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  • Writer's pictureStevie Connor

Acclaimed Vibraphonist Joel Ross Returns With A Collection Of Ballads & Blues On New Album 'nublues'

Acclaimed vibraphonist Joel Ross returns with the Feb. 9 release of his remarkable fourth Blue Note album nublues, a collection of ballads and blues as seen through the lens of one of the most creative modern jazz groups of our time featuring Immanuel Wilkins on alto saxophone, Jeremy Corren on piano, Kanoa Mendenhall on bass, and Jeremy Dutton on drums, as well as special guest Gabrielle Garo on flute. The band moves seamlessly across the blues-imbued musical terrain of this 10-track set which includes 7 new Ross originals as well as pieces by John Coltrane (“equinox” and “central park west”) and Thelonious Monk (“evidence”).


The genesis of nublues dates back to 2020 when, during the Covid pandemic as live performances were shut down, Ross went back to the New School to finish his degree. One of his classes was taught by the alto saxophonist Darius Jones, who nudged students to dig into the history of the blues. That led Ross down a rabbit hole of what the blues can be; it isn’t just a 12-bar form. He realized it was a feeling. “Sort of a spirit or an energy,” Ross says. “It’s emotion, it’s expression. But I also want to stay true to the rhythmic ideations that we’ve already been developing.”


The title track “nublues,” which was released today as the album’s lead single, unites the spirit of the blues with the unbridled nature of free jazz. “I don’t really tell the band how to play anything,” Ross says. “What I do tell them is to stay connected and make everything we do related to each other. And play the blues, however that comes off.”


In that way, nublues is a vast record with various entry points, an invitation to choose your own adventure. When asked what he wants to convey with this LP, Ross hesitates. “I don't want my personal experience to be what people are thinking about when they're experiencing it,” he says. “I generally want people to be able to come in and hear the music and interpret it through their own lens.”


“I enjoyed the journey of diving into learning about the blues and understanding the history of the blues, really focusing on developing this band’s sound and band structure,” he says. “For me, it was just about the journey that came from getting into all of the information and figuring out what it was going to be. It’s a constant continuing. It's a snapshot into how we've continued to do the same thing we've been doing and how it's been shifting.”


Feb. 14 - The Alluvion - Traverse City, MI

Feb. 15 - Longwood Gardens - Kennett Square, PA

Feb. 16 - Symphony Center - Chicago, IL

Feb. 17 - Lawrence Memorial Chapel - Appleton, WI

Feb. 18 - Pablo Center - Eau Clare, WI

Feb. 20 - Portsmouth Music Hall - Portsmouth, NH

Feb. 21 - Groton Hill Music - Groton, MA

Feb. 22 - UMass Fine Arts Center Concert Hall - Amherst, MA

Feb. 23 - Symphony Space - New York, NY

Feb. 24 - Manchester Craftmen's Guild - Pittsburgh, PA

Feb. 25 - FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre - St. Catharines, Ontario

March 1 - Gallo Center for the Performing Arts - Modesto, CA

March 2 - The Smith Center for the Performing Arts - Las Vegas, NV

March 3 - The Smith Center for the Performing Arts - Las Vegas, NV

March 5 - Empire Theatre - San Antonio, TX

March 6 - Manship Theatre - Baton Rouge, LA

March 7 - Dazzle - Denver, CO

March 8 - Riverwalk Center - Breckenridge, CO



April 9 – Cloud Nine @ TivoliVredenburg – Utrecht, Netherlands

April 10 – New Morning – Paris, France

April 11 – Vortex Jazz Club – London, UK

April 13 – Opus Jazz Club – Budapest, Hungary

April 16 – Kulturzentrum Schlachthof – Bremen, Germany

April 17Stadtgarten Europäisches Zentrum für Jazz und Aktuelle Musik – Koln, Germany

April 18 – Kunstverein Familie Montez – Frankfurt, Germany

April 19Recoletos Jazz Madrid – Madrid, Spain

April 20Recoletos Jazz Madrid – Madrid, Spain


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