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Dick's Den Residency: Ryan Jewell

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by Andrew Patton on March 24, 2015

After holding one jazz residency in the winter months, the Dick’s Den Wednesday Residency program boasts a schedule full of jazz musicians for Spring 2015. For the five Wednesday nights of April, the residency will be helmed by drummer Ryan Jewell (photo of Jewell writing music in Antwerp, Belgium by Tom Roelofs). Jewell is a prolific veteran of local and regional bands of most stripes, and is currently active in a plethora of jazz, free jazz, psychedelic rock, and indie rock (and more?) projects. As with many of the installments of the series so far, the varied tastes, talents and interests of the host are on full display over the length of the residency. Of the four bands playing Jewell’s shows, “two of the groups are people I really enjoy playing drums with, while the other two are more of an outlet for all the writing I’ve been doing.” Jewell was kind enough to have a brief phone conversation with me where we discussed the different projects that will come to the stage during the five nights of his residency – five shows that will feature original pieces almost entirely:

The residency starts Wednesday, April 1st with a quintet that will mostly play new compositions by guitarist Stan Smith. Smith and Jewell will be joined by Nicole Rachelle on saxophones, Brett Burleson on guitar, and Roger Hines on bass. With recording and a recital planned for this band and these tunes, the group will use this chance to “have a full night to stretch out and explore” this new material.

April 8th will mark the first of two performances during the residency by Jewell’s new quintet. This group was formed as an outlet for different compositions that Jewell has written. He had the idea for a while to assemble people to play a “weird” variety of tunes that he’s been writing, and the residency gave him the nudge he needed to get the project together. “It’s a pretty wide range of types of compositions, but it’s generally modern, slightly avant garde. Some of it is extremely worked-out, some of it is more conceptual systems for improvisation.” The lineup for this band is Caleb Miller on piano, John Allen on bass, and Wesley Perry and Alex Burgoyne on reeds (mostly Perry on tenor sax and Burgoyne on alto).

Jewell’s trio Mosses will play April 15th. Jewell’s view on his primary musical vehicles is that while the new jazz quintet is “more for instrumental, somewhat complex, modern and avant garde compositions, Mosses is more for songwriting. Mosses is basically a slightly experimental psych-pop band.” Jewell writes the songs and provides vocals, guitar, synths, and drum machines; Eve Lenker plays bass and violin; and Troy Kunkler plays drums and keys.

April 22nd will feature Brett Burleson’s quartet, with Burleson on guitar, Jewell on drums, Eddie Bayard on tenor sax, and Roger Hines on bass, which Jewell says is one of the “most consistently fun” bands of all the groups he plays with. The music for the evening will mostly consist of Burleson’s originals, along with select renditions of works by some of Burleson’s favorites like Sonny Sharrock.

April 29th will bring the new quintet back to the stage (see April 8th) for further interpretation of his new tunes. Jewell hopes to possibly have some additional compositions finished before the second show, but his main focus with the two nights is to “give his newer group more time to play, and playing live is different and better than a rehearsal in a lot of ways. It’s a more intense playing situation.” Furthermore, “a lot of the compositions are so open that I was interested in seeing, in a live setting, how different they would be. There’s room for many of the pieces to be very different.”

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