Primary Instrument: Clarinet
“Falzone is a remarkable, in-the-moment improviser -- able, as few virtuosi can, to listen as intently as he sings.”
--Larry Kart, Author of Jazz in Search of Itself (Yale University Press)
Composer and clarinetist James Falzone is working at the intersection of many styles of music including jazz, improvised, classical, and folk traditions. He has been featured on numerous public radio and television shows and has performed in concert halls and jazz clubs throughout the United States and abroad with his own Allos Musica Projects. He has also collaborated with such diverse and visionary artists as Steve Lacy, Richard Stoltzman, Jorrit Dijkstra, Theodore Bikel, Joe Maneri, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Ran Blake, and many others.
He is also a founding member of the highly acclaimed French music ensemble Le Bon Vent, recently featured at the Maison de la Culture in Montreal which broadcasted the ensemble’s live performance on Canadian Public Radio -- one of only a handful of ensembles to have this honor in recent years.
Falzone appears on more than ten recordings as a guest artist, and his 2000 solo recording, The Already and the Not Yet, was hailed by jazz writer and critic Larry Kart as “a work that speaks a unique, potent musical and spiritual language” and Grammy®-winning clarinetist Richard Stoltzman called it “an amazing journey…simply astounding.”
His newest recording, April 2007's The Sign and the Thing Signified, is the first title on his own Allos Documents label. His other recent releases include Le Bon Vent’s Good Night Marc Chagall (Epact) and Jorrit Dijkstra’s Flatlands Collective: Gnomade (Sky Cap).
A composer in many genres, Falzone's music has been performed recently by The Rockford Symphony Orchestra, The South Bend Indiana Orchestra, and The Human Connection New Music Ensemble. He has developed or taken part in projects that have been awarded grants from the Chicago Cultural Center, the Hillary Swing Fund for Creativity, The Consulate General of the Netherlands, The Rotary Foundation, the New England Foundation for the Arts, and the Vermont Arts Council.
Educated at New England Conservatory in Boston, he has been a frequent lecturer on music at L’Abri Fellowship both in the U.S. and Europe and has presented masterclasses and workshops at Notre Dame University, Wheaton College Conservatory, Marquette University, Northern Illinois University. He was also a visiting scholar at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, where he assisted the Navy’s Strategic Studies Group in thinking through how musical improvisation could shed light on the ever-changing war on terrorism.
He is on faculty at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, where he teaches courses in theory, composition, and world music, and is Resident Composer and Director of Music for Grace Church in Chicago where he currently resides with his wife and two daughters.
--Matthew Lurie, Time Out Chicago
...[Falzone] weaves music from threads of classical and jazz, and colors it with Middle Eastern filligree.
His playing is technically unassailable, his deployment of a bassoon and three strings within his sextet
impressively intricate, and the tripartite title piece summons some lovely textures.
--Bill Meyer, DownBeat
As heard on the terrific new The Sign and the Thing Signified, this group led by clarinetist
James Falzone is distinguished both by its mix of classically inspired, through-composed, and
improvised material and by its instrumentation: the current lineup includes cellist Kevin Davis, violist
Amy Cimini, bassoonist Katherine Young, bassist Krzysztof Pabian, percussionist Eric Platz, and Todd
Carter on electronics. Through impressive use of counterpoint and a knack for encouraging discrete
interaction among the players, Falzone keeps the group's unusual assemblage of dry timbres from
blending into a single astringent wash. Whether on an adaptation of a Purcell aria or a solo clarinet
vignette, the music maintains a bracing clarity and sense of focus.
--Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader
This is a genuinely unusual record, thoughtful and thought-provoking.
--Duncan Heining, Jazzwise
Falzone brings several musical styles into his compositions. He is an articulate and interesting
composer who utilizes the structure of classical music, the rhythms of Klezmer, the spark of
polytonality and an abandon witnessed in free blowing to build a vibrant body.
--Jerry D'Souza, AllAboutJazz.com
...Falzone blends an impressive array of influences into a singular style all his own. Composing
yearning lyrical lines filled with dramatic turns of phrase and dynamic shifts in mood, his writing style
blends the angular rhythmic punch and spontaneous freedom of Henry Threadgill with the folksy,
subdued lyrical quality of Jimmy Giuffre and the esoteric mysticism of Oliver Messiaen. An engaging
album that reveals new depths with repeated listens, The Sign and the Thing Signified is
another rich document demonstrating the endless versatility and creativity of the Chicago creative
improvised music scene.
--Troy Collins, Cadence
Clarinetist James Falzone and his improvising chamber sextet Allos Musica have taken symbols,
whether real, imagined or conjured, and have made music that transcends category, moving it into a
unique realm. Using bassoon, viola, cello and double bass, flavored by the sensitive percussion work of
the fine Chicago musician Tim Mulvenna, a witty, piquant and eminently listenable Falzone extrapolates
on past traditions made utterly modern...this is a consistently intriguing date from Falzone and friends,
and comes highly recommended.
--Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide