Interview with Ars Nova Founder

More evidence that live avant music is becoming more common, at least in big cities. The founder of Philly’s Ars Nova Workshop is interviewed on his series’ apparent artistic success.

Christman founded Ars Nova Workshop in 2000. The nonprofit group organizes performances of old and new experimental music. In the coming months, he’ll be creating a record label to get the performances from the past decade out to the wider world of jazz lovers. Tonight, a full house has assembled at World Café Live to hear the music of Julius Hemphill. Hemphill created some cutting edge experimental music in the 1970s and 80s.

Jazz, avant garde, progressive or experimental music, whatever you call it, it’s not for everybody, though there are plenty of people in Philadelphia interested in listening to and playing this music. Starting in intimate venues nine years ago, Ars Nova has moved to spaces that can accommodate up to 400 people. And that activity is reverberating among artists, with more creative collaborations springing up.

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February at Ars Nova Workshop

From Philly’s Ars Nova Workshop:

Sunday, February 8 | 7:30pm
Jon Hassell + Maarifa Street
Jon Hassell, trumpet/keyboard
Peter Freeman, bass/laptop
Dino J.A. Deane, sampler/live sampling
Jan Bang, sampler/live sampling
Kheir-Eddine M’Kachiche, violin

World Cafe Live
3025 Walnut Street

Event Description:
25 years after his last ECM recording, the highly-influential Power Spot (recorded in 1983/84), Jon Hassell returns to the label with a new album – issued to coincide with the trumpeter’s first US performances in two decades.

The striking, almost surreally-vivid image (in Coleman Barks’ contemporary translation) seems to speak to Hassell’s aural re-imaginings. His own ‘singing’ opens up new angles of vision, as his very vocal trumpet lines are reframed in works that contrast, combine, or melt together aspects of ancient and hypermodern idioms in a musical meta-language which can embrace sounds from all the compass points, sounds of the city, sounds of the natural world. In the past Hassell’s termed his personal genre Fourth World: by any name inspirational, its implications have registered with pop and rap and jazz artists as well as classical chamber musicians and filmmakers… And purely as an instrumentalist, Hassell’s influence has been widely felt, too. Nils Petter Molvaer, Arve Henriksen and Paolo Fresu are but three ECM-associated trumpeters who acknowledge a debt to the liquid tone and weightless, floating quality of Jon Hassell’s trumpet improvisations, and to his pioneering use of electronics in tandem with his horn.

Thursday, February 12 | 8pm
The Chance Trio performs Jimmy Giuffre’s Western Suite
Bart Miltenberger, trumpet/flugelhorn
Matt Davis, guitar
Michael Taylor, double-bass

This event will also feature a public discussion with University of Pennsylvania professor and composer Jay Reise, who began his composition studies with Jimmy Giuffre.

Philadelphia Art Alliance
251 S. 18th Street

Event Description:
“An unusual and striking trio” (Philadelphia Inquirer), The Chance Trio is a one-of-a-kind Philadelphia-based, drummerless, chamber-jazz trio. Founded in 2001 by Bart Miltenberger, Matt Davis and Michael Taylor, The Chance Trio has performed their adventurous, passionate, and humorous original compositions all over the Philadelphia area including concerts at the Kimmel Center, the Painted Bride, World Cafe Live, Ortlieb’s Jazzhaus, Tritone, and energizing showcases at the 3rd and 4th Collective Voices Festivals, and a long-standing residency at The Highwire Gallery. Influenced by jazz, blues, folk, rock, and avant-garde, The Chance Trio was a featured performer at the 2006 Festival of New Trumpet Music, curated by Dave Douglas.

Monday, February 16 | 8pm
Ethnic Heritage Ensemble
35th Anniversary Performance
Kahil El’Zabar, percussion
Corey Wilkes, trumpet/flugelhorn
Ernest Dawkins, alto & tenor saxophone

International House Philadelphia
3701 Chestnut Street

Event Description:
Please join Ars Nova Workshop for the 35th anniversary celebration of Chicago’s Ethnic Heritage Ensemble.

Founded by Kahil El’Zabar and Edward Wilkerson, Jr., the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble fuses contemporary Afro-American music with traditional African instrumentation and rhythms. Now featuring the remarkable Corey Wilkes, member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Ernest Dawkins of the New Horizons Ensemble, the trio’s “harmonically provocative and rhythmically seductive” (Chicago Tribune) performances impart an ancestral wisdom that conjures an energy rarely encountered in contemporary music.

Kahil El’Zabar is one of Chicago’s jazz treasures. A member of the AACM, El’Zabar has performed alongside a myriad of jazz greats and was a member of the bands of Stevie Wonder, Cannonball Adderley, Dizzy Gillespie and Nina Simone (who he also designed clothes for). He was also chosen to do the arranging for the stage performances of The Lion King. Rising star Corey Wilkes has shared the stage with Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Soulive, James Moody, Meshell Ndegeocello, Von Freeman, Fred Anderson and Will Calhoun.

Thursday, February 19 | 8pm
Laubrock / Halvorson / Rainey Trio
Ingrid Laubrock, saxophones
Mary Halvorson, guitar
Tom Rainey, drums

The Rotunda
4012 Walnut Street
Free Admission

Event Description:
“Halvorson’s sound is immediately distinctive, viscerally powerful and, yes, intriguingly ‘anti-guitar’”. -Brian Morton, Jazz Review

“Tom Rainey is a player who swerves between avant-garde notions and a mainstream sensibility, and when he plays, the smell of invention is in the air.” -Josef Woodard, Los Angeles Times

“German-born, London-based reedist Ingrid Laubrock is a fearless composer-bandleader who relishes formidably knotty rhythms, unsettling electroacoustic episodes and bold injections of poignant melody.” -Time Out/New York

Thursday, February 26 | 7:30pm
Composer Portrait: Julius Hemphill

Warriors of the Wonderful Sound featuring Marty Ehrlich
Marty Ehrlich, alto saxophone
Bobby Zankel, alto saxophone
Elliott Levin, tenor saxophone
Dan Peterson, reeds
Dan Scofield, alto saxophone
Bryan Rogers, tenor saxophone
Bart Miltenberger, trumpet
Adam Hershberger, trumpet
Patrick Hughes, trumpet
Tom Madeja, trumpet
Larry Toft, trombone
Dan Blacksberg, trombone
George Barnett, French horn
Adam Lesnick, French horn
Matt Davis, el. guitar
Tom Lawton, piano
Dylan Taylor, double-bass
Craig McIver, drums

World Cafe Live
3025 Walnut Street

Event Description:
Please join Ars Nova Workshop for part two in celebrating Julius Hemphill’s unique body of work – music for big band and saxophone sextet.

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