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Concert: Sam Newsome, Jaimie Branch + Heart of the Ghost Quartet

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New York-based saxophonist and composer Sam Newsome works primarily in the medium of solo saxophone, an approach through which he gained world-wide critical acclaim with the release of his 2009 recording Blue Soliloquy: Solo Works for Soprano Saxophone, which received a five-star review in Downbeat magazine..

Many of the notes and sounds that comprise his compositions and improvisations are derived from his own personal sound palette of extended techniques: multi-phonics, flutter tonguing, percussive slap tonguing, soprano saxophone specific micro-tones, air sounds, key clicks, air hisses, acoustic sound manipulation, Tartini tones, and various forms of oral cavity manipulation. Newsome sees himself more along the lines of a visual artist who paints with notes and sounds rather than shapes and colors. “My music, “ says Newsome, “is a type of improvisatory art music in which jazz functions more as a resource than a musical genre to be interpreted with stylistic specificity.
Even though Newsome’s approach is unorthodox, it has proven very fruitful—musically and critically.  Below are a few of his accolades:
2018 - Received the New Music USA Grant
2018 – Received The Alpert/Ragdale Prize in Music Composition
2018 - Nominee for Soprano Saxophonist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association
2017 – Nominated for the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts
2016 - Received the NYFA Artist’s Fellowship for the Music/Sound category 2016 - Nominee for Soprano Saxophonist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association
2014 – Voted Soprano Saxophonist of the Year by the Seventh Annual Int'l Critics Poll

Newsome has also released six critically acclaimed solo saxophone CDs including Sopranoville: Works for Prepared and Non-Prepared Saxophone (2017); The Straight Horn of Africa (2014); The Solo Concert: Sam Newsome Plays Monk and Ellington (2013); and The Art of the Soprano, Vol. 1 (2012). Jazz writer Ed Enright, from Downbeat Magazine, wrote that Mr. Newsome’s The Straight Horn of Africa cd was “a modern masterpiece.”

As a performer, Newsome often performs solo saxophone concerts around New York and across the country as well as leading his own trio with bassist Hilliard Greene and drummer Reggie Nicholson. Newsome is also a frequent collaborator with drummer Andrew Cyrille, vocalist Fay Victor, pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, saxophonist David Liebman, and pianist Ethan Iverson.

Lastly, Newsome is an associate professor of music at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University, where he is the music program coordinator, and teaches courses in jazz improvisation, music theory, and directs the University’s jazz ensemble. http://somenewmusic.com/

A mainstay of the Chicago jazz scene and an active recent addition to the New York scene, Jaimie Branch is an avant-garde trumpeter known for her “ghostly sounds," says The New York Times, and for "sucker punching" crowds straight from the jump off, says Time Out . Her classical training and “unique voice capable of transforming every ensemble of which she is a part” (Jazz Right Now) has contributed to a wide range of projects not only in jazz but also punk, noise, indie rock, electronic and hip-hop. Branch’s prolific as-of-yet underexposed work as a composer and a producer, as well as a sideman for the likes of William Parker, Matana Roberts, TV on the Radio and Spoon, is all on display in her debut record Fly or Die  – a dynamic 35-minute ride that dares listeners to open their minds to music that knows no genre, no gender, no limits. https://intlanthem.bandcamp.com/album/fly-or-die

Heart of the Ghost is an improvisational unit from the Baltimore/Washington area. Comprised of Jarrett Gilgore (Alto Saxophone), Luke Stewart (Double Bass) and Ian McColm (Drums), this group is the culmination of years of encircling orbits. Collectively encompassing a massive variety of interests and collaborators and themselves known players in the circles of improvised music, these three find common ground within their individual vocabularies: an aim to deconstruct and reshape canonized creative tropes into a new & stunning language.