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December 12, 2010, 2:30 PM

Living in the Musical Moment: Improvisational Structures for Two Keyboards

Music Performance & Discussion
Participants: Lewis Porter, Marc Rossi

Jazz is not the only art form to contain improvisation—far from it. The principles of free association can be found across the arts, as well as in athletics and, significantly, the psychoanalytic process. But in jazz, the discipline of improvisation is developed to a very high level. Far from a casual, occasional exercise, improvisation in jazz is something that beginning players struggle to master, and that professionals spend their lives honing, refining, and changing. To this day, musicians study the recorded improvisations of such masters as Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Herbie Hancock in order to gain insights and inspiration.

Dr. Lewis Porter will explore jazz improvisation with fellow keyboard and piano artist, Berklee College Professor Marc Rossi. The presentation, based on their recent CD, Transformation, will consist of performances of short improvised pieces, followed by discussion and questions from the audience. The musicians will explain the basis of their improvisations—there is always some starting point, often written out on music paper or memorized—and discuss their creative process.

Dr. Lewis Porter is a jazz pianist, author, and educator. He is Professor of Music at Rutgers University in Newark, where he is the founding Director of the Master's Program in Jazz History and Research. Porter is the author or coauthor of six books, including the acclaimed study John Coltrane: His Life and Music. In addition, he has written numerous articles and liner notes, and edits a book series and a scholarly journal. Porter has performed recently with such artists as Wycliffe Gordon, Ravi Coltrane, Dave Liebman, and Jeff Coffin. His latest CD, recorded live at Siena Jazz, is Italian Encounter. Jazz Times recently described Porter as "a helluva pianist."

Marc Rossi is a versatile composer, pianist, and educator. He served as a sideman with Stan Strickland and Ascension, The Jimmy Giuffre 4, The Robert Moore Quartet, and George Russell's Living Time Orchestra on the Grammy-nominated The African Game. Rossi's classical and jazz compositions have been premiered by The Czech Radio Symphony (at Boston Symphony Hall and Dvorak Hall in Prague); the Silesian Philharmonic Orchestra; Indian musicians Lalgudi Krishnan and Satish Vyas; The Arden String Quartet; and the New York Composer's Big-Band, to name a few. He co-led the raga-jazz influenced Row and Rossi Project with sitarist Peter Row, and the Living Geometry duo with pianist Ben Schwendener. Most recently, he formed a duo with pianist Lewis Porter. Rossi has lectured in Venice and Rome, and at UCLA, and has conducted NEC ensembles at the request of jazz legends Ran Blake and George Russell. He is Professor of Piano and Jazz Composition at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

This program is made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.


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