Jeru is a pianoless quartet that began shortly after bassist Joe Policastro moved to Chicago early in 2003. Inspired by the Gerry Mulligan Quartet of the 1950s, the band takes it's name from a nickname used by Miles Davis for Gerry Mulligan. The group not only pays homage to Gerry Mulligan and other great writers/performers, Jeru adds new arrangements and compositions in an attempt to further explore a somewhat under-utilized format, the chordless ensemble. Although many performers have explored groups without chordal accompaniment (Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, to name but a few), very few made use of this outfit in an arranging fashion. Jeru chooses to model itself after ensembles led by Mulligan, George Russell, John Lewis and Jimmy Giuffre where the writing and arranging is as much a part of the music as the improvisations. The music is presented in chamber-like fashion and relies solely on counterpoint and the relative 'simplicity' of two and three note harmonies. Writing and performing in such a fashion is very demanding and requires an ensemble with a great deal of skill, attentiveness, patience and restraint. Based in Chicago, Jeru has been actively performing and recording for several years now. The core band consists of Art Davis, Ted Hogarth, Joe Policastro and Ed Breazeale. Past member have included Juli Wood on bari sax, and a European version of the group was active while bassist Joe Policastro was temporarily living in Germany that featured drummer Drori Mondlak and WDR Big Band members John Marshall (trumpet), Dave Horler (valve trombone) and Jens Neufang (bari sax). The band was featured at the 2004 Chicago Jazz Festival and has held numerous residencies at clubs throughout Chicagoland. The band recently released a full-length, self-titled album.
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