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Jamie Saft/ Joe Morris/ Charles Downs

jamie saft-joe morris-charles downs.jpg

Jamie Saft - piano / Joe Morris - bass / Rashid Bakr - drums

Jamie Saft-piano, fender rhodes, Joe Morris-bass, Charles Downs-drums all musicians with vast catalogs of recordings and diverse experiences leading their own groups and performing with many important artists. They were first heard together on the landmark recording "Ticonderoga" (which also featured Joe McPhee) for the Clean Feed label. Here they will perform as a trio and for the first time in a concert of improvised music which will be recorded live..


Jamie Saft (born 1971) is a keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist, composer, sound engineer and producer living in Upstate New York. Saft was born in Flushing Queens, New York in 1971 and is a graduate of both Tufts University and the New England Conservatory of Music. He has performed and recorded with John ZornBobby PreviteMerzbow and many others. He has also written several original film scores including Murderball and God Grew Tired of Us. Saft can be seen playing live in Bobby Previte, Jamie Saft, Skerik - Live in Japan 2003 (DVD - Word Public). In 2006 he also contributed to Bobby Previte's Coalition of the Willing. Saft's projects have included the Jamie Saft Trio with Ben Perowsky and Greg Cohen, the New Zion Trio with Larry Grenadier and Craig Santiago, and The New Standard with Steve Swallow and Bobby Previte.**


Joe Morris was born in New Haven, Connecticut, United States in 1955. He started on guitar in 1969 and played his first professional gig later that year. With the exception of a few lessons, he is self-taught. The influence of Jimi Hendrix and other guitarists of that period led him to concentrate on learning to play the blues. John Coltrane's Om inspired him to learn about jazz. He worked to establish his own voice on guitar in a free jazzcontext from the age of 17. After high school he performed in rock bands, rehearsed in jazz bands, and played improvised music until 1975, when he moved to Boston.[1]

In 1983 he formed his own record company, Riti, and recorded his first album, Wraparound. An early mentor and playing partner was pianist Lowell Davidson.[2]

Between 1989 and 1993 he performed and recorded with his electric trio Sweatshop and electric quartet Racket Club. In 1994 he became the first guitarist to lead his own session in the twenty-year history of Black Saint/Soul Note with the trio recording Symbolic Gesture, and he has continued to record extensively for many labels such as LeoKnitting FactoryAUM FidelityHathutClean FeedESP and RogueArt. In addition to leading his own groups, he has recorded and performed with among others: Matthew ShippWilliam ParkerJohn ZornJoe ManeriRob BrownIvo PerelmanKen Vandermark and DKV Trio, Jim Hobbs, Steve Lantner, Daniel Levin, Petr Cancura and David S. Ware.[1]

He has lectured and conducted workshops throughout the US and Europe. He is a former member of the faculty of Tufts University Extension College and is currently on the faculty at New England Conservatory in the jazz and improvisation department.


Charles Downs was born in Chicago, and his family moved to the Bronx when he was four. He became a musician because of the profound influence John Coltrane had on him, and because Charles’ uncle was the great “Papa” Jo Jones, the father of modern drumming. As a child, Charles remembers that Art Blakey and Max Roach visited the family, and the former gave him his first set of sticks; one of his early playing memories is sitting in with his uncle in a Dixieland band at the World’s Fair. Later drum heroes for Charles included Andrew Cyrille, Elvin Jones, Sunny Murray, and Milford Graves (who also gave him other mystical healing arts besides music, including acupuncture and herbology). But Charles also loved to immerse himself in the playing of Kenny Clarke (wanting to “get some of those fine chops”), and his present favorite is Tony Williams (“for playing up top a lot”). Charles went to Queens College to study chemistry and psychology, and to graduate school for clinical psychology at Brooklyn College. As a fan in college, he went to every John Coltrane and Miles Davis concert, and his father bought him his first drum set.

After college and an Army stint, it was saxophonist Bobby Zankel who took Charles to audition for the Cecil Taylor big band in ‘73, and he played two concerts with Cecil Taylor at the time, one at Columbia University and the other at Carnegie Hall. William Parker was also in that band and told him about Jemeel Moondoc, who had moved to New York in ‘76, and Charles joined Jemeel’s Ensemble Muntu from 1975 to 1981; one of the great legendary loft~era bands, Muntu recorded five albums & toured extensively. By the early ‘8O’s, Charles was also playing with Billy Bang, Roy Campbell, Jr., Raphé Malik, David Murray, David S. Ware, Frank Wright, and others. In ‘81 Rashid rejoined Cecil Taylor for three more years, playing mostly in Europe in a quartet setting with Jimmy Lyons and William Parker. 

Back in New York again from ‘83~’9O, Mr. Downs continued working in particular with many powerhouse saxophonists, including Peter Brötzmann, Arthur Doyle, Charles Gayle, and Glenn Spearman. Charles credits Charles Gayle with getting him into playing tunes and helping him realize the time side of his playing. In this period Charles also became a member of the seminal quartet Other Dimensions in Music, along w/ Roy Campbell, Jr., Daniel Carter, and William Parker. Another stretch with Cecil Taylor from ‘9O to ‘95 took Charles all over Europe “and everywhere,” also bringing him opportunities to play with special guests in the band including Lester Bowie, David Murray, and James Newton.

A devoted family man, Charles works at the Lighthouse helping find employment for the blind when he’s not playing music. He says that at this point in his life as a musician, he wants to “sharpen what I have.” - Margaret Davis 

“Time Out New York” (1O/O2) declares Charles Down “among the best avant~garde drummers, a timekeeper whose pulse is so subtle, supple and steady that he makes expressionism sound positively swinging.” And according to Byron Coley & Michael Ehlers’ ‘98 Fire in the Valley Festival program notes, Charles is “one of improvising music’s most consistently questing drummers. Using his full kit in a manner that seems to have been forgotten by many of his contemporaries, Mr. Bakr’s playing seems to gush from a deep emotional well.... His rumbles will be felt to the core of your being. Hold on tight.”