ABOUT THE ARTISTS

JAMES EMERY Guitarist/Composer
JOHN LINDBERG Bassist/Composer
ROB THOMAS Violinist/Composer

 

James Emery - Biography      visit James Emery's website

James Emery, virtuoso guitarist and composer, has been active on the international jazz and contemporary music scene since 1975. He has recorded 23 CDs as a leader or co-leader and has performed his works in over 25 countries worldwide. He has received international critical acclaim for his work leading various ensemble formations, and he is also recognized for his work with the String Trio of New York, a veritable institution of jazz and creative music which he co-founded in 1977.

Emery has become known for his distinctive and highly original approach to both improvisation and composition. His sound and ideas are immediately recognizable, leading the distinguished music critic Francis Davis to observe "Absolutely nobody sounds like Emery". This singular artistic expression has resulted in many awards, grants and commissions, most notably a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1995. His sensibility as a musician draws in nearly equal measures on formal notions of structure and technique and a robust willingness to improvise, experiment and follow his musical intuition.

Emery has been acclaimed as "one of the world's finest guitarists...[he] possesses an encyclopedic jazz vocabulary as a technician and composer ...staggering technical virtuosity, remarkable creative spirit..." (allaboutjazz.com). The New York Times wrote, "Emery is a fleet guitarist with a personal touch and sound...mercurial, poised and thoroughly satisfying." The German magazine Stereo lauded Emery's compositional skills, observing "the guitarist succeeds in something astonishing: shaping modernistic sound dimensions in an extraordinarily delightful way and making them accessible to a wider audience...". Downbeat magazine describes Emery's music as "...ground-breaking...unmistakable beauty...radiance at every turn." Jazz Times put it succinctly: "James Emery is special."

Emery moved to New York City in 1974 and since that time, he has performed his works in frequent international concert tours. He has toured throughout North America and Europe many times and has also performed throughout East Asia, India, the Middle East and North Africa. He has performed as a soloist in many of the world's major concert halls, from Lincoln Center in New York to the Royal Festival Hall in London, from Bunkamura Music Hall in Tokyo to Philharmonic Hall in Berlin. He has also performed at many international jazz festivals including Berlin, Paris, Warsaw, Zurich, New York, Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Saalfelden, Willisau, Leverkusen, Moers, Graz, Lovere, Groningen, Cracow, Wiesen, Newport, and others.

Emery leads his own trio, quartet, sextet and septet and performs solo concerts. Each project has its own distinct identity and repertoire which has been created specifically for the performers and instrumentation involved. Emery has documented these projects on 8 CDs as a leader. Luminous Cycles, a sextet release (between the lines), was selected as one of the top CDs of 2001 by Downbeat, Jazz Times, allaboutjazz.com and others. His critically acclaimed quartet CD, Standing on a Whale Fishing for Minnows (Enja), was selected on 1997 top ten lists in Jazziz magazine and The Tracking Angle. The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD calls Emery's work "...innovative and imaginative...utterly distinctive." As a composer, he has written over 100 compositions for chamber groups, jazz ensembles, solo guitar, chamber orchestra and symphony orchestra.

His latest CD release is titled Transformations (Music for 3 Improvisers and Orchestra). The work was premiered at the Konzerthaus in Vienna, Austria by the critically-acclaimed modern music orchestra Klangforum Wien, conducted by Emilio Pomarico. Joining Emery as soloists in this major work are Tony Coe (tenor sax and clarinet) and Franz Koglmann (flugelhorn). The work was recorded by between the lines and released in May, 2003. His previous release is titled Fourth World (between the lines, 2002) and features Joe Lovano (saxophones, alto clarinet and drums), Judi Silvano (voice and flute) and Drew Gress (acoustic bass). Emery and Lovano share compositional duties on this acclaimed release.

In 1977, Emery co-founded the chamber jazz ensemble that has been the source of some of his most popular and acclaimed work, the String Trio of New York. One of the most active and visible groups of its kind, the String Trio has performed hundreds of concerts worldwide and has recorded 15 CDs. Along with bassist and co-founder John Lindberg, the String Trio features violinist Rob Thomas. Former violinists include Regina Carter, Billy Bang, Diane Monroe and Charles Burnham.

Of the String Trio, JazzTimes raved, "No individual or ensemble has done more to demystify chamber jazz, and to realize its potential for warmth, sensuousness and beauty ...than the String Trio of New York." The New York Times observed that the Trio "...was as rhythmically alive, stylistically varied and consistently inventive as anything this listener has heard recently." The Trio has commissioned Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Davis, Dave Douglas, Marty Ehrlich, Mark Helias, Joe Lovano, Bobby Previte and Wadada Leo Smith to write for the group and they have featured Lovano, Davis, Oliver Lake, and the Bang on a Can All-Stars as guest artists.

As a sideman, he has performed and recorded with many of the leading lights of creative music, including Henry Threadgill, Joe Lovano, Anthony Braxton, Steve Reich, Leroy Jenkins, Muhal Richard Abrams, Karl Berger, the Human Arts Ensemble, Gerry Hemingway, John Zorn, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, Franz Koglmann, Thurman Barker, Wadada Leo Smith and others.

Emery has received fellowships from, among others, the Guggenheim Foundation (1995), the National Endowment for the Arts (1985,'94), the New York Foundation for the Arts (1986,'90, '00) and the Cary Trust (1991,'96, '99). His compositions have been commissioned with funding from the Cary Trust, the Meet the Composer/Rockefeller/AT&T program, Meet the Composer's Commissions USA program and the MTC/Lila Wallace Jazz Program.

Emery was born in Youngstown, Ohio on Dec. 21, 1951 and raised in the Cleveland, Ohio area. He began playing organ at age six and at age ten switched to the guitar. He studied classical guitar with Ann Stanley (a violinist in George Szell's Cleveland Orchestra as well as a wonderful classical guitarist and educator), David Trader, Ralph Russo and the legendary modern jazz guitarist Bill DeArango. Emery studied composition and music theory at Cleveland St. U. and City College of NY. He has also studied composition and orchestration privately with composer Robert Aldridge of Montclair, NJ.

For 20 years, James Emery lived with his wife Colleen in Greenwich Village, in New York City. After the birth of their daughter Hannah, now 11, they moved to the greener spaces of Warwick, NY, about 50 miles NW of the city. When Emery is not composing or performing, he enjoys spending time with his family, collecting art and observing nature.

 

John Lindberg - Biography      visit John Lindberg's website

Composer/bassist John Lindberg embarked on his professional career in 1975 at the age of sixteen. After having toured America working as a bassist in a variety of musical genres, he arrived in New York in 1977 and immersed himself in the world of jazz and improvised music, while pursuing private bass studies with Dr. David Izenzon and Dave Holland.In the same year he co-founded the String Trio of New York, a composers collective performance unit that has produced fifteen recordings and presented hundreds of concerts worldwide, and which is now celebrating its 26th anniversary season.

In 1979 he formed his first ensemble dedicated to the performance of his compositions, and since has made more than two dozen recordings that feature his works, under his name. In all there are over eighty original pieces pieces that have been recorded to date, some repeatedly in various versions. His ensembles and duo collaborations have performed throughout Europe, North and South America, East Asia and the Middle East. As a bassist he has appeared on over sixty discs, including landmark recordings with Anthony Braxton, Jimmy Lyons, Steve Lacy, and Tony Coe, among others.

Currently he is active composing for, performing and recording with his various ensemble projects, as a solo bassist, and with the String Trio of New York, while being actively involved in teaching through the giving of workshops and lecture/demonstrations on composition, improvisation, and bass and ensemble performance in diverse educational settings. His course Words and Sounds (connecting literature and music) has been widely taught at colleges and universities. Additionally, with the String Trio of New York, he has created the innovative Human Residency, linking musical creation with a variety of the humanities.

Commissions of his work include those from: Chamber Music America for Turning Points (in progress, 2003) quartet; Wiener Musik Galerie for Ruminations upon Ives and Gottschalk (2001) quartet; Commissioning Music/USA for Nature, Time, Patience (1999) string trio; The New York Chamber Ensemble for Groundings (1997) seventeen instrumentalists; Bermuda Triangle for The Terrace (1993) voice, piano, bass trio; Watson/Lindberg duo through Meet The Composer for Pluckin' - A Tribute to Pops Foster (1991) piano, bass duo; The Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble for Encounters (1989) seventeen instrumentalists; String Trio of New York through Meet The Composer for Middle Eastern Essay (1988) string trio; Arts Council of Orange County for Hudson Valley Ruminations (1987) eleven instrumentalists; West Deutsch Radio Koln for the Arrival (1986) string quintet.

Fellowships include those from: New York Foundation for the Arts - music composition (1998 and 1990);Arts International Collaborative Works, compositions for basses (1992); National Endowment for the Arts - jazz performance (1988). Recent awards in support of his work have come from: Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust Recording Program ( 2000, 1996, 1994, 1992); Diploma de Honor - Gobernacion de Cordillera, chile (1995); Aaron Copland Fund for Music Recording (1994); Fund for US Artists at International Festivals (1990-97); ASCAP Special Awards (1984 - 2003).

Recent major performances include: Palazzo Cittanova, Cremona; Tampere Jazz Happening, Finland; Herbst Theater, San Francisco, Lincoln Center, New York; Mardel Jazz Festival, Buenos Aires; Opera de Lyon, France; Theater Kunstlerhaus, Wien.

His most recent recordings are: John Lindberg - Ruminations upon Ives and Gottschalk (between the lines), String Trio of New York - Gut Reaction (Omnitone), John Lindberg - Two by Five (between the lines) John Lindberg Ensemble - A Tree Frog Tonality (between the lines); John Lindberg Ensemble - The Catbird Sings (Black Saint); John Lindberg Solo Bass - Luminosity (Music and Arts).

 

Rob Thomas - Biography       visit Rob Thomas' website

Rob Thomas has been recognized by international critics and audiences as one of the most original, technically adept and powerful violinists playing jazz and contemporary music. Jazztimes calls him "a violinist of exceptional creative resources... riveting as a solo voice with a rich complex tone that can sing or shriek". Thomas has been a vibrant and active part of the creative music scene in New York City since moving there in 1991. He has performed and recorded extensively with The Jazz Passengers, often featuring guests Elvis Costello and Deborah Harry. He is a member of the critically acclaimed Mahavishnu Project, an adventurous repertory ensemble that explores (with the Maestro's blessing and encouragement) the early works of John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra. In 2001, Rob accepted the violin chair in the String Trio of New York, joining guitarist James Emery and bassist John Lindberg as the legendary group began its 23rd season. He is an active free-lancer, contributing to recent recordings by Lee Konitz, Andy Summers, and Los Jovenes Del Barrio. He has also performed with Aretha Franklin, Tito Puente, Max Roach, Bobby Previte, Claude Williams and The Soldier String Quartet.

While studying classical violin and music theory in his home town of Eugene at the University of Oregon, Thomas became obsessed with jazz and soon began working with the local players. He later moved to Portland and eventually toured throughout the Pacific Northwest as a leader on violin and a sideman on bass (on which he "doubled expertly" according to Leonard Feather in a Los Angeles Times festival review), gaining valuable experience in pick-up bands with jazz greats such as Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Eddie Harris, Mose Allison, Nat Adderly, and others. Thomas's own groups made regular appearances at regional clubs and festivals and often included such notable musicians as Glen Moore, Nancy King, Jerry Hahn, and John Handy.

Thomas is also active as an educator. He taught in the Northwest at Reed and Marylhurst Colleges, and at Cornish College of the Arts. He is now an Associate Professor of Strings at Boston's Berklee College of Music.

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