Ali Ryerson Returns
Renowned flutist and former Carmel Valley girl comes home.
Thursday, October 9, 2003
Photo: Partners At Play: Ali Ryerson teams up with Joe Beck Saturday and Sunday in Carmel.
Ali Ryerson may be one of jazz''s world-class flutists, but she''s subject to the same landscape-lust as the rest of us, which explains why she ended up living in Monterey for a couple of years.
She first started visiting the region in the mid-''80s, when she joined Julius Baker, the New York Philharmonic''s longtime principal flutist, conducting master classes at Hidden Valley Music Seminars in Carmel Valley. She settled in the area in the early ''90s, serving for a season as the Monterey Symphony''s principal flutist.
Even when she moved back to the East Coast, she maintained strong ties to the region, performing often at the Monterey Jazz Festival and working as an Elderhostel instructor at Hidden Valley Music Seminars, teaching seminars on the festival''s featured artists.
Ryerson returns to the Monterey Bay Saturday for a performance at the Jazz and Blues Company with her duo partner, guitarist Joe Beck, and special guest Kenny Stahl on flute. The duo also performs a Sunday afternoon concert at Hacienda Carmel.
"It took about four and a half minutes to fall in love with the area," Ryerson says. "I''ve worked with an awful lot of the musicians out here, like Kenny Stahl, a fantastic flute player. And I developed close ties with some of the Brazilian musicians, which resulted in my third release, Quiet Devotion."
One of the most consistently inspired flutists in jazz, Ryerson first gained widespread exposure in the early ''90s when acclaimed producer Bob Thiele released two albums on his Red Baron label, including 1992''s Blue Flute, which features a dream band of pianist Kenny Barron, drummer Roy Haynes, and trumpeter Red Rodney. She went on to record three acclaimed albums for Concord Jazz. Her most recent CD is a captivating flute-centric sextet session Flutology (Capri) with fellow flute masters Holly Hofmann and former Count Basie star Frank Wess.
The daughter of the esteemed jazz and studio guitarist Art Ryerson, Ali was weaned on tasteful, swinging fretwork. It''s not surprising that she has found a musical soul mate in Beck, a tremendously gifted improviser with a resume as diverse and impressive as that of any guitarist on the scene.
An established New York City player by the age of 18, Beck began accompanying stars like Stan Getz, Charles Lloyd and Paul Winter in the mid-''60s. He absorbed the rhythmic intricacies of bossa nova right from the source, Brazilian singer and guitarist Joao Gilberto. Then, on the recommendation of Gil Evans, he became Miles Davis''s first guitarist, joining the trumpeter''s second great quintet in early 1968.
In recent years, Beck has found inspiration in his "alto duos" with Ryerson (so named because she plays the lower-register alto flute and he uses an alto guitar he had specially made for the partnership).
Over seven years and two albums, most recently Django (DMP), they have developed a swinging, harmonically rich chamber jazz approach. Focusing on originals, standards and Ellingtonia, they often play medleys that marry seemingly incompatible material, like a Miles Davis tune and a Bach flute sonata.