February 2015

Painted Bride Art Center230 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA Map
Price: $15 General Admission
Sponsored by:
Tuesday, May 5, 2015 - 8:00pm

Warriors of the Wonderful Sound + Don Byron

Bobby Zankel, alto saxaphone
Don Byron, clarinet
Julian Pressley, alto saxophone
Diane Monroe, violin
Josh Lawrence, trumpet
Stan Slotter, trumpet
John Swana, trombone
Steve Swell, trombone
Tom Lawton, piano
Lee Smith, bass
Craig McIver, drums

Ars Nova Workshop, the Painted Bride Art Center, and the Warriors of the Wonderful Sound are proud to present the third in a series of concerts featuring Bobby Zankel and the Warriors of the Wonderful Sound with special guests. Due to a family emergency, Oliver Lake will not be performing on this evening’s bill. The great Don Byron will join the Warriors for his first-ever Ars Nova Workshop performance.

Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Don Byron, has been a singular voice in an astounding range of musical contexts for over two decades, exploring widely divergent traditions while continually striving for what he calls "a sound above genre." As clarinetist, saxophonist, composer, arranger, and social critic, he redefines every genre of music he plays, be it classical, salsa, hip-hop, funk, rhythm & blues, klezmer, or any jazz style from swing and bop to cutting-edge downtown improvisation.  He has been consistently voted best clarinetist by critics and readers alike in leading international music journals since being named “Jazz Artist of the Year” by Down Beat in 1992. Some of his many critically-acclaimed recordings include Tuskegee Experiments (Nonesuch, 1992), Music for Six Musicians (Nonesuch, 1995), Nu Blaxploitation (Blue Note, 1998), Romance With The Unseen (Blue Note, 1999), and the Grammy-nominated Ivey-Divey (Blue Note, 2004). His most recent release, Love, Peace, and Soul (Savoy Jazz, 2012), is dedicated to the music of Gospel pioneers Thomas A. Dorsey and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Don Byron has led residencies at the University of California San Diego, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Columbia University. From 2005-2009, he was a Visiting Associate Professor at The State University of New York – Albany. His artistic collaborations include performances and recordings with Bill Frisell, Vernon Reid, Cassandra Wilson, Hamiet Bluiett, Anthony Braxton, Geri Allen, Hal Willner, Marilyn Crispell, Reggie Workman, David Murray, Leroy Jenkins, Douglas Ewart, Steve Coleman, Uri Caine, Steve Lacy, the Kansas City All-Stars, the Bang On A Can All-Stars, Medeski Martin & Wood, Angelique Kidjo, Carole King, Salif Keita, the Atlanta Symphony, Paul Auster, Meshell Ndegeocello, Allen Toussaint, and many others. In 2007, Byron was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2009, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for composition for his "7 Etudes for Piano". In 2012, Byron was a recipient of the first Doris Duke Performing Artist Award.

Originally from Brooklyn, Zankel was drawn to the saxophone by the thrilling new sounds being explored in the 1960s jazz scene, in particular the music of John Coltrane. He eventually studied with Cecil Taylor at the University of Wisconsin, after which he left school to continue those studies on the bandstand, following the iconoclastic pianist back to New York. Zankel became involved with the avant-garde jazz scene of the early 1970s, performing alongside the likes of bassist William Parker and violinist Billy Bang. In 1975, Zankel relocated to Philadelphia, where he’s remained since, becoming one of the leading lights of the local jazz community. “I’ve had such tremendous experiences and opportunities in Philadelphia,” Zankel says, citing his work with saxophonist Odean Pope, bassist Jymie Merritt, violinist John Blake, and singer Ruth Naomi Floyd, among others who make the city their home. But his most influential work has been his over ten years of composing for his long-standing big band.

The Warriors of the Wonderful Sound were first assembled in 2001 for a fledgling jazz festival and continued presenting Zankel’s heady, intricate compositions over the next decade at recently-shuttered club Tritone. For most of the big band’s existence, it was Zankel’s compositions alone that made up the Warriors’ repertoire. In 2009, however, the band performed the music of Julius Hemphill, leading Zankel to open up the band’s book to outside composers of a similar mindset. First Indian-American saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa and then M-Base founder Steve Coleman penned challenging suites for the ensemble, and in 2012, Zankel and Warriors collaborated with Muhal Richard Abrams.