Kicking off the Isthmus Jazz Festival, on Friday, June 1st, 2018 at 8pm, Arts + Literature Laboratory presents Emerson Hunton's new quintet with Greg Ward II, Russ Johnson, Ben Cruz and Charlie Kirchen. Angular, long-form composition, spacious improvisation, and high energy free-bop with a veteran horn section. Special guest Fabu, Madison Poet Laureate Emeritus, will open with a reading from her newest book of poetry inspired by jazz pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams. $12 advance tickets are available online at https://emersonhunton.bpt.me or $15 at the door. Online ticket sales end one hour before the show. Doors open at 7:30pm.
Emerson Hunton is a drummer and composer based in Chicago, IL. His musical approach prizes space and texture, while pulling from a wide array of musical traditions. His creative output has been supported by grants and residencies through STEIM, Conservatory van Amsterdam, the CIGSIE board, and Avaloch Farm Music Institute. Emerson has performed nationally and internationally with collaborative jazz quartet Junior Ranger, an ensemble that challenges its members to rethink the boundaries of orchestration and instrumentation, compositional structures, and free improvisation. Junior Ranger recorded and released their debut recording Monster Masks in 2015. Emerson is a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he studied with master drummer Billy Hart, and made music with Ingrid Jensen, Gerald Clayton, Jonathan Blake, Abraham Laboriel Sr., Billy Drewes, Dave Douglas, Gonzalo Grau, and Jamey Haddad, among others.
Greg Ward is a saxophonist and composer currently based in Chicago after several years living in New York. Ward has had the opportunity to perform and record with a varied groups of artists like Prefuce 73, Lupe Fiasco, Tortoise, William Parker, Andrew D'Angelo, Nicole Mitchell, Hamid Drake, Chris Cheek, Ingrid Laubrock, Occidental Brothers Dance Band International, and Mike Reed. Greg's trio approaches original compositions and standard jazz repertoire with exciting modernity and has been featured in the U.S. and Europe on various stages.
Trumpeter Russ Johnson is a recent Midwest transplant after spending 23 years as an important member of New York City’s jazz community. He has seven recordings as a leader or co-leader and performed on more than 75 recordings as a sideman. Russ has worked alongside many of the legendary figures in jazz including Lee Konitz, Steve Swallow, Bill Frisell, and Joe Lovano. In addition, he has recorded and/or performed with a long list of the most prominent musicians currently on the international jazz scene, including Myra Melford, Ken Vandermark, and Tony Malaby. Russ has performed in more than 40 countries across the globe. His groups have recently performed at the Chicago, Winter Jazz Fest (NYC) Hyde Park, (Chicago) and Bergamo, (Italy) jazz festivals.
Charlie Kirchen is a Chicago-based bassist, composer, and improviser who's work can be heard with Rooms Trio, The Few, Sfyria Trio, and a quartet under his own name.
Ben Cruz is a soon-to-be Chicago based guitarist originally from New Jersey.