Jul 28, 2024
Split Bill
Main Stage

East Axis

No reservations
With opening act:  
Dining 5:30-9pm. Music 7:30pm.

East Axis is a visionary improvising quartet consisting of renowned musicians Gerald Cleaver (drums), Kevin Ray (bass), Scott Robinson (sax) and Matthew Shipp (piano). They recently released their second album, “No Subject,” on the Mack Avenue label under the auspices of Christian McBride’s Brother Mister imprint.

One of the hottest new bands on the scene, East Axis finished 2nd in the JazzTimes Critics Poll for New Artist in 2021, after their debut release “Cool with That.” Featuring four of the most unique and creative musicians on the planet, the whole is truly greater than the sum of their considerable parts.

East Axis
Jul 28, 2024
Main Stage
Dining 5:30-9pm. Music 7:30pm.

East Axis Is like the cumulative life experience of its members. East Axis is four men, of different styles and backgrounds, coming together to spontaneously make music that sounds like each of them, all of them, and none of them. The music is like a dream of many scenes, but one observed with precision and the deepest type of understanding. The sound of it is a running commentary on the intersection of experience and that dream; a map of places that these musicians are still trying to explore. Gerald Cleaver named the band, saying "East Axis describes these players in this particular place and time. There’s a thing that comes to mind about the name East Axis. I'm grateful for the chance to more fully realize my potential in New York. That was my dream, and the dream came true. Having now moved as far west in the continental US as is possible, I'm reminded of the need to stay charged with the energy of the place."

Matthew Shipp says: "I am always looking for new situations to renew who I am and the language I am involved with—this group has allowed me to reboot my brain. Scott is a unique figure, who is unlike anyone I play with in any other situation. Kevin has a delicious cross section of experience over several genres that gives him a different look than a bassist who might be seen as the usual in the idiom. Gerald—who I have a history with—is different now because he has had such a deep and cross section of experiences since then. The music this group makes is unique. I really enjoy playing with these gentlemen."

Gerald Cleaver: "To paraphrase Miles Davis, ‘This is social music.’ My take on free jazz is that it’s not free at all, rather (in my mind) many, many contexts and frames of reference held at once. Playing this set with Matt, Scott, & Kevin took me through some really nice interactions and reaffirmed for me that the roots of this music are still strong."

Scott Robinson: "Joining a pre-existing group of this kind has its challenges and rewards. Of course I want to bring "my thing" to the group (they must want that, if they called me, right?)... and yet, I am very respectful of the fact that this is already a band, with its own personality, goals and methods. I must bring "my thing" to "their thing" in such a way that it can become "our thing." But for someone who has worked with as many different bands and singers as I have, this is no great stretch. It's how I tend to approach a lot of music anyway. Our very first meeting was in the recording studio, to record an album. No prior rehearsal or get-together of any kind. I guess they trusted me! Well, it was an exhilarating two days, and once we got settled in I think we produced an impressive and engaging document of the new group, one that begins to show what is possible. I look forward to more of what's possible... (with maybe a little impossible thrown in here and there)."

Kevin Ray: "This band is both exhilarating and terrifying to play with. You never know where the music will go, just that it’s somewhere exciting, and you hope you can keep up. Scott is a master of timbre and melody, Matt is an endless font of ideas, and this rhythm section is a dream to be in—Gerald is tasteful, stunningly creative, and grooves like hell. I’m so glad to be a part of it."

What people are saying…

"East Axis, as a band, is reminiscent of Keith Jarrett‘s “American Quartet”, featuring Dewey Redman on tenor saxophone, Charlie Haden’s bass, and Paul Motian on drums." "No Subject brings in reed player Scott Robinson in Lowe’s place, and the choice is right on the money." "the band sounds like it is connected by a set of ingenious wires or pulleys or tubes that allow the slightest musical feint by one to be followed or complemented by the others."- Will Layman, Pop Matters

"Cleaver possesses a close rapport forged over decades with pianist Matthew Shipp, who shares the drummer’s commitment to innovation formed within the crucible of tradition, and together with bassist Kevin Ray, they pull patterns, melodies and grooves out of the air." "Robinson is kind of the group’s secret weapon, unleashing an array of horns in addition to his tenor saxophone that alternatively feeds the quartet’s engine, slows it down or contributes contrapuntal variety.""★★★★" - Downbeat

"There is a bit of irony in the title No Subject. The quartet, even adhering to an often-loose structure, are master storytellers; each tune here is compelling in its narrative… No Subject is unadulterated, creative music full of layers, shadings, and unexpected rhythms; it thrives and metamorphosizes on repeated listening."- Karl Ackermann, All About Jazz

"...the players here understand the value of narrative, and join together to tell a story whenever they pick up the tools of their trade." "No Subject astonishes with its power, grace and magnificently synergistic performances." - Michael Toland, The Big Takeover

"The term “supergroup” is so played, a catchy go-to writer label bandied about in perpetuity. But if it’s ever retired, as it should be, the mighty East Axis has earned the right to be its be all, end all." "The telepathic level and precise execution this improvisatory powerhouse demonstrates is off the scale. …deep-rooted melodicism and purely expressionistic passages rife with gorgeous subtlety…" - Brad Cohan, Rock & Roll Globe

"These four musicians were able to take notions from free jazz and more literally composed sections to coalesce and create truly intuitive music, which makes a memorable impact. This was a very well executed recording, creating exciting music that sounds fresh, the music moving forward by developing a team based and resonant sound played with a spark of the unexpected"- Tim Niland, Jazz and Blues

"No Subject is pure creativity; a respectable follow up to Cool With That (Esp-Disk', 2021), whose impact was tremendous." - Felipe Frietas,

"The twelve adventurous episodes on No Subject take on all shapes and logics with a brazen adherence to themes which are fertile with anticipation and continuity." "This is how freedom plays." - Mike Jurkovic, All About Jazz

"The album has a strange meditative beauty where the individual contributions coalesce to produce an experience that is closer to Debussy than Jelly Roll Morton with flavours of Coltrane." "Probably the best way to listen to the album is through excellent headphones while watching a sequence of paintings by abstract expressionists Mark Rothko or Janet Sobel. The pointillistic gentle collision of textures, ideas and tones is beguiling." "This is carefully presented, enjoyable free jazz for those who are wary of free jazz. It is the kind of album that open minded listeners will want to listen to again and again to search out and absorb the nuances." - Jack Kenny, Jazz Views

"The loose, ambling character of the songs, which meander seamlessly between fragmented rhythm and muscular swing, is well enhanced by the high standards of the four bandmembers as well as the creative bond between them... there is a flinty, grainy beauty that permeates pieces that playfully tease their melodic asides into life." "‘Supergroup’ can be something of a throwaway term, but this gathering has players of sufficient stature to give the description substance." - Jazzwise

"A departure for Christian McBride's Brother Mister label dealing with a hardcore improvising unit who take no prisoners, and bravo for that decision given how excellent the album is." -

"This is pure, creative improvisation at its best – a myriad of textures, colors, and rhythmic patterns that you should truly get lost in." - Jim Hynes, Making a Scene

"This is not free improvisation in the usual sense. East Axis always has an intuitive plan, a way forward… possibly an unexpectedly adventurous release from Christian McBride's record label Brother Mister, but a most welcome one" - Lira

"This is a group that needs to keep on putting records out." - The Necessary Blues

"It’s the best inside-out jazz album I’ve heard so far in 2023." - Peter Margazak, Substack

"…you could call East Axis a supergroup of highly improvised jazz. But it’s more interesting to dwell on how this collection of distinctive voices use this occasion to make spontaneous music together that opens up new wrinkles in their respective approaches… Sure, everyone’s playing their asses off, but they do it while closely connecting to everyone else and making melodies on the fly… ...the rhythm section swinging like the dickens..." - Something Else