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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

Welcome to Straight No Chaser, the Award-winning Podcast hosted by Jeffrey Siegel

Dec 6, 2011

Way back in September, I featured an interview with saxophonist John Ellis.  The North Carolina born, New Orleans trained, and New York resident performer talked about his less straight ahead work in that interview, mentioning his collaborations with playwright Andy Bragen.

One of those collaborations, Mobro, is being mounted for the second time this year over the next few days at the Jazz Gallery, 290 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10013.Ellis and Bragen composed, workshopped, rehearsed and performed Mobro at the Jazz Gallery in April 2011 (to sold out audiences), making use of the space on a prolonged basis, not only for the performance, but also as an integral part of their creative process.  An outstanding group of musicians have been assembled to present this modern epic, including John Ellis - reeds, Mike Moreno - guitar, Ryan Scott - guitar, Joe Sanders – bass, Shane Endsley - trumpet, John Clark - French horn, Josh Roseman - trombone, Alan Ferber – trombone, Johnaye Kendrick, Becca Stevens, Miles Griffith, Sachal Vasandani, and Chris Turner – vocals

Mobro is “about” a number of things, but its plot concerns the real-life travels of a garbage barge that sparked national attention in 1987. As press information reads:

The Mobro 4000 was carrying the trash no one wanted, refuse from an overflowing city that sailed the seas for five months and 6,000 miles. Denied port repeatedly, the barge's contents were viewed as hazardous and infectious. This "Flying Dutchman" of garbage barges returned home close to twenty five years ago, but the questions it raises about what we consume, what we waste, and what we reject are still urgent and relevant. The odyssey of our trash may also serve as a metaphorical microcosm for western society, with a particular focus on those that we expel or deny.

Mobro marks Ellis and Bragen's third collaboration (the others being Dreamscapes and The Ice Siren, commissioned by the Gallery in 2007 and 2008, respectively). I spoke with Andy Bragen last month, and he shared his insight on his collaborative process with Ellis, and how a playwright tries to interpret jazz.

Ellis was kind enough to share musical selections from their three works, which are integrated throughout the interview. Click here to listen to the conversation, along with:

“My Dad’s White Tennis Shoes” from Dreamscapes. Musicians include John Ellis - tenor, soprano, C melody saxophones, bass clarinet, Marcus Rojas – tuba, Daniel Sadownick – percussion, Tim Collins - vibraphone and marimba, Hiroko Taguchi - violin, Olivier Manchon – violin. Corrina Albright – viola, Christopher Hoffman - cello

“Anticipation” and “Celebration” from Mobro. Musicians include Miles Griffith – vocals, Sachal Vasandani – vocals. Becca Stevens – vocals, Jo Lawry – vocals, John Ellis - tenor and soprano saxophone, Shane Endsley – trumpet, John Clark – horn, Alan Ferber – trombone, Josh Roseman – trombone, Mike Moreno – guitar, Ryan Scott – guitar, Joe Sanders – bass, Rudy Royston – drums and Roberto Lange - sound design.

The Jazz Gallery Presents John Ellis & Andy Bragen's MOBRO on Wednesday through Saturday, December 7-10, 2011. One set ONLY at 9:00pm (2nd set may be added if the 1st sets sell out) Admission is $20.00, $10.00 for Members