Multi-faceted clarinetist/composer James Falzone is an acclaimed member of Chicago’s jazz and creative improvised music scene, a veteran contemporary music lecturer and clinician, the longtime Director of Music for Grace Chicago Church and an award-winning composer who has been commissioned by chamber ensembles, choirs and symphony orchestras around the globe. He leads his own ensembles KLANG, The Renga Ensemble, and Allos Musica and has released eight highly regarded recordings on Allos Documents, a label he founded in 2000. James has performed in recital halls, festivals and jazz venues throughout North America and Europe, appears regularly on Downbeat magazine’s Critics’ and Readers’ Polls, and was nominated as the 2011 Clarinetist of the Year by the Jazz Journalist Association. His work has been featured in the New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, New Music Box, Point of Departure, and many other publications. Educated at Northern Illinois University and New England Conservatory, James is a respected educator himself and is currently a Senior Lecturer at Columbia College Chicago where he teaches in the interdisciplinary First Year Seminar program and is a research fellow at The Center For Black Music Research. James has also been on the faculty of Deep Springs College and North Central College. Learn more at allosmusica.org
The Renga Ensemble was convened by clarinetist and composer James for a series of concerts and a recording in April, 2013 in Chicago. The ensemble was handpicked by Falzone, drawing together some of the most diverse and adventurous clarinet and saxophone players working in jazz and improvised music today:
James Falzone: Bb and Eb clarinets
Ken Vandermark: Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, baritone saxophone
Keefe Jackson: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, contra Bb bass clarinet
Jason Stein: bass clarinet Ben Goldberg: Bb clarinet, contra Eb alto clarinet
Ned Rothenberg: Bb clarinet, alto saxophone
This special West Coast edition will involve an all-star local cast including Goldberg and sfSound’s Matt Ingalls.
The project is rooted in persona: how do diverse musical voices converge and find common ground, especially in a setting where composed and improvised elements coalesce? The intention in assembling such diverse players, most of whom had never played together before, was to allow space for each voice to be heard yet challenged and shaped by another, equally strong voice. The concerts in Chicago took place at The Chicago Cultural Center, The Hideout, and the Elastic Arts Foundation and received preview articles in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, and Chicago Music.
James named the group Renga after a centuries-old form of collaborative Japanese poetry, where two or three poets blend their words into a single meditative work. James’ compositions, written especially for this project, were conceived around a haiku by American poet Anita Virgil. The titles of many of the compositions make up her brazenly clear yet emotionally compelling poem:
the room is white
until that red apple
More video here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfci01_Sb-MuW4jUR7TPpvA