Credit: Ron Scott photo

The drummer Marcus Gilmore arrived on the jazz scene as a young gun…or maybe he was a teenage virtuoso. He was touring with Clark Terry’s band while still attending Manhattan’s LaGuardia High School. Ironically, when your career begins with playing with Terry where do you go from there? He hasn’t missed a step or note. He’s been a first call drummer with such jazz innovators as Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Nicholas Payton, Steve Coleman, Vijay Iyer, and Ambrose Akinmusire. Ravi Coltrane, Branford Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Joel Ross, Christian Scott and he is Chick Corea’s favorite drummer after his iconic grandfather Roy Haynes. His solo projects include his bands Action Speaks and Silhouway.

Gilmore has a unique perspective on playing the drums that covers his broad canvas from rock, blues avant garde and beyond. His most recent livestream solo performance at the Village Vanguard was a booming journey that hit every melodic and harmony chord, with high hat and cymbals in play nothing less than a vibrating stroke of genius

On Jan. 28, he performs a livestream from The Jazz Gallery with his ever-exploring trio; the Cuban pianist David Virelles and bassist Burniss Travis. Two sets at 7:30pm and 9:30pm online $20/$5 members. Visit the website for tickets Marcus Gilmore Group — The Jazz Gallery.

As a pianist and composer Marcus Persiani earned an international reputation touring and recording with Cuban band leader and composer Mario Bauzá, Dizzy Gillespie, Andy and Jerry González, vocalist Vanessa Rubin and bassist Cecil McBee. Those in Harlem may know Persiani as a longtime member of the Sugar Hill Quartet (led by Patience Higgins) that served as the blazing house band at St. Nick’s Pub during those legendary Monday night jam sessions. The band also enjoyed a long stand at Smoke Jazz and Supper Club’s Friday night jam sessions.

In the midst of this pandemic Persiani has just released Urban Fictions (Truth Revolution Recording Collective), the eight-tracks feature the pianist in a trio and quartet setting playing four of his original compositions and four standards. The first cut “Take One Away” is totally straight-ahead with trumpeter Keyon Harrold leading the quartet charge hitting soaring riffs as Persiani comps along before taking a progressive lead accompanied by drummer Emmanuel Harrold (trio and quartet), taking off with soft cymbal blasts with bassist Rahsaan Carter. Keyon’s high velocity compliments the pianist’s flowing melodies.

The second cut “I’m an Old Cowhand” is the trio featuring bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Emmanuel Harrold. Persiani takes the well-traveled western away from its rolling plains where the buffalo roamed into a hip jazz romp with Persiani giving us a big dose of what jazz piano is all about, his timing and crisp clarity flows like a babbling brook. Harrold stretches on his jumps on drum solo. “Old Cowhand is a tribute to Herbie Hancock it was his recording debut on the album Out of This World by the Pepper Adams Donald Byrd Quintet,” explained Persiani.

The pianist opens with familiar bebop notes before Keyon reaches the stratosphere on the opening of Thelonious Monk’s classic “Hackensack” with TC III providing his hip vocal vocalese scatting (dam dude where you been there is no other cat on the jazz scene today kicking that traditional form of Eddie Jefferson). TC has the goods and needs to be on this 2021 scene whenever it returns to live junction. Bassist Curtis Lundy offers that nimble bass voice he is known for and drummer Harrold plays it low key. Persiani plays a soft palate as opposed to his legendary predecessor but be sure the pianist has a few twists and pings of his own. During this pandemic regardless of your lockdown status Urban Fictions is the ideal CD to have in your possession.

The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the world throughout the year; however, no one has been more overwhelmed than first responders and essential workers who continue working to protect and care for the rest of us. But, who takes care of them while they are helping others? The Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW), through its Black Family Summit (BFS) initiative, is reaching out to a major part of this vital workforce with the Community Cares Listening Line 877-719-1117. 

Funded by a grant from Casey Family Programs, the initiative provides free emotional support and resource information to first responders and essential workers who are African American and people of African descent. The helpline is available seven days a week from 8:00 am – 11:00 pm.

“Our tagline is ‘We’re here. We’re listening.” and we encourage everyone to share the helpline number––877-719-1117––with colleagues, family and friends to let first responders and essential workers know that we are here for them,” added Dr. Newland. 

For more information on Institute of the Black World 21stCentury, Black Family Summit and the Community Cares Listening Line, please go to ibw21.org.