James Emery

James Emery is a guitarist and composer who has been involved in the international jazz and contemporary music scene ever since 1975. As a leader and co-leader, he has recorded 26 CDs and performed his music in more than 25 countries. His work as a leader in various ensemble formations has earned him international praise. He is also well-known for his contributions to the String Trio of New York which celebrated its 35th Anniversary in 2012. Emery is known for his unique and original approach to both composition and improvisation. Emery’s sound and ideas are instantly recognisable, which led Francis Davis, a distinguished music critic to say that “Absolutely nobody sings like Emery”. His unique artistic expression led to many awards, grants, and commissions. The most notable was a 1995 Guggenheim Fellowship for music composition. His musical sensibility is based almost equally on the formal concepts of technique and structure, as well as an openness to experimentation and willingness to follow his musical intuition. Emery is regarded as “one the best guitarists he] has an encyclopedic vocabulary of jazz as a composer and technician…staggering technical violence, remarkable creative spirit …” [All About Jazz]. The New York Times described Emery as a “fleet guitarist with a personal touch…Mercurial and poised, and deeply satisfying.” Stereo, a German magazine, praises Emery’s compositional abilities. It observes that Emery “strikes in something extraordinary: shaping modernistic sound dimensions and making them accessible to an even wider audience …” Downbeat magazine describes Emery’s music as “groundbreaking” with “unmistakable beauty…radiance everywhere.” Jazz Times summarised it well: James Emery is special. Emery was selected by Down Beat as one of the “66 great six-stringers” in July 2003. Scott Yanow also included him in The Great Jazz Guitarists in 2013. Emery moved from New York City to perform his music in concert tours around the world in 1974. He has performed throughout North America, Europe, and East Asia many times. He has been a soloist at many of the major concert halls around the globe, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, London, Bunkamura Music Hall, Tokyo, Philharmonic Hall, Berlin, Espace Cardin, Paris, and Wiener Konzerthaus (Vienna). He has performed at numerous international jazz festivals, including Berlin, Paris and Madrid, Warsaw. Zurich. New York, Toronto, Saalfelden. Willisau. Leverkusen. Moers. Lovere. Groningen. Cracow. Wiesen. Newport. Emery performs solo and leads his own quartet, quartet, sextet, and septet. Each project is unique and has its own repertoire, which was created for the musicians and instruments involved. These projects have been documented by Emery on eight CDs, as a leader. Luminous Cycles (a sextet album) was chosen by Down Beat, Jazz Times and allaboutjazz.com as one of the best CDs of 2001. His quartet CD, Standing on a Whale fishing for minnows (Enja), which he has been critically acclaimed, was included on the 1997 Top ten Jazziz and The Tracking Angle lists. The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD calls Emery’s work “…innovative and imaginative…utterly distinctive.” As a composer, he has written over 100 compositions for chamber groups, jazz ensembles, solo guitar, chamber orchestra and symphony orchestra. His most recent CD, Transformations (Music For 3 Improvisers And Orchestra), was released in October. It was performed at Vienna’s Konzerthaus by the Klangforum Wien modern music orchestra, which Emilio Pomarico conducted. Tony Coe (tenor and clarinets) and Franz Koglmann, (flugelhorn), will be Emery’s soloists in this important work. “…[Emery was praised by Down Beat and featured Joe Lovano (saxophones and alto clarinet) and drums. This acclaimed album features Emery and Lovano sharing the composition duties. The Penguin Jazz Guide 2011 Edition, subtitled The History of the Music on the 1001 Best Albums, included transformations. The String Trio of New York, a chamber jazz group Emery founded in 1977, is where some of his most acclaimed and popular work has come from. The String Trio is one of the most visible and active groups of its type, having performed hundreds of concerts around the world and releasing 18 CDs. The String Trio also features Rob Thomas, a violinist. Charles Burnham, Billy Bang, Regina Carter and Diane Monroe were all former violinists. The String Trio performed in the United States at Great Performers at Lincoln Center and Ravinia, Walker Arts Centers, The Smithsonian Institutions, The Smithsonian Institutions, The Smithsonian Institutions, The Smithsonian Institutions, The Smithsonic Institutions, The Kennedy Center Houston’s Da Camera Society Houston, Stanford Lively Arts Spivey Hall, Spivey Hall, Atlanta, San Francisco’s Herbst Theatres, The Wexner Center in Ohio St., The University Musical Society Ann Arbor, Wolf Trap, Wolf Trap, Wolf Trap, Wolf Trap, Wolf Trap, Wolf Trap, Wolf Trap, Wolf Trap, Trap, Wolf Trap, Trap, Wolf Trap, Trap, Wolf Trap, Trap, Trap, Trap, Trap, Trap, Trap, Wolf Trap, Trap, Trap, Trap, Trap, Trap, Trap, Trap, Trap, Trap, Trap and many other. They have performed in more than 40 states as a result of their extensive domestic touring. They have been featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition, and most recently on Public Radio International’s Concerts from The Library of Congress. JazzTimes stated that the String Trio has done more than any other ensemble to demystify chamber music and realize its potential for warmth and sensuousness, beauty, and charm…than any individual or group. The New York Times reported that Trio “… was “as rhythmically alive as any listener has heard in recent years.” Brian Morton, a noted British author, said that the String Trio of New York is one of the most important jazz groups of recent times. The Trio has commissioned Muhal Rich Richard Abrams and Dave Douglas to write for them. They have also featured Lovano and Davis as guest artists, along with Oliver Lake and the Bang on a Can All-Stars. Emery recently composed two large-scale commission works for the String Trio. With funding from Chamber Music America, he completed The River of Orion in 2006. It was recorded by Black Saint Records in Milan in 2007. The work has been performed all over Europe and America, and broadcast live on All Italy Radio. The String Trio premiered First Light in 2008, which was commissioned for Meet The Composer’s Commissioning USA. The work was performed by the String Trio to enthusiastic audiences in America and Europe. Emery is currently working on a double concerto to be performed by the Skidmore College Orchestra. In April 2014, Emery and Hannah (clarinet), will be performing as soloists for the orchestra. He has recorded and performed as a sideman with many leading figures in creative music including Joe Lovano and Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Joe Lovano and Steve Reich. Emery has been awarded fellowships by, among others, the Guggenheim Foundation (1995), the National Endowment for the Arts (’85,’94), the New York Foundation for the Arts (’90, 2000), and the Cary Trust (91, 96, 99). His compositions have been commissioned with funding from the Cary Trust, Chamber Music America, the Meet the Composer/Rockefeller/ AT

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