Jazz trumpeter and educator Ralph Alessi did progressive music a world of good when he founded the New York City-based School for Improvisational Music (SIM) in 2001. It was a means of inspiring and mentoring young musicians from around the globe during two-week summer workshops alongside some of the top improvisers in the field. A partial roll call of notable alumni attests to the organization’s achievement: Aaron Parks, Jon Irabagon, Amir ElSaffar, Nate Wooley, Brian Landrus and Matana Roberts. Alessi runs SIM with pianist Andy Milne as co-director and with a teaching roster that constitutes a who’s who in avant-jazz: Tim Berne, Mark Helias, Kris Davis, Gerald Cleaver, Michael Formanek, Tom Rainey and Tony Malaby, among many others. As a lyrically incisive trumpeter-composer, Alessi has added to his discography with two recent albums as a leader for ECM, Baida and Quiver. The San Francisco native, born in 1963, has also collaborated with the likes of Fred Hersch, Ravi Coltrane, Michael Caine and Jason Moran. Alessi starts a teaching position at the University of Nevada-Reno this fall.
Photo by Peter Gannushkin