Firehouse 12 kicks off Spring Jazz Series: Levin, Braxton, Wolfe among headliners for 2011 spring season

By David A. Brensilver

Nick Lloyd first presented live music at Firehouse 12 in spring 2005, and the following fall launched the venue’s first curated series. This March, Lloyd continues the semiannual series. Like past Firehouse 12 spring and fall concert calendars, this Spring Jazz Series promises what Lloyd recently described as “some kind of cross-section, stylistically, (of) what’s happening in improvised music now.”

The Daniel Levin Quartet performs at Firehouse 12 on Friday, April 15, at 8:30pm and 10pm. Photo of Daniel Levin by Luciano Rossetti

Cellist Daniel Levin, former music director of the Amistad Academy, has appeared at Firehouse 12 several times, and, over the course of the past five years, Lloyd said, has had a lot of success.

Levin, who’ll lead the Daniel Levin Quartet at Firehouse 12 on April 15, represents Lloyd’s feeling that “it’s nice to have relationships with emerging artists … as well as more established artists,” referring to Levin’s growth from “emerging” to “established” artist.

Acclaimed saxophonist Anthony Braxton, a professor at Wesleyan University who’s never

performed at Firehouse 12, will appear at the venue on May 20, when he’ll lead the Anthony Braxton Septet in his Echo Echo Mirror House.

“In a way,” Lloyd said, Braxton’s appearance could be seen as “the marquee show of the series” given that Braxton “tends not even to play that much in the states,” and is “not usually out gigging in a club like this.”

Former New Haven resident Ben Wolfe is another artist with local ties who’ll be appearing during Firehouse 12’s Spring Jazz Series. Wolfe, who’s scheduled to appear with the Ben Wolfe Quartet on May 27, is described by Lloyd as a straight-ahead player whose music tends to be modeled on the hard-bop model of the 1960s.

Wolfe will present a “very traditional type of show,” Lloyd said, whereas Braxton’s Echo Echo Mirror House will offer an “avant-garde, experimental type of show.”

“The unspoken educational aspect of Firehouse 12,” Lloyd said, is to open people’s minds.

“Under the umbrella of whatever people understand jazz to be in terms of improvised music,” Lloyd said, there has been, in the last 10 to 15 years, “a real sort of breaking down of boundaries in terms of different stylistic approaches to jazz.”

Lloyd hopes “that people are coming in with a more open mind” as artists continue to expand the reaches of their imaginations with regard to improvisation. What he means is that he hopes his audiences continue to be as curious as the musicians they see and hear at Firehouse 12. Lloyd said he’s grateful to the audience in and around New Haven, an audience he described as being “willing to take a risk … willing to go there with you and with the performer.”

Visit firehouse12.com for detailed information about the venue’s Spring Jazz Series.

The Anthony Braxton Septet presents Echo Echo Mirror House at Firehouse 12 on Friday, May 20, at 8:30pm and 10pm. Photo of Anthony Braxton by Agostino Mela

The Anthony Braxton Septet presents Echo Echo Mirror House at Firehouse 12 on Friday, May 20, at 8:30pm and 10pm. Photo of Anthony Braxton by Agostino Mela

Firehouse 12 2011 Spring Jazz Series

March 18: Adam Rogers

March 25: Donny McCaslin Group

April 1: Jeremy Pelt

April 8: Ullman/Swell 4

April 15: Daniel Levin Quartet

April 22: Shane Endsley

April 29: TBA

May 6: Tom Rainey Trio

May 13: Rob Brown Quartet

May 20: Anthony Braxton Septet

May 27: Ben Wolfe Quartet

June 3: George Colligan Trio

June 10: Scott Colley

Visit firehouse12.com for complete season details.

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