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Lafayette Gilchrist Previews NOW At An Die Musik's Quarantine Concert Series

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Lafayette Gilchrist Previews NOW At An Die Musik's Quarantine Concert Series

Acclaimed pianist and composer Lafayette Gilchrist previews his upcoming double-disc NOW in a special Baltimore pre-release live streaming concert on Friday, June 12 at 7 p.m. as part of the Baltimore-based An Die Musik Quarantine Concert Series.

Gilchrist will perform with his trio featuring bassist Herman Burney and drummer Eric Kennedy in the An Die Musik hall with no audience while the concert is streamed live. Tickets are $5 and include access to the live stream as well as a concert link valid for one week after the performance. For information visit or get tickets here.

On NOW - the follow-up to last year's critically acclaimed solo piano album, Dark Matter, which many critics cited as one of 2019's best jazz releases - Gilchrist returns to the trio format for the first time since 2007.

The album begins with Gilchrist's "Assume the Position," a protest song about police violence that was featured on HBO's crime drama The Wire. Atop a combustive, deep-pocket groove, Gilchrist unleashes his signature two-handed improvisations, often marked by granite-hard rhythmic attacks, rumbling blues-laden melodies, a striking harmonic sense and off-kilter improvisations.

NOW includes other socially and politically conscious compositions as well, such as the dramatic "Bmore Careful," which examines crime and police brutality in Baltimore, where Gilchrist has lived since 1987. The piece features rumbling tremolos, a stuttering groove and a cinematic melody that fluctuates between menacing and wistful.

Gilchrist notes that the 2015 death of Freddie Gray while in police custody garnered worldwide coverage. "What I would like people to understand is that when you come to Baltimore, you need to show some respect for the struggle within the town and how strong the people are on the ground here."

Elsewhere on NOW, Gilchrist addresses other socio-political concerns. On the dreamy, oddly hopeful "Old Shoes Come to Life," he explores the economic wealth gap between races in the United States. The skulking "On Your Belly Like a Snake," inspired by a scene from Haile Gerima's 1993 movie Sankofa, is a tune in the spirit of the Maroons of the American diaspora, i.e. Brazil, Haiti, Cuba, Florida, South Carolina and New Orleans.

NOW also contains several lovely tunes centered on affairs of the heart. One of those is the stunning "Newly Arrived," inspired by Sade's 1988 classic tune "Love Is Stronger Than Pride." On the haunting ballad "The Wonder of Being Here," Gilchrist unravels a melody that sounds as if it was lifted from Abbey Lincoln's songbook. Other amorous tunes include the ballad "Say a Prayer for Our Love" and the torrential "Tomorrow Is Waiting Now (Sharon's Song)."

Throughout NOW, Gilchrist's striking two-handed pianism radiates as he anchors his rugged yet sensual improvisations with stride, ragtime and jump blues in the tradition of Earl "Fatha" Hines, Willie "The Lion" Smith, Eubie Blake and Memphis Slim. "I was always attracted to the old music," Gilchrist says. "It's like the regional sounds that those guys got out of the piano - the East Coast, the West Coast, the Deep South and the different approaches."

Gilchrist also cites other influences, including Billy Preston, Aretha Franklin, Randy Weston, Thelonious Monk, McCoy Tyner and Bud Powell. Make no mistake though, Gilchrist is a modernist who deftly juxtaposes multiple jazz idioms with the rhythmic bounce, syncopation and grooves associated with go-go music, funk and hip-hop.

Born in August 1967 in Washington, D.C., Lafayette Gilchrist's life as a pianist began at 17 while he was studying economics at University of Maryland, Baltimore. On his way to an English class during his freshman year, he wandered into a recital hall and began pecking out melodies and riffs on a Steinway piano.

Gilchrist subsequently spent many hours teaching himself piano and auditing music theory classes. By the time he graduated, he had started his career as a pianist and composer. He formed his first ensemble, New Volcanoes, in 1993 and released his debut album, The Art is Life, that same year. He's since released 13 other albums as a leader. In addition to The Wire, his music has been featured on HBO's Treme and The Deuce. "Gilchrist's writing weaves together old-school funk rhythms with hip-hop cadences and raw street beats," says Troy Collins in All About Jazz. "His melodic sensibility embraces the esoteric angularity of Andrew Hill and Sun Ra as much as the emotional directness of the blues."

In addition to his work as a leader, Gilchrist has also performed as a sideman with a host of jazz luminaries including saxophonist David Murray, singer Cassandra Wilson, trombonist Craig Harris, bassist William Parker and drummer Andrew Cyrille.

Herman Burney is a native of Washington, DC, but was raised in the arts-nurturing state of North Carolina where he grew up listening to Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin and James Cleveland. During his early years Herman played clarinet, drums and tuba and later took up electric bass for a "hard-core funk group" in high school. After meeting jazz titan George Duvivier in 1987, Herman finally settled on his beloved double bass.Herman has traveled all over the world to establish an impressive list of performance credentials. When "at home" he is teaching at George Washington University and the Sitar Arts Center in D.C.

Eric Kennedy, a Baltimore native, is a drummer, vocalist, percussionist, educator and composer. Eric's introduction to all styles of music and early music training was initiated by his musical relatives, who also cultivated his love of jazz. Eric continued his arts education at the Baltimore School for the Arts, studying classical percussion and voice with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra percussionist John Locke, Donna Di Stefano and the late Dr. Nathan Carter, and Ms. Jewel Churn of Frederick Douglass High School. Kennedy taught in the Baltimore City Public School system and was on faculty in the Peabody Conservatory of Music Jazz Department from 1998-2001. Eric has received several awards and grants for performance and composition, including 2004 runner up in the Billie Holiday Vocal Competition and 1st place band member in 2008 and 2009 Chick Webb Jazz Combo Competition.

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