Last week Firehouse 12, the intimate, immaculate and architecturally magnificent concert/studio/bar space at 45 Crown Street, announced its Jazz Series line-up for Spring 2013.
Firehouse 12 bookings are special. As a recording studio and as a concert venue, it attracts a rare breed of modern jazz experimentalists and conceptualists. Even the acts which can be considered locally based rarely play outside New York City, so a Connecticut booking is the beautifully paneled Firehouse 12 auditorium with a polite, attentive audience is an experience to be treasured.
Firehouse 12 founder Nick Lloyd takes care not to bring artists back to the series too soon, no matter how well they may have been received in past visits. Variety and freshness are paramount objectives. When musicians do return, it’s often because they have formed different combos or are testing new material or share Nick Lloyd’s concerns and know how to shake things up. A couple of the familiar faces on the bill this spring include Matthew Shipp and Dave Douglas, yet to suggest their sets will be as familiar as their names would be an insult to their virtuosity. The last time Shipp played at Firehouse, it was a solo gig; this time he has his acclaimed trio. Dave Douglas played years ago with his moody accompaniment to silent films by Fatty Arbuckle; his May 31 set with his quintet will be more conventional, if that’s any sort of word to describe the weathery soundscapes Douglas devises. Another name on the schedule, Wayne Escoffery, is known for having grown up in Connecticut and cut his teeth in the jazz scene at local haunts such as Rudy’s Bar, where he had a houseband gig for years in the mid-1990s. His most recent appearance in town was at one of the New Haven Jazz Festivals on New Haven Green.
The Spring Jazz Series at Firehouse 12:
March 15: Connecticut-based brass player Stephen Haynes and his group Pomegranate, featuring Ben Stapp on tuba, Joe Morris on guitar, Warren Smith on percussion and William Parker on bass.
March 22: The Matthew Shipp Trio, with Michael Bisio on bass, Whit Dickey on drums and of course Shipp on piano.
March 29: Bass player Lisa Mezzacappa with her trio—John Finkbeiner on guitar and Fay Victor singing.
April 5:Drummer Tomas Fujiwara and The Hook Up.
April 12: The all-star group Conference Call, with Gebhard Ullman (sax), George Schuller (drums), Joe Fonda (bass) and Michael Jefry Stevens (pianist/composer). The group performed last at Firehouse 12 in the fall of 2008.
April 19: The saxophone/piano duo of Dan Tepfer and Ben Wendel.
April 26: Connecticut’s own Wayne Escoffery with four sidemen yet to be announced.
May 3: The Craig Taborn Trio, with keyboardist Taborn, Thomas Morgan on bass and presumably somebody else because it’s billed as a trio.
May 10: The Jeremy Pelt Sextet, starring the awesome trumpeter.
May 17: Pianist Armen Donelian and her trio
May 24: The trio Memorize the Sky, with Aaron Siegel on percussion, Matt Bauder on saxophone and Zach Wallace on bass.
May 31: The amazingly moodscapes of trumpet improviser Dave Douglas and his quintet. Douglas has not performed at Firehouse 12 since 2005.
June 7: Pianist Amina Figarova and her sextet
June 14: The season ends with the eclectic and percussive quintet These Arches, led by drummer Ches Smith and featuring composer Tim Berne on alto sax, Andrea Parkins on accordion and electronics, Mary Halvorson (whose own quintet has performed at Firehouse, and whose album Saturn Sings was released on Firehouse 12 records) on guitar and Tony Malaby on tenor sax.
Each act plays two sets, at 8:30 and 10 p.m. A limited number of season passes, costing $215, grant admission to both sets of each concert. Otherwise, tickets are $18 for each 8:30 set and $12 for each 10 p.m. one.
Learn more at http://firehouse12.com or (203) 785-0468. Tickets are also available at the door, but remember, this is an intimate space and can easily sell out.