The Sound It Out series presents saxophonist Sam Newsome and pianist Ethan Iverson in performance at the Greenwich House Music School in New York City's West Village at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 15, 2012. Newsome is renowned for his incantatory solo soprano saxophone performances, and he will play a half-hour solo set of Coltrane, Ellington and original material before being joined by Iverson - of the hit trio The Bad Plus - for a full, rare duo set of originals and fully improvised pieces. The Greenwich House concert will be only the second public performance by the Newsome-Iverson duo, but the pianist says, I suspect this collaboration will last a long time." Describing his intrepid flights on solo soprano sax, DownBeat said: Newsome takes listeners on a cross-cultural journey from West Africa to the Far East, from Western Europe to the jazz clubs of New York and down South to the Mississippi Delta." As one-third of postmodern jazz hit-makers The Bad Plus, Iverson is one of the best-known and most creative pianists of his generation - his playing a blend of jazz wit and classical orchestration," according to All About Jazz.
In many ways, Newsome and Iverson echo the famous soprano-piano pairing of Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron, with a deep love of jazz tradition and an equal devotion to progressive, genre-defying music making. Drawing on his upcoming album The Art of the Straighthorn, Vol. 1, Newsome will feature famous works by John Coltrane and Duke Ellington in his solo set, as well as original material. The duo set will include original numbers by Newsome and Iverson, plus fully improvised pieces. The saxophonist says: Ethan and I have a great respect for the tradition, yet we also have a mutual understanding that we're free to interpret that tradition however we'd like. And Ethan has great musical instincts that allow him to let the music go where it naturally wants to go, rather than forcing it into preconceived places. Each piece we play becomes a unique journey unto itself."
Along with his pianistic celebrity, Iverson is well-known as a virtuosic writer-thinker on jazz via his blog, Do the Math
After years playing with such straight-ahead jazzers as Terence Blanchard and then leading his own multicultural Global Unity band, Newsome has released several solo saxophone recordings - including, in September, The Art of the Straighthorn, Vol. 1, an album featuring his otherworldly interpretations of pieces by Duke Ellington and John Coltrane, as well as an original suite. Reviewing his 2010 album Blue Soliloquy, National Public Radio singled out the saxophonist's way with a Thelonious Monk tune, saying: Squeezing his in-between notes into Monk's blues melody, Newsome holds it up to a fun-house mirror." All About Jazz chimed in: Newsome expands the sound of a single soprano saxophone into a one-man band."
Iverson and his partners in The Bad Plus also have a new album: Made Possible, the trio's eighth studio recording, set for September release. Rolling Stone has said of the band's music, It's about as badass as high brow gets." The pianist also plays in a trio with bassist Ben Street and drummer Albert Tootie" Heath, releasing the album Live at Smalls.
Events in the Sound It Out series at Greenwich House Music School include a post-show meet-and-greet for performers and listeners with wine provided by Greenwich House. Tickets for Sam Newsome & Ethan Iverson are $15 ($10 for students and seniors), available at the door. The Greenwich House Music School is located at 46 Barrow Street, just west of Seventh Avenue South (212-242-4770, www.greenwichhouse.org
Established in 1905, Greenwich House Music has long been a focal point of the downtown arts scene, with pivotal figures from Henry Cowell, Edgar Varèse and John Cage to Meredith Monk, Joan La Barbara and Morton Subotnick linked with the institution. Singer-songwriter Steve Earle and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen have performed at Greenwich House, and jazz has a history there, too: Varèse and composer Earle Brown, collaborating with saxophonist-producer Teo Macero, hosted an improvisation session in 1957 with a group that included such players Art Farmer and Charles Mingus. More recently, the Jazz Composers Collective held important concerts at Greenwich House in the '90s. Curated by Bradley Bambarger, the new Sound It Out series aims to continue this tradition by hosting musicians from jazz and other venturesome genres, further binding Greenwich House Music with progressive scenes across New York City. For more information about Sound It Out, contact Bradley: 917-805-8747.