Bill Stevens

Alternative Venues for Jazz

As I was preparing for my 2017 concert series, Harmonic Explorations, I wasn't quite sure about performing in a club setting. The music is introspective and quiet mirroring the classic model compositions from the studio recordings of the Miles Davis Second Great Quintet of the middle 60's. But there was also the knowledge that many of the clubs I would have approached to present this music have closed. With a dwindling club scene I began to discover a series of alternative venues for Jazz. This knowledge began at the Jazz Connect Conference this past January when I attended a presentation by Gail Boyd who has a Facebook site titled, Alternative Venues for Jazz. The members of this group have begun to think out of the box to find locations in which to perform their music. It was around this same time that I became aware of some sites on the internet that specialize in finding new venues for music performance. One site, Groupmuse (https://www.groupmuse.com) caters to classical music performances primarily in the living rooms of people's homes. Another, Sofarsounds (https://www.sofarsounds.com), presents music events of all genres in various locations (homes, open spaces, parks, halls, etc...). Each charge a cover fee that pays the musicians and patrons for use of their spaces.

I am very excited to introduce you today to the alternative performance space that will present Harmonic Explorations I on May 6, 2017. It is called The Treehouse (go here for some information). It is centrally located in the Manhattan neighborhood of Union Square at Broadway and 13th Street. The Treehouse is the home of Richard Shaoul (here is a short video on Richard). He has amazingly opened his home for a concert series focusing on improvised music. Richard is a modern day Renaissance man. He has a wonderful piano that he plays intuitively, there are some incredible wood carvings and maps he has created throughout this artistically beautiful space. The Treehouse seats around 20 people on the first floor and about 10 - 15 more on a balcony area above the band. This is a space worth visiting as cited from the mission statement of the Treehouse, " (It) is a safe haven for art and culture to thrive through the intermingling of live music, architecture, painting, sculpture, dance and poetry".

There is really no separation between the audience and the performers. This is a space where everyone present is involved in the conversation(s) and in the music and arts presentations. It is one community gathered together to celebrate the arts and life. This vision is exemplified by the curator of the Treehouse concert series, bassist Luca Rosenfeld. Luca has embraced improvised music in all its styles and genres, while fully understanding and valuing the language of the arts across all disciplines. He is a dedicated and brilliant young bassist who has developed a concert series in a dynamic location. So much so that the Treehouse is rapidly becoming the location of choice for people looking for a more fulfilling artistic setting for live improvised music and conversation.

I am excited and very pleased that the Harmonic Explorations series will have its first performance at this alternative performance site, but not only that, the music being presented on May 6 features some of the most inventive improvising musicians on the scene today in Braden Smith on tenor sax, Hyuna Park on piano, Gary Fogel on drums and I am thrilled to also have on bass, Luca Rosenfeld. This music came to fruition as the lema sabachthani album was being completed. I saw it as a release to expand my composing in a new direction. The music in this first concert is very personal to me, derived from my studies with Ron Miller and to expand my understanding of the middle 60's Miles period though my writing and improvising. These are the right musicians at the right time to present this music and I look forward to having a conversation on the performance, to have the opportunity to discuss the intricacies of the writing and playing, as well as what aspects to listen for to have an understanding of my music on a personal level and in a historical context as well. I am also looking forward to hearing the audience reaction and insights into what is being presented and how it relates to the following two Harmonic Exploration concerts later in 2017. You can go here to see the official poster.

It might be considered an leap of faith to attend a music performance in someone's home and not in a traditional club setting; however I truly believe that in the current environment of music performance, this is the wave of the future that is reminiscent of the Loft Jazz scene of the 1960's and 70's allowing for an interaction, a connection, between the audience and the performer. I hope that you will take that leap of faith to join us on May 6 for Harmonic Explorations I as part of the Treehouse Spring Concert Series curated by Luca Rosenfeld and sponsored by the owner, Richard Shaoul.