Dezron Douglas Quartet opens Miller Theatre’s Jazz series

Dezron Douglas.  Miller Theatre/Deneka Peniston
Dezron Douglas.
Miller Theatre/Deneka Peniston

The Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts said on Thursday that it is opening its 2021-22 Jazz series with the Dezron Douglas Quartet.

The theatre, located at 2960 Broadway at 116th St., in Manhattan, said the series opens on Saturday, March 5, 8:00 pm.

“Dezron Douglas is a phenomenally talented artist and a wonderful collaborator,” said Miller Theatre Executive Director, Melissa Smey. “He has performed at Miller Theatre many times over the years, and it’s an honor to share his new quartet project with audiences.”

Smey said Douglas is one of the most in-demand young bassists in jazz today.

He has performed and recorded with jazz luminaries such as Pharoah Sanders, Cyrus Chestnut, George Cables, Keyon Harrold, and Makaya McCraven.

The New York-based composer, bandleader, and sideman was featured in “Miller’s Live from Columbia” digital series over the pandemic, and now returns with his new quartet.

“Bassist, composer, bandleader, and educator Dezron Douglas has established himself as a major force in contemporary creative music,” Smey said.

A protégé of the great Jackie McLean, the Downbeat 2019 “Rising Star” is known for Douglas’s work with Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane, Cyrus Chestnut, David Murray, Louis Hayes, Enrico Rava, and with piano legends George Cables, Eric Reed, Mulgrew Miller, and Benny Green.

In 2021, he joined the Trey Anastasio Band.

Smey said Douglas has recorded on more than 100 albums, “contributing to the artistry of numerous bandleaders and maintaining an integral presence in the sounds of his peers, including Keyon Harrold, Jonathan Blake, Melanie Charles, and Makaya McCraven.”

Smey said Douglas has released six albums as a lead artist and maintains a variety of projects that he uses as platforms for his compositions.

In 2020, Force Majeure, the collaborative duo record with harpist Brandee Younger, was released on the International Anthem record label.

Douglas’s solo bass improvisation, Meditations on Faith, was released in 2021. He is currently on the Jazz Studies faculty at NYU Steinhardt.

Other members of the quartet comprise pianist George Burt, drummer Joe Dyson and saxophonist Emilio Modeste.

Smey said pianist, composer, and bandleader George Burton has been on the radar of everyone who follows innovations in jazz.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Burton grew up playing classical violin and viola while absorbing gospel and blues at home.

In high school, he went on to play with Philly hard-bop legend Bootsie Barnes, while learning the subtleties of the genre from veteran pianists Sid Simmons and Shirley Scott.

“He had a long tenure as the pianist for Odean Pope’s saxophone choir, and from there he earned a place on the world stage performing with some of the most significant practitioners of post-bop and the avant-garde—from Eddie Henderson and James Carter to the Sun Ra Arkestra,” Smey said.

She said Burton has performed to sold-out crowds at the Newport Jazz Festival, Dizzy’s at Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, Duc des Lombards in Paris, and a number of jazz festivals in Europe.

Currently, Burton leads five ensembles: GB Quintet, GB Group, Brew Trio, Torn Trio, and Yule Log. Burton’s debut album, The Truth of What I Am > The Narcissist (2016), was “a fantastic statement of modern jazz” by Downbeat and voted #4 top debut album in the NPR jazz critics’ poll, Smey said.

She said Burton’s most recent recording is Rec·i·proc·i·ty (2020).

New Orleans-native Joe Dyson started playing music in his family’s church at 2, Smey said.

She said he went on to perform in the Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong Summer Jazz Camp, where he was shadowed by the “late, great clarinetist” Alvin Batiste, and his longtime bandleader and mentor, alto saxophonist Donald Harrison.

A graduate of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), Dyson earned a presidential scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music.

Smey said Dyson has performed around the world and shared the stage with such legendaries as Dr. Lonnie Smith, Ellis Marsalis, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Jon Batiste, Leo Nocentelli, Sullivan Fortner, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Pedrito Martinez, Grammy Award-winners Nicholas Payton and Pat Metheny, among many others.

He has performed on over 30 albums, including Dr. Lonnie Smith’s All in My Mind, Sullivan Fortner’s Aria, and Christian aTunde Adjuah’s Grammy nominated Emancipation Procrastination.

Dyson appeared on the HBO series TREME, and can be seen performing in the documentary Been In The Storm Too Long hosted by Tavis Smiley.

He can also be heard on the movie soundtrack Rachel Getting Married, by the late, Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme.

Smey said Dyson has taught throughout the US and Europe, including The New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, NOCCA Riverfront, and Södra Latin (Sweden). He is currently an adjunct professor at Tulane University.

Born in Virginia, New York-based tenor saxophonist Emilio Modeste started very early on the violin, moving to the piano and drums briefly, until he picked up the saxophone at 8 “and never looked back,” Smey said.

“He has since shared the bandstand with world-renowned musicians including Ron Carter, Jimmy Cobb, Buster Williams, Stanley Clarke, Patrice Rushen, Lenny White, Gary Bartz, Steve Turre, Christian McBride, Rene McLean, Antoine Roney, Donald Harrison, and many others,” she said.

Modeste has performed with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra on tour throughout the United States.

A close friend and mentee of trumpeter Wallace Roney, Modeste travelled the world with Roney’s quintet from 2017 to his passing in March 2020, Smey said.

Modeste can be found performing in New York City at Matthew Garrison’s Shapeshifter Lab, the Jazz Standard, Ginny’s Supperclub, Minton’s, the Village Vanguard, Smalls, Fat Cat, Zinc Bar, The Blue Note, the Bronx Beer Hall, among many other venues.

He performs occasionally on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’s house band: Jon Batiste and Stay Human.

Modeste appears on Wallace Roney’s final studio album Blue Dawn-Blue Nights (2019) and Music From and Inspired by The Film Birth Of The Cool (2020). Modeste plays a Selmer Tenor Saxophone.

The Miller Theatre at Columbia University prides itself is being “the leading presenter of new music in New York City and one of the most vital forces nationwide for innovative programming.”

In partnership with Columbia University School of the Arts, Miller Theater said it is dedicated to producing and presenting unique events, with a focus on contemporary and early music, jazz, opera and multimedia performances.

Founded in 1988, the Miller Theatre said it has helped launch the careers of myriad composers and ensembles over the years, serving as an incubator for emerging artists and “a champion of those not yet well known in the United States.”

A four-time recipient of the ASCAP/Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming, Miller Theatre said it “continues to meet the high expectations set forth by its founders—to present innovative programs, support the development of new work, and connect creative artists with adventurous audiences.”

The Miller Theatre ‘s 2021-22 Season is supported by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, and by the Howard Gilman Foundation.

Additional Support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

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