The Berklee World Jazz Nonet, ironically, shows the importance in jazz of the Boston-based Berklee School of Music’s crosstown rival, the New England Conservatory. NEC’s president Gunther Schuller created a program at the school called “Third Stream” (now known as Contemporary Improvisation), a curriculum designed to encourage fusions of jazz with classical and other musical traditions from all over the world. But Berklee has picked up the gauntlet with relish: Each of the World Jazz Nonet’s undergraduate members hails from a different part of the world. As such, the musical heritages of Japan (pianist Takeshi Ohbayashi), Greece (vocalist Marina Satti), India (percussionist Jonathan Nellen), Israel (bassist Noam Wiesenberg), Puerto Rico (percussionist Marcos Lopez, also a member of DCJF favorite La Timbistica), Ireland (percussionist Diego Joaquin Ramirez), Palestine (qanun player Ali Amr), Canada (guitarist Joseph Manzoli), and the U.S. (saxophonist Grace Kelly, who recently wowed the crowd at KenCen’s Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival) collide and intertwine in the nonet’s improvised music. It’s a joyful, unique sound that’s as much fun to try to untangle as it is to listen to on its own, compounded terms.
Note: Though the nonet performs a free concert tonight at 6 at the Millennium Stage, you can also catch them tomorrow night at 9 at Bossa in Adams Morgan, or Thursday at 5 in the Smithsonian Sculpture Garden.