December happenings

Hi everyone! It’s been a crazy year to say the least, and obviously the entire music industry (and especially live music!) completely imploded. Here’s to 2021 and hopefully a quick and merciful rebound! Please stay safe out there; I’ve missed performing and meeting people a lot this year, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Though things have been hampered heavily this year, I’ve been fortunate enough to stay relatively busy musically and I wanted to share some of those things with you.

As far as new albums coming out, there are several! I am proud to be on the newest Uptown Jazz Tentet album “What’s Next?” led by my Juilliard School friends James Burton III, Willie Applewhite and Brandon Lee. These are the classiest cats, compositions and arrangements around, and Irabbagast Records is proud to have released it last month. Please go here for more information. Also, back in September, I co-led an album entitled “The Cat of Sadness” featuring myself, Dan Blake and Ingrid Laubrock, all on soprano saxophones! It’s really a unique album and it was magical working with those two. Please find the album here.

I also co-led an album release with great percussionist and engineer Andrew Barker, and our album, Anemone, was released a few weeks ago by Radical Documents out in California. It was really a blast playing with Andrew and I hope to get to travel with this duo some when the pandemic subsides.

Finally, I am super proud to have co-led another album with great French saxophonist and personality Sylvain Rifflet. Our last album, a Moondog tribute CD and DVD, was so much fun to make that we had to do a follow up. This time, we took several urgent speeches from past and present and composed music around them. Words by Paul Robeson, Emma Gonzales, Greta Thunberg and more are featured here, and the playing of Sebastian Boisseau and Jim Black make this one of my favorite albums I have been a part of. Rebellion(s) is released by BMC Records in Budapest.

Also during these months off I was blessed with receiving two separate grants to help create new music and keep my spirits up during this live performance downturn. I am happy to have received a Chamber Music America New Jazz Works composition grant, and the results — entitled Recharge the Blade– will feature myself along with Ray Anderson, Matt Mitchell, Chris Lightcap and Dan Weiss. We are debuting the piece at Smalls Jazz Club on Thursday, December 3rd, 2020 over two sets at 7 and 830pm. Tickets will be extremely limited; please go to for more information. We are also performing at 4pm on Friday, December 4th, 2020 at Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett, NY for an extremely limited audience as well as live-to-tape recording that will be broadcast on the radio in the weeks following (please check back here for updated information). “Recharge the Blade” by Jon Irabagon and Outright! has been made possible with support from Chamber Music America’s 2020 New Jazz Works program funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

I was also extremely pleased to learn that my upcoming new quartet tour (featuring Matt Mitchell, Chris Lightcap and Dan Weiss) will be funded in part by a Jazz Road touring grant (a program of South Arts and funded by the National Endowment of the Arts). This tour will feature new music for quartet over at least 8 different performances in and around the eastern US. Fingers crossed for an April 2021 date, with a recording and further touring planned afterwards.

As far as recordings that will be coming out in the not-so-distant future, I recorded a solo tenor saxophone album at a canyon in South Dakota that I frequented this summer. It features all songs related to Charlie Parker in some way and is a totally different album than I’ve ever attempted to make. I also have duo projects with both Paul Lytton and Axel Dorner that I would love to put out sometime in the next year or two that I am very excited about, and there is an insanely large and insanely fun album led by Matt Mitchell and Kate Gentile that I am on that should be coming out later next year as well.

Whew! Thanks for reading. Hopefully this dark period is nearing its end and we can return to life with live music, personal communication and comradery. Please stay safe and I hope to see you all very soon. Thank you for your continuing support, and feel free to drop me a line to say hello.


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