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The Jazz Gallery: Alex Harding & Lucian Ban ‘BLUTOPIA’ Album Release



7:30 pm – 11:30 pm

Ticket On Sale Now

The Jazz Gallery
1158 Broadway, 5th Fl.
New York, NY 10001

Sets at 7:30pm and 9:30pm

Alex Harding –bari sax
Lucian Ban –piano & Fender Rhodes
Bob Stewart –tuba
Mat Maneri –viola
Brandon Lee Lewis –drums

SUNNYSIDE RECORDS releases (May 17) Alex Harding & Lucian Ban BLUTOPIA with special guest star BOB STEWART For their second album for Sunnyside baritone saxophonist Alex Harding & pianist Lucian Ban highlight their long and fruitful partnership with a singular ensemble propelled by Bob Stewart, one of the most heralded improvising tuba players in jazz and also featuring drummer Brandon Lee Lewis and iconoclast master violist Mat Maneri. Their new recording, Blutopia, showcases the leaders’ attuned rapport developed over decades of collaborations into an album that transcends the expectations of the jazz genre. The music on Blutopia is mysterious yet rooted, the tuba speaking of the whole history of jazz, yet Ban’s use of the Fender Rhodes and Maneri’s electronic effects giving a contemporary, Afro-Futurist meets new music tint. From the opener “ Speak our Silence”, an atmospheric collective improvisation, to the urban avant-funk take on Andrew Hill’s “ Blue Black”, from the mysterious compositional universe of Paul Motian’s “Fantasm” to the ever charging “Hieroglyphics”, from the Randy Weston’s tribute song “Marrakesh” to the deep gospel feeling of Alex Harding’s “ Spirit Take my Hand” the music on Blutopia is a true celebration of the spirit and imagination of five masters of contemporary jazz.

ALEX HARDING | www.alexharding.net

Alex was born in Detroit and studied music in his early years with Yusef Lateef, Beans Bows and Herbie Williams, and had a chance to play with Wynton Marsalis and Donald Byrd while still in high school. Alex went on to win music scholarships to the University of Massachusetts and the Aspen School of Music. His first European engagement in 1990 was in Porgy and Bess. A year later, he went to Mexico to the Arts and Music Festival with percussionist Francisco Mora. After settling in New York in 1993, and a stint touring with Phatoms, a Haitian group, Alex joined Julius Hemphill’s Saxophone Sextet. He also began performing with Muhal Richard Abrams, Craig Harris, Lester Bowie, Frank Lacy, Oliver Lake and David Murray’s Big Band. In 1996, Alex joined Hamiet Bluiett’s Baritone Group and appeared with the Mingus Big Band, Jayne Cortez Firespitters and Lester Bowie’s Hip-Hop Philharmonic. He also recorded with Greg Osby, Frank Lowe, David Lee Roth and Rodney Whittaker. The following year, Alex recorded At Doctor King’s Table with the Julius Hemphill Sextet, a CD with Hamiet Bluiett’s Baritone Group, and he made his debut with the Sun Ra Arkestra under Marshall Allen’s leadership. In 1998, Alex was part of the Sun Ra All-Star Project that premiered at the North Sea Jazz Festival and the Montreux-Detroit Jazz Festival and has performed with the late Roy Hargrove Big Band and with Aretha Franklin. The critics have hailed him as “the new voice on baritone saxophone, the carrier of the great legacy of Harry Carney, Pepper Adams and Hamiet Bluiett”. Alex Harding has released several albums as a leader garnering glowing reviews and appeared as guest on more than 40 albums. In the October ’97 issue of Jazz Times, the review of Hamiet Bluiett’s Baritone Band said that “Alex Harding attacked the music with steamroller momentum and uncommon ferocity…it was sheer fireworks”

LUCIAN BAN | www.lucianban.com

Called “A name to watch” by The Guardian and” one of the most gifted pianists to move to New York” (B. Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery), Lucian Ban is a Romanian born, NYC based pianist & composer known for his amalgamations of Transylvanian folk with improvisation, for his mining of 20th Century European classical music with jazz, and for his pursue of a modern chamber jazz ideal. His music has been described as “emotionally ravishing” (Nate Chinen, New York Times/WBGO), a “triumph of emotional and musical communication” (All About Jazz), “Unorthodox but mesmeringly beautiful” (The Guardian) and as holding an “alluring timelessness and strong life-force”(Downbeat Magazine). Ban was raised in a small village in northwest Transylvania, in “the region where Bartok did his most extensive research and collecting of folk songs” and studied composition at the Bucharest Music Academy while simultaneously leading his own jazz groups. Desire to get closer to the source of jazz brought him to the US, and since moving from Romania to New York in 1999 his ensembles have included many of New York’s finest players. The 2020 Transylvanian Folk Songs reimagining the Béla Bartók Field Recordings with Mat Maneri and legendary John Surman stays one month on Billboard Top Twenty and becomes an NPR Album of The Year, and a Balkan World Music Chart winner. His second album with ELEVATION quartet “Songs from Afar” featuring Abraham Burton, John Hebert and Eric McPherson gets a 5* review in Downbeat and BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR in 2016. Enesco Re-Imagined octet celebrated the music of the great Romanian composer George Enesco and won multiple BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR Awards in 2010. His duet “Transylvanian Concert” with Mat Maneri was released by ECM Records in 2013 and won critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. The Guardian noted Transylvanian Concert’s “Own kind of melancholy beauty and wayward exuberance”, and The New York Times called it “a lovely and restive new album that reveals their shared interest in enfolding mystery”. His albums investigating the Romanian folk songs, or re-imagining the music of famed Romanian classical composer George Enescu, conversing with the classic jazz quartet in his ELEVATION group or freely improvising with Evan Parker and again, Mat Maneri (Clean Feed) and his various duets with Mat Maneri (ECM), Alex Harding and Abraham Burton(Sunnyside), have won critical praise and awards but, more importantly, they have revealed a singular focus to strand the worlds of American jazz and European chamber music with the freedom of improvisation. Lucian Ban has performed/recorded with among others: Abraham Burton, Nasheet Waits, John Surman, Mat Maneri, Billy Hart, Alex Harding, Barry Altschul, Louis Sclavis, Gerald Cleaver, Tony Malaby, Mark Helias, Sam Newsome, Ralph Alessi, Pheeroan AkLaff, Reggie Nicholson, Drew Gress, Brad Jones, Jen Shyu, John Hebert, Eric McPherson, Theo Bleckmann, Bob Stewart, Badal Roy, etc. He recorded 20 albums as a leader for labels such as Sunnyside, ECM, Jazzaway, etc, all the while maintaining a worldwide touring schedule.

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