BLUESTEM JAZZ | JOE POLICASTRO TRIO
- Dates: December 16, 2022
- Location: North Street Cabaret
- Time: 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM
Hailed by Downbeat for its “deft analysis of choice repertoire,” and by the Chicago Reader for its “diversity of approaches to all kinds of source material,” the JOE POLICASTRO TRIO is a forward-thinking, Chicago-based jazz trio led by bassist Joe Policastro featuring guitarist Dave Miller and drummer Mikel Avery. While firmly rooted in jazz, the band’s open-minded, inclusive nature draws upon a wide array of musical styles and sources while still keeping the aesthetic of an acoustic trio intact.
The band has released five albums to date. Their newest release, Sounds Unheard 2012-2022, is an assemblage of new recordings, outtakes, and unreleased recordings documenting the life of the trio from its earliest iteration its recent incarnation. Their last album, Nothing Here Belongs (2019) focused on the band's original music, whereas previous releases, West Side Story Suite (2013), POPS! (2016), and Screen Sounds (2017), highlighted the trio's ability to remake unlikely songs in its own raw, highly idiosyncratic fashion.
True bands are a rarity in jazz these days, especially ones who hone their craft as consistently as this one does. For over a decade, the band held court thrice-weekly at Pops For Champagne. Beyond Chicago, the band has been extensively playing together throughout the US and Canada having even performed for President Barack Obama.
As sidemen, Joe Policastro (Pat and Debby Boone, Sheila Jordan, Phil Woods, Diane Schuur), Dave Miller (Clarice Assad, Patricia Barber, Algernon), and Mikel Avery (Joshua Abrams, Theaster Gates, Rob Mazurek) have shared the stage with a wide array of musicians but dedicate collectively to this trio. Whether highlighting the original music of its members, re-contextualizing modern music, or performing jazz classics of the likes of Thelonious Monk, Chico Hamilton, or Charles Lloyd, the trio readily displays its singular approach, sound, texture, and simultaneity.
"The trio have refined their layered blend of the familiar and faintly far out, playing three nights a week at Chicago’s Pops For Champagne and through extensive roadwork. Their deep understanding of each other and deft analysis of choice repertoire repays repeat and close listening."
- Michael Jackson, Downbeat
Known for its eclectic taste and approach, the Joe Policastro Trio "makes the case that such musical hybridity is worth celebrating." "Policastro…is a melody-minded bassist who prioritizes group cohesion over individual displays of virtuosity."
- Brian Zimmerman, Downbeat
"There are always new wrinkles to be found in the familiar. That's a political stance that seems to serve the Joe Policastro Trio well…putting alternately gritty and focused touches on songs we've come to love….Policastro and company have found their niche tapping into different breeds of treasured songs."
- Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz
The Joe Policastro Trio is a band that can turn "pop tart into Jazz art" (Travis Rogers, Jazz Owl) and one that "should have wide appeal among both jazz fans and listeners of other genres." (Hrayr Attarian, Chicago Jazz Magazine)
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