Source: Taylor Ho Bynum.
As I emerge from my own hibernation/hermitage, I’m very excited to share the recording of a huge piece we premiered just weeks before the pandemic shutdown last year: The Temp, a secular oratorio for classical orchestra, jazz big band and choir, with four instrumental soloists and two vocal soloists. The audio is available now for free on bandcamp, the video will be streamed on Hop@Home at 8pm EST on Wednesday February 17, and be available at the same link from that point onwards.
The piece features a libretto by the wonderful poet Matthea Harvey, who used erasure processes on Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”, extracting words and phrases to craft a new narrative – a story of contemporary labor relations and a rebellion against corporate hierarchy that manages to be engaging, witty, and ultimately uplifting. The work was recorded live in concert at Dartmouth College on February 22, 2020 with a 65-member ensemble combining two of the school’s student ensembles, The Coast Jazz Orchestra, which I direct, and The Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Filippo Ciabatti, with a exceptional group of guest soloists: vocalists Kyoko Kitamura and Michael Mayo, saxophonist Jim Hobbs, trombonist Bill Lowe, drummer Tomas Fujiwara, and violinist Erica Dicker. I knew the guest artists would be outstanding, they are some of my most trusted collaborators, but I was also profoundly moved by the performances of the young musicians in the orchestra and choir – they more than rose to the occasion. I cannot imagine a more honest and powerful performance of this music, let alone the timing of it, so close to the world changing so dramatically. When we first got the video, Matthea and I were talking about how hard it was to watch without tearing up, just to see that many people all on stage together.
Thanks to the generosity of the Hopkins Center for the Arts, the recording is free. But we urge those moved by the music to make a charitable donation to an organization of their choice fighting income inequality (such as the Poor People’s Campaign) or helping artists through the current crisis (such as the Artist Relief Fund or the Jazz Foundation of America). You could also choose to support the work of the featured soloists by purchasing their own albums! For instance, Jim and Tomas just put up new bandcamp pages offering some previously out-of-print gems.
For those that want an advance screening of the oratorio video, I will be visiting Mills College’s Songline Series on Monday February 15 at 7pm PST. In addition to The Temp, I’ll be sharing some solo recordings accompanied by short films from choreographer/animator Rachel Bernsen and talking about my work in general. And if you’re really into the talking, I’ll be joined by Matthea and Filippo for a pre-concert discussion at 7:30pm EST before the 2/17 Hop@Home broadcast.