Steve Masakowski, the legendary New Orleans jazz guitarist and educator, along with his rising-star children, vocalist Sasha and bassist Martin, have collaborated on a new album, N.O. Escape, featuring a variety of their favorite songs related to their hometown of New Orleans in a style that Steve describes as Nouveaux Trad.
This evening is co-presented by the New York Hot Jazz Festival.
Born and steeped in the musical roux of New Orleans, the Masakowski family, consisting of Steve on guitar and his children Sasha on vocals, and Martin on bass and have been performing together professionally for nearly a decade. Influenced by their musician parents, Sasha and Martin have been carving their own creative paths by exploring genres such as electronic, gypsy, Middle Eastern and art rock music, traveling extensively across the globe as performing artists. Steve, a legendary and highly acclaimed jazz guitarist and long-time member of the group Astral Project, is also the director of the Jazz Studies program at the University of New Orleans.
Sasha Masakowski has been a leading voice on the New Orleans music scene since 2009, when she was awarded "Best Emerging Artist" by the Big Easy Association. She has since performed at major clubs and festivals across the United States and abroad and leads three bands of her own that range from traditional New Orleans jazz (Sidewalk Strutters) to contemporary jazz and world music (Musical Playground) to experimental electronic art-rock (Hildegard, Tra$h Magnolia). Vanity Fair recently listed Sasha as one of their top jazz musicians in the world, and DownBeat named Sasha among the most innovative musicians coming out of New Orleans to date. She has performed five consecutive years at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and has toured across the U.S., Asia, Europe and Central America. Sasha'a approach to music is as playful, charismatic and spontaneous as her personality. Her influences draw from jazz to electronic music to rock and she performs often in fully improvised settings to help cultivate her exotic style. Sasha has earned a reputation internationally as a daring, fearless improviser and charming interpreter, working often alongside other progressive, genre-defying musicians such as Zach Danziger, Cliff Hines, Aurora Nealand, Paul Thibodeaux, Irvin Mayfield and Jason Lindner. All About Jazz says, "Masakowski's marvelous voice can be sly, sexy, exotic and arresting as she works her way through an incredibly diverse array of music that crosses cultural and stylistic lines in interesting ways."
Steve Masakowski has long been regarded as one of the top jazz artists from New Orleans. Born and raised in New Orleans, Steve Masakowski has played guitar with most of the city's greatest musicians including Alvin "Red" Tyler, Ellis Marsalis, Danny Barker, Earl Turbinton and James Black. He has also performed with Grammy Award-winning artists Bobby McFerrin, Nicholas Payton, Allen Toussaint, Dianne Reeves and others at major festivals around the world. As a recording artist, he has released numerous albums, including two on the prestigious Blue Note Records label. He has been an active member of, and composer for the award winning New Orleans jazz group, Astral Project. He has twice been voted "Best Guitarist," and won "Best Contemporary Jazz Group" three times by Gambit and Offbeat in their annual reader's polls. He has published lessons in Guitar Player and authored the book, Jazz Ear Training - Learning to Hear Your Way Through Music for Mel Bay Publications. He is frequently recognized by DownBeat as Talent Deserving Wider Recognition. Steve is currently on the faculty at the University of New Orleans where he holds the position of Coca-Cola Endowed Chair of Jazz Studies.
Martin Masakowski studied jazz at the University of New Orleans before moving to the Netherlands to finish his bachelor's in music at the Rotterdam Conservatory. He spent the following years touring with the Balcony Players, an Eastern European folk band. With them he explored over 20 countries in Europe, performing in clubs and festivals and also visiting Roma gypsy villages to study their music and culture. As a result of his travels and the influence of his family and his city, Martin's musical styles span across jazz, folk, classical, electronic, experimental, Eastern European and Indian genres. Martin performs regularly at New Orleans staples such as Snug Harbor and the Spotted Cat while also developing his skills as a Tuvan throat singer.
The New York Hot Jazz Festival is an annual New York City multi-stage marathon showcasing traditional jazz from New Orleans hot jazz through the big band swing era, as well as gypsy jazz and ragtime. The festival was launched in 2013 as a day-long celebration for New York's hot jazz and swing communities by impresario Michael Katsobashvili, but has expanded its mission to year-round presentations of and advocacy for traditional jazz through various collaborations and partnerships, including curating and hosting an annual dedicated Hot Jazz Festival stage at New York City Winter Jazzfest, programs for Central Park SummerStage, and this past fall, a special weekend devoted to the Jazz Age at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center. The Festival has developed new projects and initiated the formation of new hot jazz bands, several of which have already become mainstays of New York's jazz scene.
Uncharted is a concert series featuring New York-based artists premiering new projects or meeting with new collaborators for the first time on stage that has consistently drawn the attention of tastemakers and curators from across the city over the past three years. The Uncharted season delivers eclectic excellence in a broad selection of musical genres representing New York City’s diverse artistic community, including Mexican folkloric, ragtime, classical, electronic, jazz, ancient Moroccan devotional and contemporary R&B.