GBH and JazzBoston presented JazzNOW: Master Jazz Composers, originally streamed live from the beautiful Fraser Performance Studio at GBH on October 1, 2021, with host Eric Jackson. The performance featured Bill Pierce on saxophone, Alex Minasian on piano, Gregory Ryan on bass and Yoron Israel on drums. They performed compositions by noted jazz masters Cedar Walton and Duke Pearson, both of whom have contributed significantly to the language of modern jazz.
The concert served as a tribute to the great Bill Pierce, a treasure of the Boston jazz community, in honor of his 73rd birthday the week prior to the performance!
The ensemble played a collection of both recognizable and obscure compositions by Walton and Pearson.
The event included these musical selections:
- Ojos De Rojo (Cedar Walton)
- New Girl (Duke Pearson)
- Dear Ruth (Cedar Walton)
- Clockwise (Cedar Walton)
- I Know You Care (Duke Pearson)
- Sudel (Duke Pearson)
- Gaslight (Duke Pearson)
- Something in Common (Cedar Walton)
- Jeanine (Duke Pearson)
Master Jazz Composers ensemble includes:
Bill Pierce is a saxophonist and educator. He graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1972. Over the years, Bill has performed and recorded with numerous jazz legends. He appeared with artists such as The Four Tops and toured with Stevie Wonder’s band. In 1980, he joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, serving as musical director, and regularly performed with the Freddie Hubbard Quintet. In 1985, Bill joined the Tony Williams Quintet and made five recordings with the group. Since 1999, Bill has been a member of the Kevin Eubanks Quartet, which has released six recordings. For more than 35 years, he has divided his time between academia, performing and recording under his own name for the Sunnyside label. Bill has released recordings of his own group and has been featured at many major American, Japanese and European jazz festivals. Bill was the chairman of the woodwind department at Berklee College of Music. He retired from that position in 2018.
Alex Minasian is a pianist, educator and impresario in many different musical genres. Alex has studied with some of the greatest pianists in jazz history—including Hank Jones, Don Friedman, Jean-Michel Pilc and James Williams—and has performed in most of the country's most famous jazz rooms.
Alex was the last pianist for the late singer and National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Little Jimmy Scott. He was also the last pianist and musical director for the late renowned jazz singer the late Mark Murphy. Alex performs as pianist and musical director for singer, actor, songwriter and musical historian Billy Vera and his 18-piece big band. He currently tours with Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Little Anthony and the Imperials. In 2013, Minasian joined jazz bassist and composer Brandi Disterheft, veteran drummer Steve Williams (Shirley Horn), and formed the Hanky Panky Trio to honor Hank Jones. The trio is featured in Season Two of the hit Netflix series Orange is the New Black. It has performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival with Sheila Jordan and as a trio at the Istanbul Jazz Festival.
Gregory Ryan has established himself as an in-demand sideman on both acoustic and electric bass. At home in a variety of musical worlds—accomplished in Brazilian, Cuban, funk and mainstream jazz styles—he performs in festivals and concerts worldwide. Gregory has appeared with numerous jazz luminaries. His Latin jazz resumé includes performances with the Lincoln Center Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, Arturo O’Farrill, Papo Vázquez Pirates Troubadours, Yosvany Terry and Brazilian Jazz artists Helio Alves and Maucha Adnet.
Yoron Israel One of the most gifted and sought out musicians of his generation, Yoron Israel has performed with a long list of major jazz artists. Yoron's drumming, along with his compositional and arranging talents, are spotlighted on his most recent release New Dreams. He currently serves as chair and professor of percussion at Berklee College of Music, Boston MA and pastor of music and arts at Destiny Life Center International Church in Randolph, Massachusetts. He is pursuing a doctorate degree from Liberty University. Yoron is the author of the acclaimed educational DVD Creative Jazz Improvisation for Drum Set, published by Hal Leonard and Berklee Press.
Eric Jackson, host of GBH’s Eric in the Evening, moderated an audience Q&A with the musicians following the performance.
JazzNOW: Master Jazz Composers is presented by GBH Music and JazzBoston.
About Jazz Boston: JazzBoston connects, promotes and advocates for the musicians, audiences and venues of Greater Boston’s dynamic and diverse jazz community. The nonprofit organization spreads the music and message of jazz and celebrates Boston as one of the world’s great jazz cities. Find more information at jazzboston.org.
During the show, you’ll see and hear Eric Jackson thanking our members for supporting Jazz at GBH. The specific thank you gift Eric mentions, is no longer available. But you’ll find plenty of other gifts when you support GBH at gbh.org/supportevents with your donation. Every dollar makes a difference.
Musician Gregory Ryan Photo credit: Allen Murabayashi