Liberty Ellman’s Supercell: The Last Desert

Thursday, October 10, 2019. 8:00 pm
Building on the structural and melodic language the guitarist/composer Ellman has been shaping over the last decade, Liberty Ellman’s Supercell premieres a new body of work entitled The Last Desert. Pulling from jazz, electronic, chamber, and improvised influences, Ellman’s music is informed by a diverse and dynamic range of experience. The ensemble features the titular guitarist along with powerhouses alto saxophonist Steve Lehman, trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, tubist Jose Davila, bassist Stephan Crump, and drummer Damion Reid.

Liberty Ellman—guitar, compositions
Steve Lehman—alto saxophone
Jonathan Finlayson—trumpet
Jose Davila—tuba
Stephen Crump—bass
Damion Reid—drums

Based in Brooklyn New York, guitarist / composer Liberty Ellman has performed and or recorded with a host of stand out creative artists including: Joe Lovano, Myra Melford, Wadada Leo Smith, Butch Morris, Vijay Iyer, Steve Lehman, Greg Osby, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Nels Cline, Somi, Matana Roberts, Ledisi, JD Allen, Michele Rosewoman, Adam Rudolph, Mary Halverson and Okkyung Lee. Mr. Ellman is perhaps best known for his long tenure in Henry Threadgill’s groundbreaking ensemble, Zooid. The group has recorded several critically lauded albums. Their most recent recording “In For A Penny, In For A Pound” earned a Pulitzer prize for Mr. Threadgill. Ellman has released 4 of his own critically acclaimed albums: Orthodoxy, Tactiles, Ophiuchus Butterfly, and Radiate on Pi Recordings. His compositional style has been described as “At once highly controlled and recklessly inventive,” and the Wall Street Journal said: “Ellman, along with his peers, is helping to define post millennial jazz.” Voted #1 Rising Star Guitarist in the 2016 Downbeat Critics Poll, he was also honored in the 2015 Jazz Times expanded critics poll, as one of the four guitarists of the year alongside Bill Frisell, John Scofield and Julian Lage.
Described as “a state-of-the-art musical thinker” and a “dazzling saxophonist,” by The New York TimesSteve Lehman is a composer, performer, educator, and scholar who works across a broad spectrum of experimental musical idioms. His recent recording, “Mise en Abîme”, was called the #1 Jazz Album of the year by NPR Music and The Los Angeles Times. The recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award, Lehman is an alto saxophonist who has performed and recorded internationally with his own ensembles and with those led by Anthony Braxton, Vijay Iyer, Bennie Maupin, Jason Moran, Georgia-Anne Muldrow, George Lewis, Meshell Ndegeocello, and HPrizm of Antipop Consortium, among many others.  He is currently a professor of Music at the California Institute of the Arts and lives in Los Angeles.
Jonathan Finlayson has been recognized by The New York Times as “…an incisive and often surprising trumpeter,” who is “…fascinated with composition.” Born in 1982 in Berkeley, CA, Finlayson began playing the trumpet at the age of ten in the Oakland public school system. He came under the tutelage of Bay Area legend Robert Porter, a veteran trumpeter from the bebop era who took Finlayson under his wing; he was often seen accompanying Porter on his gigs about town and sitting in on the popular Sunday nights jam session at the Bird Cage. He subsequently attended the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music where he studied with Eddie Henderson, Jimmy Owens and Cecil Bridgewater. Finlayson is a disciple of the saxophonist/composer/conceptualist Steve Coleman, having joined his band Five Elements in 2000 at the age of 18. He is widely admired for his ability to tackle cutting-edge musical concepts with aplomb. Finlayson has performed and recorded in groups led by Steve Lehman, Mary Halvorson, Craig Taborn, Henry Threadgill and played alongside notables such as Von Freeman, Jason Moran, Dafnis Prieto and Vijay Iyer.
Tuba player and trombonist Jose Davila is a versatile New York based musician whose work spans across a broad spectrum of musical genres. He is a member of Henry Threadgill’s group, Zooid, which was awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Music for their rerecorded work, In for a Penny, In for a Pound. He is also in bands led by guitarist Liberty Ellman and alto saxophonist Steve Lehman. His work with Threadgill, Ellman and Lehman extend the tuba from its traditional roles and to an inter grated rhythm instrument as well as a front line voice. His playing can be also heard on the Grammy nominated salsa recording UnGran Dia en El Barrio from The Spanish Harlem Orchestra and Remebranzas and Seguefndio la Tradicion from the Soneros del Barrio. Davila has furthermore worked in the bands of Ray Charles, Andrew Hill, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Marc Anthony, Eddie Palmieri, Ray Anderson, Butch Morris, Ted Nash, along with The Lincoln Center Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, the American Symphony, and New York City Opera. A native of Puerto Rico, who was raised on the east coast, Davila received his formal musical training from The University of Connecticut and Mannes College of Music where he earned his masters in tuba performance. Davila is also the 2015 winner of The Annual Bob Stewart Tuba Competition. As an arranger, composers and recording artist, Davila actively freelances in the world of music and currently teaches in The Yonkers Public Schools where he is a proud educator to the next generation of musicians and artists.
Memphis-bred, Grammy-nominated, Echo Award-winning bassist/composer Stephan Crump is an active bandleader with twelve critically-acclaimed album releases in addition to numerous film scoring contributions. Known for transforming his instrument into a speaking entity of magnetic pull, his focus on creative instrumental music has led to collaborations with many of the leading lights of his generation, most notably Vijay Iyer, in whose trio and sextet Crump plays a dynamic, founding role. He can also be heard as long-standing member of Jen Chapin Trio, Ches Smith Trio, Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet, Secret Keeper (duo with Mary Halvorson), his own Rosetta Trio (with Jamie Fox, Liberty Ellman), his Rhombal quartet (with Ellery Eskelin, Adam O’Farrill, Tyshawn Sorey), as well as co-led ensembles with Kris Davis, Ingrid Laubrock, Cory Smythe, Eric McPherson, Mat Maneri, and Okkyung Lee.
Grammy nominated artist Damion Reid hails from West Covina, California a city east of Los Angeles. He is the son of well respected bassist and astute operatic singer and teacher. It was around the age of twelve that Damion began being mentored by the world-renowned drummer Billy Higgins. During these formative years Billy’s spirit for life and music was deeply seeded in Damion’s fertile mind. Seeing Damion’s ability to grasp the music both, analytically and conceptually it wasn’t long before Billy invited him to be a part of his drum collective. As he began to mature musically he found himself frequenting Billy’s club “The World Stage,” learning and playing with the likes of Billy Childs, George Bohanon, and Oscar Brashear. It was while in Boston between the years of 1998 and 1999 that he received the prestigious Alan Dawson scholarship. He then was accepted into the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at the University of Southern California. Soon finding himself trekking to New York City to attend The New School.  He then began performing and touring alongside Greg Osby, Terence Blanchard, Robert Glasper, Bunky Green, Steve Coleman, Steve Lehman, Jacky Terrasson, Ravi Coltrane, Reggie Workman, Miles Okazaki, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Robert Hurst, Meshell Ndegeocello, Jason Moran, Mark Shim, Ben Monder, Laurent Coq, Greg Ward, Jure Pukl, Jonathan Finlayson, David Binney, Mark Turner, Lauryn Hill and many others.

Liberty Ellman’s Supercell: The Last Desert has been made possible with support from Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works program funded through the generosity of the Doris DukeCharitable Foundation.