Bluestem Jazz welcomes Shimmer Wince, a new quintet led by New York saxophonist, flutist, and composer Anna Webber. Featuring Adam O’Farrill on trumpet, Mariel Roberts on cello, Elias Stemeseder on synthesizer, and Lesley Mok on drums, the music for this ensemble explores the applications of Just Intonation in a jazz/improvised context, including its intersections with rhythm and groove. Just Intonation, or JI, is an ancient tuning system based on the natural harmonics and resonances of notes. To Webber, her work using this non-equal tempered tuning system is a continuation of her research into using timbre and sound as organizing forces that are as important as harmony, melody, and rhythm.
Anna Webber (b. 1984) is a flutist, saxophonist, and composer whose interests and work live in the aesthetic overlap between avant-garde jazz and new classical music. In May 2021 she released Idiom, a double album featuring both a trio and a large ensemble, and a follow-up to her critically-acclaimed release Clockwise. That album, which the Wall Street Journal called “visionary and captivating,” was voted #6 Best Album of 2019 in the NPR Jazz Critics Poll, who described it as “heady music [that] appeals to the rest of the body.” Her 2020 release, Both Are True (Greenleaf Music), co-led with saxophonist/composer Angela Morris, was named a top ten best release of 2020 by The New York Times. She was recently named a 2021 Berlin Prize Fellow and was voted the top “Rising Star” flutist in the 2020 Downbeat Critic’s Poll. Webber is a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow. She has additionally been awarded grants from the Copland Fund (2021 & 2019), the Shifting Foundation (2015), and the New York Foundation for the Arts (2017) and residencies from Exploring the Metropolis (2019), the MacDowell Colony (2017 & 2020), the Millay Colony for the Arts (2015), and the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts (2014). Webber is originally from British Columbia.
Brooklyn-bred Adam O’Farrill, 27, has emerged as a “rising star as a player and composer” (PopMatters) and “a blazing young trumpet talent” (The New York Times). Coming from a rich musical lineage, Adam’s grandfather was the boundary-pushing Cuban composer and arrang-er, Chico O’Farrill; his father is the composer, pianist, and activist, Arturo O’Farrill; his mother, Alison Deane, is a classical pianist and educator; and his brother, Zack O’Farrill, is a drummer and composer, who also performs in Adam’s band, Stranger Days. Further shaped by growing up in the rich and diverse musical community of New York City, Adam has cemented himself as one of the most in-demand trumpet players in the city, as well as internationally. He has collaborated and performed with the likes of Mary Halvorson, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Samora Pinderhughes, Anna Webber, Mulatu Astatke, Stimmerman, Kambui Olujmi, Roy Nathanson. O’Farrill’s music is both abstract and personal, writing compositions that reflect subjects such as being mixed race, growing up in New York, family history, and spirituality. O’Farrill has received awards and recognition for both his trumpet playing and composition. In both 2019 and 2021, he won the Downbeat Critics Poll for Best Rising Star Trumpeter. Adam has also received commissions and grants from organizations such as The Shifting Foundation, South Arts, Roulette, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Metropolis Ensemble, The Jazz Gallery, as well as winning the ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award. In 2014, O’Farrill won 3rd place honors in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Trumpet Competition.
American cellist Mariel Roberts is widely recognized not just for her virtuosic performances, but as a “fearless explorer” in her field (Chicago Reader). Her ravenous appetite for collaboration and experimentation as an interpreter, improvisor, and composer have helped create a body of work which bridges avant-garde, contemporary, classical, improvised, and traditional music. Roberts is widely recognized for her “technical and interpretive mastery” (I care if you listen) and for performances which seethe with “excruciating intensity” (The Whole Note). Roberts has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician across four continents, most notably as a member and co-director of the Wet Ink Ensemble (named “The Best Classical Music Ensemble of 2018” by The New York Times), as well as with the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Mivos Quartet, Bang on a Can All Stars, and Ensemble Signal. She performs regularly on major stages for new music such as the Lincoln Center Festival (NYC), Wien Modern (Austria), Lucerne Festival (Switzerland), Cervantino Festival (Mexico), Klang Festival (Denmark), Shanghai New Music Week (China), Darmstadt Internationalen Ferienkurse für Neue Musik (Germany), and Aldeburgh Music Festival (UK). Roberts has been featured wide variety of outstanding recordings, including titles on Innova Records, Albany Records, New World Records, New Amsterdam, Carrier Records, New Focus, and Urtext Records. Roberts’ compositions have been performed at venues such as Merkin Hall and Miller Theater in New York City.
Elias Stemeseder is a pianist, electronic musician and composer working in a wide-ranging variety of contemporary musical idioms. He has worked with Laurie Anderson, John Zorn, Craig Taborn, Ingrid Laubrock, Peter Evans, Joe McPhee, Anna Webber, Hamid Drake and Christian Lillinger, among others. Elias’ debut album PianoSolo was released by the acclaimed Swiss label Intakt Records in 2022. He is a longtime member of acclaimed drummer Jim Black’s piano trio (with Thomas Morgan on bass) which has released four critically acclaimed albums. Elias Stemeseder appears as a on over 30 recordings, released by labels such as Intakt, Winter&Winter,Clean Feed and Pirouet Records, and has performed at the Village Vanguard, Elbphilharmonie, The Stone, Jazzfest Berlin and Copenhagen Jazzfestival among others.
Lesley Mok is a drummer, composer, and improviser based in Brooklyn, NY. Interested in the ways social conditions shape our beings, Lesley’s work focuses on transposing, augmenting, and overacting humanness to explore ideas about normalcy, alienness, and privilege. Her ongoing explorations with composition and improvisation are most notably documented in her ten-piece improvising chamber ensemble, The Living Collection. Lesley’s work has been recognized by the ASCAP Foundation and the Asian American Arts Alliance, and has been performed by International Contemporary Ensemble, Metropolis Ensemble, and JACK Quartet. She has collaborated with Tomeka Reid, Fay Victor, William Parker, Cory Smythe, Jen Shyu, Sara Serpa, Elias Stemeseder, David Leon, Adam’ O’Farrill, and Edi Kwon.