Leo Ferguson Releases New Ensemble Album


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Leo Ferguson
Leo Ferguson's new self-titled album explores the intersection of modern composition and jazz, deep in the tradition of The New Thing, The Birth of The Cool and the most exciting moments of experimentation in our music.

It features Stacy Dillard on tenor sax, a musician that Ben Ratliff of the New York Times called, “A young saxophonist of serious promise." Mr. Dillard is one of the stars of the New York scene—a heavyweight amongst heavyweights. His credits include Wycliffe Gordon, Eric Reed, Roy Hargrove, Stefon Harris, Ernestine Anderson, Winard Harper, Herlin Riley, John Hicks, Frank Wess, Mulgrew Miller, Clark Terry, Victor Lewis, and the Mingus Big Band. His has led his own smoldering trio for years, a group that Ethan Iverson (The Bad Plus) called “possibly the most intriguing NYC band at the moment."

The non-traditional ensemble (including oboe, glockenspiel and at times two pianos) features the truly extraordinary, destined-to-be-a-legend Alexis Marcelo (Yusef Lateef, Mike Pride) on piano, young hotshot Emma Alabaster on bass, Mark Nikirk (Sean Jones, Tony Reedus, Duke Ellington Orchestra) on woodwinds and Leo Ferguson on drums, along with Rex Benincasa, Batya Sobel, Heather Hall, Megan Marolf, Alex Carter, Ben Brody and Philip Engel.

The album showcases Leo Ferguson's composing—a unique, highly personal approach to writing for a jazz ensemble. His music is at once accessible and cerebral, deeply personal, intuitively resonant and sometimes funny. Sacrificing nothing, it incorporates the compositional rigor, specificity and ambition of contemporary classical composition and the landscape of personal narrative and blues conception mapped by 20th Century Black music. He uses the abstraction of music to drill down into highly specific ideas and experiences in his life.

Oh yeah—and it swings.

A drummer since he was 15, Mr. Ferguson was born and raised in New York City to a Black jazz saxophonist and a Jewish artist from a family of classical musicians. Under the wing of the legendary Yusef Lateef he fell in love with writing music although he started composing largely out of frustration, hemmed in by jazz that was often formulaic or stultifyingly anachronistic and a classical tradition that was incapable of addressing or integrating the experiences of African-Americans (let alone bi-racial Black/Jewish kids).

“I want to swing," he says. “I want to think and feel. And I want to play music that feels like it belongs in the 21st Century, not in a gauzy past."

Download the album for free from leoferguson.net.

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