36th Vilnius Jazz Festival. 12-16 October, 2022

Brian Marsella Trio


Brian Marsella - p
Trevor Dunn - b
Kenny Wollesen - dr

This project is a part of the first European tour of New York based club The Stone, established in 2005 by the legendary avant-gardist John Zorn. The tour is organised to celebrate the 65th birthday of this ground-braking music innovator, saxophonist, composer and producer.

The untiring experimenter has composed a great variety of music – jazz and music for symphony orchestras and rock bands. However, he is best known as an idiosyncratic composer whose music dissolves boundaries of music genres.

It would be difficult to list even a part of those with whom he has collaborated and recorded. In 1995, he established the Tzadik record label, which has given opportunity to numerous innovators to document their music. Both Tzadik and Zorn’s The Stone club have a single goal – to present music with profit going directly to creators and performers, and joy to listeners.

With his own group Zorn travelled around the globe – from USA to Japan.

Is there a better way to celebrate anniversary than by celebrating the work and music of the composer?

The Book of Angels is the second book of Zorn’s Masada Book cycle. Zorn started working on it in 2004, after ten years of performing of the first book. In three-month period Zorn composed 300 Klezmer-inspired compositions that are being performed by various bands to this day.

Masada is a study of Hebrew cultural identity. Zorn’s Masada Marathons have become a central focus of many concerts and festivals. “After 15 years of doing this music, we can still find new things”, rejoices the composer.

For The Stone first series in Europe Zorn has chosen some of the most exciting musicians of our times to perform his most thrilling works from his ample catalogue. From September to December, Mary Halvorson Quartet, Brian Marsella Trio, Secret Chiefs 3 and Parisian band Autoryno will play Masada Books Two and Three in Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Lithuania.

Brian Marsella Trio shows are probably among the most amazing piano trio concerts one can attend at the moment. This particular programme consists of 16 compositions from Zorn’s The Book of Angels. Brian Marsella Trio performs the compositions in incredibly varied ways, with each piece referring to a different pianist or composer from Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner to Debussy and Satie. Last year this collection was recorded for Zorn’s Tzadik label.

According to Downbeat magazine, only Zorn could develop Jewish music themes the way he does and only an artist like Marsella could execute them the way he does. In addition, the flexible and talented pianist leaves ample space for his partners’ expression.

All three members of this Trio are Zorn’s regular stage partners.

Brian Marsella is an emerging artist in the improvised music community. He learned music by ear at age three from listening to his father, an amateur jazz musician play the saxophone and vibraphone. At five, Marsella started to study classical piano and gave his first public performance. At age eleven, he had his first professional ‘gig’.

Throughout his teen years, Marsella performed extensively around the Philadelphia are in a myriad of settings. A friendship with bassist Lance Walker opened him to the world of R&B, flues, funk and fusion. He started collaborating with The Dukes of Destiny, The Elgins and countless others.

While doing club dates at night and weddings on the weekends, the pianist kept up his classical education – having started with private lessons he continued piano studies at Juilliard School and Peabody Conservatory, and composition at Westminster Choir College. After a year hiatus from music, he received his BFA in jazz performance from the New School Jazz and Contemporary Music Program in New York.

Since 2000, Marsella has been busy a performing and recording artist, playing around the world with some of the world’s finest musicians. He has been a member of Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista’s band Beat the Donkey. The two musicians have collaborated in forming the band Vira Loucos, the debut album of which is about to be released. The pianist has given over 300 shows in the US and Canada, recorded two albums with Caveman, has also toured with Tzadik recording artist Eyal Maoz’s Edom.

The keyboardist has collaborated with Billy Martin, G. Calvin Weston, Marshall Allen, Odean Pope, Dave Fiuczynski, Anat Cohen, Byard Lancaster, Jamaladeen Tacuma, Mary Halvorson, Briggan Kraus, Stephen Bernstein, Jon Madof and groups Mad Cow, Big Tree, Leana Song, Pharoah’s Daughter, UB313, Chris Tunkle Band, Circuit Breaker, Mother of All Bombs, Brentwood Estates, Exoskeleton and Group Therapy.

Trevor Dunn’s first instrument was the clarinet. After a few years he switched to the bass guitar, and later chose the double bass. In 1990, he graduated from Humboldt State University where he received classical music basics.

Since 2000, the bassist has lived in New York and taken part in various projects under the direction of John Zorn among them Nova Quartet, Dreamers, Electric Masada and Aleph Trio. He also has collaborated with Nels Cline Singers, Curtis Hasselbring’s New Mellow Edwards, as well as Melvins Lite, Endangered Blood, Tomahawk, Darius Jones Quartet and Erik Friedlander’s Bonebridge Quartet. He also writes music for independent films.

Lithuanian avant-garde aficionados know percussionist Kenny Wollesen quite well. He visited our country a few times in the past – appeared with guitarist Bill Frisell’s group; together with American resident drummer Dalius Naujokaitis and local musicians took part in Fluxus Ministry series in Vilnius and Kaunas.

These meetings resulted in album Rasa Rasa released in 2014 on Zorn’s Tzadik label. Prior to that, the project was performed at The Stone club and recorded in Zorn studio. The album features seven Lithuanian sutartinė singers who flew to New York for that from Lithuania. Wollesen plays self-made instruments on this recording.

Wollesen is known as a musician of astonishing versatility, skill and ingenuity. He has recorded and toured with all kinds of musicians from Tom Waits to Sean Lennon and Ron Sexsmith. The percussionist has also recorded with John Scofield, Leni Stern, Norah Jones, Myra Melford, Rufus Wainwright, Steve Beresford, David Byrne, Sylvie Courvoisier and many other coryphées.

Major part (around 40 albums) of his huge discography was recorded with Zorn. Wollesen has often collaborated with Frisell, Basque vocalist Ruper Ordorika, Canadian keyboardist and composer Ellen Reid, American vocalists Jenny Scheinman and Jesse Harris.

In addition, Wollesen works with his own New Klezmer Trio, is a member of Sex Mob and Himalayas. Dalius Naujokaitis also collaborates with the latter group. The filmmaker Jonas Mekas has repeatedly taken part in its projects.  

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