Peter Apfelbaum & The Collective: Performing Arts Series - University of Nevada, Reno

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Peter Apfelbaum & The Collective Thursday, 04.26.2018, 7:30PM

"[Apfelbaum] is a visionary, galvanic composer like few others of his time." — CMJ New Music Report
"[Apfelbaum’s] genius [is] not in appropriating, but, like any true jazz composer, synthesizing the possibilities that [are] around him and creating structures for improvisation." — Berkeley Daily Planet
"There's no denying the deep musicianship of [...] Apfelbaum’s genre-mashing ambition as he blends jazz with a host of world music influences to form a powerfully grooving sound that’s utterly benign, even beatific: large ensemble, horn-heavy music that’s tailor-made for the jamband set, yet free of the more cloying elements that often dog that genre." — All About Jazz
"[The Collective’s] recordings display all of the fire, versatility, and inventiveness that audiences throughout the West have come to expect of this ensemble." — CDBaby

About Peter Apfelbaum

Born in Berkeley, California in 1960, Peter Apfelbaum started playing drums at the age of three, taking up piano and saxophone in elementary school and forming his first band at age 11.

A product of the Berkeley Schools’ pioneering Jazz Project, Apfelbaum began performing professionally while in his early teens. In 1977 — his senior year at Berkeley High — he formed the 17-piece "Hieroglyphics Ensemble" as a vehicle for composing and exploring non-traditional musical forms. The Ensemble was initially largely comprised of fellow BHS classmates, some of whom would later move to New York and achieve recognition in their own right, such as saxophonist Joshua Redman. The band released their self-produced debut album, Pillars, in 1979 and began to attract international attention for their unique mix of elements of world music with the aesthetic of the jazz avant-garde.

Apfelbaum put the 17-piece group on hold during the mid-90’s, forming a sextet comprising Hieroglyphics musicians and acoustic bassist John Shifflett. The group recorded "Luminous Charms"" (Gramavision/Ryko) in 1996 and became Apfelbaum’s working unit for the next few years. In 1998 Apfelbaum moved to Brooklyn, NY, where he soon formed a New York version of his Sextet, featuring Josh Roseman (trombone), Charles Burnham (violin), David Phelps (guitar), Patrice Blanchard (bass) and Dafnis Prieto (drums).

Apfelbaum toured Europe with several NY-based groups over the next few years: Joe Bowie's Defunkt Big Band (1999), Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra (2000), Kamikaze Ground Crew (2000), and the Groove Collective (2001). In the Spring of 2002 he joined Phish frontman Trey Anastasio’s band, with whom he would play four sold-out U.S. tours, appearing on the David Letterman Show and the Tonight Show, among others.

2012 saw the birth of "SPARKLER", the fulfillment of Apfelbaum’s desire to create a band that would focus on heavy dance grooves and more song-oriented material. Featuring his goddaughter, Natalie Cressman (trombone/vocals) and longtime colleague Will Bernard (guitar), the 5-piece band played shows in NYC and California — making their festival debut at High Sierra — in 2013 before heading into the studio to record tracks for an upcoming album.

In addition to the New York Hieroglyphics and SPARKLER, Apfelbaum continues to perform regularly with the Dafnis Prieto Si o Si Quartet and Sextet, Steven Bernstein/Henry Butler and the Hot 9, Omar Sosa Afri-lectric Quartet and Sextet. He also often performs solo or in duet with percussionist Josh Jones. His music has been performed by the Kronos Quartet, the National Swedish Radio Orchestra of Stockholm, the Bay Area Jazz Composers Orchestra, Harry Belafonte, Kamikaze Ground Crew and the Trey Anastasio Band. Apfelbaum compositions that have been recorded by other artists include “Pillars” (Dave Ellis - In The Long Run, Monarch, 1998), "When I Close My Eyes" AKA "Theater Piece" (Ann Dyer - When I Close My Eyes, Sunnyside, 2003) and "Peter’s Tune" (Peck Allmond - Kalimba Collage, SoniCulture, 2004). The Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble commissioned Apfelbaum to write a new piece for the award-winning band, which was premiered in March 2006 at Yoshi’s with Apfelbaum conducting. Apfelbaum has also worked with Cecil Taylor, Nana Vasconcelos, Charlie Hunter, Joseph Jarman, Bill Laswell, Steve Kimock, the Chicago Children’s Choir, the Jazz Mandolin Project, Levon Helm and the late Jim Pepper.

"I feel that one thing I have in common with others in my generation, like Steven Bernstein’s Sex Mob, Graham Haynes, Josh Roseman, Charlie Hunter, Will Bernard, and Medeski, Martin and Wood is that we see the dance music of our time (or “groove” music, as MMW calls it) as having potential for creative development."

"At no point in the process of composing have I made a conscious decision to incorporate African elements or, for that matter, any other cultural or stylistic elements. I just write and build and adjust the shape of it all. My vocabulary reflects the fact that I started life as a drummer and was trained as a sub-teenager in jazz theory, blues, gospel music. As a teenager I was inundated with jazz, African and Latin music, was involved in group improvisation on a regular basis, listened to a lot of 20th century classical music, worked in R&B, reggae, blues, Latin, African, Jazz, Funk, Middle Eastern and Indian bands, and for as long as I can remember, have been fascinated by how sounds fit together."

Awards and Commissions
2007: Chamber Music America New Works and Presentation Award - "Aural Histories"
2002: Jazz Composers Alliance Julius Hemphill Composition Award - "Shotgun Bouquet"
2000: Donaueschingen Music Festival, Germany - "Shotgun Bouquet"
1991: Winner - Down Beat magazine Critics' Poll - Big Band Deserving Wider Recognition (Peter Apfelbaum & the Hieroglyphics Ensemble)
199: Grammy nomination - "Candles and Stones"
1990: Rex Foundation Ralph J. Gleason Award for Creative Excellence
1990: Kronos Quartet - "Lanterns and Cathedrals"
1988; Bay Area Jazz Composers Orchestra - "Jodoji Brightness"

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About The Collective

The Collective — the University of Nevada, Reno's faculty jazz ensemble — known as one of the most creative and distinctive jazz ensembles in the northwestern United States, features pianist Adam Benjamin, bassist Hans Halt, drummer Andrew Heglund, and saxophonist Peter Epstein. In addition to maintaining a busy performance schedule, the group's members are dedicated instructors, and form the core of the Jazz Studies program at the University of Nevada, Reno.

This final PAS performance is a collaboration with the 2018 Reno Jazz Festival. The Collective will perform with acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and composer, Peter Apfelbaum.

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Venue / Parking / Accessibility


All performances are in the Nightingale Concert Hall, located in the University’s Church Fine Arts Building just south of 14th Street at 1335 North Virginia Street, Reno. Get directions to the Nightingale Concert Hall >


Patron drop-off area: There is a bus stop driveway at the Virginia Street entrance to the Church Fine Arts Building making it easy to drop-off passengers before parking.

Parking is free on arts-events evenings (after 7P) in the Brian J. Whalen Parking Complex, which is north of the Church Fine Arts Building and south of Lawlor Events Center. Get directions to the Brian J. Whalen Parking Complex >

Handicap Access

Due to construction around the Church Fine Arts Building, handicapped access is limited to the north and south ends of the building.

Download Map of Venue

See location of Nightingale Concert Hall, box office, parking & patron drop-off area and handicap access.


Occasionally an unforeseen occurrence calls for an artist to cancel a performance. If a cancellation requires us to schedule another performer, the series always will seek to substitute a comparable artist with similar credentials and performance standards within a related genre.

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