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Thu, Dec 14


The Drake


Caleb Wheeler Curtis (alto saxophone), Noah Garabedian (bass), Vinnie Sperrazza (drums)

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Time & Location

Dec 14, 2023, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM

The Drake, 44 N Pleasant St, Amherst, MA 01002, USA

About The Event

The Brooklyn, NY based collaborative trio Ember (previously Curtis+Garabedian+Sperrazza) finds itself at the crossroads of musical and personal exploration resulting in true band-hood and non-hierarchical playing. Each of the members - Caleb Wheeler Curtis (alto saxophone, trumpet), Noah Garabedian (bass), and Vinnie Sperrazza (drums) - are integral parts of the NY creative music community as leaders, collaborators and instigators. The music in this trio is organized but open and expressive. Their music opens up the true freedom of improvisation, exploration, and creativity. Their latest release, "No One Is Any One" with Orrin Evans on piano, is available everywhere now from Sunnyside Records.

Saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Caleb Wheeler Curtis is a musician known for his "intensely focused and garrulously inventive" style, which draws from a wide range of influences including progressive bop and post-Coltrane/Ornette free improvisation. Based in Brooklyn, NY, Caleb is a leader and core member of several bands, including Ember, Orrin Evans & The Captain Black Big Band (2x GRAMMY Nominated), Walking Distance, and the Fat Cat Big Band. His third album as a leader, HEATMAP, was released on Imani Records in 2022 and features pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Gerald Cleaver. The album received widespread critical acclaim, with All About Jazz calling him "one of the more interesting alto saxophonists to emerge since 2000," and Jazzwise describing it as "exhilarating post-Ornette free-jazzmaking." DownBeat Magazine said HEATMAP "radiates with brilliance," and Musica Jazz (Italy) described it as "a masterpiece." In 2021, Caleb was named a MacDowell Fellow and composed the music for HEATMAP during his four-week artist residency at the prestigious MacDowell campus in New Hampshire. The compositions were designed to become a set of music that leaves ample space for the album's remarkable improvisers to explore and invent.

Bass player and composer Noah Garabedian holds a BA in Ethnomusicology from the The University of California Los Angeles, and a Master's of Music Performance from New York University. As a composer and bandleader, Noah has released two albums under his own name. In October 2020 he premiered a commission from the Peace Resource Center at Wilmington College, entitled “The Tragedy of Hate.” His latest quartet album, “Consider The Stars Beneath Us,” was released on Outside In Music in October 2022. He is also the musical director for the dance show, “Rhythm Is Life,” featuring choreographer and world-renowned tap dancer Dormeshia. As a sideman, Mr. Garabedian has performed and toured with Ravi Coltrane, Jeff Tain Watts, Andy Milne, Kris Davis, Ralph Alessi, Myron Walden, Nir Felder, Frank LoCrasto, Okkervil River, and Julian Pollack. Mr. Garabedian has represented the US State Department on two separate tours as a musical ambassador where he performed for the public, taught workshops on music, and collaborated with local musicians.  

Vinnie Sperrazza is a Brooklyn-based jazz drummer.  Born in 1979 in Utica, New York, he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree at William Paterson University in 2002 and moved to Brooklyn later that year. Performances with noted jazz pianist James Williams (his mentor at William Paterson University), sometimes including Mulgrew Miller, Richard Davis, Clark Terry, and other jazz legends, were his main focus until Williams’ death in 2004. From 2004 until 2013, Sperrazza was focused on teaching drumset and jazz ensembles, privately and at local music schools. Meanwhile, he continued his musical studies in harmony, counterpoint, and composition with Paul Caputo. Sperrazza made a few noted recordings at this time, including John McNeil’s Hush Point and 40twenty with trombonist Jacob Garchik. By 2014, when Apocryphal, his first album of original compositions was released, Sperrazza was moving away from teaching to focus on performing. He toured with Stew and Heidi Rodewald in Stew and The Negro Problem from 2012 to 2014, and again in 2018, culminating in a show at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room. In 2017, he premiered the Mark Morris Dance Group’s Pepperland in Liverpool, England, with a score by pianist and composer Ethan Iverson, and has continued to tour with the company. He is a member of the Hank Roberts Sextet and Hank Roberts Trio, tours and records with the groups Landline, the Choir Invisible, Curtis-Garabedian-Sperrazza, Hearing Things, Vinnie Sperrazza-Jacob Sacks-Masa Kamaguchi PLAY, and trioTrio, works with bandleaders/composers Mike McGinnis and Michael Formanek, writes music, leads his own bands Apocryphal and Small Cities, organizes improvising groups, and continues his musical studies.


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