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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

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

Sep 19, 2013

Trumpeter Ralph Alessi seems to be everywhere these days.

Over the summer, there was his collaboration with long-time bassist Drew Gess on Gress' CD The Sky Inside as well as his duo recording with pianist Fred Hersch, Only Many. September has seen two releases - one on ECM, the quartet CD called Baida;  and another from the wildly improvisational collaborative called LARK. Add to that concert appearances with - among others - Christian Finger, Dafnis Prieto, Orrin Evans, and Michael Attlas' Spuntree, and you've got one busy guy. The Baida Quartet will be at the Jazz Standard in New York on September 24-25.

Alessi found time to chat with me recently, and Podcast 378 is our conversation, touching on the nature of writing and recording the Baida album, why he enjoys playing with the likes of Hersch, Jason Moran and Gress; and how an electric bass player from a classical music family learned to love the trumpet. Musical selections include:

Fred Hersch Pocket Orchestra - "DownHome" from Live at the Jazz Standard 2009. A track from one of several Hersch collaborations to which Alessi has contributed. The Pocket Orchestra includes Hersch on piano, Alessi on trumpet, Richie Barshay on percussion and Jo Lawry on vocals.

Drew Gress "In Streamline" from The Sky Inside. Recorded a few years back but just released this summer, bassist Gress gets to step out in front, leading a band that includes Gress on bass and electronics, Alessi on trumpet, Tim Berne on alto sax, Creig Taborn on piano and Tom Rainey on drums.

Ralph Alessi - "Throwing Like a Girl" from Baida. The quartet - Alessi on trumpet, Jason Moran on piano, Drew Gress on bass and Nasheet Watts on drums - has released a dreamy yet melodic album of Alessi compositions. And the title? Listen to the podcast to find out where it comes from....

Ralph Alessi - Title track from Baida.  More accurately it is the OPENING title track, since the composition bookends the album with two differing takes of a track that has been called "delicate but dark and ever-so-angular".

Jason Moran - "RAIN" from Artist-in-Residence. Moran holds down the piano chair in the Baida Quartet, and Alessi has returned the favor by helping out with Jason's projects. This track is from the 2006 release, a composition inspired by an African Slavery "Ring Shout" features Moran on piano, Alessi on trumpet, Abdou Mboup and Joan Jonas on percussion, Marvin Sewell on guitar,  and Watts on drums.