Venezuela Tour confirmed

The US State Department has confirmed it will bring Street Beat Brass Band to Venezuela in January to tour that country.  We’ll perform in several cities, including San Cristobal, where we’ll play at the San Sebastian Cultural Festival.  More details to follow.

Of course the band is excited, and I’d like to set up a local send-off show in NYC approaching our departure.

If you’ve been following our social media posts and occasional email newsletters, you already know about the recent high profile chances to see us live in town, including the All Nite Soul Festival last Monday among others.  Actually behind the scenes we’ve also been very busy with around 10 or so private gigs this month.  Oktober (hint) is a busy month for brass bands.

If you missed out on these shows please keep updated by liking/fanning our Facebook page and join our email list at


Oceans of Outstanding October Outings (Fall ’14 newsletter)

Street Beat riding the elevator to a recent Manhattan gig. October 2014

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Since my Summer newsletter I’ve had much brewing behind the scenes, but now have some very visible activities to share. Read on for upcoming shows from Project Hansori and Street Beat (two very different bands I lead), two new albums I’m on, and a potential international tour for Street Beat.  Pictured: the latter band catching an elevator up to a recent private gig at Round Hill Music.
First, Street Beat has three weekends of public appearances at some major NYC events, including the All Nite Soul Festival. Many of you have never seen this band live since to this point we’ve largely performed at various private events (—these running the gamut from flash mobs to funerals, parades to proposals).
This is not official yet, but an opportunity is now developing for Street Beat to perform on a US State Department-sponsored international tour this winter. I can’t make an announcement yet, but I’m excited about this prospect and want to share at least share this much.
See Street Beat’s brand new Facebook page and Like it to get updates on our activities as they are posted. This band’s full site is

STREET BEAT SHOWS: Sunday Oct 5 @ LIC Flea & Food Oktoberfest **TOMORROW**
Saturday Oct 11 @ LIC Landing
Sunday Oct 12 @ All Nite Soul
Saturday Oct 18 @ LIC Flea & Food Oktoberfest

PROJECT HANSORI SHOW Wednesday Nov 19 @ Sound of Arts Festival Project Hansori’s first concert in ten months, since our performance at the Asian American Arts Festival at Manhattan’s Children’s Museum of the Arts.

SHOWS AS SPECIAL GUEST Guest appearances with Vin Scialla/ Eric Schugren Project’s WakeUp! CD release: Sun Oct 12 @ City Reliquary Museum (info link TBA) Sun Oct 19 @ Rockwood Music Hall Here are some increasingly rare instances of mine as a sideman rather than a band leader.

My arrangement of John “Dizzy” Gillespie’s Manteca appears on a new record just released by the Band of Bones, called Caravan. This band has eight trombones plus rhythm section. Trombonist Steve Turre and harmonica player Hendrick Meurkens appear elsewhere on the record. This track has recieved quite a but of airplay on the NYC area’s main Jazz radio station, WBGO.

Guest Appearance on Wake Up!, a new album the by Vin Scialla/Eric Schugren Project, out soon on Liftoff Records. I play trombone on several of the tracks with this fun, organ-backed band. Here’s a sample (I’m not on this track):

Thanks for your interest in my music. I’d love to see NYC-area fans at one of these upcoming shows – ‘Liking’ the Project Hansori and Street Beat Facebook pages is the best way to receive updates on these.

Thank you,
Jeff Fairbanks Composer, Performer, Band leader

Summer ’14 Newsletter

SB @CU 2-12-14Thank you for your continued interest in my music. One has much to write about when their previous newsletter was six months prior. My immediate announcement below is a rare public Street Beat appearance, this Sunday night at a Lower East Side brewery. You’ll also enjoy watching and listening to a pair of Korean broadcasts I was involved in, one TV and one radio. HD videos from Project Hansori’s last concert are up. Sadly, in April we lost to cancer a truly individual artist with whom I was privileged to work, Fred Ho. Two articles about his passing are linked, including one from the NY Times.

Sunday July 13 at (tentatively) 8-10pm
Paulaner Brauhaus: 265 Bowery New York, NY 10002
Join Street Beat Brass Band at the Paulaner Brauhaus in the LES for a post-Germany-final World Cup after party. We hit after the close of Sunday’s match, between 7 and 8pm, and play tentatively until 10pm (depending on game ending time). We’ve done a lot of private gigs lately, but this is the first full-band public performance in some time. If you come early to watch the game there, it will play on two 8-foot screens. So what better world cup atmosphere than a funky brass band at a German biergarten and a room full of over-enthusiastic ex-pats?

The Korean TV network MBC interviewed me about my work exploring Gugak (that country’s indigenous performing arts), and interacting the same with American Jazz. The segment aired on this network’s nightly news show throughout South Korea on 2/10/14. Watch the video:

My wife Heun Choi and I joined Korean multi-instrumentalist Gamin and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi on stage 2/7/14 at Flushing Town Hall. The program included my composition Duduk. The concert was later broadcast on the Korean radio station Gugak FM, and can be heard at the below link. After clicking, you’ll  see a list of broadcasts with Korean titles.  Just click the third green button from the bottom. The entire concert will play on just one track.  Duduk starts after 1:02:00; and we’re also heard on an improvised piece after 49:00.

These were professionally filmed, and then edited by your truly. Due to the time-intensive work, I’ve been able to complete the two songs here. More will follow as I can complete them. Please enjoy and share them. To be notified as soon as I post new videos, just subscribe to my YouTube channel (via the links):
Cumberland Gap
Kangwondo Arirang

My arrangement of John “Dizzy” Gillespie’s Manteca appears on a new record just released by the Band of Bones, called Caravan. This band has eight trombones plus rhythm section. Trombonist Steve Turre and harmonica player Hendrick Meurkens appear elsewhere on the record. B.O.B. has been playing locally quite a bit, so there are plenty of chances to hear them play music from this new release.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 8pm

Secret Theatre, 4402 23rd St Long Island City, Queens, NY 11101
Tickets TBA
Multicultural Sonic Evolution (MuSE) presents a concert of Project Hansori, as part of its 2014 Sound of Arts Festival. This festival will include more than 50 artists and will program the work of only living composers.  I’m happy to be invited as part by my friends at MuSE, a wonderful non-profit devoted to producing artistic events. This is the next concert on the horizon for Project Hansori since its last performance in January at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in Manhattan.

Street Beat played quite a few private events through the winter and spring. We do it all, and couple gems were a proposal in Central Park (orchestrated from Brazil); a party for a German soccer fan club; an Upper East Side rooftop wedding; and an Upper West Side Bat Mitzvah (that unfortunately canceled).
We also gave some public performances including Columbia University in February and May; Sunnyside Gardens Park’s Memorial Day Fair; and a GrowNYC Green Market in June.

Sadly, composer-activist-baritone saxophonist Fred Ho passed away 4/12/14. He was only 56 years old and had been battling cancer for years. Fred performed as a special guest with Project Hansori on several concerts and on the band’s recording Mulberry Street. Fred was a very unique and charismatic individual who spoke his mind, and who leaves behind a large legacy of his work, which deserves much attention. Below is a NY Times article announcing his death and celebrating him:
This announcement by his former student Marie Incontrera is much more personal:
His website is out of date but contains much info about his work:

Thanks for your interest,

Jeff Fairbanks
Composer, Performer, Band leader

Jeff’s Jam-packed January Jazz (etc.) Journal

Dear Friends,

Though by the tenth day I figure it’s gotten old for you to hear a new year greeting, I’d like to do so in this first newsletter of what promises to be a year of exciting possibilities for myself and, I hope, for all of you as well. Before I look too far ahead though, I want to turn your attention to something much sooner — tomorrow, in fact!:

SPECIAL CONCERT SATURDAY (TOMORROW!) Saturday January 11, 2014 @12pm-2:15pm (overall event runs 10am-5pm) Asian American Arts Festival at the Children’s Museum of the Arts 103 Charlton St New York, NY 10014 I’m leading a unique quartet performance of all-Eastern instruments and dance for this special date in Greenwich Village. Karen Kriegel (dance), Rami Seo(kayageum), Satoshi Takeishi (percussion), and myself on piri and trombone (well,there is a little Western in there). Actually some bits of America, Middle East and Far East are in the program. See “East Wind” 12-2:15pm in the link: I’m also excited that a local crew from MBS, one of South Korea’s largest boadcasting networks, will be on scene to interview me and film our performance for a possible future TV broadcast. You bet I’ll keep you all posted if/as that develops!

CARNEGIE HALL (with an ENORMOUS big band) …Then later this month I play a smaller role at a bigger venue.  In a bigger (rediculously bigger) band. On January 24th at 7pm I’ll join fellow New York Jazz Academy faculty members and our students in a mass concert at Carnegie Hall.  I’m not featured in this and will in fact be one part of a big ensemble — can you imagine a 75-piece Jazz band? This is what the NYJA is planning. Rumor has it a special guest or two might make an appearance as well.  Check back with for updates and more details. Meanwhile tentative details are in my show schedule below.

The Queens Chronicle just published a piece by Tammy Scileppi about my Jazz big band (Project Hansori), and Rene Sing’s newly-released documentary about it called Temple of Memories. Full text also in a recent blog of mine. Here’s a quote from Tammy: “The film is a must-see, entertaining and informative experience for any jazz buff”. Some long-time fans may remember she also wrote a feature about me that appeared on the cover of the Entertainment section of NYC’s Times Ledger in 2011.

A day after Project Hansori’s December 19th concert in Sunnyside Queens, thanks to the online buzz around it, several of my social media profiles hit new milestones. Though these stats are not an end to themselves, they are encouraging and show an upward trend. So for what it’s worth… My Reverbnation profile (3 million+ worldwide users) ranked 2nd in World Music for NYC (and 18th nationally), and reached 500 fans. On Facebook, the band’s page hit 100 Likes. All this happening within one day couldn’t escape my notice. Mainly I bring this up to thank all of you —my faithful listeners, fans, friends, and supporters; everyone involved in some way with what I do. Thanks!

Project Hansori’s NYSCA-supported concert on December 19 in Sunnyside, Queens was a smash hit, and an evening of deep playing and listening. Here’s a detailed wrap of it in my blog.  …This same group also performed last week on January 5th as an earlier appearance of mine at the CMA’s Asian American Arts Festival. Though our rehearsal was nixed by several of us having our flights canceled due to a blizzard, the band performed all the material wonderfully!  …Two days later (1/7/14) dancer Karen Kriegel joined me on piri for a short performance at the Asian American Arts Alliance’s January Town Hall meeting  …Back on December 7th, 2013 I joined Rami Seo and her Wolrd Music Ensemble for a performance at a Manhattan public school, where I played piri.

…So it’s been an eventful winter so far. And in 2013 as a whole, quite a lot happened: intense training in Korea; high-profile shows of my music by myself and others (and low-profile shows such as a private Street Beat gig parading around a tiny island); the release of a documentary; press coverage including a feature story; the close of a great composer residency –not to mention an Independent Music Award and an ASCAP Plus award!  Now, beyond the rest of this month’s shows, I look forward to a year of adventures with growing media covereage; developments with all my ongoing ensembles (Street Beat, Project Hansori, and the as-yet unnamed project built around my piri playing, both solo and with collaborators); and new composition activities. I’m glad to have you all on board as things unfold.

Thank you,

Jeff Fairbanks

Reminder: Tomorrow Project Hansori at CMA

Hi folks, last minute reminder that my big band Project Hansori appears tomorrow (Sunday) in the Asian American Arts Festival in Manhattan:

Sunday, January 5, 2014
12-2pm at the Children’s Museum of the Arts
103 Charlton St New York, NY

While we perform at noon, the overall festival runs 10am-5pm and is free with museum general admission $11 (ages1-65).  Also see complete show schedule for more upcoming shows this month, including a new sideman appearance at Carnegie Hall along with fellow NY Jazz Academy faculty members and our students.  January newsletter forthcoming.

Tomorrow: Free Show in Queens

Fan reminder, FREE concert in Queens TOMORROW:

New Sounds of East and West: Project Hansori with Satoshi Takeishi
Thursday December 19, 2013 at 7pm
All Saints Church 43-12 46th St Queens, NY
FREE admission; donation suggested

Project Hansori performs a grant-funded program of new original music, “New Sounds of East and West”. Blending traditions of American Jazz with court and folk music from Korea and Japan. Beautifully set in a quaint, Gothic style church right off the 7 train and ample restaurants. Link:

Funded in part by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Greater New York Arts Development Fund, administered by Queens Council on the Arts.

…See our other performances under “UPCOMING SHOWS” below.

Thank you,

Jeff Fairbanks
Composer, Performer, Bandleader

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