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‘Duocracy,’ Canadian-Style

Even though my most recent record, Duocracy, came out way back in February, it’s nice to see it still getting attention here and there. This is a natural result, I think, of the constantly overflowing state of the reviewers’ inboxes—but just like I will occasionally see a CD laying around which I’d forgotten I bought and end up loving it, sometimes a reviewer will get around to a record long after it’s been released. In this case, the reviewer—Peter Hum of the Ottawa Citizen, a very thoughtful writer whose work I’ve read for years—paired the review with another trumpet/piano duo (Dave Douglas’ and Uri Caine’s Present Joys, which I have to pick up!). Here are some highlights from his very kind write-up:

With their fine and refined album Duocracy, trumpeter Ian Carey and pianist Ben Stolorow have a fresh and rewarding musical partnership. The album appeals immediately because the two San Francisco Bay Area musicians, both in their late 30s, are both lean, polished players with lots of facility and flow, but the good taste too to never throw in extra notes. Their disc reveres jazz tradition but feels unbounded too, blessed with spontaneity, poise and personality. The album presents savvy selection of 10 tracks… Cherokee, while taken at its requisite breakneck tempo, feels like a walk in the park, with Carey and Stolorow playing freely and expressively. Stolorow’s a sensitive and varied accompanist throughout the CD, but on Cherokee he really shines as he finds different ways to keep the tune moving forward… There’s more jazz cred on a rendition of Thelonious Monk’s striking, finger-stumping tune Four In One. … Versions of Gigi Gryce’s Social Call, which saunters nicely, and Comin’ Along, a contrafact built on the chord changes of Benny Golson’s Along Came Betty, keep the bop flame burning. On those and a few other tunes, there are stretches of tandem, contrapuntal improvising that stand out for their clarity and simpatico. Trumpet and piano duets pop up infrequently in jazz. Don’t ask me why. And yet, Carey and Stolorow make the pairing sound like the most natural and rewarding team-up going.

Overall I’ve felt that the press Duocracy received mostly focused on the “straightahead-ness” of the record, and failed to hear the ways that Ben and I tried to take the album out of the standards-jam-session model—especially those “stretches of tandem, contrapuntal improvising” Hum mentions above—so it’s gratifying to hear from someone who really picked up on that.

Hey, This Is Nice!

DB1408-62_risingstar_tptI am under no illusions that the Down Beat Critics Poll is an absolutely objective affair where artistic merit is the only factor (how would you even do that?)—so I absolutely am not getting the idea that I am in the “top” (whatever that means) 20 non-famous (“jazz famous,” that is) trumpeters out there (since I can think of several even within a few square miles of here who regularly kick my butt all over the bandstand), but still—this is nice!

What I take it to mean is that at least a few people (somewhere between 5 and 27) who know this music very well remembered who I am, and that they enjoyed my playing, when filling out their polls—which in this day of hundreds of jazz records released every month is not something I take for granted.

However, I have to say that I’m pretty sure two very big factors contributing to my cracking this list for the first time were:

  • I released two albums in two years; and
  • I hired a very good publicist to promote them.

I know there are many outstanding trumpeters out there who either didn’t release as frequently, or weren’t able to hire someone to bug reviewers to seek them out in the deluge, and they’re at a disadvantage. The whole publicity discussion is one for another time, but I’ve made my peace with the fact that even though a good publicist can encourage a reviewer to dig through his or her overflowing inbox and give a particular album a spin, it doesn’t guarantee the reviewer will like it.  (As a few reviews I could’ve done without can demonstrate.)

That said, I’m absolutely glad the critics remembered me (even though my last record came out way back in February—practically the stone age!), and I’m especially glad to see so many deserving friends, teachers & colleagues—Evan Francis! Dayna Stephens! Maria Schneider! Reggie Workman! Satoko Fujii! Donny McCaslin! Ben Goldberg! Howard Wiley! Kirk Knuffke! Jacob Garchik! Mike McGinnis!—showing up elsewhere in the poll.  I hope we all get more gigs!

(P.S. For an interesting and very detailed breakdown on how one voter approached the ballot, read this.)

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Site Redesign, Gigs, & New to Me

Hi folks, it’s been a while since my last update. As you can see, I’ve redesigned my whole site from scratch; the reasons were a) it was time, and b) I’ve been learning some new tools and this was a good opportunity to put them to use–for the design-nerd details, I created the site as a whole in Adobe Muse, the homepage animation in Edge Animate, and the blog is still in WordPress with a customized template (since Muse doesn’t yet have its own compatible blogging engine). Please have a look around–there are now pages for my projects, albums, a new bio, my design & illustration portfolio, a list of upcoming events, and you can let me know what you think at the new contact page!

Gigs-wise things have been interesting–I’ve got at least two more hits with Circus Bella this summer, had a really challenging and interesting show with the great Satoko Fujii at Duende (I hope they’ll continue their adventurous programming now that Rocco Somazzi is leaving), and am busily preparing for the world (!) premiere of my new piece for Quintet+1, “Interview Music”  (if you follow the jazz media at all you’ll get the joke/reference), this September at the California Jazz Conservatory. Ben Stolorow and I have also just confirmed Duocracy‘s first San Francisco appearance, at Bird & Beckett in October.

Finally, I’m overdue to give you a “New to Me” installment—here’s a quick rundown of some of the music that’s been on heavy rotation in my ears lately.

The top five:

  • Israel: The Music of Johnny Carisi — I can’t overstate how deeply this record has bowled me over since I picked it up (on Marc Myers’ recommendation) earlier this year. So intricate, so creative, so swinging–it’s everything I aim for in my own music.
  • Olivier Manchon: Orchestre de Chambre Miniature — This random used CD pickup was a lucky find. Gorgeous small-group string writing by this French violinist, lush harmony, creative textures, layered through with solid blowing by John Ellis and Gregoire Maret (who I was lucky to get to play with a few times in NYC). This is listed as “volume 1″—I hope more is on the way because this one is over way too quickly.
  • Hindemith: Kammermusik 1-7 (Berliner Philharmoniker/Claudio Abbado)  — This is a bible of modern contrapuntal technique. Drop the (virtual) needle anywhere for an immediate sonic bath of virtuosic counterpoint and texture. He makes it sound so easy (maybe it was for him). The cello-focused #3 is my current favorite, but they’re all amazing.
  • Villa Lobos: Wind Music  — As much as I love Hindemith, he can sometimes feel a little dry emotionally—the first time I heard this record, it made me think of a more soulful (and due to the Brazilian connection, inevitably more reminiscent of jazz harmonies) version of a Hindemithian texture. The duo, trio and quartet are all great. I am stealing lots of stuff from this record.
  • Halvorsen/Fujiwara/Formanek: Thumbscrew — I was lucky to hear these guys last month during their Duende residency (where else would that ever happen outside of NYC?) and was really floored. All three players are forces of nature, and the tunes are perfect vehicles for what they do best. (Although they do just fine without tunes as well, as demonstrated by the all-improvised second set they did with perfectly attuned sitter-inner Ben Goldberg when I saw them.) This (as well as the Satoko Fujii show) has really inspired me to get into more free playing.

Other records I’ve been crazy about lately include:

  • Darcy James Argue: Brooklyn Babylon
  • Donald Byrd: How (with incredible string charts by Clare Fischer)
  • Jimmy Giuffre: New York Concerts
  • Charles Mingus: Pre Bird (“Half-Mast Inhibition”!)
  • Henry Cowell: Piano Music
  • Kirk Knuffke: Chorale  (Finally got to hear him live recently with Todd Sickafoose–one of my favorite young trumpeters cornetists)
  • John Swana: Bright Moments (My friend Lorin turned me on to Swana, who is a mother$#&* of creative changes-playing and sounds equally scary on trumpet and EVI)

… plus a bunch of other great stuff I’m forgetting! Anyway, that’s a good start. Stay tuned for more news about “Interview Music” and part 2 of “Blues, Authenticity, and the Hopefully Not-So-Abstract Truth.”

3 Gigs + WBGO Show

Hi Folks,

I wanted to let you know about three shows I have coming up this week (all as a sideman for a change!) as well as a very gratifying radio appearance.

First, I’ll be playing with the phenomenal pianist & composer Satoko Fujii and her 12-piece Orchestra Oakland this Wednesday at Duende. Fujii has had an illustrious career performing with luminaries including Paul Bley, Mark Dresser, and Myra Melford. The band will also include a who’s-who of local creative musicians including Aaron Bennett, Larry Ochs, Jordan Glenn, Jon Raskin, and many others. This will be my first time playing Duende (I’ve seen some great shows there) and I’m looking forward to it.

WHAT: Satoko Fujii Orchestra Oakland
WHEN: Weds., June 18, 9pm
WHERE: Duende, 468 19th St., Oakland
HOW MUCH: $15

Next up is a rare band-only appearance by The Circus Bella All-Star Band–we spend all summer backing up the circus troupe but it’ll be nice to have a chance to just rock out on Rob Reich’s great original compositions. With Reich, accordion & guitar, Ralph Carney, reeds & toys, Greg Stephens, trombone, Michael Pinkham, drums, & me. Also appearing will be Beat Circus (from Boston) & dancer Rose Harden.

WHAT: Beat Circus / Circus Bella All-Star Band / Rose Harden
WHEN: Thurs., June 19, 8:30p
WHERE: Amnesia, 853 Valencia St., San Francisco
HOW MUCH: $7-10

Saturday, I’ll be joining pianist Betty Shaw, drummer Ron Marabuto and bassist Adam Gay for some midday jazz & pizza at the Cheese Board in Berkeley.

WHAT: Betty Shaw Quartet
WHEN: Saturday, June 21, 11:45a-2:45p
WHERE: The Cheese Board, 1512 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley
HOW MUCH: Free!

Finally, I’m very flattered that composer, saxophonist, author and historian extraordinaire Bill Kirchner has decided to devote an episode of his great radio show “Jazz from the Archives” to my music. His description: “Carey (b. 1974) is a San Francisco-based trumpeter/composer/arranger of uncommon resourcefulness. His writing for two-horn quintet and three-horn sextet is much more than the theme/solos/theme format usually heard from those instrumentations. We’ll hear selections from three CDs by Carey and other longtime Bay Area colleagues.” The show is broadcast on WBGO on the East Coast, but you can tune in online at WBGO.org.

WHAT: Jazz from the Archives: Ian Carey: Contextualizin’
WHEN: Sunday, June 22, 8pm (Pacific)
WHERE: WBGO.org

Thanks!

Carey & Clevenger: New Music for Sextets, Friday May 23

sound_room_052314Attention Everyone!

This Friday, I’m very excited to be bringing my Quintet+1 (with pianist Adam Shulman, bassist Fred Randolph, drummer Jon Arkin, alto saxophonist Kasey Knudsen, and multi-woodwindist Sheldon Brown) back to that great spot in downtown Oakland, The Sound Room (site of our really enjoyable CD release show for Roads & Codes last year–see some footage here). We’ve had some great rehearsals and the band is sounding fantastic, especially on the new music. (We’ll also be hitting new arrangements of some of our “greatest hits.”)

That would be exciting in itself–since I really love playing with them and it’s not easy to book a six-piece band these days–BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE: you’ll also get to hear ANOTHER OUTSTANDING SEXTET, the Nathan Clevenger Group (“a sound that stands out from the crowd” – Andrew Gilbert, KQED).

Nathan is an outstanding composer/guitarist and his music has been consistently inspiring to me since I first encountered it, not least because we’ve had a habit of hiring some of the same great musicians. (He also writes for bass clarinet like nobody’s business, which inspired me to ask Sheldon to add that big axe to my music as well–come on out to hear the results!)

So please don’t miss this opportunity to hear TWO six-piece composer-led bands playing new, original music. Each group will be performing one long set–Nathan’s group will go first, with my group following around 9:30.

WHAT: New Music for Sextets: Ian Carey Quintet+1 & Nathan Clevenger Group
WHEN: Friday, May 23, 8pm
WHERE: The Sound Room, 2147 Broadway, Oakland
TICKETS: $13 adv., $15 door

Hope to see you!

Save the Date: Ian Carey Quintet+1 & Nathan Clevenger Group at the Sound Room, 5/23

Musical Folks:

I wanted to give you an advance heads-up about a very exciting show I’ve got coming up next month–I’m happy to announce that my Quintet+1 (with pianist Adam Shulman, bassist Fred Randolph, drummer Jon Arkin, alto saxophonist Kasey Knudsen, and multi-woodwindist Sheldon Brown) will be giving its first performance of 2014 by returning to that great spot in downtown Oakland, The Sound Room (site of our really enjoyable CD release show for Roads & Codes last year–see some footage here).

Even better, we’ll be sharing the bill with one of my favorite local ensembles, the Nathan Clevenger Group. Nathan is an outstanding composer/guitarist and his music has been consistently inspiring to me since I first encountered it, not least because we’ve had a habit of hiring some of the same great musicians. (See a tune from the Group’s most recent amazing performance here.)

Each group will be performing one long set of new original music and selections from our recent albums. (Nathan’s group will go first, with my group following around 9:30.)

WHAT: New Music for Sextets: Ian Carey Quintet+1 & Nathan Clevenger Group
WHEN: Friday, May 23, 8pm
WHERE: The Sound Room, 2147 Broadway, Oakland
TICKETS: $13 adv., $15 door

More details to come, I hope to see you all for what promises to be an exciting show!

TAKOYAKI 3 @ Rose Pistola 3/30 + Bonus Audio

First of all, thanks to everyone who made it out to my TAKOYAKI 3 show last week at Birdland Jazzista–we had a great time, the venue was fun and the incomparable Lorin Benedict even joined us for a couple of tunes.

Here’s a track from Bryan Bowman’s surprisingly clear recording (given how tricky the acoustics were)–it’s my newish arrangement of the standard “All or Nothing at All”:

Ian Carey’s TAKOYAKI 3: All or Nothing at All
(w/ Adam Shulman, organ; Ian Carey, trumpet; Bryan Bowman, drums)

Also, Takoyaki 3 has another show coming up later this month–we’ll be returning to Rose Pistola in North Beach on Sunday, March 30. The group will once again feature Adam Shulman on organ, Jon Arkin on drums, and myself on trumpet & flugelhorn, and we’ll be playing original music from Roads & Codes, (& possibly even Duocracy!) as well as select standards and underappreciated classics by jazz composers like Herbie Nichols, Ornette Coleman, and Lennie Tristano.

WHAT: Ian Carey’s Takoyaki 3
WHERE: Rose Pistola, 532 Columbus Ave., San Francisco
WHEN: Sunday, March 30, 8-10:30pm
HOW MUCH: No cover!

Hope to see you there!

Gigs: Takoyaki 3 @ Birdland Jazzista 3/14

1962727_10152254479907070_314219761_nHi folks, I’m happy to announce that this Friday, March 14, TAKOYAKI 3 (the streamlined, street-food-style version of my Quintet+1) will be playing in Berkeley at the Birdland Jazzista Social Club. BJSC is a labor of love from Michael Parayno, which features live music and barbecue for just a $10 donation (B.Y.O.B.). We’ll be playing music from Roads & Codes and Contextualizin’ (and maybe even one or two from Duocracy!), plus some unusual standards and classics by the likes of Thelonious Monk, Herbie Nichols, and Neil Young. Here are the details:

What: TAKOYAKI 3
Who: Adam Shulman, organ; Ian Carey, trumpet; Bryan Bowman, drums
When: Friday, March 13, 7-10pm
Where: Birdland Jazzista Social Club, 1731 Sacramento Street, Berkeley
How Much: $10 donation (includes barbecue), B.Y.O.B

Hope to see you there!

‘Duocracy’ CD Release Videos, New Reviews

Thanks very much to everyone who came out to any of our three CD release shows for Duocracy! Ben and I had a great time and were really pleased with the turnout and audience response. We hope to have more shows lined up soon, but in the meantime, here are some new reviews for the CD, plus some video from our Jazzschool (now California Jazz Conservatory!) show. (Also, don’t forget my trio TAKOYAKI 3 is playing Friday, March 14, in Berkeley!)

First, the reviews–I’m really pleased that the CD was selected for a review by Down Beat, which is still the magazine of record for the jazz scene after 80-some years. Here’s what they had to say:

Both busy members of the Bay Area jazz community, 30-somethings Stolorow and Carey pair up here for a duo outing largely focused on tunes dating back a couple of generations before they were born. The tone is set by the warmth of opener “Little White Lies,” accelerated as “Cherokee” finds rapid-fire lines erupting from Carey’s trumpet, and settles back as Stolorow takes a stride-inflected spin on Monk’s “Four in One.” It’s a lively trip down a straightahead path… obviously deriving a refreshing joy from the familiar sights.

We also picked up a nice review from Music Charts Magazine:

Inventive and pretty, the music on Duocracy (recorded in 2013) is reminiscent of that created by Ruby Braff and Dick Hyman on several albums, including Play Nice Tunes (1994), though Braff usually performed on cornet while Ian Carey plays trumpet. Pianist Ben Stolorow and Carey mostly favor tunes from what is often called the Great American Songbook… Jazz writers who decry musicians’ continued interest in such music should listen to Stolorow and Carey’s fresh treatment of standards. Ranging chronologically from the Gershwins’ “How Long Has This Been Going On” and Rodgers and Hart’s “You Took Advantage of Me” (both 1928) to Henry Mancini’s “Two for the Road” (1967), seven of the ten selections are well known. The tempos range from sprightly to deliberate. The briskest selection, “Cherokee” begins with a brief fanfare, as if to announce that something special is coming. Indeed, the trumpet-piano interplay is impressive, as it is throughout this CD. The contrast between “Cherokee” and the next tune, Gordon Jenkins’s “Goodbye,” the longest and least hurried piece, is extreme; pairing these pieces reveals the musicians’ emotional range, from playfulness to introspection. … Hardly radical, the trumpeter and pianist are content to investigate the nuances of mostly established compositions, ones that some commentators consider effete. These tunes have endured because of their attractiveness and richness, qualities that appeal to instrumentalists and singers. Stolorow and Carey’s treatment of them is uniquely theirs. They play nice tunes nicely.

And here’s one from The Jazz Page:

The pared down pairing of trumpeter Ian Carey and pianist Ben Stolorow on their new effort Duocracy is a simple pleasure. It’s not often that we get hear the interplay of the trumpet and piano alone together, and the talents of these two gentleman certainly elevates the caliber of the effort. They primarily cover a nice selection of standards by Rodgers and Hart, Henry Mancini, Thelonious Monk, George and Ira Gerswhin and Walter Donaldson among others. The duo of Carey and Stolorow makes this more than a fascinating concept, instead it’s a fantastic recording.

As promised, here are two videos from our Jazzschool show, each featuring tunes which can also be found on the album–the first is Monk’s “Four In One”:

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And here’s Kern’s chestnut “All the Things You Are…”

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First Duocracy Reviews + Desert Island Jazz

Duocracy has only been out a few days (pick up a copy here!), but we’re already seeing some nice reviews coming in, which is really gratifying. Here are some of the first batch!

From a thoughtful review from Stephen Graham on the great site marlbank (check out the site for two versions which inspired our rendition of “Goodbye”):

More traditionally minded on the surface at least than Roads and Codes, last year’s Ian Carey Quintet + 1 outing, Duocracy opens with ‘Little White Lies,’ the Walter Donaldson song from 1930 that Paul McCartney has mentioned was a childhood favourite of John Lennon’s. Trumpeter Carey, who’s in his late thirties and is from New York state, teams here with NYC-born pianist Ben Stolorow a few years his junior who debuted in 2008 with I’ll Be Over Here and whose input gives the album its deceptively early jazz feel. Carey has width and expressive resource in his approach, Stolorow too, and while Roads and Codes found Carey more in Dave Douglas-land here the trumpet stylings are far more mainstream, for instance the sound of Ruby Braff springs to mind a bit, and I suppose Stolorow could be compared to the late Dave McKenna in that his style borders on stride but never quite goes the full furlong as that would be just too retro. … Ultimately whatever the way in to the song, and the same applies for the album as a whole, while Stolorow and Carey play their own particular blend of goodbye, jazz fans may well prefer a firm hello to this appealing duo. (3 1/2 stars)

From the website Bop-n-Jazz:

Face it, a duo format is almost as “naked” as a performer can get so any apprehensions from the artists are more than understandable … yet there is unique chemistry that allows Carey and pianist Ben Stolorow to form a dynamic duo of sorts that slays the more pop oriented tunes from the classic days of jazz. Ben moves well away from the more traditional role of accompanist to achieve that “duocracy” of equal lyrical footing… There is an understated eloquence that takes hold throughout the release. Melody is back, changes are done with finesse and not a self-indulgent pretentiousness that may find one artist attempting to out perform the other. While the tunes are familiar and some bordering on eclectic, the original composition “Comin’ Along” is an abstract showstopper formed around the Benny Golson standard “Along Came Betty.” Rodgers and Hart’s “You Took Advantage of Me” is the perfect vehicle for the harmonic gifts of pianist Stolorow. The Mancini tune ” Two For The Road” is a master class for trumpet players that are looking to work on a more expressive tone, Carey simply nails it. (5 stars)

From Bruce Collier in the independent weekly The Beachcomber:

San Francisco jazzmen Carey (trumpet) and Stolorow (piano) did some gigging together last year in the Bay Area and decided to make it legit, the result being Duocracy. The album offers 10 tracks, including American Songbook standards and showpieces like “Cherokee.” Carey’s tone and approach are in the hard-bop style, somewhere between Lee Morgan and Clifford Brown in their bouncier moods. Stolorow skillfully backs him up, and there’s a meeting of the minds on every song. When two fine players are having fun, it’s good to listen in.

Always interesting to read which influences different listeners hear in one’s playing! From Chris Spector in the Midwest Record:

After years of striving and making albums everyone raves about, this duo that has worked a lot together but never recorded together decided to take a tip from us and go after hours. Just the two of them smoking it up hotel piano bar style on a set card of warhorses carries the day quite nicely and you can tell they enjoy recording with the pressure off. In fact, these Bay area staples sound like they were kicking it out in the bar at this swank hotel on the rehabbed Berkeley waterfront with the sun going down in the background and the glasses clinking. First class throughout, loaded with the joy of playing for the fun of it. Infectious–in a good way!

And finally from Lee Hildebrand in our own East Bay Express:

The duo of Richmond trumpeter Ian Carey and Albany pianist Ben Stolorow is the most adventurous and exciting trumpet-pianist pairing since cornetist Ruby Braff and pianist-organist Dick Hyman played together a quarter century ago. But whereas Braff and Hyman’s music was rooted in the pre-bop mainstream, these two East Bay musicians draw stylistically on a somewhat later era. They have a terrific new CD titled Duocracy on which their approach to melody, harmony, and rhythm suggests Thelonious Monk as they playfully explore “Cherokee,” “Little White Lies,” “You Took Advantage of Me,” “All the Things You Are,” and other popular standards, plus Gigi Gryce’s “Social Call,” Monk’s “Four in One,” and a tune of their own.

Meanwhile, I was a guest on KCSM’s great Desert Island Jazz show last week, and had a great time talking about some of my all-time favorite music with host Alisa Clancy and producer Michael Burman. My playlist can be found here–it was incredibly challenging to winnow my list down to 8 tracks, but I feel good about who made the final cut. I also recommend taking some time to check out their full list of past guests and picks (who range from local heroes to international legends), which is fascinating. You can listen to my episode here:

Finally, don’t forget that Ben & I have one more CD release show next Friday (March 7)–our North Bay version–at Old St. Hilary’s in Tiburon. If you weren’t able to make it to the Jazzschool (uh, make that California Jazz Conservatory!), please consider heading to beautiful Marin County next week to hear us!

Announcements and thoughts from a Bay Area trumpeter and composer