May 13th, 2011

The ZIGGURAT QUARTET Performed at the Seattle Art Museum on last night as the Earshot Jazz Series ” Art of Jazz” continues. A good turnout heard the band’s expression of “rhythmic experimentation which drives the ensemble’s complex original compositions. Many of the pieces were deeply influenced by the rhythms of East Indian music, as well as jazz and contemporary chamber music.” Here are some photographs from the performance.

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Bill Anschellon piano.

Bassist Chris Symer and Eric Barber on saxophone .

Drummer  Byron Vannoy and Eric Barber.

Here are some notes from Earshot Jazz on the Quartet’s appearance last fall “The Ziggurat Quartet’s recent Origin CD Calculated Gestureshas received widespread critical acclaim and significant airplay on jazz radio. According to the group’s myspace.com page: “A passion for rhythmic experimentation drives the ensemble’s complex original compositions; many of the pieces are deeply influenced by the rhythms of East Indian music, as well as jazz and contemporary chamber music.”

Despite working in the “standard” jazz quartet format of horn, piano, bass and drums, the ensemble comes up with a vital and visceral approach that sounds sui generis. The repertoire is entirely original compositions by Bill Anschell, Eric Barber and Doug Miller. Pianist Anschell’s knowledge of Carnatic music strongly influences the complex rhythms and patterns in his compositions. Saxophonist Barber also has a deep interest in the music of India, plus that of the Balkans and Hungary; the asymmetrical meters and surging cross-rhythms that result swing in a decidedly unconventional but still infectious manner.  Although still dealing with odd meters, Miller’s tunes have a bit more of a traditional focus in terms of singable melodies.

Anschell is well-known as a humorist and writer in addition to his impeccable credentials as a musician.  His long tenure with vocalist Nnenna Freelon as musical director, arranger, composer and pianist included a Grammy nomination for her 1996 Shaking Free.  Anschell’s recordings under his own name have been warmly received.

Barber has collaborated with a long list of adventurous musicians, including Nels Cline, Mark Dresser, Vinny Golia, Wayne Horvitz, Wadada Leo Smith, Tom Varner, Nate Wooley, and Glen Velez.

A rising force on the Emerald City jazz scene, bassist Chris Symer is quickly becoming one of the most in-demand bassists in Seattle.

Add the colorful and resourceful drumming of Byron Vannoy to the mix and you have a quartet that plays ensemble music in the true sense of the word.”

-Bill Barton

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