Over the years of their life and musical partnership, Ellen Lease and Pat Moriarty have led many ensembles teetering on the edge of modern jazz. Best known perhaps for their Lease-Moriarty Quintet, the pianist and saxophonist have also presented numerous variations of quintet and quartet in the company of the finest area improvisers. With a new edition of the Lease/Moriarty Quartet (featuring Chris Bates and Davu Seru), Ellen and Pat perform on the Saturday Night Jazz at the Black Dog series this weekend, March 19 at 8:30 pm, with Pat’s Roseville Area High School Jazz Combo I opening at 7 pm.
Roseville Area High School Jazz Combo I (7 pm)
Directed by noted Twin Cities saxophonist Pat Moriarty, the Roseville Area High School jazz ensembles are among the top high school jazz bands in the region. Jazz Combo I is no exception, winning the AA Combo Division at the 2015 Eau Claire Jazz Festival and boasting All-State musicians and winners of a variety of awards at the state and national level. Members of the Combo include Nick Muellner, tenor sax (All-State lead tenor); Jamie Gorski, trumpet (current semi-finalist, National Trumpet Competition); Jeremy Baxter, piano; Jackson Potter, guitar (Outstanding Soloist, 2016 McNally Smith Winter Jazz Blast); Joe Weiler, bass (All-State tuba); and Sam Burian, drums (Outstanding Soloist, 2016 McNally Smith Winter Jazz Blast). The Combo will play music by Billy Harper, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Stitt, Horace Silver, Mal Waldron, and Ellen Lease.
Ellen Lease/Pat Moriarty Quartet (8:30 pm)
The music of Ellen Lease and Pat Moriarty receives frequent raves from critics. Noted Avant Music News, “Through the consistency of personnel and a stable but expanding repertoire, the quintet has developed a high level of group interplay and risk-taking within the structures of the tunes. Although comparisons to the musics of Steve Lacy, Charles Mingus, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago are well taken, this band definitely has its own sound and conception.” The Lease/Moriarty Quintet (with Kelly Rossum, Chris Bates and Dave Stanoch) released their acclaimed debut album, Chance, Love and Logic, in 2008. In varying combinations of musicians since, Lease and Moriarty have led the quartet Insurgent and other small ensembles, often performing at Studio Z. They have combined forces several times with New York-based saxophonist Michael Attias, a former student of Pat’s.
A graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Music, Ellen Lease has received both McKnight and Bush Fellowships. Performing across classical and jazz idioms, she co-led the Ellen Lease/Pat Moriarty Quintet for more than a decade, and appears throughout the Twin Cities with many jazz and new music groups. She had the honor of accompanying Jean Pierre Rampal at a Twin Cities master class. In addition to performing and composing, Ellen is a busy music educator.
Alto saxophonist Pat Moriarty has been on the freer end of the Twin Cities jazz scene for the past three decades, recording in the late 70s with drummer Phil Hey and since with a long list of the edgier musicians and ensembles in the metro area, including Nathan Hanson’s Saxophone Choir. In addition to composing and performing, Moriarty keeps busy leading the award-winning jazz bands at Roseville Area High School.
A frequent collaborator with Ellen Lease and Pat Moriarty, bassist Chris Bates studied at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and privately with Anthony Cox. A member of the 1990s ensemble, the Motion Poets, Chris was a 1999 McKnight Composer Fellow, and often lends his compositions to the many ensembles that he juggles throughout his busy performance schedule. In addition to his local ensemble work (Atlantis Quartet, Red Planet, How Birds Work, Pete Whitman’s X-Tet, Bill Simenson Orchestra, Klezmerica, Enormous Quartet, Framework, Leisure Valley, Zacc Harris Group, Dean Granros’ Tall Tales) and leading his own Red 5 and the Good Vibes Trio, Chris has played solo concerts using both acoustic and electronic instruments, and appears on over 30 recordings. With Red 5, he released New Hope in fall 2012; with his Good Vibes Trio (with Dave Hagedorn and Phil Hey), he celebrated the release of their eponymous debut CD in spring 2014. He launched a new trio this winter, Inventions and Dimensions, with Joe Strachan and Matt Buckner.
Minneapolis native percussionist Davu Seru performs with Merciless Ghost and Body Omara, with Mankwe Ndosi, Dean Granros, Chris Bates, Brandown Wozniak, Dean Magraw, Milo Fine and more, along with his own trio and quartet projects. He also curates a monthly show at Khyber Pass Cafe. Recently Davu joined the composer-improviser collective orchestra, Cherry Spoon Collective and collaborates with J. Otis Powell and Kate Pehrson in a new project, the Nu Skein Ensemble. In addition to his musical pursuits, Davu is a PhD candidate in African American Literature at the University of Minnesota. In 2013 he received an American Composers Forum Minnesota Emerging Composer Award.
The Black Dog is located at 308 Prince Street (Northern Warehouse) in St. Paul’s Lowertown arts district. Saturday Night Jazz series offers two bands every Saturday night, no cover but tips ($10 suggested) are appreciated to support the musicians and the series. Series schedule at www.saturdaynightjazzattheblackdog.info; full calendar of music at the Black Dog at www.blackdogstpaul.com