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Five Fabulous Forthcoming ‘Formances; Film; Festival: Final Fall (December) ‘Fore Fourteen (’13) Fanfare (Newsletter)

"Testimonial Gateway". Can you guess where it is?
“Testimonial Gateway”. Can you guess where it is?

Dear Friends:

I hope this holiday season finds you well.  There are a number of special upcoming performances I’m involved in that you’ll want to know about, detailed below.  Oddly enough, I’ll be performing on these much more with the piri than the trombone.  Also for those who missed it, I’ve linked below the just-released short film Temple of Memories which documents our exhilarating Jazz-Taiko collaboration at last year’s Locating the Sacred Festival.  Finally, see what in the world the image on the right is, at the end of this newsletter.

Saturday, December 7, 2013
at 12pm Rami Seo’s World Music Ensemble Public School 3: 490 Hudson St Manhattan Admission TBA The core of the World Music Ensemble is leader Rami on kayageum (zither) backed up by bass, piano, and percussion.  I’ll join as a guest on piri (Korean oboe), as will a guest on haegeum (2-string fiddle), and Rami’s Korean percussion ensemble, Seven Heaven.  With a mix of Eastern and Western instruments, the group plays a mostly contemporary international pop-ish repertoire.

Thursday December 19, 2013 at 7pm
“New Sounds of East and West”: Project Hansori with guest Satoshi Takeishi All Saints Church 43-12 46th St Queens, NY.  FREE admission; donation suggested Project Hansori will perform a grant-funded program of new original music, “New Sounds of East and West”.  Centered on East Asian-infused Jazz, including a mind-warping take on an ancient royal ancestral shrine ritual piece.  Beautifully set in a quaint, Gothic style church.  Also featuring the in-demand Satoshi Takeishi on his unique array and style of Eastern percussion.  Link:
Funded in part by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Greater New York Arts Development Fund,  administered by Queens Council on the Arts.

Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 12-2:15pm
Project Hansori at the Asian American Arts Festival Children’s Museum of the Arts: 103 Charlton St Manhattan Admission TBA I’m thrilled to be invited to this festival aimed at sharing both traditional and especially contemporary manifestations of various Asian arts to new audiences, both children and adults.  Project Hansori’s mission and repertoire make it a perfect vehicle for this.  We’ll perform two sets, split by a workshop I’ll give about how I approach East Asian traditions from a Western Jazz context. Link:

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 6-8pm
Asian American Arts Alliance Town Hall meeting Alwan for the Arts: 16 Beaver St 4FL Manhattan Admission free (potluck food offering suggested) I’ll make a brief appearance as a duo with myself on piri and Karen Kriegel on dance.  Town Hall meetings are monthly gatherings of members of “A4″, and are also open to the public.  They include short performances, discussions of member artists’ current projects, and an informal potluck.  Link:

Saturday, January 11, 2014 at 12-2:15pm
East Wind at the Asian American Arts Festival Asian American Arts Festival at Children’s Museum of the Arts: 103 Charlton St Manhattan Admission TBA I’m putting together a small group of Eastern instruments for my second-week appearance at the Asian American Arts Festival.  The program “East Wind” aims to demystify Korean and various Eastern music and arts, and disseminate them to the audience.  I will play piri and trombone, in a mix of traditional and my original songs.  Also features Rami Seo on kayageum, Satoshi Takeishi on percussion, and Karen Kriegel on dance/choreography.  Link:

New Documentary Film Released about Fairbanks, Project Hansori:
The Temple of Memories In case you haven’t seen it yet, please check out The Temple of Memories, the new documentary short film by Rene Sing and OwlSpring Media, about my experiences performing at the Asian American Arts Alliance’s 2012 Locating the Sacred Festival.  Entertaining and informative, it takes viewers behind the scenes of an epic and unlikely musical collaboration between Japanese Taiko and Big Band Jazz, set in NYC’s oldest Buddhist temple.  We get up close to the Taiko group Soh Daiko and my Jazz band, Project Hansori, interwoven with my close, candid interviews. Watch:

Other News…
…Jin Yunkyong, of the National Gugak Center’s Traditional Orchestra, gave a performance of my composition Duduk for solo piri during her November 24 recital at Seoul Culture Station 284.  …I can’t share it with you, but I did get to review the rough mix of the Band of Bones recording of my arrangement of Manteca.  It’s infectiously funky, and the congas and flute really compliment the rhythm and eight screaming trombones.  Looking forward very much to its eventual release on what will be the band’s second album.  …Frequent ‘Hansorian’ Paul Nedzela embarks on an extensive US tour with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra… …And Linda Oh releases new album on Dave Douglas’ label Greenleaf…

Enough already— the image…? I’m running a little contest.  The arch pictured is part of what is called the Testimonial Gateway, which my family recently visited.  It was built for a specific meaning, but its striking symbolism can evoke a different doorway imagery for any individual gazing through it.  I’d love to hear what path it makes you think of taking.  –Ah yes, the contest…  If you can name the town it’s in, there’s a free download card of my music, courtesy of the IMA Awards, waiting for you at any of the above performances.  (Limited to first four winners, so email me here first).  Hint: the town rhymes with Blue Waltz.

Feel free to reply here on comment on Vimeo with any feedback you have about the film — I’m curious to hear it.  Also I hope to see many of you and say Hi at one or more of my upcoming shows.  They’re all very different!  Have a happy, safe Christmas or Holidays, hopefully surrounded by friends and family.  Or… Hopefully have happy, healthy, hilarious, high-quality, whole-hearted, home-cooked, hunger-hindering holidays (harmonious households, holding hands, hobbies held high wholly heighten history’s hallowed hiatus).

Thank you,

Jeff Fairbanks Composer, Performer, Bandleader

New Film and Concert of Project Hansori, and Other Announcements

Temple of Memories JF still shot

Dear Friends,

In the five months since my last newsletter I’ve racked up quite a few noteworthy announcements. I hope to re-connect with many of you when my big band, Project Hansori, saddles up for an entire evening of my brand new music in a beautiful setting in my own neighborhood (details below). But first, enjoy this newly-released video featuring yours truly, embedded above and linked here.

FEATURED IN FILM: I’m thrilled to announce the release of The Temple of Memories, a new documentary short film by Rene Sing and OwlSpring Media, about my experiences performing at the 2012 Locating the Sacred Festival. Entertaining and informative, it takes viewers behind the scenes of an epic and unlikely musical collaboration between Japanese Taiko and Big Band Jazz, set in NYC’s oldest Buddhist temple. We get up close to the Taiko group Soh Daiko and my Jazz band, Project Hansori, interwoven with my close, candid interviews. Link:

Project Hansori and Soh Daiko performing at the Locating the Sacred Festival.
Project Hansori and Soh Daiko performing at the Locating the Sacred Festival.

UPCOMING SHOW: Thursday, December 19th at 7pm
Project Hansori performs “New Sounds of East and West All Saints Church 43-12 46th St Sunnyside, Queens NY 11104 Ph: 718-784-8031 Admission free (donation suggested).
Project Hansori will perform my brand new music in a grant-awarded program called “New Sounds of East and West”. It’s centered on new East Asian-infused Jazz, including our mind- warping take on an ancient ritual shrine ceremony piece — or as I like to call it, Americanized, Koreanized, Chinese music. The concert will feature Satoshi Takeishi on his unique array and style of Eastern percussion. It’s happening right in my neighborhood of Sunnyside, Queens, in the handsome setting of a Gothic style Episcopal church. I’m proud to say “New Sounds of East and West” is funded in part by a competitive grant from the Queens Council on the Arts. Link:

Monday November 4th at 7:00 PM
Hora Decima Brass Ensemble performs a program including my composition Three Dances Christ & St. Stephen’s Church 120 West 69th Street, Manhattan, NY (bet. Bway & Columbus) Admission by Contribution ($20 requested)

Sunday November 24th at 7:00PM
“Now, Here”: a solo recital including my composition Duduk for solo piri (Korean double-reed instrument) Seoul Culture Station 284 in Seoul, South Korea Jin Yunkyong, soloist

ASCAP AWARD: I was just awarded a 2013 ASCAP Plus Award, for my artistic achievements during this year. This makes two years in a row of receiving this honor. Thanks, ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers)!

ALBUM APPEARANCE: David Chamberlain’s Band of Bones recorded my arrangement of Manteca last month as part of a session for their next album. It has fully eight trombones, flute, and rhythm section with Latin percussion, set in a funky salsa groove. I got plenty of great comments from band members and I can’t wait to hear it myself. I’ll pass on any announcements about the album’s release.

SINCE LAST TIME: It’s been awhile since my last newsletter, written just before I left for my traditional music workshop in Korea over the Summer. There I was saturated in the world of Gugak (Korean traditional performing arts) for two weeks, learning from incredible world-class artists, meeting sixteen extremely motivated (and fun-loving) fellow participants from ten countries, and taking in the streets of Seoul as well as a side trip to the mystical, muse-full Jindo Island. –An amazing time that surely planted artistic seeds for years to come. …The day after returning to NYC I jumped, fully jet-lagged, right into an intense conference of the International Society for Improvised Music. The three-day event just happened to center on cross-cultural improvisation, with two Korean guest artists (go figure!). There I worked with globe-trotting piri soloist Gamin, and Shin Hyunsik, founder of Ensemble Sinawi; as well as Elliot Sharp, Jin Hi Kim, and other icons of this progressively broad improv scene …My world brass band Street Beat returned to the famous All Nite Soul 43rd annual(!) Jazz festival at St Peter’s Church in Manhattan. This band also did a string of off-the-wall private gigs over the Summer and Fall, such as leading a wedding procession march through Central Park and halfway down the length of the C train; and parading three-year-olds around a hedge fund manager’s estate on an island inaccessible by car (we attract these things). …I’m still laboring away at my commission for the USAF Airmen of Note, acquired by my winning the Sammy Nestico Composition Prize last year.

READ MY REVIEW: In a turn of the tables, I played the role of music critic, in authoring a review of Human Alien, the debut album of Ryan Pate released just last month. Read the review here, and check out Pate’s new album here.  …Incidentally, you’ll have a good chance to see him play live, too, as he’ll join us on Project Hansori’s upcoming concert.

Thank you for your continued interest. Please come say Hi and hear our new program on December 19th!

Thank you,

Jeff Fairbanks
Composer, Performer, Bandleader

My Review of Ryan Pate album, Human/ Alien

Human Alien coverHUMAN/ ALIEN
Ryan Pate- gtr, Dov Manski- pno, Noah Garabedian- bs, Devin Gray- dm
71’30”  8 tracks, all original


Into the eight original tracks of Human/ Alien, leader Ryan Pate packs over seventy minutes of creative thought, a statement unto itself. In his debut as a leader, the quickly- emerging Brooklyn guitarist proves his skills as both a composer and player, bringing a fresh approach to each.

Compositional input beyond that of typical small group outings is immediately evident in the involved bass and piano counter-lines under the melody of the opening Simple Song #3, as well as in its unfolding through-composed form and further polyphony. Pate’s skills as a guitarist also shine right from this track, first soloing convincingly over drummer Devin Gray’s thrashing groove, and later blending tastefully in a more subdued collective improvisation with pianist Dov Manski.

The contrast implied in the album title surfaces often in tension between warm, longing melodies against more abrasive harmonies and unsettling textures. Where this comes out in the segmented form of the title track, it’s best captured in what could be a Stephen King-inspired dream scape (or nightmare scape) called Growth Cycles. Here an especially earthy and organic guitar melody rests over a cascade of expressionistic piano arpeggios. Frequent minor ninths reinforce the colder side of the equation, and Pate wastes no time setting the chilly tone with the opening three chords separated by deep, dark space.
To See One Through captures the album concept perhaps even more, where the contrast equation flips over. After a funky drum intro, six strings become tentacles that slither down the walls to disturbing effect, later returning in more subtle ways. But at two key moments a reassuring chorale progression of earth tones emerges, blossoming beneath an upper pedal. Now human scenery overtakes an alien foreground.

Extraterrestrials prevail, however, in Circulation Adjustment Machine, as all four band members now probe an atmosphere of blips, clicks and pings. From here, motivic amoeba gradually bud into human-discernable life forms, eventually crystallizing into a full organism as the ensemble coalesces into tempo and tutti. However, the parasitic sound swarm that opened the piece never fully recedes, and in fact reveals itself through the host’s skin at times, suggesting a careful self-examination in all of us.

The title track encapsulates much of the composer’s traits found in the album: long, slow-developing forms, occasional quirky passages, subtle color shifts, and multiple episodes that reinforce the piece’s through-composed nature. Here a bass habañera establishes time, shifting colors between ominous and comforting. About midway through the piece, a feeling of human resilience emerges via a lingering three-chord vamp over which Pate and Manski pour convincing, energetic figures.

It’s worth speaking about Pate’s potent palette for a moment. Peppered through the album are his hidden experiments in tambre, from the shimmering piano in the slow unison melody of Pen and Sword, to sitar-like meditative background strumming in To See One Through, to mining a single sonority with staggered brush strokes in E.S., to name a few (and there are many more). The variety of sound heard is significant considering what Pate is able to extract from four instruments. Harmonically, one notices a trait towards chord qualities shifting under a common tone, another example of the leader’s ability to draw more out of less.

Overall one gets a sense of what may be Pate’s style, as both a guitarist and composer: a masterful use of color, a playful quirkiness amid otherwise dark backdrops, and a heartfelt honesty captured in melodies and improvisations that speak fluidly to the listener. But perhaps the greatest offering from Human/Alien is the leader’s unique imagination and his ability to clearly project it. In a field where this isn’t always the case, this deserves a closer and wider look.

Listen to Human/ Alien at

Jeff Fairbanks

Gangnam ‘Trial’, Major Award Announcement: JUNE 2013 NEWSLETTER

NGC pic 5

June 13, 2013

Dear Friends,

As I write I am preparing to embark on a two-and-a-half-week whirlwind ‘tour’ of sorts. First, tomorrow I fly to South Korea to attend two intense weeks of the International Gugak Workshop at the National Gugak Center (pictured above) in Seoul. (My hotel is in Seoul’s now-famous Gangnam district, hence the crude pun attempt in my title). As I blogged, fifteen foreigners were selected to come and learn Korean traditional music, sponsored by that government. Our group being composers and ethnomusicologists, mostly college professors, the program is intended for us to proliferate this music back in our various home countries through our professional work. It’s an example of the so-called Korean Wave phenomenon of cultural influence that that government wisely embraces.
At the IGW my daily schedule will include lectures on the theory and history of gugak (Korean traditional music), as well as training in various traditional instruments, with an emphasis on janggu (two-sided drum) and kayageum (12-string zither). Activities stretch into the evenings with concerts and other functions. I can’t promise, but I will attempt to blog about this experience in my News feed ( as often as possible.
NGC logoIn the few moments I will attempt to carve out time away from the busy workshop, I’ve made plans to see a few colleagues in town, and my sister-in-law with her family. I also hope to catch a concert or two in town, and certainly to visit the famous Insadong district to browse traditional instrument shops and pick up piri reeds. Chances there are often that the shop owner may happen to be a master musician, or even an “Intangible Cultural Asset #[x]”, in a system where the government literally ranks (tangibly) elite artists according to their cultural value. Sure, it goes a bit far, but it does hint at the high value that this fascinating society places on the arts!


Skyline of Seoul, South Korea






isim logoThings won’t slow down after the workshop. Through the magic of overseas travel, on my return to NYC I will gain back the day I will have ‘lost’ during my flight to Asia. Since I will land in Queens at essentially the same time I took off from Incheon (I love that), I can still attend the conference of the International Society for Improvising Musicians that starts, well, before I return. Though it’s not wise for me to pack these two events one after another, these are two things that I simply had to say ‘Yes’ to. Not only is the ISIM conference theme “Cross-cultural improvisation” (already jumping out at me), but three of the leaders happen to be players of Korean instruments, and they include a renowned piri and taepyeongso artist – one I’ve been hoping to get a chance to study from (can’t say ‘No’).


In a last-minute announcement, I just learned this week that I was chosen for the 2013 Independent Music Award in the Best Jazz Song category!  Here’s my initial post about it.  The panel of Jazz judges included McCoy Tyner, Arturo Sandoval, John Medeski, and Chris Wood.  As detailed also in the link, you can still cast your vote for me via the separate, fan-determined-winner competition, called Vox Pop. See the official announcement here.  And here, just for giggles and grins, is a head-inflating nominees page with “winner” loudly stamped under my image.  By the way, click on my image to visit my IMA profile, where you can both listen to the entire winning song “Bi Bim Bop”, and read my Q&A interview on the same page while you listen.


8-10pm at Roulette: 509 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, NY 11217.  I finally got more info about this event from the ISIM. This culminating concert of the ISIM’s annual gathering will feature dozens of us participants improvising — together. We’ll be split into several improvising ensembles led alternately by notable special guests, including Korean instrumentalists Gamin and Shin Hyun-Sik.



Street Beat entertained the crowds at this Memorial Day Fair, strolling around New Orleans-style as well as putting on a stationary show. Their board gave us a glowing review on their recent newsletter.



6-1-13 concert poster 16/1/13 NY KOREAN AMERICAN CHORALE @ LEFRAK HALL
My wife, Choi, and I appeared together on stage for the first time since our previous performances in the Philippines and Korea in 2011. We were joined by our friend and stellar guitarist-composer Ryan Pate (whose debut album should be released later this year). It was very recharging as an artist to play in a beautiful hall in front of a large, enthusiastic audience. I was honored to appear as a special guest with the NYKAC, performing Korean songs arranged for this Jazz setting of guitar, trombone, and cello.



I joined Travis Sullivan’s Bjorkestra for the first time, as a sideman for this gig. He has arranged the music of Icelandic pop icon Bjork for Jazz big band, and enlisted a group of top NYC Jazz musicians to play it. Bands across Europe and in Asia have brought him over to lead their own bands in concerts of this music, too. The band includes an electronics artist whose effects included floor-shaking bass waves that pumped through the Highline’s sound system. Not your typical big band experience!

My artist profile on briefly broke into the top 100 national acts for World Music, and also ranked at #5 for NYC (linked blog post was written before while it was still ranked #6).

Thank you all for your continued support. Please check in this month to see any updates I hope to post from Korea!

Jeff Fairbanks
Composer, Performer, Bandleader

Chosen as IMA Winner for Best Jazz Song!

IMA-Winner-Logo2This just in — the Independent Music Awards have just announced their 2012 winners.  The panel chose my composition “Bi Bim Bop” for the Best Jazz Song category!  Thanks to the band and to God for the opportunity!  Announcement link below:

While your’e there, if you like you can also vote for us for the Vox Pop prize (the separate, fan-determined-winners contest) here:

…For now I’m off with my family to my favorite real Mexican restaurant to celebrate…  More   to come.