If you are looking for cutting edge music in the Boston area, you should be attending this season’s Boiler House Jazz Series concerts in Waltham. Hosted and sponsored by the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation, and programmed and produced by John Bechard and Ken Field, the series aims to support artists and program music that pushes boundaries. How fitting and exciting that an institution that celebrates technological innovation also actively supports artistic innovation!
The first four concerts have demonstrated a level of thoughtful programming that should be noticed and acknowledged. The duo series has concentrated on connecting artists with one another, giving a platform for musicians to experiment and perform with other musicians they haven’t worked with before. The atmosphere is open and inviting and encourages audience members to engage with the artists both during the performance while they listen (and perhaps enjoy a drink), and after, during a short question and answer session that gives listeners an opportunity to learn more about the meaning behind the music.
This Spring series started with legendary improviser Joe Morris and Korean gayageum master DoYeon Kim presenting a series of captivating improvisations that filled the room with textures that continuously developed and evolved. While Morris and Kim knew each other well and had recently recorded an album together, the following three duo concerts have all been first time collaborations between different artists: Drummer Yoron Israel performed with Armenian instrumentalist Martin Haroutunian, fusing folk and jazz traditions together in new ways. Percussionist and Composer Julian Loida and Jazz Harpist Charles Overton prepared months beforehand to present a series of compositions and arrangements that were incredibly thoughtful, intentional, and often minimalist. At the most recent show, Italian percussionist Fabio Pirozzolo performed a more spontaneous and unrehearsed collaboration with Peruvian Bass Player and professor at Berklee College of Music Oscar Stagnaro that featured music from Italy, to Bulgaria, to Peru.
There are two more exciting concerts this season. Come down to the museum this Thursday, May 16th to hear the cavernous spaces of the first integrated textile factory in the world filled with the collaborative sounding of Swiss jazz vocalist Gabriela Martina, and Ukrainian pianist Maxim Lubarsky.
The last concert of this season will be on May 30th and will feature the renowned Boston saxophonist Arni Cheatham and keyboardist, accordionist, and singer-songwriter Elizabeth Steen. These opportunities to hear never-heard-before collaborations created by thoughtful musicians are special and should be taken advantage of.
The Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation generously funds the Boiler House Jazz series and treats the artists and programmers with great respect. They also fund an Americana music series on alternating Thursdays. It is wonderful to have such a historic institution supporting relevant art and meaningful community-building. Additionally, John Bechard and Ken Field should be recognized for the level of care and thought that they put into programming meaningful performances. Creativity and musicianship are alive and well in Boston!