Composer/Pianist Ezra Weiss’s sextet takes up residence at Portland’s The 1905 (830 N Shaver St. ) on the third Saturday of the month beginning February 15, 2020. The two-set 9 pm–midnight shows will explore Weiss’s new repertoire on themes of empowerment and combine the group's contemporary take on Art Blakey's sound with such disparate influences as Kate Bush and Matilda the Musical. The cover charge is $10 at the door, reservations are encouraged.
Title: Ezra Weiss Sextet
Venue: The 1905, 830 N Shaver St. Portland, OR, (503) 460-3333
Dates: 2/15/20, 3/21/20, 4/18/20, 5/16/20 (additional dates to follow)
Time: 9 pm–midnight
The Ezra Weiss Sextet was formed in 2000 by composer/pianist Ezra Weiss, and “a more dynamic and incisive group of musicians would be hard to find.” (JazzTimes) Over the years, the band has developed a reputation for its intricate arrangements and highly personal statements, rooted in the tradition of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Various incarnations of the band have included such notable players as trumpeters Michael Philip Mossman and Peter Evans; alto saxophonists Antonio Hart, Mark Gross, and Vincent Herring; tenor saxophonists Kelly Roberge, Renato Caranto, and Dayna Stephens; bassists Corcoran Holt, Leon Lee Dorsey, and Curtis Lundy; and drummers Billy Hart, Kassa Overall, Neal Smith, and Jason Brown. The current configuration includes trumpeter Farnell Newton, alto saxophonist John Nastos, tenor saxophonist Devin Phillips, bassist Eric Gruber, and drummer Christopher Brown.
The sextet has performed at major venues throughout the U.S., including Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in NYC, Ryles in Boston, the Triple Door in Seattle, Jimmy Mak’s in Portland, and the Catalina Jazz Club in Los Angeles. They have released three albums: The Five A.M. Strut (2003), Persephone (2005), and Before You Know It (2014). These albums have spent significant time on the JazzWeek radio charts, and received acclaim from national and international press.
About Ezra Weiss
Composer/pianist Ezra Weiss is “a bold, inspired figure in the contemporary jazz arranging scene.” (DownBeat) He has released seven albums as a bandleader: The Five A.M. Strut (2003), Persephone (2005), Get Happy (2007), The Shirley Horn Suite (2010), Our Path To This Moment (2012), Before You Know It [Live in Portland] (2014), and We Limit Not the Truth of God (2019). All of these CD’s have received substantial national and international acclaim from the press, and have spent significant time on the JazzWeek Radio Charts.
Additionally, Ezra composed the music for the Portland Jazz Composer’s Ensemble’s multimedia concert and recording, From Maxville To Vanport (2018). He also wrote the big band arrangements for Derek Hines’ recording The Long Journey Home (2017), which led to the formation of the Ezra Weiss Big Band.
Ezra currently leads his own big band and sextet, performing at major jazz festivals and clubs throughout the U.S., including Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Smalls, the 55 Bar, and Tonic in NYC; Ryles in Boston; Nighttown in Cleveland; Chris’ Jazz Cafe in Philadelphia; The Triple Door in Seattle; Jimmy Mak’s in Portland; and the Catalina Bar and Grill in Los Angeles. His bands have featured such luminaries as trumpeters Michael Philip Mossman, Peter Evans, and Farnell Newton; saxophonists Antonio Hart, Vincent Herring, Mark Gross, and Dayna Stephens; bassists Corcoran Holt, Ameen Saleem, and Curtis Lundy; and drummers Kassa Overall, Steve Williams, Jason Brown, and Billy Hart (for whom Ezra also served as arranger), among others. He also co-led the Courtney Bryan/Ezra Weiss Jazz Orchestra in New York City.
Further, Ezra has composed music and lyrics to three children’s musicals: Alice in Wonderland: a Jazz Musical (2009), Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (2010), and Cinderella (2013). All of these musicals were designed to expose young children to jazz. Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella were each named one of the Top 10 Cast Albums of 2009 and 2013 respectively by TalkinBroadway.com.
Ezra has won the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award three times and has been listed in DownBeat Critics Polls in the Rising Star Arranger category. He holds a Bachelor’s in Jazz Composition from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and a Masters in Jazz Piano Performance from Queens College. His teachers have included Wendell Logan, Neal Creque, and Bruce Barth. He currently lives with his wife and two sons in Portland, Oregon, where he teaches at Portland State University.
John Nastos, Alto Saxophone
Devin Phillips, Tenor Saxophone
Farnell Newton, Trumpet
Ezra Weiss, Piano
Eric Gruber, Bass
Christopher Brown, Drums
Every day of the week in the evenings, and often multiple times per day on weekends, The 1905 plays host to the exquisite jazz community that Portland has to offer. In addition to keeping a finger on the pulse of the local scene, The 1905 has hosted internationally recognized musicians such as 5 time Grammy award-winner Antonio Sanchez, and Jazz greats like Ralph Peterson Jr.