Saturday, February 23, 2013

Firehouse 12 Welcomes Spring

Firehouse 12, 45 Crown Street in New Haven, has announced its Spring 2013 Concerts schedule and, for many of us, that's a welcome sign.  Beginning on March 15th and running for 14 Fridays (until June 14th), the performance space/recording venue (created by Nick Lloyd, pictured by the front door) plays hosts to a wide array of musicians, from the well-known to the up-and-coming, from local residents to international travelers, all of whom share a love of exploratory music and creative interaction.

First up (3/15) is Wethersfield. CT, resident Stephen Haynes whose new Quintet is called Pomegranate: New Music for Bill Dixon. Cornetist/composer Haynes, who studied and played with the late conceptualist/trumpeter Dixon (1925-2010) for several decades, organized this ensemble around the brilliant rhythm section of William Parker (bass), Ben Stapp (tuba) and the great percussionist Warren Smith and is joined on the front line by his partner in the monthly Real Art Ways "Improvisations" series, guitarist Joe Morris. The group recently played its initial gig as a Quintet at The Stone in New York City and the plans are to record this music the day after the concert.  And, you can help make the recording come to fruition - go to and find out more about Mr. Haynes's relationship with Bill Dixon and how you can support this project.

The following Friday (3/22), the Matthew Shipp Trio comes to the Elm City.  Pianist/composer Shipp, one of the more creative and outspoken voices in creative music, has been a vital force for nearly 3 decades and his Trio - bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Whit Dickey - support, push, prod and elevate his music with great energy.  Shipp's new CD, "Greatest Hits" (Thirsty Ear Blue Series), is a compilation culled from a decade of recordings, ranging from solo to quintet, all acoustic to groups with electronic augmentation.  One should expect this evening of music to be nothing short of exhilarating.

The season continues with concerts from the Lisa Mezzacappa Trio featuring vocalist Fay Victor (3/29), drummer Tomas Fujiwara and the Hook Up (April 5) and the inventive quartet Conference Call (4/12).  That quartet (pictured left) brings together the fertile imaginations of Michael Jefry Stevens (piano) and Gebhard Ullmann (reeds) with the dynamic rhythm section of Joe Fonda (bass) and George Schuller (drums, percussion).

On April 19, the duo of Dan Tepfer (piano) and Ben Wendel (reeds) will celebrate the release of their new CD by coming to the performance space.  On 4/26, former New Haven resident Wayne Escoffery (pictured left) brings his Quintet to town for an evening of exciting sounds.  May is an especially exciting month of music starting on 5/3 with pianist Craig Taborn and his Trio.  Trumpeter/composer/ Hartt School of Music Senior Teacher Jeremy Pelt brings a group down to New Haven on 5/10 while the following week (5/17) pianist Armen Donellian returns with his Trio (bassist David Clark and drummer George Schuller) for an evening of classy melodies and swirling improvisations. Memorize The Sky - the cooperative trio of Aaron Siegel (percussion), Matt Bauder (reeds) and Zach Wallace (bass) - brings its improvisational magic to the Firehouse on Memorial Day weekend (5/24).

Mark your calendar for May 31 because the Dave Douglas Quintet will be performing in the series.  Composer/trumpeter Douglas released his most personal recording in 2012, "Be Still" (Greenleaf Music) - dedicated to the memory of his mother, the program combined hymns, folk songs and classical music with quiet improvisations and the delicate voice of Aoife O'Donovan.  The Quintet - Douglas, Jon Iraagon (saxophones), Matt Mitchell (piano), Linda Oh (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums) - has recorded an all-instrumental CD, "Time Travel", that is set to be released in April.  By the time they get to New Haven, they'll have finished a series of dates at the Jazz Standard in New York City as well as a short tour of the Southwest.  To find out more about Mr. Douglas and his myriad projects, go to

The final 2 concerts of the Series take place in June with the penultimate show featuring the Amina Figarova Sextet on 6/07.  Ms. Figarova, a native of Azerbaijan, has been slowly and steadily making a name in the contemporary jazz scene with original music that blends a world of influences.  Last but certainly not least, the Series comes to a close on 6/14 with the appearance of Ches Smith & These Arches (pictured left). Built upon Smith's percussive barrage, the Quintet blends the saxophones of Tony Malaby (tenor) and Tim Berne (alto) with the creative sounds of Andrea Parkins (accordion, electronics) and Mary Halvorson (guitar). The room will definitely be shaking on that night.

Each show features 2 sets (separate admissions) - 8:30 and 10 p.m. - and you can buy a Series pass or individual tickets by going to  If you claim to be a fan of creative music, you'll find something to tickle your fancy down at the Firehouse.

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