor rain forest room that’s in the Conservatory of Flowers, and a female San Franciscan poet named Silvi Alcivar wrote a piece inspired by the Orchid Room (and written while she was experiencing a family tragedy), by far the most emotional piece on the album.”

Click here for info/tickets for Rose & the Nightingale’s CD release concert May 7th at Subculture

Click here to purchase Spirit in The Garden

Rose & The

A Night of Jazz in Connecticut: Steven Husted and The Low Initiative/Sean Clapis

Steve Husted and the Low-End Initiative
Sean Clapis
The Outer Space, Hamden, CT
May 5th, 2012

A very rare thing for me is to go to jazz concerts, simply because I am so caught up in new classical music and rock that I sometimes forget jazz is happening, but this night certainly reminded me that it’s alive, kicking, and ripe for listening when you’re ready for it!

Hamden, CT’s The Outer Space, sister to The Space, was the venue for this evening of both classic and fusion-based jazz. In an area that is mostly coveted by cover bands and sports-like dives, both Spaces are, and have been, wonderful venues for original music from artists and bands both from CT and outside the area, and it was certainly a good place on this night to check out extraordinary performances by a couple of local virtuosos.

Queens-area bassist Steve Husted and his band The Low Initiavtive were the highlight of the evening, but before they took the stage, guitarist Sean Clapis and a small ad-hoc combo of two played a smoking set of classic bebop-oriented tunes comprised of some originals as well as a few older standards. Clapis, a Hartt School graduate, was amazing, and his guitar sound was reminiscent of Wes Montgomery as he and his small combo of bass and drums (played exquisitely by his bandmates; his drummer on this night was a lady that had chops I rarely see in person) provided sort of a laid-back, yet progressive bebop set.

When Husted and his group came on, they proceeded to give a whole ‘nother side of jazz and actively brought us to a later period of a more fusion-oriented sound. The 90-minute set consisted mostly of songs from their latest release Views From The Event Horizon, and Husted’s band had such a good rough-sounding funk combination of bass, guitar and electric piano that reminded me heavily at times of Bitches Brew, and it made me pine for the possibility of them actually playing that album’s title piece in all its 26-minute glory (The only thing missing from this band if they did that is a trumpet player).
Songs like “Cebrez”, “Frustration”, and a song for his wife “Kitty Kat Boogie” were all sweetly rendered, and Husted played at times like a man possessed, as if Jaco Pastorius set up shop inside his soul.
They wrapped up the evening with a wonderful ballad titled “Will I Ever See You Again?”, to which I responded “I hope so!”.

Steven Husted and the Low Initiative
Their Reverbnation page

Sean Clapis’ official page

Lara Downes

Pianist Lara Downes is someone that I thought I just knew from twitter, but I was totally fascinated when I checked out her current CD 13 Ways Of Looking at the Goldberg, a collection of 13 newly-composed variations/re-imagined takes on Bach by the same number of living composers (Among them Jennifer Higdon, William Bolcom and Lukas Foss), along with the original Bach collection’s plaintive “Aria”. On top of this, I realized she’s not just a great pianist but an incredible presenter and conversationalist of the music she plays. She even has, besides a regular cool website, a second one titled On The Bench where she turns the tables and interviews other pianists. This was kind of like those interviews, except I’m not nearly as good a pianist!
Lara spoke to me via Skype. Continue reading

Cierra Alise Hill

Minnestota-based violinist Cierra Alise Hill (I implore you to remember that name, with great hope it will become ingrained in many people’s minds) is an artist that I feel came to me through pure serendipity. Were it not for the fact that I was trying to do a search online for a photo of another violinist, it’s likely that I never would have known about her. What is quite great about her is that she’s gone from being a classically-trained violinist to a multi-genre player that also does jazz, blues, soul, rock and folk (I felt when we were talking that I should be referring to her as a progressive violinist, but that sort of implies one genre–Turns out she’s still deciding what she’d be called). Right now, among many things, Cierra does private violin instruction, freelances as a soloist on various projects, including a great CD by local singer-songwriter Jeremy Messermith, and she has several groups that she performs in–two particular bands are a really good, but sadly, unnamed one, and the Brian Metreyeon Band. And she is also in the process of recording a CD, and planning for a tour on the East Coast with the unnamed band.

Cierra is actually just about to graduate from McNally Smith College of Music, and she agreed to talk to us about her journey thus far, starting with where the alternative violin styles entered her life. Continue reading