Chicago Jazz Festival Coverage

Below are a handful of links and articles on the avant goings-on at this past weekend’s Chicago Jazz Festival.

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Vox Arcana Play Chicago

From the Chicago Reader:

Vox Arcana’s compositions look to three distinct sources of inspiration: the New York School composers (Earle Brown, Morton Feldman, John Cage), early minimalists LaMonte Young and Terry Riley, and key AACM figures Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Leroy Jenkins. On the trio’s self-titled debut the pieces create a productive tension between written sections and wide-open improvisation: rigorously structured, highly kinetic parts dissolve into spontaneous eruptions where lines and textures collide in exhilarating bursts. Lonberg-Holm’s bowing alternates between viscous and delicate, and he sometimes adds heavy electronic effects to his output. Daisy, in other settings a ferociously driving drummer, focuses on color and clatter here; on some pieces he even adds marimba. Falzone is the one player who keeps it simple, his buoyant tone dancing amid the chaos or leaping into his instrument’s upper register for a paint-peeling squeal.

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Irondale Ensemble Project In Brooklyn

Anthony Braxton will be performing in all three upcoming Irondale Ensemble Project shows:

April 15, 16, 17, 18 | 7:30PM

The Walter Thompson Orchestra will perform the world premiere of a WTO-commissioned work by renowned composer Anthony Braxton. Thompson will use his much-heralded Sound Painting conducting language to shape the composition.

Anthony Braxton, one of music’s most original composers and instrumentalists, has composed a new work in collaboration with Soundpainter Walter Thompson and the Walter Thompson Orchestra. Mr. Thompson will combine Mr. Braxton’s Language Music System with Soundpainting – the multidisciplinary live – composing sign language created by Mr. Thompson. The concerts will feature performances by Anthony Braxton, a woodwind virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist and the fifteen musicians and actors of the Walter Thompson Orchestra.

Prices: Adult $20.00 | Student with ID $15.00
Senior $15.00 | Working Artist $15.00

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An AAJ Interview with Larry Ochs

From All About Jazz:

Best known as a member of the Rova Saxophone Quartet, Mr. Ochs has recorded over two dozen albums in the past two decades plus with this ensemble. The material that Rova covers is diverse, challenging, and rewarding to both the band and listener alike, extending from raw, pure improvisation to complex composition (contributed by Mr. Ochs and band mates Steve Adams, Jon Raskin, Bruce Ackley in addition to Anthony Braxton, Tim Berne, John Carter, Muhal Richard Abrams, Jack DeJohnette, Barry Guy, Lindsay Cooper, Fred Frith, Robin Holcomb, Alvin Curran, and Terry Riley).

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Abrams and Mitchell at Mills

Longtime AACM members Muhal Richard Abrams and Roscoe Mitchell have a show tomorrow at Mills College.

For nearly half a century, pianist Muhal Richard Abrams and saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell have been pushing boundaries as improvisers. For most of their lives they’ve been known as jazz guys. Abrams was the guiding light behind Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), a font of revolutionary ideas, especially back in the ’60s and ’70s, when the jazz avant-garde invaded the mainstream. Mitchell was the guiding spirit behind the most famous band to emerge from the AACM, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, which started as his group and had as its motto “Great Black Music: Ancient to the Future.”

Times change. Abrams and Mitchell are now often associated with a broader swathe of improvised contemporary music. When they play, “jazz” isn’t necessarily mentioned, even though these two continue to play with the same eccentric and intuitive abandon, matched somehow by a logical and brainy persistence, that always characterized their music.

Now, Mitchell holds the Darius Milhaud Chair in Composition at Mills College, where he joins Abrams on Friday for a night of duets in the school’s newly renovated Jeannik Mequet Littlefield Concert Hall. The concert is part of the Mills Music Festival 2009, a new music extravaganza running through April 5 and celebrating the hall’s opening. Abrams and Mitchell perform at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets: $20; $12 alumni, seniors and students. http://www.mills.edu/musicfestival.

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Mills College Music Festival 2009

saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell at the Pomigliano ...
Image via Wikipedia

Interesting music coming up from Mills College in Oakland.

OPENING NIGHT: Pauline Oliveros with Tony Martin; Terry Riley; Joseph Kubera performs Roscoe Mitchell; Joan Jeanrenaud
Saturday, February 21, 2009 8:00 pm

A CELEBRATION OF THE CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY MUSIC
Sunday, February 22, 2009 3:00 pm

LEGENDARY COMPOSER AND IMPROVISER MUHAL RICHARD ABRAMS
Friday, February 27, 2009 8:00 pm

DARIUS MILHAUD‘S BRAZILIAN CONNECTION
Saturday, February 28, 2009 8:00 pm

ARDITTI QUARTET
Sunday, March 8, 2009 3:00 pm

THE MUSIC OF FRED FRITH
Sunday, April 5, 2009 3:00 pm

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Thurman Barker / Douglas Ewart at Interpretations

From New York’s Interpretations:

THURMAN BARKER STRIKE FORCE / DOUGLAS R. EWART INVENTIONS
THURSDAY DECEMBER 11, 2008, 8PM AT ROULETTE.
ELIZABETH BROWN FRANCES WHITE

The concert series featuring leading figures in contemporary music and multi-media arts celebrates its 20th Season! Thursday December 11, 2008, 8pm at Roulette

Strike Force: Bryan Carrott, vibraphone; Eli Fountaine, marimba; Wilson Moorman, xylophone and tympani; Ray Mantilla, conga drums and percussion; Thurman Barker, drums

Inventions: Reggie Nicholson, marimba/drums; Henry Grimes, bass/violin; Adegoke Steven Colson, piano; Craig Harris, trombone/didjeridu/percussion; Douglas R. Ewart, reeds/didjeridu/percussion; and special guest Shaku Joseph Jarman, poetry and winds.

Celebrating his 60th birthday, THURMAN BARKER brings his mighty percussion quintet Strike Force to town. Employing multiple mallet instruments, tympani, congas, drum set, and yet other percussion, Strike Force creates a fresh combination of notated and improvised music. “This group allows me an opportunity to compose in a style that comes natural for me. A style where Rhythm and texture is the focus. Writing for skins, metal and wood, provide a wide range to work with. Also, working with exceptional Percussionists, each bringing their own unique skills and style is a challenge and fun for me.”

DOUGLAS EWART’s ensemble, Inventions, maintains its continuum with “Reflection of Haiti”, a set of new works celebrating Ewart’s recent ‘wonderful and challenging’ trip to Haiti and his friendship both musical and personal with the late AACM trumpeter Lester Bowie. “Lester was a powerful spirit and I have a special place for him in my heart for him, as person and a consummate artists and particularly, as a trumpet player. I once wanted to be a trumpeter and it is one of my favorite sound generating devices. One of the sounds that I am particularly fond of is the rattling sound that the players saliva creates, it is alive in every sense!” This program will feature a simultaneous performance with musicians from Haiti, using videoconferencing technology.

Thurman Barker began his professional career at the young age of 16 playing for blues singer Mighty Joe Young. Classically trained at the American Conservatory of Music his reputation as a drummer grew quickly. He has played backup for Billy Eckstein, Marvin Gaye, Bette Midler and Vicki Carr. He was the house drummer at the Schubert Theatre in Chicago for 10 years where he played for national touring companies in Hair, The Wiz, The Me Nobody Knows, Promises, Promises, 1776, Bubblin Brown Sugar, Raisin in the Sun, Grease, One Mo’ Time, and Aint Misbehavin. Mr. Barker is a charter member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), an organization with which he continues his association to this day. He has performed and is known worldwide. He has recorded with Cecil Taylor, Muhal Richard Abrams, Amina Claudine Meyers, Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, Sam Rivers, Billy Bang, Joseph Jarman, and Henry Threadgill. He has produced four recordings under his own record label, Uptee Productions with a fifth currently under production to be released fall of ’08. In 1994, his work “Dialogue,” commissioned by the Mutable Music, was premiered at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City. He has since completed a second commission by the Mutable Music as well as two commissions by the Delaware Valley Chamber Orchestra in Sullivan County, New York. The Woodstock Chamber Orchestra premiered a chamber piece of his entitled “Expansions” in May of ’99. In the fall of ’99 Thurman Barker was given the honor of being a lecturer at Smolny University in St. Petersburg, Russia. He has taught and developed the jazz program at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York since 1993 and is an Associate Professor of Jazz Studies there.
Listen to Strike Force here:
http://www.upteeproductions.com/listen.html
http://www.myspace.com/thurmanbarker

Perhaps best known as a composer, improviser, sculptor and maker of masks and instruments, Douglas R. Ewart is also an educator, lecturer, arts organization consultant and all around visionary. In projects done in diverse media throughout an award-winning and widely-acclaimed 30-year career, Mr. Ewart has woven his remarkably broad gifts into a single sensibility that encourages and celebrates – as an antidote to the divisions and compartmentalization afflicting modern life – the wholeness of individuals in culturally active communities. Born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1946, Douglas R. Ewart immigrated to Chicago, Illinois in the United States in 1963. His travels throughout the world and interactions with diverse people since then has, again and again confirmed his view that the world is an interdependent entity. His determination to spread his perspective is part of the inspiration behind his often multi-disciplinary works and their encouragement of artist-audience interactions. It is also the basis of the teaching philosophy with which he guides his classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he has taught since 1990, and the basis of the perspective he has brought to his service on advisory boards for institutions such as The National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, Arts Midwest, and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). His administrative, teaching and other duties have not prevented Ewart from maintaining two musical ensembles, the Nyahbingi Drum Choir and the Clarinet Choir. Nor has it prevented him from releasing some of the resulting music on his own record label, Aarawak Records (founded in 1983), which has released his Red Hills and Bamboo Forest.

Listen to Inventions here:
http://aacmchicago.org/douglas-ewart-and-inventions-7

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Muhal Richard Abrams and Amina Claudine Myers in New York

From the Times.

Muhal Richard Abrams and Amina Claudine Myers, seated at a pair of dovetailed grand pianos, improvised without interruption for nearly an hour at the Kitchen on Thursday night, in a remarkable display of restlessness, responsiveness and focus. And that was only the second half of the concert. A longer first half featured the Wet Ink Ensemble performing intricate chamber pieces, including one by Mr. Abrams. Either part of the program could have stood alone, but they meant a good deal more in juxtaposition.

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Two Nights of Braxton in Philly

Anthony Braxton
Image via Wikipedia

From Ars Nova Workshop:

Friday, October 10 | 8pm
Anthony Braxton Falling River Quartet
with
Anthony Braxton, alto/soprano/ sopranino saxophone + contrabass clarinet
Erica Dicker, violin
Sally Norris, piano
Katherine Young, bassoon

Settlement Music School
416 Queen Street

$35 General Admission
Seating is very limited.
All ticket holders will receive free admission to the October 11 brass music concert.

Composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton (b.1945) attended the Chicago School of Music and Roosevelt University. He is a founding member of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), formed the Creative Construction Company with violinist Leroy Jenkins and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and recorded the seminal For Alto, the first-ever recording for solo saxophone. Subsequent collaborations included ‘Circle’ with Chick Corea and Dave Holland, Italian free improvisation group Musica Elettronica Viva, guitarist Derek Bailey, drummer Max Roach, and pianist Hank Jones. Braxton’s steadiest vehicle during the ’80s and ’90s – and what is often considered his most remarkable ensemble – was his quartet with pianist Marilyn Crispell, bassist Mark Dresser, and drummer Gerry Hemingway.

He is the founder and Artistic Director of the Tri-Centric Foundation, Inc., a New York-based not-for-profit corporation including an ensemble of some 38 musicians, four to eight vocalists, and computer-graphic video artists assembled to perform his compositions. He is a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and a tenured professor at Wesleyan University. His teaching has become as much a part of his creative life as his own work, and includes training and leading performance ensembles and private tutorials in his own music, computer and electronic music, and history courses in the music of his major musical influences, from the Western Medieval composer Hildegard of Bingen to contemporary masters with whom he himself has worked (e.g. Cage, Coleman). A seasoned master, Anthony Braxton’s name continues to stand for the broadest integration of such oft-conflicting poles as “creative freedom” and “responsibility,” discipline and energy, and vision of the future and respect for tradition in the current cultural debates about the nature and place of the Western and African-American musical traditions in America.

Anthony Braxton is widely and critically acclaimed as a seminal figure in the music of the late 20th and early 21st century. His work, both as saxophonist and composer, has broken new conceptual and technical ground in the trans-African and trans-European (a.k.a. “jazz” and “American Experimental“) musical traditions in North America. Braxton’s extensions of instrumental technique, timbre, meter and rhythm, voicing and ensemble make-up, harmony and melody, and improvisation and notation have revolutionized modern American music. Braxton’s five decades worth of recorded output is kaleidescopic and prolific, with well over 200 recordings to his credit. He has won prestigious awards and critical praise, including the MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship, and is a tenured professor at Wesleyan University, one of the world’s centers of world music.

The performance of Anthony Braxton’s Falling River Quartet is made possible by a grant from the Philadelphia Music Project, a program of the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts.

Saturday, October 11 | 8pm
Composition N.103 (for Seven Trumpets)
with
Taylor Ho Bynum, Tim Byrnes, Forbes Graham, Sam Hoyt, John McDonough, Nicole Rampersaud, Nate Wooley, trumpet
Costume design by Rosemary Kielnecker

Composition N.169 (for Brass Quintet)
with
Taylor Ho Bynum, trumpet
Nate Wooley, trumpet
Jeremy Thal, French horn
Reut Regev, trombone
Jay Rozen, tuba

Anthony Braxton, conductor

St. Mark’s Church
1625 Locust Street

$10 General Admission

Anthony Braxton’s Composition N.103 (for seven trumpets) features 145 pages of notated music and choreography for seven costumed instrumentalists. Composed in 1983, the 45-minute piece was first performed in 2005, in a fully staged and costumed realization at Wesleyan University celebrating Braxton’s 60th birthday. This ANW performance will be the Philadelphia premiere, and only the third performance anywhere, of this major work.

Braxton’s Composition N.169 is one of the seminal pieces in the composer’s oeuvre, yet has never been performed by the intended instrumentation. Originally written for brass quintet (on swivel chairs), 169 consists of an hour of intense and unrelenting rhythmic complexity, contrasting with sections of lush, static harmonies. Braxton never found an ensemble brave enough to tackle the imposing piece, so instead has performed the work in configurations ranging from saxophone quartet to full orchestra. This ANW performance marks the second time this composition will be staged with its original instrumentation.

Anthony Braxton is widely and critically acclaimed as a seminal figure in the music of the late 20th and early 21st century. His work, both as saxophonist and composer, has broken new conceptual and technical ground in the trans-African and trans-European (a.k.a. “jazz” and “American Experimental“) musical traditions in North America. Braxton’s extensions of instrumental technique, timbre, meter and rhythm, voicing and ensemble make-up, harmony and melody, and improvisation and notation have revolutionized modern American music. Braxton’s five decades worth of recorded output is kaleidescopic and prolific, with well over 200 recordings to his credit. He has won prestigious awards and critical praise, including the MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship, and is a tenured professor at Wesleyan University, one of the world’s centers of world music.

The performance of Anthony Braxton’s brass music is made possible by a grant from the Philadelphia Music Project, a program of the Philadelphia Center for Arts and Heritage, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and administered by The University of the Arts.

This performance is part of ANW’s Free/Form: Composer Portrait series.

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