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Alex Harding-Lucian Ban Duo at Filament October 15

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by Andrew Patton on October 8, 2019

Filament at the Vanderelli Room welcomes the Alex Harding-Lucian Ban Duo for a special concert on Tuesday, October 15th at 8pm. Tickets are $15 in advance and available here; $20 at the door. Detroit-born baritone saxophonist Harding and Transylvanian pianist Ban are touring to celebrate the release of Dark Blue, an evocative outing shaded in darker (and lighter) hues that showcases the simpatico connection between the two master musicians. A veteran of both the Mingus Big Band and the Sun Ra Arkestra, Harding’s previous appearances in town have been memorable, including a spontaneous trip to Columbus to play with his mentor Hamiet Bluiett and The JazzPoetry Ensemble for the 2016 Hot Times Kate Schulte Tribute that was powerful for yours truly. Seize the chance for an intimate concert by a mighty duo! Keep reading for much more from the artists, including video:

Alex Harding & Lucian Ban   

Dark Blue

FALL 2019 US CD Release Tour

Detroit born baritone saxophonist extraordinaire ALEX HARDING and Transylvanian expat pianist LUCIAN BAN  have been at the forefront of contemporary jazz for more than two decades, collaborating and founding several groups together, releasing a handful of diverse albums for American and European labels, performing countless concerts and tours all the while documenting an amazing body of music.

2019 sees them celebrating the Sunnyside Records release of their long awaited duet DARK BLUE. The album showcases Mr. Harding, one of the most important baritone saxophonists of the past decades, in a program of duets with longtime collaborator pianist Lucian Ban – a unique amalgamation of original pieces and improvisations informed by traditions of jazz, blues, and European chamber music.

From blues to spontaneous pieces, from ballads that seem to channel Ben Webster and Archie Shepp, from intricate bass clarinet & piano duets to a heartfelt solo baritone tribute to the late master Hamiet Bluiett, DARK BLUE represents a stunning document of two artists at their maturity, two old friends conversing in the language of modern jazz.  Fans of  Mr. Harding’s unmistakable baritone sound will be surprised to hear his amazing bass clarinet voice on several pieces of this album.

Listen to album excerpts HERE | DARK BLUE @ Sunnyside Records

 “Soul-stirring dialogues , lyrically tapestries of sound . . . magical moments throughout this pleasurable and incisive set” – All About Jazz

“Visceral Duets” – Jazz Weekly

“In near-telepathic collusion, Harding and Ban mean what they say . . . . Ban plays with a fluency and sensibility that recalls Vladimir Horowitz  as much as McCoy Tyner while Harding can break your heart with tenderness or shatter you with intensity” – All About Jazz

From their debut duet “Somethin’ Holy“ (cimp 2001) to their TUBA PROJECT group featuring legendary Bob Stewart, from Alex’s own BLUTOPIA featuring  Nasheet Waits to the “Romanian –American Jazz Suite” quintet with soprano master Sam Newsome, DARK BLUErepresents their strongest recorded material as of yet. In 2003 their co-lead ensemble Lumination featuring drum legend Barry Altschul was voted “BEST SHOW OF THE YEAR” by AAJ Magazine in New York among shows by Cecil Taylor, Joe Lovano and others. Jeff Stockton notes in All About Jazz “Alex Harding and Lucian Ban have developed a fruitful partnership over the years. Harding’s bluesy, church-steeped baritone sax is the logical heir to Hamiet Bluiett’s, while Ban’s tasteful, reflective piano playing combines the elegance and technical precision of the European classical tradition with wide-ranging musical interests and a passion for improvisation”

ALEX HARDING  was born in Detroit and studied music in his early years with Yusef Lateef, Beans Bows and Herbie Williams, and had a chance to play with Wynton Marsalis and Donald Byrd while still in high school. Alex went on to win music scholarships to the University of Massachusetts and the Aspen School of Music. His first European engagement in 1990 was in Porgy and Bess. A year later, he went to Mexico to the Arts and Music Festival with percussionist Francisco Mora. After settling in New York in 1993, and a stint touring with Phatoms, a Haitian group, Alex joined Julius Hemphill’s Saxophone Sextet. He also began performing with Muhal Richard Abrams, Craig Harris, Lester Bowie, Frank Lacy, Oliver Lake and David Murray’s Big Band. In 1996, Alex joined Hamiet Bluiett’s Baritone Group and appeared with the Mingus Big Band, Jayne Cortez Firespitters and Lester Bowie’s Hip-Hop Philharmonic. He also recorded with Greg Osby, Frank Lowe, David Lee Roth and Rodney Whittaker. The following year, Alex recorded At Doctor King’s Table with the Julius Hemphill Sextet, a CD with Hamiet Bluiett’s Baritone Group, and he made his debut with the Sun Ra Arkestra under Marshall Allen’s leadership. In 1998, Alex was part of the Sun Ra All-Star Project that premiered at the North Sea Jazz Festival and the Montreux-Detroit Jazz Festival and has performed with the late Roy Hargrove Big Band and with Aretha Franklin. The critics have hailed him as “the new voice on baritone saxophone, the carrier of the great legacy of Harry Carney, Pepper Adams and Hamiet Bluiett”. Alex Harding has released several albums as a leader garnering glowing reviews and appeared as guest on more than 40 albums. In the October ’97 issue of Jazz Times, the review of Hamiet Bluiett’s Baritone Band said that “Alex Harding attacked the music with steamroller momentum and uncommon ferocity…it was sheer fireworks” For more info please visit www.alexharding.net

LUCIAN BAN  Based in New York City, pianist & composer LB was raised in a small village in northwest Transylvania, in „the region where Bartok did his most extensive research and collecting of folk songs” and grew up listening to both traditional and classical music. He studied composition at the Bucharest Music Academy while simultaneously leading his own jazz groups, and notes that his approach to improvisation has been influenced by “the profound musical contributions of Romanian modern classical composers like Aurel Stroe, Anatol Vieru and of course Enesco”. Desire to get closer to the source of jazz brought him to the US, and since moving from Romania to New York in 1999 his ensembles have included many of New York’s finest players. Ban has “ricocheted among orthodox post bop, free jazz, and inspired hybrids—including his inventive arrangements of the music of Romanian composer George Enesco” on his all star octet album Enesco Re-imagined (Sunnyside, 2009) co-lead with bassist John Hébert. In 2013 Ban’s quartet Elevation released their first album, the “blustery Mystery (Sunnyside), where the searing, post-Coltrane blowing of tenor saxophonist Abraham Burton and the charged rhythms of drummer Eric McPherson and bassist John Hebert cut against the pianist’s controlled, abstruse austerity”. Ban also has a duo with American violist Mat Maneri, for ECM Records Transylvanian Concert where “Ban’s playing feels moodier and more brooding against the mahogany grain of Maneri’s microtonal viola” (Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader). He has recorded 14 albums as a leader for labels such as Sunnyside, ECM, Jazzaway, etc. Lucian Ban has performed/recorded with among others: John Surman, Abraham Burton , Nasheet Waits, Mat Maneri, Alex Harding, Barry Altschul, Gerald Cleaver, Bob Stewart, Badal Roy, Tony Malaby, Mark Helias, Sam Newsome, Ralph Alessi, Reggie Nicholson, Brad Jones, John Hebert, Eric McPherson, among many others. His latest album “ Songs from Afar” by ELEVATION Quartet released by Sunnyside Records Jan 2016 received the 5* review in DOWNBEAT Magazine. More info www.lucianban.com

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