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Thu, Oct 26


Merrimans' Playhouse

Alex Levine: Special Adaptations Trio

(International trio). Guitarist Alex Levine creates mantra-like compositions, which gives the musicians freedom to explore and create soundscapes. The essence of the band is its bare, haiku-like aesthetic and ever-shifting relationships between band members.

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Alex Levine: Special Adaptations Trio
Alex Levine: Special Adaptations Trio

Time & Location

Oct 26, 2023, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM

Merrimans' Playhouse, 401 E Colfax Ave, Suite 135, South Bend, IN 46617, USA


About the Event

TICKETS are $10 General/$5 Student.

International / Touring from New York City and Italy ...

Alex Levine - guitar

Ben Rolston - double bass

Stefano Grasso - drums, cymbals

Stefano Grasso

Special Adaptations, today a trio, took its first shape as a collaborative project between American musicians Alex Levine, Ben Rolston, Stephen Boegehold, and Italian musicians Stefano Grasso and Andrea “Jimmy” Catagnoli. The Quintet was born during a two week residency that happened in Milan in November 2019, at Mare Culturale Urbano, followed by a tour in northern Italy. The magic atmosphere between the musicians and the natural flow of the music was recorded at Guscio Recordings Studio in those days, and published in April 2021 by Berlin based label AUT Records. Special Adaptations performed, among other venues, in Trentino Jazz, Lume Meets NY Jazz Now, and Springtime Jazz Festival. In trio or quintet, Special Adaptations plays the original music of guitarist and composer Alex Levine. The music is studied by focusing on the single sections of each song, repeated like mantras, absorbed in the body’s memory, and, in a deeper sense, treated, stretched, and sewn in different combinatorial possibilities. In practice, elements of the songs are free to emerge independently from each musician. The ever-shifting relations between soloists, leader, and band, creates an equilibrated and surprising ecosystem where sudden fades from different atmospheres draw the shape of a unique manifold sound-organism. The poetry of the band sits in the bare, essential, haiku-like aesthetic of the guitarist and composer, which gives the musicians both the ideas of extreme freedom and complete devotion to the composed material. Thus effortless ideas give shape to rivers of sounds, mountains of colors, seas of atmospheres, open skies of fresh air.

Alex Levine is a guitarist and composer based in New York City. He has released three albums, Towards The Center (2016 Outside In Music), The World of Real Things (2019 Polyfold), and Special Adapations Vol. 1 (2021 Aut Records). Alex is a co-founder and member of Polyfold Musical Arts Collective.

Stefano Grasso is a classical-contemporary trained free jazz drummer and percussionist devoted to improvised and creative music based in Milan, Italy. He is focused on projects that deal with creative and improvised music, considering also compositional research as a possible and parallel way to expore this fields. As drummer, vibraphonist and percussionist, he has had the luck to work with musicians he loves a lot from many different countries and from very different generations,  pursuing both a live and studio lively activity in different ensembles (from solo to big ensembles) throughout Italy and Europe.

Brooklyn based bassist/composer Ben Rolston is an accomplished and compelling performer in an eclectic range of musical styles. Ben has performed with important musical voices like Marcus Belgrave, Laurence Hobgood (Kurt Elling), Tim Ries (Rolling Stones), Dwight Adams (Stevie Wonder), and Nick Dunston, and at world-class venues like The Newport Jazz Festival, Birdland, The Jazz Gallery, and The Green Mill. Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Ben attended The University of Michigan to study with master musicians such as Robert Hurst and Geri Allen. Immediately after graduating in 2012, Ben released his debut album Fables, described as “full of grandeur and dissonance” and “find of the week” by Dave Sumner (eMusic Contributor). Moving to Detroit after graduation sparked a period of intense growth and musical activity. A talented and close-knit peer group led to established bands, regular gigs, a flurry of recordings, and the founding of POLYFOLD Musical Arts Collective, a non-profit musicians advocacy group. Since moving to NYC in 2017 Rolston has presented three new bands, each in a different stylistic realm, and helped put on a monthly concert series with POLYFOLD featuring some of the best improvisers NY has to offer.

Concerts and events made possible, in part, with support from the Wells Fargo Philanthropic Services Private Trust Foundations, which include grants from the Stanley A. and Flora P. Clark Memorial Community Trust Foundation (2020-2021; 2022-2023 seasons), the John, Anna, and Martha Jane Fields Memorial Trust Foundation (2021-2022; 2022-2023 seasons), and the Florence V. Carroll Charitable Trust (2021-2022; 2022-2023 season). Special concert event support provided by the Arts Midwest Grow, Invest, Gather (GIG) Fund grant (2022-2023 season). Activities are made possible in part by the Arts Organization Support (AOS), Indiana Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency (2023-2024 season).

Concerts and events made possible, in part, with support from The Esther and George Jaruga Charitable Foundation (2020-2023 seasons).

The Student and Home Grown Series concerts made possible, in part, with support from the ArtsEverywhere Grant from the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, and the Arts Project Support Grant and the Arts Recovery Grant through the Indiana Arts Commission.


  • Student

    $5 Student/Discount

    Sale ended
  • General

    $10 Advanced or Door

    Sale ended



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