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Ben Allison, Steve Cardenas & Ted Nash

Tell the Birds I said Hello. The Music of Herbie Nichols.
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On their stunning new release Ben Allison, Steve Cardenas, and Ted Nash turn their attention to the unique and ever-surprising music of the under-appreciated pianist-composer Herbie Nichols (1919-1963). The album features six previously unheard compositions, along with re-workings of two tunes first recorded by The Herbie Nichols Project in 2000 (Strange City, Palmetto). RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 2, 2024

Against the backdrop of over 25 years of creative collaboration Ben, Steve, and Ted weave musical conversations that are full of subtlety and surprise. The trio is modeled after reedist/composer Jimmy Giuffre’s drummerless units of the 1950s and 60s. They take turns arranging for the ensemble, which has released three albums, Quiet Revolution (2018 Sonic Camera), Somewhere Else - West Side Story Songs (2019 Plastic Sax), and Healing Power - The Music of Carla Bley (2022 Sunnyside/Sonic Camera). A fourth album featuring previously unheard compositions by Herbie Nichols is scheduled for release on February 2, 2024 (Sonic Camera).

In the late 1950s, as jazz was becoming more expressionistic and at times bombastic, musicians like Giuffre were going in the opposite direction. They were envisioning quieter music that maintained elements of blues and folk, while also embracing the emerging qualities of free playing.


Ben Allison - Bass
Steve Cardenas - Guitar
Ted Nash - Saxophone

Bassist, composer, producer Ben Allison has been performing and recording his own brand of original music for nearly three decades. Called “one of today’s best young jazz musicians” by the Boston Globe and a “visionary composer, adventurous improviser, and strong organizational force on the New York City jazz scene” by JazzTimes. He has released 19 albums as a main or featured artist, 7 of which reached #1 on the national jazz radio charts, garnering him 9 SESAC Performance Awards. He won the Downbeat Critics’ Poll in the Rising Star Bassist category three consecutive years (2005, 2006, 2007).

As a bandleader, he has organized and led many tours throughout the world, headlining at countless international festivals, concert halls, theaters, and clubs. He is an active voice for artists rights, education and empowerment, and at the age of 25, formed the Jazz Composers Collective, a non-profit organization that fostered and presented new music. He served as the organization’s Executive Director from 1992 until 2005. As director of The Collective he produced or co-produced over 100 concerts and special events, including its annual concert series which ran for eleven seasons. He served two terms as President of the New York Chapter of the Recording Academy and chaired the Advocacy Committee (2011-2018). In 2012, He testified in front of Congress and was an effective advocate in support of the Music Modernization Act, which is the most significant reform of copyright law of the past 40 years.

Ben researches and teaches courses focused on entrepreneurship and the ever-evolving music business as well as music technology, theory, and performance. He helped develop the CoPA Core curriculum class Socially Engaged Artistry and gives individualized instruction in bass studies and composition. He currently serves as a co-chair of the University Faculty Senate and sits on various UFS and TNS committees, including the CoPA Executive Committee, the University Budget Committee and the UFS Governance Committee.

Ben wrote the theme for the popular NPR radio program On the Media, which is heard by over 1,500,000 listeners weekly, and has written music for numerous TV commercials, short films and theatrical productions. As a bassist, he has appeared on over 100 albums by various artists and has received commissioning, performing, and recording grants from Chamber Music America, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Aaron Copland Foundation, The Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, Meet the Composer, and the American Composers Forum, among others.

Ben performed his Carnegie Hall debut in 2012.


Guitarist, composer Steve Cardenas has many diverse credits as a performer and recording artist. Beginning his musical career in his hometown of Kansas City, he has been an integral part of the New York City jazz community since 1995.

Steve has performed and recorded with many well-known and highly esteemed musicians. Notably, he was a longstanding member of the Paul Motian Electric Bebop Band, Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra, Steve Swallow Quintet and Joey Baron's Killer Joey. Steve is currently a member of the John Patitucci Electric Guitar Quartet, Ben Allison Band, Jon Cowherd Mercy Project and Adam Nussbaum Lead Belly Project. He has also performed regularly with such artists as Madeleine Peyroux, Eliane Elias, Norah Jones, Maria Muldaur and many others.

Steve has toured extensively throughout Europe, North and South America and Asia, performing at countless international jazz festivals, theaters, opera houses and clubs. Steve also leads his own group and has six recordings as a leader including recent albums ‘Blue Has A Range’ and ‘Healing Power - The Music of Carla Bley’ both on Sunnyside Records. Additionally, Steve is a well-respected educator. He is on faculty at The New School For Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City where he directs the Thelonious Monk Ensemble, Improv Ensemble, ECM Ensemble and Guitar Duos, as well as teaches individual lessons. He has also been on faculty at the California Institute of the Arts, Segunda Residencia Antonio Sánchez, Begues Jazz Camp, Siena Summer Jazz Workshop, Brubeck Summer Jazz Colony, Stanford Jazz Workshop, Alternative Guitar Summit Camp, Langnau Jazz Camp and Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music.

Steve is also co-author, with editor Don Sickler, of the Thelonious Monk Fakebook, Hal Leonard Publishing. The Thelonious Monk Fakebook marks the first time all of Monk's compositions have been assembled into one volume, many of them appearing for the first time.


Saxophonist, composer Ted Nash, a two-time Grammy Award-winner has enjoyed an extraordinary career as a performer, conductor, composer, and educator. Nash has an uncanny ability to mix freedom with substance, blues with intellect, and risk-taking with clarity.

Born in Los Angeles, Nash’s interest in music started at an early age, exposed to music and encouraged by his father, trombonist Dick Nash, and uncle, reedman Ted Nash, both well-known studio and jazz musicians. Nash blossomed early, a "young lion" before the term became marketing vernacular. Nash's first gig came when he was only sixteen, playing with legendary vibraphonist Lionel Hampton.

He is a co-founder of the New York-based Jazz Composers Collective, a musician-run, non-profit innovative entity dedicated to presenting the original works of composers pushing the boundaries of their self-expression. One of Nash's most important associations is with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. Portrait in Seven Shades, commissioned and recorded by the JLCO was credited by Ted Panken in Downbeat Magazine as marking a new direction for the orchestra. For this work Nash received his first Grammy nomination as best arranger.

Nash’s work often embraces themes of cultural and social importance. He grew up in a household of open- mindedness and social awareness - Nash’s parents, in addition to being wonderful musicians, were civil rights activists whose work helped improve the lives of so many people. Nash’s Grammy winning recording, Presidential Suite, reflects Nash’s own interest in human rights and freedom. Receiving two Grammy Awards in 2017, Presidential Suite is one of Nash’s most significant work. Inspired by great political speeches of the 20th century dealing with the theme of freedom, it is rich with social and political awareness.

In 2017 Nash received the Composer of the Year award by the Jazz Journalists Association.