Chris Speed: clarinet, tenor saxophone
Peter Madsen: piano
Drew Gress: bass
Devin Gray: drums
An artist interested in multiple musical directions and one who strives for quality and sincerity in his work. His exciting energy has compelled him towards many different musical directions and projects. Considered by his contemporaries as cutting edge, Gray shows promise as an artist that will not only move the music forward, but one who will share his unique musical vision with the world of music.
Devin Gray’s fresh approach to modern drumming has enabled him to play with many of America’s great jazz musicians. He has performed and recorded with innovative musicians of contrasting styles and backgrounds such as: David Liebman, Tony Malaby, Gary Thomas, Ingrid Jensen, Dave Burrell, Dave Ballou, Michael Formanek, Nate Wooley, Stephan Crump, George Garzone, Chris Speed, Drew Gress, Sam Rivers, Ralph Alessi, John O’Gallagher, Ellery Eskelin, Kris Davis, Ted Rosenthal, Matt Mitchell, Uri Caine, Andrew D’Angelo, Vardan Ovsepian, Bill McHenry as well as many others.
Devin has been fortunate to perform in many places around the globe and continues to make peace with his audiences. He is a top call young drummer in many modern jazz circles in New York City as well as multiple cities on the East Coast of America. Current leader projects include two quartets: “Dirigo Rataplan” featuring Ellery Eskelin, Dave Ballou, and Michael Formanek, and “RelativE ResonancE” featuring Chris Speed, Kris Davis, and Chris Tordini. He is currently living, playing, and composing in Brooklyn, New York.
DEVIN GRAY’S ARTIST EPK
Born and bred in Maine and a New Yorker since 2006, Gray leads the groups Relative Resonance and Dirigo Rataplan,
with a second album’s worth of music for the latter band already written and debuted live. Time Out New York has praised
“Gray’s smart compositions, which balance formal elasticity with a meticulous sense of pacing.” He performs
regularly in duos with saxophonist Ellery Eskelin and drummer Gerald Cleaver. Gray has also toured Europe leading his
Swedish/American band Slicing and Dicing, as well as with the cooperative VAX (including Patrick Breiner and Liz
Kosack). VAX has released two vinyl-only albums, in 2013 and 2014. As a sideman, Gray has recorded upcoming albums
as part of Nate Wooley’s Argonautica (with Ron Miles, Jozef Dumoulin, Cory Smythe and Rudy Royson) and the Daniel
Levine Trio (with Marc Hannaford). The latter group recorded an album for upcoming release, with Mark Helias at the
Last year, Gray released the album Jagged Spheres with Anna Webber and Elias Stemeseder. He recorded with Gary
Thomas and Joel Grip as the trio Corpulent, releasing the album Wolf Walk in 2005. The drummer performs in the trio
Transit Heavy with Satoko Fuji and Natsuki Tamura; the Richard Bonnet Trio with Tony Malaby; and in trios with Uri
Caine and Michael Formanek and with Andrea Parkins and Frank Gratkowski. He also tours Europe regularly as a
member of the Daniel Guggenheim Quartet with Peter Madsen and Sean Smith, having taken over the drum chair from
Gerald Cleaver in 2012. Writing about Gray, All About Jazz has said that he is a musician who “dares you not to listen
then challenges once you do.”
is a composer, clarinetist and saxophonist..
- and is “one of the principal figures in a dynamic left-of-center jazz/improv scene in the city” (NYTimes). His own bands include Endangered Blood, Human Feel, yeah NO, Trio Iffy, Pachora and The Clarinets. He is a founding member of Jim Black’s Alas No Axis and John Hollenbeck’s Claudia Quintet (two of the most influential working bands today), works with Uri Caine (deconstructing works by Mahler, Mozart, Bach, Schoenberg, Gershwin) and maintains a busy career of touring, recording, performing, composing, practicing and teaching. Current projects include work with Craig Taborn's Heroic Frenzies, Michael Formanek's Ensemble Kolossus, Dave King's Trucking Co., Matt Mitchell Quartet, Mary Halvorson's Reverse Blue, Banda de los Muertos (NYC’s only Banda band), as well as touring his latest project, Endangered Blood (with Black, Trevor Dunn and Oscar Noriega) which was featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts in 2012. (Endangered Blood 2010, Work Your Magic 2013 Skirl). “Speed’s Endangered Blood originals stand out as his most melodically generous, accessible and warm batch of compositions he’s yet to produce.” -DownBeat ****
Born in 1967, Speed grew up in the Seattle area where he met future colleagues Jim Black and Andrew D'Angelo, all of whom ended up in Boston in the late 80's where they formed Human Feel with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel. (Scatter 1992, Welcome to Malpesta 1994, Speak To It 1996, Galore 2007). While in Boston he studied at New England Conservatory and graduated in 1990. By 1992, after a short tour with the Artie Shaw Band (led by Dick Johnson), Speed moved to New York City where he started working with Tim Berne’s (now legendary touring band) Bloodcount. (Unwound 1996, Discretion 1997, Saturation Point 1997, The Seconds 2006).
Throughout the nineties his formidable improvisational approach on both tenor saxophone and clarinet contributed to other pioneering NYC bands including the Dave Douglas Sextet (Witness, Soul on Soul, Sanctuary, Stargazer, In Our Lifetime), Myra Melford’s Same River Twice (Above Blue, Where the Two Worlds Touch) John Zorn (Bar Kokhba, Trembling Before G-d) and Mark Dresser’s trio with Anthony Coleman.
As a member of Pachora (with Black, bassist Skuli Sverrisson, and guitarist Brad Shepik) Speed became known as one the leading NYC musicians adapting the odd time signatures and melodies of Balkan music into jazz-based music. Pachora was formed in 1992 to play music from Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, and Turkey, and evolved into an original music ensemble that toured North America and Europe extensively. (Astereotypical 2003, Ast 2000, Unn 1999, and Pachora 1997. His fluency with East European folk music is also documented with the more traditional Slavic Soul Party, which he was member of from 1996-2004. In addition to touring America, they spent 2 weeks in Macedonia with Rom musicians and recorded “In Makedonija” (Knitting Factory Records) at an underground radio station in Skopje.
His critically acclaimed improvisational trio The Clarinets (with Oscar Noriega and Anthony Burr and featured on NPR’s Fresh Air) explores the possibilities of the clarinet (multi-pitch tones, timbre deviation) in the context of group improvisation. This group blurs the boundary between composed chamber music and experimental improvisation and creates an acoustic ambient music of unusual grace and beauty. (The Clarinets 2006, Keep On Going Like This 2012)
Speed formed the band yeah NO in 1996 as an experiment in decoding and scoring out improvisations which inspired an unusual book of music that also fused elements of free jazz, modern rock, eastern folk and minimalism. After the debut record in 1997, they thrived in the center of new music in NYC, performing frequently at the previous Knitting Factory(s) and (the since closed) Tonic. They toured the States and Europe and have four recordings. (yeah NO 1996, Deviantics 1998, Emit 2000, Swell Henry 2004)
Speed was named the rising star clarinetist in Downbeat magazine for 2004, 2005 and 2006, was the recipient of a NEA composition grant in 1993, and in 2004 was the guest soloist at the Copenhagen International Jazz Festival working with over 10 different cutting edge Danish bands.
In April 2006, he launched Skirl Records, a label dedicated to Brooklyn based creative music, now with 31 releases. “As a document of the fertile Brooklyn scene, Skirl has few equals, skirting the boundaries between jazz, rock, electronic, classical and improvised music.” AllAboutJazz
Born: Yardley, Pennsylvania USA 1959
Bassist/composer Drew Gress performs extensively with artists on the cutting edge of contemporary improvised music. His latest project-The Irrational Numbers (Premonition), features DrewԳ original compositions for quintet. Earlier releases include the critically-acclaimed 7 Black Butterflies (2005), Spin & Drift (2001), and Heyday (1997). Future projects include a new quintet project, a solo bass recording, and an electronics projectȳoon to be unveiled.
Drew can also be heard within the ensembles of John Abercrombie, Ralph Alessi, Tim Berne, Don Byron, Uri Caine, Bill Carrothers, Ravi Coltrane, Marc Copland, Mark Feldman, Fred Hersch, John Hollenbeck, Tony Malaby, and John Surman.
(In an altogether previous musical life, he grounded the performances of Buddy Hackett, Phyllis Diller, Zoot Sims, Cab Calloway, and Pia Zadora).
Drew has toured North and South America, Europe, and Asia, and has served as Artist-in-Residence at St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia and at the Paris Conservatoire. He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, and Chamber Music America, and currently resides in New York.
Drew is an endorsing artist for Thomastik Strings.
Peter Madsen was born in Racine, Wisconsin where he began his classical piano studies at the age of eight and double bass at the age of ten. At thirteen he became interested in jazz on both instruments and started to play professionally three years later. In 1978 he graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a degree in Music Education, after which he moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota to concentrate on developing his jazz piano skills through intensive practice and a bursting schedule of gigs, composing and teaching.
In 1980 Peter moved to New York City. He got one of his many breaks when Stan Getz hired him to tour Europe and the U.S. in 1987. Since then Madsen has played with an array of great jazz musicians, performing extensively in Europe and Japan and recording almost 100 CD'S with traditionalists like Benny Golson and Stanley Turrentine, modernists such as Joe Lovano and Kenny Garrett as well as funk masters like Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker. Peter has written over 350 compositions of which more than 100 have been recorded.
A partial list of his working associates include: Stan Getz, Stanley Turrentine, Dewey Redman, Benny Golson, George Coleman, Oscar Brown Jr., Arthur Blythe, Don Cherry, James Spaulding, Kenny Garrett, Joe Lovano, Sonny Fortune, Dave Liebman, Don Braden, Eddie Henderson, Ravi Coltrane, Warne Marsh, Greg Osby, Carlos Ward, Thomas Chapin, Paul Smoker, Ralph Moore, Rick Margitza, Vincent Herring, Dick Oatts, Paul McCandless, Pee Wee Ellis, Steve Slagle, Lew Tabakin, Marty Ehrlich, Tony Malaby, Richie Cole, Maceo Parker, Ronnie Cuber, Steve Wilson, Chris Potter, Craig Handy, Seamus Blake, Tom Harrell, Bill Frisell, Mick Goodrick, David Tronzo, Joshua Breakstone, John Clark, Randy Brecker, Roy Hardgrove, Steven Bernstein, Marcus Belgrave, Paul Smoker, Fred Wesley, Frank Lacy, Conrad Herwig, Dave Taylor, Robin Eubanks, Bobby Byrd, Joe Locke, Ray Drummond, Rufus Reid, Cecil McBee, Anthony Cox, Ira Coleman, Phil Bowler, Mario Pavone, Ben Riley, Billy Hart, Frank Gant, Jeff Watts, Teri Lynn Carrington, Mel Lewis, Smitty Smith, Victor Lewis, Ronnie Burrage, Carl Allen, Victor Jones, Gerald Cleaver, Mike Clark, Yoron Israel, Bill Stewart, Eliot Zigmund, Michael Sarin, Jeff Williams, Bob Moses, Matt Wilson, Toninho Horta, The Mingus Big Band, the Village Vanguard Orchestra, Fred Ho`s Afro-Asian Music Ensemble and many others.
In 1993 Peter released his fist CD as a leader for Minor Music, an independent label from Germany. Entitled Snuggling Snake's it features ten of his compositions, played by Anthony Cox, Lewis Nash, Chris Potter, Toninho Horta and Rudi Berger. He is also a member of the cooperative trio Three of a Kind that tours extensively with the great Fred Wesley. With Dwayne Dolphin on bass, and Bruce Cox on drums they released their first CD in 1994 entitled Three of a Kind, their second in 1995 with special guest Stanley Turrentine entitled Three of a Kind Meets Mr. T and their third with special guest Benny Golson in 1997 entitled Drip Some Grease, all released on Minor Music. Since the early 90's Peter has been working with the great NY bassist Mario Pavone. They have recorded dozens of CD's together winning many awards around the world. In 2003 Peter released his first solo piano CD entitled Sphere Essence - Another Side of Monk and is available on the Playscape Records label as is his second solo cd entitled Prevue of Tomorrow. Both solo CD's were chosen by numerous critics in their top ten CD's of the year. Starting in 1999 for a few years Peter wrote articles for his own monthly column entitled Wide Open Jazz and Beyond at the award winning web site allaboutjazz.com.
Peter is now living part-time in New York and part-time in Vorarlberg, Austria. He has also recorded numerous CD's in Vorarlberg including a solo CD of local folk songs called Mein Vorarlberg as well as a duo cd of music he composed for the nine Greek Muses entitled Die Neun Musen both on the ORF Vorarlberg label. Peter also recorded a cd entitled Utopia for a Utopia workshop in St. Arbogast, Austria.
For the past 30 years Peter has worked with other artistic performers including dancers, choirs, and poets as well as others forms of music outside the jazz world. In 2004 Peter recorded a CD with poet Wolfgang Hermann called traum von der rauchenden stadt and another in 2008 with world famous author Michael Kölmeier entitled In 1000 Jahren Um Die Welt. Since 2004 Peter has been working with a cooperative group called the KDR Society which combines funk, jazz, African and bass and drum ideas into an exciting mix of modern sounds. The group consists of Herve Samb from Senegal, Kofi Quarshie from Ghana, Michael Mondsir from London as well as Alfred Vogel and Herbert Walser from Vorarlberg. They have recorded 3 CD's, the latest entitled hip to be happyhas just been released. Since 2007 Peter has run a large ensemble called the Collective of Improvising Artists (CIA) which is made up of 14 Vorarlberg musicians that play music from around the world (china, iran, brazil, romania, africa, etc). This great improvising ensemble has just finished a dvd of a piece Peter arranged of an eight movement suite by the legendary Sun Ra. At the moment Peter is involved in a project with legendary James Brown saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis called Say It Loud I'm Black and I'm Proud: An African Tribute to James Brown. The group combines the ideas of James Brown with the ideas of African music using musicians from both worlds including Fred Wesley, Chiehk Lo, Tony Allen, Manu Dibango and many others. The group has already performed to sellout crowds around Europe and the USA.
Peter continues to perform worldwide as well as teaching master classes, workshops and private students.