Anthony Pirog and Joel Harrison CD Release Concert

Celebrating the release of The Great Mirage: AGS Recordings
April 17, 2023 - 8:00pm
Old Cabell Hall

Album Cover for The Great MirageThe UVA Department of Music presents Joel Harrison and Anthony Pirog Quartet, celebrating the release of The Great Mirage (AGS Recordings), on Monday, April 17th 2023 at 8pm in Old Cabell Hall.  This free concert is made possible by a generous donation by the Gassmann Fund for Innovation in Music.

The performance features guitarists Joel Harrision, Anthony Pirog, bassist Matt Pavolka and Mike Kuhl on drums. 

Guitarists Anthony Pirog and Joel Harrison tend to finish each others' sentences when they play. Twenty five years separate them in age, and yet they seem to have common ancestry. Both are from Wash. D.C., both love jazz, rock, fusion, avant garde, folk, funk, and country music, and both often do all of it all at once. A previous encounter took place in the now defunct 3 guitar group The Spellcasters (Cuneiform Records/ 2018.) Now the two plectrists have conjured a true collaboration.

On The Great Mirage each composed and arranged music for the session, the music caterwauls between heavy and light, really loud and really soft, gorgeous, spiky, grooving and free. The record is a bit of a 21st century essay in what the guitar can do. The band’s sense of joy and adventure is palpable as they extend their range and reach deep into American guitar history and future.


Quotes about Pirog and Harrison:

"There’s clearly little ground Pirog and Harrison can’t cover, and they just as obviously have a good time doing it."  --The Big Takeover

"Acknowledging no particular margin or style, anything that falls into Pirog and Harrison's gaze throughout the entirety of The Great Mirage is more than fair game. Whatever the moment, and The Great Mirage is full of them, each player meets the challenge head on."  -- ALL About Jazz


Joel Harrison
Guitarist, composer, arranger, lyricist, writer, educator, and vocalist Joel Harrison has created a new blueprint for jazz” (New Orleans Times-Picayune). A Guggenheim Fellow (2010) whose compositions have been commissioned by Chamber Music America, Meet the Composer, New Music USA, the Jerome Foundation, NYSCA, and the Mary Flagler Cary Trust., he has released 23 CDs as a leader on seven different labels. Harrison’s music may be founded on jazz but veers into classical, rock, country, and all manner of American roots music. Succinctly described by the New York Times as “protean… brilliant,” he is also an active film composer, having worked on the Oscar-nominated Traffic Stop and the Sundance awardee Southern Comfort. Harrison is the founder and director of the Alternative Guitar Summit, a yearly festival devoted to new and unusual guitar music. Pat Metheny has called the Summit “ one of the most interesting adistinguished forums for guitar on the planet.

Harrison is the author of “Guitar Talk: conversations with visionary players” as well as “Modern Jazz Standards for Guitar.”

Anthony Pirog
Washington, D.C.'s jazz and experimental music scenes wouldn't be quite where they are today without Anthony Pirog. The guitarist, composer and loops magician is a quiet but ubiquitous force on stages around his hometown. With fearsome chops and a keen ear for odd beauty, Pirog has helped expand the possibilities of jazz, rock and experimentalism in a town long known for its straight-ahead tradition.

Anthony's roots as a guitarist are in the work of D.C. guitar heroes Danny Gatton and Roy Buchanan, and their virtuosic technique that blended all styles of popular music.

He has taken and built upon those roots, working in straight and experimental jazz, improvisation and electronics/looping, and he somehow takes these styles, all of which he has mastered and makes them all work together and also makes them all his own.

Matt Pavolka
For twenty years bassist/composer Matt Pavolka has been a vital force in the New York Jazz and Creative Music scenes. A partial list of musicians and bands that he has performed with includes Lee Konitz, Paul Motian, Guillermo Klein, Chris Cheek, Kevin Hayes, Ben Monder, House of Illusion, Josh Roseman’s Extended Constellations, Dave Binney, The Ryan Scott Orchestra, Magalie Souriou, Elysian Fields, Joe Beck, J. Geils, Tony Malaby, Bill McHenry, Matt Renzi and Ohad Talmor’s Newsreel. He has toured extensively in the United States, Europe and Japan and can be heard on many recordings, including releases from Magalie Souriou, Guillermo Klein, Marlon Browdon, Andre Fernandes, Nate Radley, Noah Preminger and House of Illusion. He has released two albums as a leader, “Something People Can Use,” on Tone Of A Pitch Records and “The Horns Band” on the Fresh Sounds, New Talent label.

Pavolka grew up in Bloomington, Indiana. He began playing the trombone at an early age and studied with David Baker before heading to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship as a trombonist at age 18. He switched his major to bass in his first year there and was awarded an outstanding performance award on that instrument as well as the Charles Mingus Award for his work as a composer. He moved to New York in 1994. In addition to his work as a performing musician, composer and bandleader, he is active as a music educator. He is also the musical director for the Redeye Grill in Manhattan’s live performance series. For more info, visit here (

Michael Kuhl
Drummer, recording artist, educator, Michael Kuhl hails from the musical diverse city of Baltimore MD. Kuhl had studied and performed in numerous genres allowing him to be a first call drummer for any situation. 

A graduate from Towson University, Kuhl has performed locally and throughout the globe alongside jazz greats Dave Liebman, Tony Malaby, Michael Formaneck, Dave Ballou, Ellery Eskelin and Claudio Roditi.  Outside of jazz, Kuhl has shared the stage with many international acts such as Beach House, Arboretum, Cigarettes After Sex, Tom Tom Club, and The Ravonnettes. As a leader, Kuhl performs with his trio every Tuesday night at Bertha’s in Fells Point, Baltimore.

Old Cabell Hall is located on the south end of UVA’s historic lawn, directly opposite the Rotunda. (map) Parking is available in the central grounds parking garage on Emmet Street, in the C1 parking lot off McCormick Rd, and in the parking lots at the UVA Corner.  Handicap parking is available in the small parking lot adjacent to Bryan Hall.

All programs are subject to change.  For more information please call the Department of Music at 434.924.3052 or write

The University of Virginia Department of Music thanks Michael Gassmann and Cynthia Lewis for creating the Gassmann Fund which invites innovative artists who perform or incorporate into their music experimental rock, free improvisation, world, and computer music; arrange residencies to create opportunities for faculty and students to work closely with innovative artists; support innovative and experimental programs and projects for faculty and students who are pushing musical boundaries; and organize trips for UVA students to collaborate with musicians and present original work outside of Charlottesville.

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UVA Department of Music
112 Old Cabell Hall
P.O. Box 400176 Charlottesville, VA 22904-4176