Theo Bleckmann, Singer and New Music Composer and Joshua White, Pianist
White Box Live Arts, Liberty Station
2590 Truxton Rd #205
San Diego, CA
Tickets at the door: $20/$10 for students.
“a vocalist of inventive instinct and assiduous musicality”—Nate Chinen, New York Times
A jazz singer and new music composer of eclectic tastes and prodigious gifts, GRAMMY® nominated Theo Bleckmann makes music that is accessibly sophisticated, unsentimentally emotional, and seriously playful, leading his work to be described as “from another planet” (New York Times), as “magical, futuristic,” (AllAboutJazz), “limitless” (Citypaper, Philadelphia) “transcendent” (Village Voice) and “brilliant” (New York Magazine).
Bleckmann, who has been residing in New York City since 1989, has released a series of gorgeous and irreverent albums on Winter & Winter, including recordings of Las Vegas standards, of Weimar art songs, and of popular “bar songs” (all with pianist Fumio Yasuda); a recording of newly-arranged songs by Charles Ives (with jazz/rock collective Kneebody); his acoustic Solos for Voice “I dwell in possibility”, and his highly acclaimed Hello Earth – the Music of Kate Bush. Bleckmann has most recently appeared as a special guest on recordings by Ambrose Akinmusire for Blue Note Records and Julia Hülsmann’s trio for ECM, followed by touring with both of those artists. In January 2017, ECM will release Theo’s recording with his new Elegy Quintet, produced by legendary label head and founder, Manfred Eicher.
Bleckmann has additionally collaborated with musicians, artists, actors and composers, including Ambrose Akinmusire, Laurie Anderson, Uri Caine, Philip Glass, Ann Hamilton, John Hollenbeck, Sheila Jordan, Phil Kline, David Lang, Kirk Nurock, Frances MacDormand, Ben Monder, Michael Tilson Thomas, Kenny Wheeler, John Zorn, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, and, most prominently, Meredith Monk, with whom Bleckmann worked as a core ensemble member for over fifteen years.
He has been interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air and appeared on the David Letterman show with Laurie Anderson. In 2015, Bleckmann premiered his commission for the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, and 2016 brings both the premiere of a new work commissioned by the San Francisco Girls Chorus (for the New York Philharmonic Biennial) and the premiere of a new work by Jacob Cooper with the LA Philharmonic.
Bleckmann’s accolades include NPR’s 2012 Top 10 Jazz Albums of the Year for Hello Earth! The Songs of Kate Bush, top-five spots in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 DownBeat Critics’ Polls for Best Male Vocalist, and top-ten spots in their Readers’ Polls, as well as third place for Best Vocalist in the 2012 Rhapsody Poll of 119 critics (formerly hosted by the Village Voice), Boston Phoenix’s “Best Jazz Acts” of 2012 for Hello Earth! The Songs of Kate Bush and WQXR’s Operavore “Best Opera of 2012” for Out Cold by Phil Kline. In 2010, Bleckmann received the prestigious JAZZ ECHO award from the Deutsche Phono-Akademie in his native Germany.
“Joshua has immense talent…I was impressed by his daring and courageous approach to improvisation on the cutting edge of innovation. He is his own man.”—Herbie Hancock
Pianist Joshua White (born August 17, 1985) had parallel musical training in both classical and gospel music traditions before encountering the music most commonly referred to as “jazz” at the University of California San Diego summer camp in 2003. He began formal piano training at the age of seven with a private instructor, and was subsequently immersed into the music of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and others.
After competing in several classical piano music competitions and also becoming the organist/pianist at his local church, Joshua (at the age of 18) chose to focus his musical studies on “jazz” and improvised music traditions, drawing inspiration from its many innovators. He dove into the music head first with the help of world-renowned musicians like composer Anthony Davis, saxophonist David Borgo, flutist Holly Hofmann, and piano master Mike Wofford. “Joshua was the most devoted student I’ve ever worked with by far,” says Wofford. “Absolutely focused and with a great intuitive grasp of the music, even at that early stage.”
In the years following, White made incredible strides through the Southern California jazz community, playing with virtuoso trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos, alto saxophone legend Charles McPherson, bassist Marshall Hawkins, tenor saxophonist Daniel Jackson, and former Anthony Braxton sideman, Mark Dresser. Dresser hand- picked the young musician for his West Coast Quintet, which featured saxophonist Ben Schachter, virtuoso trombonist Michael Dessen and drummer Kjell Nordeson. “Josh is a super-bad young pianist,” Dresser said. “I see him as a singular talent. He brings so much to the table.”
White’s virtuosity is never about empty displays of technique. He has the uncanny ability to blend the overtly lyrical with passages of tumultuous tension without losing the listener in the process. He is, in short, a cultural improviser, taking his inheritance and venturing into possibility.
In 2011, White entered the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition in Washington D.C., ultimately placing second out of 160 competitors from around the world. Herbie Hancock was one the judges. “Joshua has immense talent,” Hancock told music critic George Varga of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “I was impressed by his daring and courageous approach to improvisation on the cutting edge of innovation. He is his own man. I believe that Thelonious Monk would have been proud of the performance of this great young artist…”
New York Times jazz critic Ben Ratliff was at the competition. “He pressed hard against the rhythm section and improvised with form, telling the bassist Rodney Whitaker and the drummer Carl Allen what to do and when, accelerating and decelerating, suddenly going free. (Nobody else did that.)
… Mr. White used a lot of dissonance and clutter, but it was provocative, chord-related clutter, not the brilliant-soloist kind made mostly with the right hand. It was a sound worth returning to…”
For the last several years, White has been in demand as one of Southern California’s most creative and technically accomplished pianists. He performs regularly at Dizzy’s (San Diego), Blue Whale (Los Angeles), The Loft (La Jolla), the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library (La Jolla), and numerous other venues on the West Coast.
Formed in January 2014, the Joshua White Quartet is a bi-coastal group focused on interpreting original compositions, as well as exploring the boundaries of collective improvisation. The JWQ features David Binney (alto sax); Harish Raghavan, Hamilton Price (bass); Damion Reid, and Mark Ferber (drums). Pianist Joshua White has also worked /recorded with Chrisitan McBride, Dayna Stephens, Ambrose Akinmusire, Walter Smith III, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Tim Lefebvre, Joe LaBarbera, Hugh Ragin, Anthony Wilson, Derrick Hodge, and many more.