The Fire’s in the Firehouse

The Fire’s in the Firehouse

A s a musician, Nick Lloyd tends to travel in rock and R&B circles; he’s playing a neighboring club, Café Nine, on March 24 with his “outlaw country rock” band The Wagon Riders. Yet, he maintains, “The type of music I play in bands is totally unsuited to Firehouse 12.”

A certain ineffable hotness blazes through Firehouse, the shiny, pristine and ever-progressive performance venue/recording studio/record company (with adjacent bar) on Crown Street. Lloyd spent years meticulously remodeling and repurposing the space with the local firm Gray Organschi Architecture. He knows its limitations, or rather, its extremes.

He talks to us now from Firehouse’s satellite space, a large warehouse area two blocks from the club, where much of the behind-the-scenes magic behind Firehouse 12 now occurs. There are desks for the club’s concert booker, studio manager, bar manager and Firehouse 12 Records label designer. One vast , echoey, cement-walled room is being readied as a recording studio, with purposefully different acoustics and dynamics from the refined, paneled space on Crown. Lloyd refers to the warehouse as the “release valve for the other space.”

Lloyd knows that folks shorthand his concert series at Firehouse 12 (which runs

Firehouse 12
45 Crown St., New Haven (map)
(203) 785-0468 | info@firehouse12.com
Tues-Thurs 4pm-1am; Fri 4pm-2am; Sat 6pm-2am.
www.firehouse12.com 

for 13 weeks in the fall and spring) as “avant garde jazz. But I feel like it covers a wider breadth, in terms of the specific music being played. I guess for most people, the notion of what constitutes jazz is fairly consistent. I hope to find music that challenges some of those assumptions.”

Yet, he adds, “It’s not a cliquey, cool-guy thing. I want this to be a curated but publicly accessible set of shows.”

And here it comes—the 2012 Spring Jazz Series, with Lloyd’s personal commentary on some of the acts:

March 23: Larry Ochs’ Kihnoua, a Korean-influenced quartet led by the great saxophonist.
March 30: Michael Musillami Trio + 4. “I worked with him in the studio,” Lloyd says of guitarist Musillami. “I’ve shown him as a trio, a quintet, and now a septet.”
April 6: Trio M. One of the “M”s in is pianist Myra Milford, who has played Firehouse 12 as a member of other groups. The others are bassists Mark Dresser and legendary jazz drummer Matt

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Wilson. Trio M’s album The Guest House was recorded at the Firehouse 12 studio.
April 13: Saxophonist/composer Steve Lehman and his trio. “A younger guy. It’s his third time at Firehouse 12.”
April 20: Saxophonist Mike DiRubbo duetting with pianist Larry Wills.
April 27: Another sax-based outfit, the Noah Kaplan Quartet. “I worked with him on a few projects in the studio. One of his Firehouse 12 sessions is coming out on a European jazz label.”
May 4: More sax, with the Darius Jones Quartet.
May 11: Michael Bates’ Acrobat, with the acclaimed bassist/arranger presenting “Music By and For Dmitiri Shostakovich.”
May 18: Mary Halvorson Quintet. “We’ve released two of her records on our label. She’s a total jazz superstar, called ‘the new face of jazz guitar.’”
May 25: Pilc Moutin Hoenig. The established trio of pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, bassist Francois Moutin and drummer Ari Hoenig.
June 1: Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom. “Allison Miller played on one my favorite shows, Shakers ‘n’ Bakers, which takes off from Shaker music.” Not only is Miller a female jazz drummer in a male-dominated profession, Boom Tic Boom celebrates the work of female jazz and pop composers.
June 8: Ernesto Cervini Quartet. Drummer Cervini has been at Firehouse before, but never as a bandleader.
June 15: Ellery Eskelin and Trio New York. “He’s a saxophonist, with an organist [Gary Versace] who’s incredible, plus [Gerald Cleaver,] one of my favorite drummers ever.”

Details on all the acts are available on the Firehouse 12 website.

Firehouse performers are true experimenters and innovators, and Lloyd is proud to have designed a laboratory and playground for them.

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Christopher Arnott has written about arts and culture in Connecticut for over 25 years. His journalism has won local, regional and national awards, and he has been honored with an Arts Award from the Arts Council of Greater New Haven. He posts daily at his own sites www.scribblers.us and New Haven Theater Jerk (www.scribblers.us/nhtj).

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