Monday, October 29, 2012

Jazz Composers Collective Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Hard to believe it's 2 decades since the New York City-based Jazz Composers Collective first organized (and that's not only because bassist/composer Ben Allison doesn't look a day over 33.) But, he and pianist Frank Kimbrough, saxophonists Michael Blake and Ted Nash plus trumpeter Ron Horton came together not only to present new original music but also to spotlight young or forgotten composers (the picture above is courtesy of Lourdes Delgado.)  Out of their actions came the Herbie Nichols Project, helping to bring that composer's music (he passed in 1963) to a wider audience.  The quintet came together in Allison's Medicine Wheel  and often worked with each other in different-sized groups. During the organization's busiest years (1992-2005), the JCC presented numerous concerts featuring musicians from throughout New York City and the world - best of all, at a time when many critics complained about the dearth of quality creative music, over 300 new works had their premiere at JCC concerts.

Though the organization has been quiet for a while, the founding "fathers" continue to be quite busy.  Kimbrough is a member of The Maria Schneider Orchestra, works with vocalists Mary Anne DeProphetis and Kendra Shank, leads his own Trio and teaches.  Nash is a member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra plus leads an exciting new quartet.  Blake leads several bands in New York City as well as Vancouver, British Columbia, while Horton also works with Ms. DeProphetis, with the Will Holhouser Trio and leads his own group.  As for Ben Allison, he not only continues to lead his own bands but works with The Millennial Territory Orchestra (led by trumpeter Steven Bernstein), has been working in a duo setting with poet Robert Pinsky and recently testified before the US House Committee on Energy and Commerce concerning performer's rights (read about his work by going to

To celebrate the JCC's 20 years, they are throwing...what else... a 20th Anniversary Festival in New York City from November 6-11.  Over the course of the 6 days at The Jazz Standard, 11 groups will appear, including the Herbie Nichols Project who, according to Frank Kimbrough, will be playing several newly-discovered works from Mr. Nichols (40 new tunes! found in a trunk long considered lost.) 212-576-2232.

You can see the great lineup by checking out the poster on the left but, better yet, go to and see who is performing and what they will be playing (each night is worth going to see.)  Medicine Wheel will reunite, Ron Horton plays 2 shows as a leader, one with his rarely-seen Eleventet (co-led with drummer Tim Horner) and Ted Nash reunites with his Double Quartet (the Nonet includes a string quartet.)  For reservations, go to or call 212-576-2232.

I can't think of a better way to end this (endless) election season than by enjoying what looks to be one of the best concert series of the year!

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