WRTI's NPR Live Sessions Video of the Week: Contemporary Jazz Pianist/Composer Lafayette Gilchrist

Jun 8, 2020

Lafayette Gilchrist's solo work brings out the evocative, sacred sounds of the piano. Inspired, in part, by the go-go sound—a rhythm unique to his birthplace of Washington D.C.—Lafayette also draws from the well of jazz history, layering his style of improvisation with hip-hop and funk.

His work with saxophonist David Murray spans years, and he's recorded over a dozen albums as leader. His latest release, 2019’s Dark Matter, landed on many critics' pick lists.

Lafayette discovered the piano at age 17, just before starting college at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, and taught himself how to play while majoring in Africana studies. After graduating, he segued into the start of a long, successful career as a bandleader, performer, and recording artist.

Over the years Lafayette has shared the stage with with Cassandra Wilson, Macy Gray, Oliver Lake, Andrew Cyrille, Orrin Evans, Paul Dunmall, Hamid Drake, William Parker, and more.

Of the several bands he's helmed, the most prominent is the New Volcanoes, a nonet with horns. The closing sequence of HBO’s The Deuce feature one of his tracks in its score.

Watch Lafayette Gilchrist play "Tomorrow Is Waiting Now" in the WRTI 90.1 Performance Studio.