Goings-On 2019

(Note 3/5/2020: This is now an archive page for highlighted gigs from 2019, see below).

In an effort to post more to the blog in 2019, I'll be highlighting upcoming gigs here with greater detail than on the Upcoming page, which lists all my gigs (past, present, and future).

2019 Goings-On:
  • 12/20/2019 - Aaron Seeber Trio, Flying Lobster
  • 12/19/2019 - Earprint Album Release, Williamsburg Music Center
  • 12/18/2019 - MUTE Album Release, IBEAM
  • 11/26/2019 - Stephen Boegehold Trio, the Bar Next Door
  • 11/21/2019 - Dana Saul Ceiling Album Release, Owl Music Parlor
  • 11/18/2019 - Happy Trio with Walter Stinson/Matt Honor, Lowlands Bar
  • 11/17/2019 - Juanma Trujillo Quartet, Scholes Street Studio
  • 11/15/2019 - The Sustain of Memory Album Release, The Jazz Gallery
  • 11/8/2019 - Release of The Sustain of Memory
  • 10/21/2019 - Happy Trio with Dean Torrey/Kayvon Gordon, Lowlands Bar
  • 10/18/2019 - Release of Earprint's Easy Listening
  • 10/2/2019 - Earprint Easy Listening Pre-release show, Lily Pad
  • 9/21/2019 - GENTL'R Album Release at the Way Station
  • 9/20/2019 - Release of GENTLR's Gold Cake
  • 9/16/2019 - Happy Trio with Devin Starks/JK Kim, Lowlands Bar
  • 9/13/2019 - Release of Dana Saul's Ceiling
  • 9/7-8/2019 - BNCJO ('Bebop, Post-bop, and the Modern Jazz Language") at Blue Note Beijing Cancelled
  • 9/5/2019 - Xu Zhitong, East Shore Jazz Club
  • 9/2/2019 - Xiongguan Zhang Quartet, JZ Club Shanghai
  • 8/30-9/1/19 - Moreno Donadel Quartet, The 3 Jazz Club
  • 8/12/19 - Happy Trio with Jared Henderson/Dayeon Seok, Lowlands Bar
  • 7/31/19 - Andrew Schiller's JoggerKnot, Bar Bayeux
  • 7/27-28/19 - BNCJO ("The Music of Mark Bai"), Blue Note Beijing
  • 7/15/19 - Happy Trio with Andrew Schiller/Aaron Seeber, Lowlands Bar
  • 7/13/19 - Kevin Sun New Quartet, Williamsburg Music Center
  • 7/12/19 - David Zheng Quartet, Red Room at the KGB Bar
  • 7/11/19 - Sextet with Levon Henry, Kalia Vandever, Christian Li, Devin Starks, and Buz Donald, the Owl Music Parlor
  • 6/17/19 - Happy Trio with Dan Papplardo/Robin Baytas, Lowlands Bar
  • 6/5/19 - David Zheng Quartet, Red Room at the KGB Bar
  • 5/25/19 - Andrew Schiller Quintet, Rockwood Stage 3
  • 5/21/19 - The Middle of Tensions, The Jazz Gallery
  • 5/20/19 - Happy Trio with Simón Willson/Faron Tillson, Lowlands Bar
  • 5/9-10/19 - BNBJO ("The Bebop Big Band"), Blue Note Beijing
  • 5/7-12/19 - Kevin Sun Trio, Beijing (multiple venues)
  • 5/2/19 & 5/4/19 - Kevin Laskey's Almanac, The Jazz Gallery & University Lutheran Church
  • 4/26/19 - Great On Paper, Williamsburg Music Center
  • 4/16/19 - Kevin Sun Trio, Nublu Classic
  • 4/15/19 - Happy Trio with Jeonglim Yang/Zack O'Farrill, Lowlands Bar
  • 3/9-10/19 - BNBJO ("Spring Awakening"), Blue Note Beijing
  • 2/24/19 - Andrew Schiller's JoggerKnot, 55 Bar
  • 2/15/19 - The Rigors of Love, Scholes Street Studio
  • 1/24/19 - Juanma Trujillo Quartet, Balboa
  • 1/20/19 - The Middle of Tensions, Scholes Street Studio

Aaron Seeber — December 20, 2019

Two nights in a row I'll get to play with Simón, and I'm looking forward to the public début of this long-anticipated "standards trio." As I mentioned about the July Happy Trio gig, Aaron's effervescent sound on the kit has made him a much in-demand drummer on the scene, and he's a fantastic match with Simón's beat. We've played a number of sessions as a trio and always wanted to play a gig together; now's our chance. I've also never played a gig in Red Hook and I heard the fish at the restaurant next door is superb, so that's something to look forward to as well.

Friday, December 20, 2019
10:00 p.m.
Flying Lobster
144 Union St
Brooklyn, NY 11231

KS - tenor saxophone 
Simón Willson - bass
Aaron Seeber - drums

Earprint — December 19, 2019

We're bringing the music home, so to speak, with this CD release gig in New York. Three quarters of the band now lives in NYC (Dor being the remaining holdout in Boston), and we haven't played in New York since our gig at JCAL last year. Expect a set of many short songs from Easy Listening; we're playing second on the bill, following Dor's own CD release for Flying Elephants at 9 p.m.

Thursday, December 19, 2019
10:00 p.m.
Williamsburg Music Center
367 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Tree Palmedo - trumpet
KS - tenor saxophone & clarinet
Simón Willson - bass
Dor Herskovits - drums

MUTE — December 18, 2019

Cover art by Diane Zhou
At long last, Mute is out in the world. Released on the longstanding Spanish label, Fresh Sound New Talent, the album joins the ranks of many of my favorite musicians of the late 20th and early 21st century—notably Ambrose Akinmusire, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and Mark Turner. We recorded last August, which was a quite a while after the life-changing two-week tour in Beijing and South Korea from December 2017–January 2018, but the music still sounds fresh and vaguely acidic, thanks to the bizarre timbre of the C-melody. We're going back to Beijing in January, but before we do, we're going to play the old favorites one more time at IBEAM.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019
10:00 p.m.
168 7th St
Gowanus, NY 11215

KS - C-melody saxophone & clarinet
Christian Li - piano
Jeonglim Yang - bass
Dayeon Seok - drums

Stephen Boegehold Trio — November 26, 2019

The versatile and self-starting drummer-composer Stephen Boegehold called Walter and me for a standards gig in the Village on the eve of my birth anniversary. I haven't actually played with Stephen, but I've heard him several times and have admired his sensitive touch and tasteful instincts for instigating and shifting the momentum on the bandstand, so I'm looking forward to getting into some improvised situations with this trio before heading home for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019
8:30 p.m.
129 Macdougal S
New York, NY 10012

KS - saxophone
Walter Stinson - bass
Stephen Boegehold - drums

Dana Saul Sextet — November 21, 2019

It would be no understatement to say that playing in Dana's sextet over the past three years has been among the musical highlights of my life. Indeed, as I wrote in an Instagram post around the time of the release of Ceiling, I remember feeling more dazed than normal after leaving the daylong studio session for the album, but upon hearing playback of the takes, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. The experience of taking in the full beauty and delicacy of the ensemble textures he composed was unlike any other time I'd heard myself on record; I seemed to disappear into the six-person vortex of sound. I'm glad Dana was able to secure a venue to match the subtlety and lovingly detailed quality of his music, and it will be a fine evening of music at this intimate space.

Thursday, November 21, 2019
8:00 p.m., suggested donation $10
The Owl Music Parlor
497 Rogers Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225

Adam O'Farrill - trumpet
KS - saxophone
Patricia Brennan - vibraphone
Dana Saul - piano
Walter Stinson - bass
Matt Honor - drums

Happy Trio — November 18, 2019

As I hope I've made abundantly clear by some of my posts earlier this year and in the more distant past, my friends compose strikingly personal and distinctive music, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to play some of my favorite songs of theirs, including some that I myself haven't played or performed before. The occasion will be a not-so-concealed gathering of my longstanding trio with Walter and Matt, but instead of playing my music exclusively, we'll be playing friends' music exclusively. 

Monday, November 18, 2019
6:30 p.m., suggested donation $5
Lowlands Bar, 543 3rd Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215

KS - saxophone
Walter Stinson - bass

Matt Honor - drums

Juanma Trujillo Quartet — November 17, 2019

For this double bill at Scholes Street Studio, Juanma has put together a new quartet that swaps in my longtime confreres Walter Stinson on bass and Robin Baytas on drums. I'm not sure yet what we'll be playing, but I imagine it'll be a mix of the old quartet book with some new items to try. I'm happy that we'll be sharing the evening with the wonderful Andrew Schiller, who will be celebrating the release of Sonoran, a nine-part suite for three horns with drums and bass inspired by the Sonoran Desert near Andrew's childhood home.

Sunday, November 17, 2019
8:00 p.m.
Scholes Street Studio
375 Lorimer St
Brooklyn, NY 11206

Juanma Trujillo - guitar
KS - saxophone
Walter Stinson - bass
Robin Baytas - drums

The Sustain of Memory Album Release Show — November 15, 2019

For the first and likely last and only time, we'll be playing the entirety of The Sustain of Memory from beginning to end. The first set at the Gallery will be the piece for quartet, "The Middle of Tensions," followed by "Circle, Line" for trio. After intermission, a quintet will take to the stage to play "The Rigors of Love." The Jazz Gallery is of course the most fitting place for this event, since all three of pieces were either premiered or performed early on here, and if it weren't for the support the Gallery has provided over the years, I likely wouldn't have felt comfortable diving into long-form composing for improvising ensembles. Having seen the way that the commissioning program has made an enduring impact on musicians at the Gallery, I see my own recent composing as a kind of self-commission for a self-devised occasion (I guess most composers feel that way), but I saw it firsthand at the Gallery and look forward to sharing the stage with this marvelous, inspiring group of peers.

Friday, November 15, 2019

7:30 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.

The Jazz Gallery
1160 Broadway (5th Floor)
New York, NY 10001

KS - saxophone/clarinet

Adam O'Farrill - trumpet

Dana Saul - piano

Walter Stinson - bass

Simón Willson - bass

Matt Honor - drums

Dayeon Seok - drums

The Sustain of Memory — November 8, 2019

More to come.

Earprint's Easy Listening — October 18, 2019

We have Simón Willson to thank for the title of Earprint's second album, which is out October 18 on Endectomorph Music (get it on Bandcamp). It's perhaps a bit more mellow and compact than our first release, but the collection of songs from all the members of the band (Tree Palmedo on trumpet, myself, Willson on bass, and Dor Herskovits on drums) is our updated perspective on the possibilities of the chordless quartet format. The wonderful Jacob Shulman contributed liner notes, which you can read here, and we're hoping to book a few more shows through the late fall and winter, so stay tuned.

Earprint band EASY LISTENING album cover

Earprint — October 2, 2019

The last Earprint gig was over a year ago, shortly before the recording session that resulted in Easy Listening, our second album that will be released in mid-October. In anticipation of that, we'll be performing the music and will have CDs for sale at our show at the Lilypad, which we last played in June of 2017 (!). 

Wednesday, October 2, 2019
7:30 p.m. 
The Lilypad
1353 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, MA

Tree Palmedo - trumpet
KS - saxophone/clarinet
Simón Willson - bass
Dor Herskovits - drums

GENTL'R's Gold Cake — September 20, 2019

GENTL'R is a new project and the brainchild of John Niccoli, a multi-instrumentalist and electronic musician. Its debut album, Gold Cake, is out this Friday exclusively on Bandcamp on vinyl and digital (as in, this is my first time appearing on a vinyl release). I contribute various saxophone/clarinet parts with heavy post-production modification along with Walter Stinson on bass, and we'll be performing the entire album live on Saturday, September 21 at the Way Station in Brooklyn. Stream an album from the track below and purchase the music by clicking the album cover below (art by Andrew Smenos). 

Saturday, September 21, 2019
~10 p.m. (third band of four on the bill, beginning at 8 p.m.)
The Way Station, 683 Washington Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11238

KS - saxophones/EWI
Walter Stinson - bass
John Niccoli - electronics/guitar

Happy Trio — September 16, 2019

Happy Trio VI marks the half-year point of this recurring series. I'm happy to have the chance to play with Devin Starks and JK Kim, both fabulous musicians whom I've played with separately (far too infrequently), but never before together.

Monday, September 16, 2019
5:30 p.m., suggested donation $5
Lowlands Bar, 543 3rd Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215

KS - saxophone
Devin Starks - bass
JK Kim - drums

Dana Saul's Ceiling — September 13, 2019

It will have been over three years from the time of the first Dana Saul sextet gig (at ShapeShifter Lab in August 2016) to the release of the album, Ceiling, and it's been a privilege for me to both contribute to the music and to release it on Endectomorph Music. I met Dana over seven years ago at the Banff International Jazz and Creative Music Workshop (we were roommates), and I've been inspired and undoubtedly influenced by Dana's sui generis musical visions in this ensemble and others of his over the past few years. I don't know of any other music that sounds quite like Dana's, and I hope the world receives it with open ears when it drops on September 13. In the meantime, stream a track below and pre-order your digital or physical copy today via Bandcamp!

Details at Endectomorph Music

Blue Note China Jazz Orchestra — September 7-8, 2019

Ed. note (8/28/2019): Due to last-minute circumstances unrelated to the Blue Note Beijing, the BNCJO will not perform on September 7 and 8 as originally scheduled.

For the third anniversary of the Blue Note Beijing, the newly reminted Blue Note China Jazz Orchestra (BNCJO) will perform repertoire surveying the transitional years into the modern lingua franca of jazz, vaguely described as "post-bop." Admittedly, it's a chance to dig into repertoire from some of the most beloved artists of the late '50s and '60s Blue Note years, many of whom were not big band writers, but whose works were later arranged for the classic big band format. Here's my promotional blurb (English and Chinese):

Bebop, Postbop, and the Modern Jazz Language (September 2019) 

In May 2019, the Blue Note Beijing Jazz Orchestra paid tribute to the artists of the 1940s bebop era, who revolutionized the rhythmic and melodic organization of the jazz language and elevated it from popular music to a hip, underground art music. In the decades to follow, the language of jazz continued to evolve and become more abstract and expressionist with melody and harmony, most notably throughout the tumultuous decade of the 1960s in America. The Blue Note Beijing is proud to present a program of music (almost exclusively not originally written for big band) that showcases the development of jazz language from bebop to postbop from the 1950s through the 1960s, with works by jazz icons like John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, and more. Most of the postbop era’s key performances were originally done in the small-group format, so we look forward to rendering these classic works with the rich orchestrational possibilities of the big band and hope you’ll join us for two nights of large ensemble postbop.
今年5月,Blue Note China爵士大乐队向20世纪40年代比波普时代(Bebop Era)的艺术家们致敬。他们革新了爵士乐语言中的节奏和旋律组织,使其从流行音乐提升为一种时髦的地下音乐艺术。在之后的几十年里,爵士乐语言不断演变,最显著的是在20世纪60年代动荡的美国,其在旋律及和声上变得更加抽象,并具有表现主义。Blue Note Beijing此次呈现的演出作品将展示爵士乐语言从比波普到后波普(1950至1960年代)时期的演变,其中包含爵士乐巨匠John Coltrane、Herbie Hancock、Wayne Shorter、Chick Corea等人的作品。绝大部分后波普时代的重要演出均是以小型乐队进行的,因此我们期待着通过大乐队丰富的色彩演绎这些经典作品。特此,诚邀您参加我们两晚的后波普大乐队音乐会!

In September 2019, the Blue Note China Jazz Orchestra's presents its program "Bebop, Postbop, and the Modern Jazz Language"

Saturday & Sunday, September 7-8, 2019

Xu Zhitong — September 5, 2019

Thursday, September 5, 2019
9:30 p.m.
East Shore Jazz Club

Personnel TBA
2/F, 2 Qianhai Nanyanlu
Beijing, China

Xiongguan Zhang Quartet — September 2, 2019

Monday, September 2, 2019
158 Julu Road 
200030 Shanghai, China

KS - saxophone
Xiongguan Zhang - guitar
Danny Zanker - bass
Ryan Sands - drums

Moreno Donadel Quartet — August 30–September 1, 2019

Friday, August 30 through Sunday, September 1, 2019
7:30 p.m.
South ShunCheng Road,
Xian, China 710089

KS - saxophone
Moreno Donadel - piano
Zhang Ke - bass
Anthony Vanacore - drums

Past Goings-On

Happy Trio — August 12, 2019

In a breach of decorum, the Happy Trio returns to Lowlands Bar in its fifth iteration not on the third Monday of August, but instead the second; guest crooner and soda gun specialist Walter Stinson will also be away, but we're told that a more than suitable substitute barkeep has been found for the occasion. This month's trio reunites a rhythm team that I played with in Beijing and Shanghai this winter: the formidable Jared Henderson on bass and the ever-grooving Dayeon Seok on drums (clip from said tour here).

The Happy Trio Returns to Lowlands Bar in Gowanus on August 12, 2019
Original photo by Jakub Kriz via Unsplash

Monday, August 12, 2019
5:30 p.m., suggested donation $5
Lowlands Bar, 543 3rd Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215

KS - saxophone

Jared Henderson - bass
Dayeon Seok - drums

Blue Note Beijing Jazz Orchestra — July 27-28, 2019

Back at it—this time, we'll be tackling a program of challenging originals by the one and only Mark Bai. Here's the description I provided for the promotional notice for these concerts:
In a follow-up to its successful March 2019 concert of modern jazz big band music, this July, the Blue Note Beijing Jazz Orchestra is proud to present a program of original works by Nanjing-based pianist and composer Mark Bai. As part of a wave of Chinese jazz pianists in the 21st century that include Xia Jia and A Bu, Bai’s musical style reflects an expressive, modernist sense of harmony and musical organization that recalls modern American masters such as Brad Mehldau and Kurt Rosenwinkel, while still retaining his distinctly personal conception. Bai’s music marries formal complexity with profound feeling, with beautiful melodies that move through intricate rhythmic forms and harmonic backgrounds. This will be the first major presentation of Bai’s music in a large ensemble format, as he has historically favored smaller ensemble settings, and the BNBJO is eager to share this wondrous music with engaged listeners at the Blue Note Beijing.
Chinese below:
在2019年3月成功举办现代爵士大乐队音乐会之后,这个7月,Blue Note China爵士大乐队将为各位观众呈现南京钢琴家兼作曲家白天的作品。作为包括夏佳和阿布在内的21世纪中国爵士钢琴家浪潮中的一份子,白天的作品风格反映了一种富有表现力的、现代主义的和声与音乐语言,令人联想到如Brad Mehldau和Kurt Rosenwinkel等美国当代爵士乐大师,同时也保留了自己独特鲜明的个人风格。白天的音乐融合了形式的复杂性和深厚的情感,将优美的旋律融入复杂精密的节奏与和弦中。这将是白天的音乐作品首次以大乐队的形式进行演出,之前的他更偏好于小型乐队的演出。我们无比期待在Blue Note Beijing与各位观众分享音乐家白天优美精妙的音乐作品
Plus some very brief program notes:

"Beyond the Loop"
A deceptive waltz with a few beats added here and there, this piece has a declamatory quality that shows Mark Bai’s distinctive modern harmonic palette. 

A slow-burning swing composition that begins with dramatic low-note sustains before unfolding into more lyrical vistas. 

Befitting the title, an intricate and romantic composition with lush woodwind colors and electric piano. 

"Fresh Turn for Next" 
Grooving and optimistic, this piece starts softly before entering into a more urgent and darker odd-meter mode. 

Apensive and shadowy composition that features the piano prominently in an accompanying and later solo role. 


"Taken Given"
This piece showcases interplay between the horns, with rolling textures and a thrilling climax. 

"The Rivers"
As the title suggests, a flowing and upbeat composition with buoyant rhythmic accents and a winding, spirited melody.   

"Two Fingers Waltz"
Dedicated to modern saxophone giant Mark Turner, this waltz may be Tian’s most complex work for big band, showcasing his unique melodic vocabulary and command of orchestral color. 
此曲向当代萨克斯巨人Mark Turner致敬。这首华尔兹可能是白天最为复杂的大乐队作品,展现了他独特的旋律语言与对大型乐团色彩的期望。

The Large Ensemble Music of Mark Bai, Presented by the Blue Note Beijing Jazz Orchestra, 7/27-28

Happy Trio — July 15, 2019

Volume IV of the Happy Trio will witness the first-ever (public) meeting of two favorite rhythm section players of mine: bassist Andrew Schiller (whose compositional prowess is discussed elsewhere in this page) and drummer Aaron Seeber, whose crisp touch and graceful comping have made him a first-call sideman on the New York straight ahead scene. The opportunity to bring together favorite players who maybe haven't met before or have played together rarely has been an unexpected pleasure of this regular monthly format; as I learned upon arrival at Lowlands earlier this month, Robin and Dan had actually never met, let alone played together, until the last Happy Trio gig. The horizontal search continues.

Photo by Aaron Burden via Unsplash

Monday, July 15, 2019
5:30 p.m., suggested donation $5
Lowlands Bar, 543 3rd Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215

KS - saxophone
Andrew Schiller - bass
Aaron Seeber - drums

New Quartet — July 13, 2019

Perspicacious followers of my musical goings-on in the past year or so will note that this "New Quartet" (which doesn't necessarily imply an "Old Quartet") is my long-standing trio plus the addition of pianist Dana Saul, more or less. This is also the same band that premiered and recorded "The Middle of Tensions," and reflecting on my experiences with composing the past year as well as touring with the trio, I thought it was time to write more music involving piano and to have Dana be the person to interpret these musical visions. I've been working steadily over the past few months on more music, which is currently looking to be another long-ish piece, but we'll also dig into some existing compositions that have been rarely performed but would benefit from the polyphonic dimension afforded by the piano. It's the late set on a Saturday night in Williamsburg; please join us!

Photo by Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash

Saturday, July 13, 2019
11:30 p.m.
Williamsburg Music Center
367 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211

KS - saxophone
Dana Saul - piano
Walter Stinson - bass
Matt Honor - drums

David Zheng Quartet — July 12, 2019

Friday, July 12, 2019
9:00 p.m.
Red Room at KGB
85 E 4th St
New York, NY 10003

KS - saxophone
David Zheng - piano
Cole Davis - bass
Angus Mason - drums

Sextet — July 11, 2019

I'm tempted to call this ensemble an all-star band because, in my mind, this is a really a unique convergence of astonishing musical talent. Levon, a saxophonist-songwriter-multi-instrumental whose work I've admired for some time, reached out to me about co-assembling an ensemble of musicians to play some extended-blowing arrangements of lesser-played compositions from across the jazz repertoire, so this is the team we've assembled. It will be my first time playing at The Owl Music Parlor, but having heard some shows there, I'm really looking forward to playing acoustic music in such a warm, intimate space. 

Photo by Noah Grossenbacher via Unsplash

Thursday, July 11, 2019

8:00 p.m., suggested donation $10
The Owl Music Parlor
497 Rogers Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225

Levon Henry - alto saxophone
KS - tenor saxophone
Kalia Vandever - trombone
Christian Li - piano
Devin Starks - bass
Buz Donald - drums

Happy Trio — June 17, 2019

Now entering its third evolutionary form, the Happy Trio at Lowlands Bar returns in mid-June for another evening of un-self-conscious renditions of common practice jazz repertoire. For this occasion, I'm pairing the wonderful and at-times mischievous bassist Dan Pappalardo with long-time drum stalwart Robin Baytas, with whom I've played since my school days in the early and mid-'10s. 

The Happy Trio returns to Lowlands Bar on June 17, 2019, starting 5:30 PM
Photo by Jack Hamilton via Unsplash

Monday, June 17, 2019
5:30 p.m., suggested donation $5
Lowlands Bar, 543 3rd Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215

KS - saxophone
Dan Pappalardo - bass
Robin Baytas - drums

David Zheng — June 5, 2019

David Zheng is a pianist of formidable technique, with a predilection for the groovier and more R'n'B-inflected streams of contemporary jazz and Black American music. This will be my first time playing the infamous Red Room upstairs at KGB Bar in the Lower East Side, and we'll be joined by a modern rhythm team of Cole Davis on bass and Varun Das on drums.

David Zheng Quartet Performs at Red Room at KGB Bar on June 5, 2019

Wednesday, June 5, 2019
9:00 p.m.
Red Room at KGB
85 E 4th St
New York, NY 10003

KS - saxophone
David Zheng - piano
Cole Davis - bass
Varun Das - drums

Andrew Schiller's Iron Mandibles — May 25, 2019

This will be the first time this particular configuration of musicians has performed (ever), and it will also be my first time at Rockwood (any of the Rockwoods, both performing and being there physically, ever). The Andrew Schiller-Matt Honor hook-up is formidable, which is in ample evidence in Juanma Trujillo's quartet, and I'm looking forward to sharing the front line with David Leon, a fiery altoist who's been making the rounds in NYC. I'm also excited to be playing publicly with Yuhan for the first time; we've played some sessions together, but haven't had a chance to play an intimate small-group gig (although we did perform with Brian Krock's Big Heart Machine last August). If you haven't heard Yuhan, I'd strongly recommend purchasing City Animals, her latest release on Sunnyside Music from October.

Andrew Schiller's Iron Mandibles Plays at Rockwood Stage 3 on May 25, 2019

Saturday, May 25, 2019
11:30 p.m.
Rockwood Stage 3
185 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002

David Leon - alto saxophone
KS - tenor saxophone
Yuhan Su - vibraphone
Andrew Schiller - bass
Matt Honor - drums

The Middle of Tensions — May 21, 2019

As I'd mentioned in the January 20, 2019 blurb for the last performance of "The Middle of Tensions," this new quartet music capped my year of writing extended compositions in 2018. At this point, the band has been rehearsing this music semi-regularly for almost half a year, and it has been coalescing into something strange, but beautiful. We're recording the piece the day after this show, so this is more or less the dress-rehearsal. Dana, Walter, and Matt have dedicated an immense amount of concentration, time, and emotion into working on this music, so I hope you'll be able to join us to experience what's come out of this period of intense practice.

Kevin Sun's New Music for Quartet Entitled "The Middle of Tensions," at The Jazz Gallery, May 21, 2019
Photo by chuttersnap via Unsplash

Tuesday, May 21, 2019
7:30 & 9:30 p.m., $15 / free for Members
The Jazz Gallery
1160 Broadway, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10001

KS - saxophone
Dana Saul - piano
Walter Stinson - bass
Matt Honor - drums

Happy Trio — May 20, 2019

Back by popular demand, the second iteration of the Lowlands Bar Happy Hour Trio returns to everyone's favorite Gowanus watering hole on the third Monday in May—this time with my long-time Earprint constituent Simón Willson and the ever-swinging Faron Tillson on drums. I've wanted to play more with Faron for some time, so this was a fine occasion to put together a band to dive into an extended evening of standards; if you're not familiar with his playing, you can hear him weekly at Rue-B, another watering hole in Alphabet City.

The Happy Hour Trio performs at Lowlands Bar in Gowanus on May 20, 2019
Photo by Jamie Davies via Unsplash

Monday, May 20, 2019
5:30 p.m., suggested donation $5
Lowlands Bar, 543 3rd Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215

KS - saxophone
Simón Willson - bass
Faron Tillson - drums

Blue Note Beijing Jazz Orchestra — May 9-10, 2019

In a departure from our last concert, which featured some of the most prominent modern-day large ensemble composers, we're taking a dive into the repertoire of the bebop big band, including arrangements by Tadd Dameron and others. English and Chinese program advertorials below:
Although the big band in jazz is most often associated with the swing era of the 1930s, the innovations of bebop in the 1940s also found its way into the big band tradition through the work of bandleaders and arrangers such as Dizzy Gillespie, Tadd Dameron, and later Thad Jones in the 1950s and 1960s. Not content to perform the same styles of popular jazz from the swing era, these musicians translated the high-speed, high-intensity style of small-group bebop to the large ensemble, which continued the evolution of the big band in the middle of years of the 20th century. This May, The Blue Note Beijing Big Band pays tribute to the pioneering work of the bebop big bands, performing a thrilling program of classic bebop arrangements that showcase the modern harmonies and virtuosic rhythms of this music. 
虽然爵士乐中的大乐队通常与20世纪30年代的摇摆时代联系在一起,但是20世纪40年代 Dizzy Gillespie,Tadd Dameron等乐队领队和编曲家的作品使大乐队的传统进入了Bebop的创新时代。后来的50年代和60年代 Thad Jones也加入其中。这些音乐家不满足于与摇摆时代演奏相同风格的流行爵士乐,而是将小组形式的高强度且高速的Bebop音乐转化为大型乐团演绎,延续了20世纪中期大乐队的演变。这个五月, Blue Note Beijing爵士大乐队向Bebop大乐队的开创性作品致敬,将表演一系列惊人的经典Bebop曲目,来展示这种音乐的现代和声和艺术节奏。

The Blue Note Beijing Jazz Orchestra's May 2019 program is "The Bebop Big Band"

Kevin Sun Trio — May 7-12, 2019

The trio heads to Beijing for a week of shows! It's been a long time coming and I've wanted to present my original music with my NYC band for some time, but now the stars have aligned and I'll be making those gigs along with my regular Blue Note Beijing Jazz Orchestra appearances. We last recorded over two years ago, so we're planning on documenting the music that's been a part of the band book in the 24-month interim, including some more recent pieces that we'll be breaking in during the week. The culture and food tour aspect will also be prominently featured, as one might expect.

The Kevin Sun Trio, with Walter Stinson and Matt Honor, heads to Beijing in May 2019

Tuesday, May 7, 2019
9:00 p.m.
Dusk Dawn Club (DDC)

Thursday, May 9, 2019 
9:30 p.m. 
Jiang Hu Bar

Friday, May 10, 2019 
Bricks Jazz Club

Saturday, May 11, 2019 
2 p.m. 
Ullens Center for Contemporary Art

Saturday, May 11, 2019 
10:00 p.m. 
East Shore Jazz Club

Sunday, May 12, 2019
7:30 p.m. 

KS - saxophone
Walter Stinson - bass
Matt Honor - drums

Kevin Laskey's Almanac — May 2 & 4, 2019

I've known Kevin Laskey since playing in middle school jazz band and going on a school band trip to Six Flags together, and I'm proud now to be a part of Almanac, his dissertation piece toward his composition degree at the University of Pennsylvania. It's a privilege also to share the stage with two amazing ensembles: Variant 6, a vocal ensemble based in Philadelphia; and Warp Trio, a new music trio based in New York. We discuss the piece at length with members of Variant 6 and Warp Trio in this post on The Jazz Gallery's blog, and the promotional description for Almanac is on the nose:
Crossing many stylistic borders, the work explores an almanac’s dual nature as information compendium and prophetic text. Dark sibylline prophecies emerge from catalogic texts about colors and food and flowers. And despite its best efforts, this Almanac cannot completely predict its own fate. Confronted with unforeseen circumstances, the performers improvise, seeking an ordered conclusion from a flotsam of cliches.
Kevin Laskey's Almanac, May 2 and May 4 in New York City and Philadelphia

May 2, 2019 
7:30 & 9:30 p.m., $15 / free for Members
The Jazz Gallery
1160 Broadway, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10001

May 4, 2019 
8:00 p.m., $15
University Lutheran Church
3637 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Kevin Laskey - composer/conductor

Variant 6

Rebecca Myers & Molly Netter - soprano
Elisa Sutherland - mezzo-soprano
Steven Bradshaw & James Reese - tenor
Daniel Schwartz - bass-baritone

Warp Trio

Josh Henderson - violin
Ju-Young Lee - cello
Mikael Darmanie - piano

Kevin Sun Quartet

KS - tenor saxophone
Tree Palmedo - trumpet
Walter Stinson - bass
Matt Honor - drums

Great On Paper — April 26, 2019

In a rather unexpected turn of events, Great On Paper is back together again for its first public performance since March 2016. The band was separated geographically for the past few years, but Isaac's moving to the city in the second half of last year supplied the crucial final piece of the ensemble puzzle. To be honest, we aren't sure what we'll be playing on this gig considering the previous book of music is virtually prehistoric, dating back to our days at NEC and the musical preoccupations and interests of that time. I'm planning on writing some new music or at least re-purposing some existing pieces that haven't gotten much play, and I'm sure that the rest of the band will provide some new material for us to dig into. This show might mark the return of GOP, or it might mark something completely different; you'll have to come through Williamsburg in late April to find out.

Friday, April 26, 2019
8:30 p.m. $10 cover
367 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Kevin Sun - saxophone
Isaac Wilson - piano
Simón Willson - bass
Robin Baytas - drums

Kevin Sun Trio — April 18, 2019

The Kevin Sun Trio with Walter Stinson and Matt Honor Performs April 18, 2019 at Nublu Classic
Original photo by Ariel Sion via Unsplash
It's been quite some time since the trio played a proper show in New York. We did a brief opening set back in January at Scholes Street Studio, but the previous gig was a Lester Young tribute last year for Presidents Day. For this gig, we'll be working out some newer material in preparation for a six-concert tour in China during early May; specifically, I've gone back to writing more knotty, compact forms for collective navigation and exploration–a sort of opposite tendency from the longer pieces that took up my time in 2018–and we'll be trying to do it all without reading ("off-book," as some say). Expect some lengthy vamps, occasional capitulations to shredding, and a concerted, three-person effort to convey drama and form.

Tuesday, April 16, Thursday, April 18, 2019 
9:00 p.m., 8 p.m., $10 cover
Nublu Classic, 62 Avenue C
New York, NY 10009

Kevin Sun - saxophone
Walter Stinson - bass
Matt Honor - drums

Happy Trio — April 15, 2019

Happy Hour Jazz at Lowlands Bar with Kevin Sun, Lim Yang, and Zack O'Farrill
Photo by Aaron Burden via Unsplash
Lowlands Bar is the go-to local watering hole in my neighborhood (i.e. Gowanus), and it's also going to be the location of the first standards gig of 2019 for me. My trio compatriot Walter Stinson will be tending bar, so I'll be joined instead by Lim Yang on bass and Zack O'Farrill on drums. Stretching out on jazz standards in a New York bar is an important facet of my current conception of living the dream, so I'm going to take the opportunity to learn a few lines (Warne Marsh's "Dixie's Dilemma" over "All the Things You Are," plus Lennie Tristano's "Wow," supposedly over "You Can Depend On Me"), and we'll also do a few Rodgers/Hart ballads and Coltrane's "Fifth House." Come by!

Monday, April 15, 2019
5:30 p.m., suggested donation $5
Lowlands Bar, 543 3rd Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Kevin Sun - saxophone
Jeonglim Yang - bass
Zack O'Farrill - drums

Blue Note Beijing Jazz Orchestra — March 9-10, 2019

*ed. note, 3/18/2019: my BNBJO bandmate Xiaoguang Liu forwarded me an essay published in  即兴 ("Improvisation"), a Chinese online jazz publication, about these concerts and big band jazz in Beijing in general.  Full original Chinese text available at the link above

* * * * *

I'm looking forward to leading my fifth (and first of 2019) concert with the Blue Note Beijing Jazz Orchestra on March 9th and 10th. Pianist Kris Davis, who graciously joined the band as the featured guest for our annual New Year's celebration in Beijing, gave me some keen advice to look toward the present day in the programming, so I'm heeding that advice with a program featuring some major contemporary inspirations:

—Hang Gliding (Maria Schneider) // Video
—Obsidian Flow (Darcy James Argue)
—Foreign One (John Hollenbeck) // Video
—Choro Dancado (Schneider) // Video
Lawns (Carla Bley)
—Transit (Argue)
—In a Pinch (Schneider)
—Ding Dong Ding (Bob Brookmeyer) // Video
—Declaration (Donny McCaslin, arr. Urie) // Video

The Blue Note Beijing Jazz Orchestra presents Modern Music for Big Band on March 9 and 10, 2019

I'm required to produce some ad copy to promote the concert, which Blue Note Beijing thankfully helps translate into Chinese:

2019年Blue Note Beijing 爵士大乐队首场音乐会,将为即将到来的春天带来一股清新的空气。希望你能加入我们的行列,共同来体验一个现代爵士大乐队多样化且令人着迷的作品。本次演出曲目涵盖了众多激动人心的爵士乐作品。包括现代爵士乐的重要作曲家Maria Schneider(b. 1960)、John Hollenbeck (b. 1968)和Darcy James Argue(b. 1975) 等人创作了宏大而细致的作品,这些作品受到极简主义、美国民间音乐、巴西音乐、弗拉明戈、摇滚乐和电子乐等因素的影响。近几十年来的大型合奏爵士乐已经把大乐队变成了一个挑战流派界限的工具,同时也展示了它的表现力和管弦乐的可能性。

The Blue Note Beijing Jazz Orchestra(Blue Note Beijing爵士大乐队)汇集了中国最优秀的爵士音乐家,是目前中国最专业的爵士大乐团之一,演奏曲目覆盖来自爵士乐历史与当代作曲家的传统和现代作品。自2018年8月起,Blue Note Beijing Jazz Orchestra由旅美萨克斯演奏家孙凯(Kevin Sun)担任音乐总监。孙凯(Kevin Sun)是一位生活在纽约布鲁克林的次中音萨克斯演奏家、单簧管演奏家、作曲家和作家。《The New York Times》这样评论他:“这可能是你第一次听说孙凯,一位次中音萨克斯手,但是这很快就会改变......他创作了一种自我、平等、直接的音乐表达方式。”而《Jazz Trail》说到:“孙凯是一位高瞻远瞩的音乐人,他的音乐是丰富的,他是一位有天赋的萨克斯管演奏家,在各种各样的音乐环境中都能舒服的融入。”

English version below:

The Blue Note Beijing Jazz Orchestra will inaugurate its 2019 concert season with a celebration of the vital composers of modern jazz. Large ensemble jazz of recent decades has transformed the big band into a vehicle for defying genre boundaries while also showcasing its expressive, orchestral possibilities. Living composers such as Maria Schneider (b. 1960), John Hollenbeck (b. 1968), and Darcy James Argue (b. 1975) represent the vanguard of recent generations of large ensemble composers, creating expansive and detailed works that seamlessly join the influences of other musical approaches—notably minimalism, American folk, Brazilian, flamenco, rock, and electronica. With a program that surveys a wide range of the most exciting jazz compositions across several generations of composers, this first BNBJO concert of 2019 will bring a breath of fresh air just in time for the approaching end of winter and the beginning of spring. We hope that you will join us to sample the mesmerizingly diverse offerings of modern big band jazz. 

Andrew Schiller's JOGGERKNOT — February 24, 2019

Andrew Schiller's JoggerKnot performs at 55 Bar in New York City's West Village on February 24 2019, at 6 PM
Andrew Schiller writes some of the catchiest contemporary instrumental music I've heard, and the songs for his three-tenor saxophone band, JoggerKnot, are no exception. I've enjoyed hearing this band play live in the past, and I'm excited to dig into the music first-hand and join the mid-range saxophone trio. This will also be my second time playing at 55 Bar (last year's hit there with Adam O'Farrill's Stranger Days was undoubtedly a highlight for me), and I'm looking forward to playing some improvised music in the Village, where the energy and vibe feel ripe for stretching out and bringing my A-game. 

Sunday, February 24, 2019 
6:00 p.m., usually $12 plus two-drink minimum (I'm not sure yet for this show)
55 Bar, 55 Christopher St
New York, NY 10014

Alec Harper, Hery Paz, Kevin Sun - saxophones
Keisuke Matsuno - guitar
Andrew Schiller - bass
Dayeon Seok - drums

The Rigors of Love — February 15, 2019

Poster for Performance on February 15, 2019 at Scholes Street Studio, featuring Kevin Sun's The Rigors of Love & Juanma Trujillo's Tablopan
Graphic courtesy of Juanma Trujillo
We first performed The Rigors of Love at The Jazz Gallery last May, with a reprise performance at Cornelia Street Café (1977–2019) in July. Around that time, I spoke with Jazz Speaks about the piece, but I myself didn't really know too well what it was about; all I knew was that I felt compelled to write it and I had a feeling that self-reflection, discipline, music, and love were the motivating and largely subconscious forces at play. 

Since I've been in grant-writing mode the past few weeks (and will be until around the time of this performance), here's a brief, pre-written introduction in my own words:

"The Rigors of Love”was written immediately prior to “The Middle of Tensions.” To date, this is the longest musical work of mine, which was composed during a period of my life when I began meditating more frequently in response to day-to-day anxiety related to current events and my non-music-related work. The title refers to the acknowledgment of the labor and effort that goes into composition and into long-term artistic practice; as I grow older, I find this to be of greater and greater concern, as my youthful passion slowly fades and becomes replaced instead by a sense of duty or need for a spiritual practice. The piece itself abstractly draws from my experience of meditation: seeking stillness within, adapting to and observing interruptions, and gaining insight at times. 
We record Rigors two days after this performance, so this will be the dress rehearsal as it were. I'm pleased to share the bill with the wonderful Juanma Trujillo (discussed previously in January), who's bringing a project I haven't yet heard live: Tablopan, a quartet with Trujillo, Hery Paz on saxophone, Andrew Schiller on bass, and Robin Baytas on drums. If you're curious, here's a full set's worth of footage of Tablopan from earlier in January.

Friday, February 15, 2019
8:00 p.m., $15 suggested donation
Scholes Street Studio, 375 Lorimer St, Brooklyn, NY 11206 

Kevin Sun - saxophone
Adam O'Farrill - trumpet
Dana Saul - piano
Simón Willson - bass
Dayeon Seok - drums

Juanma Trujillo Quartet — January 24, 2019 

*full concert video here

I first began playing with the Venezuelan guitarist and composer Juanma Trujillo back in the summer of 2017. I think we were introduced by mutual friends (maybe Andrew Schiller), but I'd seen online that he was playing frequently with my colleagues on the Brooklyn scene and I was glad to have the chance to make music with him. 

This particular group, with NEC classmate and south Brooklyn neighbor Andrew Schiller on bass and my trio stalwart Matt Honor on drums, plays a collection of Juanma's compositions that include raucous, distortion-tinged blues (Juanma's tribute to Howlin' Wolf) and tonally shapeshifting two-part counterpoint, among much else. Juanma is preparing to release a trio album (look out!) with two good friends, tenorist-visual artist Hery Paz and drummer/fellow MUTE band member Dayeon Seok, so the quartet hasn't played as much recently, but hopefully this will be the first of many more gigs for this band to start the year. 

The gig will be a double-bill as part of the A. E. Randolph Presents series, which has been presenting a representative swathe of the creative music scene in Brooklyn for some time now; I'll share more details as I have them. This iteration of the series is called Strings & Friends, Volume 3, and will feature Peach & Tomato at 8 p.m. (Sana Nagano, violin; Leonor Falcon, viola/violin), Wengrow/Paz at 8:45 p.m. (James Wengrow, guitar; Hery Paz, sax), and JT at 9:45 p.m.

Thursday, January 24, 2019 
9:45 p.m., $10 suggested donation
Balboa Restaurant
1655 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225

Juanma Trujillo — guitar
Kevin Sun — saxophone/clarinet
Andrew Schiller — bass
Matt Honor — drums

The Middle of Tensions — January 20, 2019 

I didn't really intend it to go this way, but 2018 was a year of extensive, longer-form composition for me. Beginning with a 12-part trio cycle that I composed during December 2017 and January 2018, my composing streak continued with a concert-length quintet piece called The Rigors of Love, which premiered at The Jazz Gallery in the spring and had a follow-up performance at Cornelia Street Café (RIP) during the summer. 

The Middle of Tensions, which I started around July 2018 and finished drafting during late fall, began as an extended trio piece as well, but the density of material led me to add piano to the ensemble to fill out, reinforce, and connect the melodic contours of the treble and bass voices. I'm lucky to have Dana Saul fill the piano chair, as his diverse and inspiring body of compositions have had an influence on my approach to small-group writing and the general organization and pacing of a piece of music. 

The title is taken from a minor comment spoken by a priest in the middle of The Sopranos, but the phrase lingered in my mind as time passed while the continuing state of the world left mostly tension and little release. I think it'd be fair to view the piece as a reflection of my state of mind in the second half of 2018, including my musical interests of the time: studying tensions and their resolution, and experimenting with how they behave in the ear when sustained.

Sunday, January 20, 2019
6:00 p.m., $15 suggested donation
Scholes Street Studio, 375 Lorimer St, Brooklyn, NY 11206 

Kevin Sun — saxophone
Dana Saul — piano
Walter Stinson — bass
Matt Honor — drums