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Herbie Nichols Project Plays Oct. 18

You know your music has become a canonized art when you have people passionately arguing on behalf of musicians who have been excluded from the canon. One of the more successful advocacy ventures of recent years is the Jazz Composers Collective’s Herbie Nichols Project, dedicated to the pianist-composer who wrote “Lady Sings the Blues” for Billie Holliday but whose work was nevertheless neglected following his death from leukemia in 1963 at the age of 44. The Jazz Composers Collective opens its tenth season on Oct. 18 with a concert at New York City’s New School; they’ll be celebrating their latest opus on Nichols’ behalf, Strange City (pictured left), and fans of the unknown and underrated will undoubtedly want to have a listen.

Strange City features eight compositions Nichols never recorded with his trio, but have now been realized by a much larger ensemble: trumpeter Ron Horton, saxophonists Ted Nash and Michael Blake, trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, drummer Matt Wilson, pianist Frank Kimbrough, and bassist Ben Allison; the latter two act as co-leaders of the group. Members of the collective discovered the eight compositions in 1995 at the Library of Congress; previously, their existence had been a mere rumor.

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