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 Thursday, 23 October 2014
Bryan Nichols Trio With Anthony Cox and Dave King at the AQ, September 16-17 PDF Print
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   
Monday, 12 September 2011

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Bryan NicholsİAndrea Canter

“...a swinging, sometimes quirky sense of time and creative expression.” – Jazz Police 

In the decade since he completed a degree in genetics at Iowa State University, pianist Bryan Nichols has been busy performing, composing and teaching music rather than studying DNA. The Twin Cities native has been in high demand since returning “home” in 2005. Always seeking new creative opportunities, Nichols has assembled a new trio of heavyweights, bassist Anthony Cox and drummer Dave King, making their debut at the Artists Quarter this weekend, September 16-17. 

Bryan Nichols studied classical piano with a “neighborhood piano teacher” but came to jazz on his own, developing his skills without formal jazz studies. He did participate in the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth (MITY) summer jazz program where he worked with veteran piano teacher Denny Malmberg. After graduating from Burnsville High School, he went on to Iowa State, majoring in genetics “which I’ve done absolutely nothing with, ever.” Next came four years playing straight-ahead and free jazz in Chicago with the likes of Corey Wilkes, Maurice Brown, Jeff Parker, Nicole Mitchell, Von Freeman, Ari Brown, Hamid Drake and Ernest Dawkins. In 2004, Bryan was chosen for Betty Carter’s prestigious Jazz Ahead program. Based at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, the program provides a fellowship for young jazz artists based on excellence in performing and composing. Over his career, Bryn has appeared at international festivals including Sons d’Hiver (Paris, France) and Kerava Jazz Festival (Kerava, Finland) as well as at local and regional festivals such as the Chicago Jazz Festival and Minnesota Sur Seine Festival. He appears on recent recordings by James Buckley, Chris Morrisey, Gordon Johnson, Kelly Rossum and Nicole Mitchell; has performed locally with Chris Thomson, Bruce Henry, the Gang Font, and Connie Evingson; internationally with the Dave King Trucking Company; and earned a 2009 grant from the American Composers Forum.   

Based in the Twin Cities for the past six years, Bryan has led trio, quartet and quintet projects; and has performed with the Kelly Rossum Quartet, Rossum Electric Company, Rossum’s Nicollet Circus Band, James Buckley Trio, Chris Morrisey Quartet, Zacc Harris Quartet, Off the Map, and the Minneapolis/Chicago collective, City of Fiction. Last year he brought a 9-piece ensemble to MacPhail, “We Are Many.” He also finds time to teach at the MacPhail Center for Music. Despite his own “do it yourself” jazz education, he notes that “I think lessons/school type thing is pretty valuable, especially for young jazz musicians these days.” 

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Anthony CoxİAndrea Canter
In early 2011, Bryan released his debut CD, Bright Places. Recorded at Wild Sound studios “in one room with no edits or overdubs,” the CD includes music Nichols composed over the ten months prior to the studio session. Not “free” in form, the compositions nevertheless allow each musician (Micheal Lewis, Brandon Wozniak, James Buckley, J.T. Bates) considerable freedom to take the music wherever he hears it. The two-sax format at times gives the ensemble the orchestral power of a little big band, at other times a framework for horn-centric counterpoint. It’s fun and it’s serious, light and dark, and not quite like anyone but Bryan Nichols. 

Growing up in suburban Minneapolis, Anthony Cox was not particularly interested in jazz as a teenage guitarist, preferring Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles to John Coltrane and Charles Mingus. But a Mingus concert and Return to Forever’s Stanley Clarke led him to switch to the bass. Anthony studied bass in college at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, playing in both jazz and classical ensembles. After graduation, he headed to New York, building a reputation that took him on tour with Stan Getz. In the early 90s, he returned to the Twin Cities but his career has hardly been limited by his residence. Over the years, Cox has worked and/or recorded with Bobby Previte, Dewey Redman, Geri Allen, Arthur Blythe, and Uri Caine, playing upright acoustic, electric and Spanish acoustic bas. 

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Dave KingİAndrea Canter
Drummer Dave King might be best known for his long-standing work with The Bad Plus and Happy Apple, and now his Dave King Trucking Company, but his affiliations hardly end there. In fact, at any given moment, King is likely involved in at least ten projects ranging from the jazz oriented Bad Plus, Happy Apple and Buffalo Collision to rock bands like Halloween Alaska and impossible-to-define electronic outfits like Gang Font. King grew up in the Twin Cities, starting off on piano at age four before switching to drums in fifth grade. At 19, King headed west, working as a session musician in LA in the early 90s before returning to the Twin Cities to find his own voice. Soon he helped design and define the sound of Happy Apple, the trio that came together in 1996, ultimately complete with saxophonist Michael Lewis and electric bassist Erik Fratzke and straddling avant garde jazz and alternative rock. Last year King released a solo album combining his skills as drummer, pianist and composer, Indelicate (2010, Sunnyside). 

With these three amazing musicians sharing the stage, anything can happen. And it will be the best sort of artistic surprise. 

The Artists Quarter is located at 408 St. Peter Street in the lower level of the Hamm Building in downtown St. Paul; www.artistsquarter.com. Sets begin at 9 pm. 



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