Ars Nova Workshop Ends Season with John Zorn Mini-fest, Sun Ra Birthday Celebration, Peter Brotzmann
From Philadelphia’s Ars Nova Workshop:
Ars Nova Workshop (ANW), Philadelphia’s leading presenter of jazz and experimental music, is approaching the end of its 13th season. This season, ANW has already hosted nearly two dozen concerts at venues across the city, including the Philadelphia debuts of the Billy Hart Quartet and the Craig Taborn Trio, and the rare duo performance by Odean Pope and Andrew Cyrille. Now, ANW is pleased to announce six additional concerts happening through June, including a mini-festival celebrating the work of the iconic New York composer-performer John Zorn.
On May 25, at Johnny Brenda’s, ANW presents the Sun Ra Arkestra. Tonight we celebrate the 99th anniversary of Sun Ra’s arrival on Earth, and the 89th birthday of current Arkestra leader Marshall Allen. The Arkestra just returned to its hometown of Philadelphia after playing the FMX Festival in Mexico City, and is scheduled for a big European tour this summer. Opening for the Sun Ra Arkestra tonight is People, Places, and Things, led by the Chicago drummer Mike Reed (who celebrates his birthday May 26!). Last year, Reed’s large ensemble, Living By Lanterns, released an album of rare Sun Ra material arranged by Reed and bandmate Jason Adasiewicz. Reed, who is the producer of Chicago’s annual Pitchfork Music Festival, has also recently opened a performance arts center in the city called Constellation.
On June 5, ANW is thrilled to present the Philadelphia debut of a duo between two free jazz heavyweights, the German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and the American saxophonist and trumpeter Joe McPhee. This will be McPhee’s first appearance in Philly since ANW last presented him five years ago, when his Trio X was joined by Poland’s Mikolaj Trzaska. Brötzmann was here last September, to kick off ANW’s 13th season, and that night included his first ever collaboration with Jason Adasiewicz, Bill Orcutt and Chris Corsano. It was recently announced that Brötzmann has disbanded his long-running Chicago Tentet, which included Joe McPhee, Ken Vandermark and Mats Gustasffson. This duo encounter between McPhee and Brötzmann is a special reunion in a unique format.
On June 22, Ars Nova Workshop presents the first Philadelphia performance by the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble, an all-Norwegian six-piece ensemble that has released four albums on ECM. The sextet has just completed a new album for ECM, which will be released later this year. Wallumrød was last in Philadelphia in 2010, when ANW presented his remarkable French-Norwegian quartet, Dans Les Arbres.
On three nights in June, in conjunction with the Hidden City Festival, ANW presents the Book Of Angels Mini-Festival celebrating the work of New York composer and musician John Zorn. Zorn, who has been a vital force for experimental music over the last several decades, celebrates his 60th birthday this year. In the final months of 2004, he wrote over 300 new compositions for his popular Masada project, resulting in “Masada Book Two: The Book of Angels.”
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Zorn had this to say about the material: “I describe it as a flow. Because the first Book was carved out of rock. The first Book took years, because a new language was created. And then I played those pieces for 10 years, and became proficient in that language, and it started to flow.”
For ANW’s Book Of Angels Mini-Fest, three different ensembles will engage with the “flow” of this mysterious material. All three performances will be held at Shivtei Yeshuron-Ezras Israel, a beautiful 19th Century synagogue in South Philadelphia. One of ANW’s goals is to bring music to peculiar spaces unique to Philadelphia’s heritage. Among ANW’s upcoming programs next season, are two projects funded by the Knight Foundation and the Philadelphia Music Project, both of which emphasize unique spaces, such as Shivtei Yeshuron-Ezras Israel. (Expect more information on these two projects in the near future.)
The Book of Angels Mini-Festival begins on June 3, with a quartet led by Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz. Drawing on his Sephardic roots, Shanir plays gimbri, thus giving the music a primeval Moroccan edge. Featuring the intense guitar pyrotechnics of Eyal Maoz and Aram Bajakian (a recent addition to Lou Reed’s new band), and the atavistic drumming of Kenny Grohowski, this is Ritualistic Jewish Rock for the 21st Century.
On June 12, prepare for an intimate and breathtaking recital by Erik Friedlander, one of the world’s most accomplished cellists. A vital member of the Masada family from the very beginning, Friedlander has hypnotized audiences both here and in Europe with his own bands Topaz, Broken Arm, and Grains of Paradise.
Finally, on June 24, Uri Caine will perform Zorn’s material solo on Fender Rhodes. Caine is a musician of astonishing virtuosity and versatility―coming out of the Philadelphia Jazz scene, his playing is an encyclopedia of styles, from Tatum to Evans and beyond. Virtuosic and soulful, expect his interpretations from Masada Book Two to be an absolute tour-de-force.
- Peter Brötzmann’s “Long Story Short” Review (ericrevis.com)