Elias Haslanger and Church on Monday is a soul jazz quintet playing classic jazz A and B sides along with originals. Saxophonist/composer Elias Haslanger envisioned and launched the band two years around the soulful core of Dr. James Polk, a Texas music legend whose remarkable life includes stints as a Texas school band director during the racially charged 1960s, the first African-American buyer for production purchasing at IBM, bassist for Lionel Hampton, and a decade as a two-time Grammy nominated arranger/musical director for Ray Charles. Elias also tapped Canadian (by way of NYC) transplant Jake Langley on guitar, who has worked with Bobby Blue Bland, KD Lang, and Joey DeFrancesco. Rising Austin star Daniel Durham is the bassist. Your’s truly is on drums.
I’ve involved in some exciting music during SXSW, starting tonight. Here’s an update.
Every Monday (including tomorrow night) at the Continental Gallery, 1313 A South Congress, 8:30-10, no cover. Our Monday residency at the Gallery is closing in on two years and the band has jelled into a wonderful intuitive brotherhood exploring the deep groove and vibe potential of quintet soul jazz. Elias (alum from Maynard Ferguson’s band) is cementing his place as one of the great saxophonists in Texas history. Jake Langley’s brilliant guitar work flows from his strength as both soloist and accompaniest. Daniel Durham is flowering into one of the best bassists I’ve ever worked with and his solos are a study in thoughtful improvisation. And there is the living legend, Dr. James Polk on B3 organ, bringing the church to Church on Monday. Dr. Polk draws on an amazing life of music, lifting us all far above the temptation to lean on what we did the week before. He is our musical mentor, historian (through the wonderful stories he often shares each week), and catalyst for the great heights the band is reaching. We owe so much to this wonderful man who, in his mid 70s, hasn’t missed a Monday in two years.
March 12th, The Austin Music Awards, Austin Ballroom at the Austin Convention Center, 7:55pm, $15 general admission. We are thrilled to be a headliner at this year’s AMAs along with Youngblood’s Choir (featuring talented young artists form some famous Texas musical families), Lucinda Williams, the Texas Tornados, and more. During our 30-minute set, we’ll be joined by the great Ray Benson from Asleep at the Wheel and the fabulous Ephraim Owens, recently off the road after a lengthy stint with Mumford and Sons.
March 13th, SXSW Showcase at the Elephant Room, 11pm.
March 16th, Alejandro Escoveda Austin Music Showcase, Continental Gallery. (our set is at 9:30pm)
March 31st, CD Release Party at the Continental Gallery, 8:30pm.
Watch for our new CD, Elias Haslanger: Live at the Gallery, releasing this month. Eli is running a Kickstarter campaign (check out the video with a song sample) to help offset costs of recording and production.
In addition to all of that Church on Monday love, I’ll be in an additional SXSW showcase at the Elephant Room on the 13th with the Peggy Stern Quartet, featuring Seth Carper, Daniel Durham, and moi. Downbeat, 10pm.
I first met Peggy Stern less than a year ago and was spellbound by her amazing music. She is a haunting composer and her music is at the same time delicate and deep, her moving melodies and harmonies drawing from her Philadelphia and New York roots and her work with Lee Konitz, Vic Juris, and Richie Cole, among others. She is a new, yet unknown treasure to many Austinites but that will change. The quartet with saxophonist Seth Carper and my fellow COM bandmate Daniel Durham has only worked one gig together and we instantly knew it was the beginning of something very cool. If you like music from the Cool era of the late 1960s (Gil Evans, Lee Konitz, Miles Davis, etc), then you’ll dig this band.
If any of you make it out to the show, please say hello. If I’ve learned anything over the years about music, the invaluable nature of a supportive audience is at the top of the list. Without your enthusiasm, love, and encouragement, none of it would ever get beyond a dream. And when you’re with us in person, the music can go places impossible without you. And that’s a fact!