The Jazz Urbane Premieres "Playing with Other People's Heads"

Liz Lupton
March 4, 2014
Press release
The Jazz Urbane performs its new album at Scullers on March 12, 2014.
Bill Banfield leads the Jazz Urbane.
Photo by Phil Farnsworth

The Jazz Urbane, the Berklee-based group established by the college’s Africana Studies leader, Bill Banfield, premieres work from its latest album, Playing with Other People’s Heads, at Scullers Jazz Club on March 12, 2014 at 8:00 p.m. with special guest Tia Fuller. Guided by the late Grammy Award-winning executive producer George Duke, Playing with Other People’s Heads explores the relationship between mentors and mentees through musical collaboration. Duke mentored Banfield and the Jazz Urbane throughout the album’s creation until Duke’s death in 2013. The Jazz Urbane is an evolving and multi-generational group of artists comprised of Berklee students, faculty, and alumni.

Listen to an interview with Bill Banfield about the Jazz Urbane on the Inside Berklee podcast.

“Historically, the lifeline of jazz progression has always been its reach to younger creative impulses,” says Banfield. “In that exchange comes new voices; an inspiring, charged collective; and movements of style, aesthetics, and sound. The Jazz Urbane is about music making at the center of collaboration.”

Playing with Other People’s Heads features more than 30 Berklee faculty, students, and alumni, and the album took seven years to complete. As one of the largest cross-generational Berklee projects ever, the album features artists such as Terri Lyne Carrington, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Greg Osby, and Grace Kelly. Originally formed as the Bill Banfield Band in 1981, the Jazz Urbane’s latest iteration was established in 2006 with Esperanza Spalding as Banfield’s counterpoint. Banfield struggled with the modern grooves of younger members like Spalding and trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah.

To create balance, he brought in a group of jazz veterans, such as George Russell Jr. and Lenny Stallworth, who joined the younger players in regular collaboration. The musicians learned from each other’s unique musical perspectives, and today’s Jazz Urbane is an inter-generational group that emphasizes “era criss-crossing” and partnership.

Liz Lupton is a publicist in the Office of Media Relations. She can be reached at