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What Jazz and Cooking Have in Common

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Good cooking is not merely the preparation of food for sustenance, but the creation of an experience for the senses -- our eyes, our noses, and our taste buds. Chefs combine colours, textures, aromas, flavors and shapes in an effort to stimulate and titillate the palettes of their patrons. So it is with Jazz.

The word "cooking" made its way into the Jazz lexicon a few decades back -- "Man, that band is really cooking!" -- and people still use the term today to refer to a group that sounds and feels really good together. When you consider what music is, it makes perfect sense. Musicians are like chefs, mixing and experimenting with different ingredients to engage and delight their listeners; and in the realm of improvised music (Jazz), there are usually as many chefs as there are musicians playing, which can make the task of creating something special together wondrous or awful. For this reason, casting is key.

I have been quite fortunate to rub elbows with a number of remarkable artists over the years. I've also witnessed that throwing a bunch of world-class musicians together does not guarantee world-class music. Artistic approach and personalities collide; the music gets stuck, the flow isn't there, and the magic can't happen. On the flip side, it can take some time to see if a group will click; but when it does, everyone in the room can feel it. This engenders trust between the players, which will in performance set the listeners at ease, making room for more adventurous and inspired musical trajectories to unfold.

When I put together the groups that are performing with me this month at SubCulture in New York City, it was a joyful and painstaking process. It took thoughtful consideration, research, and gut instinct to assemble the right combinations of players; and, with scads of superlatively talented NYC musicians to choose from, many of whom are off touring all over creation for much of the summer, landing these dream ensembles also required some time, patience and flexibility.

I first heard vocalist and loop master Theo Bleckmann on an album that my husband, Ben Wittman, was producing for the power vocal group Moss. Years later, Theo invited me to join him on a European tour with his Hello, Earth! The Music of Kate Bush project. He is our featured guest this Monday, July 8 and will no doubt elevate the music with unmatched creative instincts, vocal prowess and digital effects wizardry. Chris Tarry and Ben Wittman will round out the rhythm section on electric bass and drums.

Later shows this month will feature trumpet star Dominick Farinacci with Linda Oh on bass and Mark McLean on drums (July 15); saxophonist Joel Frahm with Chris Tordini on bass and Jordan Perlson on drums(July 22); and another brilliant saxophonist, Donny McCaslin, with Ike Sturm on bass and Jared Schonig on drums (July 29).

Each show will bring new songs, new sounds, and new adventures -- local, organic multi-course meals we're confident will set your hearts and your senses to dancing.

www.lailabiali.com

www.subculturenewyork.com

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