Jason Stein returns to Richmond

Bass clarinetist Jason Stein performs on Sunday night at Ghost Print Gallery in his first time back in Richmond since May 2008. Trombonist Bryan Hooten opens with a rare solo set.

Bass clarinetist Jason Stein is a Chicago-based musician who has released albums on Clean Feed and 482 Music, two of the leading record labels for avant garde and creative music. His newest album, In Exchange for a Process (Leo Records), is a solo statement, and his first one. Back in May 2008, his trio Locksmith Isidore visited Richmond with a performance at The Camel with a then-young Ombak. On Sunday night, Stein will be playing solo at Ghost Print Gallery with Ombak-leader and trombonist Bryan Hooten opening also in a solo set.


Jason Stein with Locksmith Isidore

Over a year ago, before Stein’s first trip to Richmond, Matt White succinctly wrote about Stein on RVANews something that is also relevant to this visit (see The Jason Stein Article):

Wonderful improvising is truly a rare and valuable thing – really and truly rare and valuable. In very simple terms truly great improvising combines, among a whole lot of other things, a loss of ego with a true sense of musical proficiency – something that can come close to being mutually exclusive. I’m telling you that [this guy has] that and it is worth your while to come see it. I’m not going to hide the fact that this is kinda “free jazzy” and it might sound a little “weird”. But to view it in strictly those terms is discounting the profound interaction between musicians exploring the limits of their instruments.

On [Sunday] night Richmond is responsible for taking care of [him]. We have a chance as a community to take in a wonderful [musician] – a [man] that is attempting to tour in a market that Americans seem to have a difficult time embracing. Be curious, spend an hour listening to something you’ve never heard before. Maybe you’ll love it or maybe you’ll think it blows. But spending an evening listening to any music of such high calibre is an experience that can be just really fantastic.

(Matt originally wrote about Stein’s group as a whole, although, as you can see, it can also refer to Stein as a solo musician)

Listening to music — a statement, a story — created with only one instrument and no accompaniment can be a beautiful experience. Like Matt alluded to, crafting a piece of music through improvisation requires taking yourself to another place where your ego is nonexistent. A solo piece of music can be a transcendental moment for the musician, one that removes all middlemen from between your thoughts and the sounds that are produced. Free jazz, Stein said in an interview with RVAJazz before the May 2008 gig, “just kind of felt like home. It was more natural than straight ahead music. Free jazz was very modern, everything else was a throw back.”

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Dean Christesen

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