BRATTLEBORO -- The Vermont Jazz Center will kick off its 2013-14 season on Saturday at 8 p.m. with a performance by two highly esteemed musicians in jazz. Along with myriad other projects, saxophonist Steve Wilson and drummer Lewis Nash have been performing together as a duo since 2001. At the VJC they will be joined by bassist, Nat Reeves.
Duo performances, Wilson and Nash say, give them the chance to display their shared dedication to melody while exploring the freedom of interaction and creativity. They have put together a program built around song and melody, far from the edgy sound that a sax-drum duo might suggest (such as the mind-blowing Interstellar Space by John Coltrane and Rashied Ali). Their duo concept focuses on jazz standards and material from the Great American Songbook complemented by originals built on structured melodies.
Nash says they use familiar songs to give the audience a chance to observe their process and directly experience "the ways we can deconstruct that material." Another main objective is to create an actual dialogue with the audience: "we want to make it as much a casual, living-room kind of experience as we can."
Wilson performed and/or studied with Jimmy and Percy Heath, Jon Hendricks, Jaki Byard, Frank Foster and Ellis Marsalis. In 1987 he moved to New York and worked with Michele Rosewoman, Renee Rosnes, the American Jazz Orchestra and the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. Later, he joined the Buster Williams Quintet, Something More. Since then, Wilson has recorded or toured with Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Dianne Reeves, Charlie Byrd, Donald Brown, Dave Liebman and Don Byron. He has recorded six CDs as a leader. The Steve Wilson Quartet has travelled across the United States and Europe.
By the time he was 21, Nash had become the "first call" jazz drummer in Phoenix, Ariz., and had performed with Sonny Stitt, Art Pepper, Red Garland, Lee Konitz, Barney Kessell and Slide Hampton. In 1981, he moved to New York and joined the trio of jazz vocalist Betty Carter. He is featured on three of Carter’s recordings, including Grammy Award-winning "Look What I Got." Nash has worked with Ron Carter, Branford Marsalis, J.J. Johnson, the Don Pullen/George Adams Quartet, Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz, Art Farmer, Clark Terry and Milt Jackson. He was a member of the Tommy Flanagan Trio. His discography includes projects with Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Benny Carter, Diana Krall and Regina Carter. He has one recording as a leader, "Rhythm is My Business" and has performed throughout the world.
For this concert at the Vermont Jazz Center, Wilson and Nash will perform with bassist Nat Reeves. In 1982 two events occurred that changed Reeves’ musical career: he traveled to Japan with Sonny Stitt during his last tour; and that same year, he moved to Hartford, Conn. to work with Jackie McLean at the University of Hartford and the Artists Collective where he found his calling as a teacher. He has continued to perform and record as bassist for Pharoah Sanders, Harold Mabern, Larry Willis, Pat Metheny, John Scofield and others. In 1994, Reeves began a musical relationship with Kenny Garrett that continues to this day. In 2001 Reeves decided to focus full-time on his teaching career at the jazz studies program at The Hartt School, (now renamed as the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz).
Steve Wilson/Lewis Nash, a musical dialogue at the Vermont Jazz Center is made possible thanks to financial support from Dave Snyder of Guildford Sound, as well as ongoing support of the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, The Hampton Inn of Brattleboro and VPR and WFCR.
Tickets for Steve Wilson and Lewis Nash at VJC are $20 general admission and $15 for students with ID. Tickets are available at In the Moment Record Store in Brattleboro, at www.vtjazz.org or by calling the Vermont Jazz Center ticket line at 802-254-9088, ext. 1.