“New Orleans barrelhouse piano, the Impressionism of Ravel, and Duke Ellington’s jaggy solo-piano sound form the bedrock of Lafayette Gilchrist’s style at the keyboard. But if there’s one big influence on the way he thinks about rhythm, it’s the deeply swinging ‘pocket’ of a classic go-go beat. With its classic loping groove, built on heavy hand percussion and call-and-response flow, go-go is the unofficial musical idiom of Gilchrist’s native Washington, D.C.” – Giovanni Russonello, The New York Times
“Lafayette Gilchrist has dug deep into [jazz piano] history… he’s tapping into jazz’s spiritual, historical and cultural roots. He’s an old soul at ease in the modern world.” – Kevin Whitehead, NPR’s Fresh Air
Acclaimed pianist and composer Lafayette Gilchrist and legendary saxophonist David Murray will appear in duo concerts livestreamed from clubs in Baltimore and NYC. They perform:
Lafayette Gilchrist’s music draws on the span of jazz history from stride to free improvisation, along with inspiration from hip-hop, funk, and Washington D.C.’s unique go-go sound. His work thrives on making surprising connections between styles and influences, boldly veering from piledriver funk to piquant stride, vigorous swing to hip-hop swagger, contemplative abstraction to deep-bottom grooves. Gilchrist’s compositions have graced the soundtracks of David Simon’s acclaimed series The Wire, The Deuce, and Treme. He has toured extensively with David Murray, performed with singer Cassandra Wilson, trombonist Craig Harris, bassist William Parker and drummer Andrew Cyrille.
His upcoming double-album NOW, set for release on October 2, 2020, addresses life in Baltimore, race relations and police brutality in America and affairs of the heart.
Born in August 1967 in Washington, D.C., Gilchrist’s life as a pianist began at 17 while he was studying economics at University of Maryland, Baltimore. On his way to an English class during his freshman year, he wandered into a recital hall and began pecking out melodies and riffs on a Steinway piano. He subsequently spent many hours teaching himself piano and auditing music theory classes. By the time he graduated, he had started his career as a pianist and composer.
He leads the genre-defying ensembles the New Volcanoes and the Sonic Trip Masters All Stars, and long with bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Eric Kennedy, he’s a member of the adventurous collective trio Inside Out. In 2017, Gilchrist was named a Local Legend by Baltimore Magazine, while Baltimore City Paper named Lafayette Gilchrist and the New Volcanoes as “Best Band.” In 2018 he was chosen as a Baker Artist Award winner. Gilchrist has performed with Cassandra Wilson, Macy Gray, Oliver Lake, Andrew Cyrille, Orrin Evans, Paul Dunmall, Hamid Drake, William Parker, and many more. Gilchrist’s most recent album, 2019’s Dark Matter, landed on numerous critics best of the year lists. 2020 will see the release of his double album Now with the Lafayette Gilchrist Trio featuring Herman Burney on bass and Eric Kennedy on drums.
Few musicians in jazz history have proven more vigorously productive and resourceful than David Murray. For more than three decades, from the moment he first visited New York as a 20-year-old student playing in a walkup loft in 1975, Murray has careened forward in a cool, collected, rocket-fueled streak. He has released over 150 albums under his own name. More impressive than the numbers is the constancy of two abiding achievements: as a tenor saxophonist: he has perfected an instantly recognizable approach to improvisation that even in its freest flights acknowledges the gravity of a tradition he honors more than most, and he has altered the context for his improvisations as an infinite mosaic of musical challenges and explorations.
Murray goes down as a worthy successor for some of the biggest names in jazz, and he is now contributing to the rise of young talents including Gilchrist. Born in Oakland, Murray grew up in Berkeley and studied with Catherine Murray (his mother, an organist), Bobby Bradford, Arthur Blythe, Stanley Crouch and many others until 1975 when he left Ponoma College in Los Angeles for New York. There, he met many new musicians and musical styles: Anthony Braxton, Don Cherry, Julius Hemphill, and more. In Ted Daniels’ Energy Band, he worked with Hamiett Bluiett, Lester Bowie and Frank Lowe. In 1976, after a first European tour, Murray set up one of his mythical groups, the World Saxophone Quartet with Oliver Lake, Hamiett Bluiett and Julius Hemphill. From Jerry Garcia to Max Roach, via Randy Weston and Elvin Jones, Murray continued working with ever more artists and making ever more recordings. From 1978 onwards, he entered into a period of intense creativity. At the same time, he was writing film music (‘W Dubois’, 1989, ‘Dernier Stade’, 1996 and ‘Karmen Gaye’ in 2000), working with the ‘Urban Bust Women’ dance company (‘Crossing Into Our Promise Land’ in 1998) and regularly working with Joseph Papp of the New York Public Theatre (‘Photograph’, 1978 and ‘Spell Number’ in 1979) and with Bob Thiele, founder of Impulse and Red Baron, who became his producer in 1988 and signed him with Columbia. Thiele produced more than ten of his albums on Red Baron. Murray also likes rearranging the works of great composers such as Duke Ellington and Paul Gonsalves. He has also written two operas: ‘The Blackamoor of Peter the Great’ in 2004 for strings and voices, based on a selection of twenty poems by Pushkin, and ‘The Sysiphus Revue’, his 2008 bop opera sung by a gospel choir on an Amiri Baraka libretto. In 2006, his Black Saint Quartet was reborn with ‘Sacred Ground’, on which Cassandra Wilson can notably be heard. This work was followed by the rediscovery of 26 rare tracks recorded on the DIW label, which are now available exclusively for downloading on Emusic, and are a good way for fans to get the measure of the scale of a dizzying career. More recently he has worked with Gwo Ka Masters, Macy Gray, Saul Williams,Terri Lyne Carrington, and Gregory Porter, among others. In 2012 he received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Pomona College.