SEASON 1 (2008-2009)
SEASON 2 (2009-2010)
SEASON 3 (2010-2011)

 


SEASON 1 (2008-2009)

 

Bobby Previte and Jamie Saft, aka Doom Jazz

Bobby Previte and Jamie Saft


Workshop: Thursday September 25, 2pm, Arms Music Center, Room 7, Amherst College, free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the U-Mass Amherst Fine Arts Center's Solos & Duos Series.

In one sense a piano trio, with Previte on drums and Saft doubling on piano and electric bass, this project borrows from heavy rock sensibilities. Using doom - a slow, foreboding style of heavy metal - as a template, the duo crafts music that creeps along powerfully.

Raised on Soul and Rock, Bobby Previte studied formally at the University of Buffalo, where faculty and included new music pioneers John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Jan Williams. He moved to New York City in 1979 and began a long association with the leading lights of the "Downtown" scene. Widely hailed for his electrifying drumming and his stunning and "unclassifiable" music, Previte has received numerous grants and awards. He has been interviewed on Terry Gross' "Fresh Air," appeared with William Shatner on "Saturday Night Live" and was "the drummer" in Robert Altman's landmark film, "Short Cuts."

"Bobby Previte is in many ways the archetypal 21st Century Musician," states The Penguin Guide to Jazz, "open-eared, adventurous, uncategorizable and technically flawless."

Previte's recent projects include The Constellations Ensemble, a chamber group touring the multi-media show, "The 23 Constellations of Joan Miró," Dialed In, a solo electronic drum show, The Coalition of the Willing, a guitar quartet featuring Charlie Hunter, Stephen Bernstein and Jamie Saft, and Groundtruther, a duo with Hunter.

Saft's stylistic versatility, multi-instrumentalist capabilities, and production skills have been featured with The Beastie Boys, Bad Brains, The B-52's, Laurie Anderson, John Zorn and John Adams. Saft has recently composed a number of original film scores and music for television. Recent films scored include the Oscar nominated film "Murderball", Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner "God Grew Tired Of Us", and currently airing HBO documentary "Dear Talula". Saft has also contributed score music for Nickelodeon, MTV, and A&E. Saft has released a number of records, including "Breadcrumb Sins" (Tzadik), "Trouble- The Jamie Saft Trio Plays Bob Dylan" (Tzadik), "Sovlanut" (Tzadik), and Swami LatePlate's "Doom Jazz" (Veal). Saft also runs his own record label which features releases from a number of his various projects.

Websites: www.bobbyprevite.com, www.jamiesaft.com

 

Marty Ehrlich and Jason RobinsonJason RobinsonMarty Ehrlich


Concert: Tuesday October 7, 8:30pm, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, free and open to the public.

Marty Ehrlich is one of the most celebrated artists of his generation, critically acclaimed as both composer and player. Equally fluent on clarinet, saxophone, and flutes, Ehrlich has been hailed as "one of the most formidable multi-instrumentalists since Eric Dolphy…the jazz dream musician" (The Village Voice). The New York Times calls him "one of the premier melodicists of his generation," and The Nation "one of his time's most original thinkers (with) a rare and wonderful talent, a now yearning, now biting attack and a stunningly voice-like expressiveness." Jazz Zeitung states: "If there is a believable poetic sensibility in jazz, you will find it with Marty Ehrlich." The Jazz Journalist Association honored him as Wind Player of the Year in 2001 and as Clarinetist of the year in 2003. In 2004, Ehrlich was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in Composition.

Since moving to New York in 1978, Ehrlich has performed his compositions throughout America, Europe and Canada with numerous ensembles. Marty's latest recording on Palmetto Records, "News on the Rail" features a sextet and is being hailed as one of the best albums of 2005 (JazzTimes). The Traveler's Tales Group is a quartet of two horns and rhythm section. Its most recent recording, Malinke's Dance, was chosen as one of the ten best recordings of 2001 in the Village Voice. The Dark Woods Ensemble features Ehrlich's woodwinds with cello and bass. Its most recent release, Sojourn, received an award from Absolute Sound Magazine as one of the three best recordings of the year. Ehrlich has recorded 14 CDs with these ensembles on the Palmetto, Enja, New World, Omnitone and Tzadik labels.

In 2003, Ehrlich released a CD of an extended composition for 23 musicians called The Long View. During 2002, this work was played in exhibition at Harvard University with the paintings of a long time collaborator of Ehrlich's, the visual artist Oliver Jackson. The Boston Phoenix called the piece "one of a handful of integral long-form works in jazz, standing beside those of the likes of Hemphill, Mingus and Ellington."

Ehrlich has also been active as a collaborator with other composers. He currently works with pianist Myra Melford in the Melford/Ehrlich Duo and in a trio with Andrew Cyrille and Mark Dresser, called C/D/E. The duo recently released Yet Can Spring on Arabesque, and the trio a self-titled CD on Pao. He has also released duo recordings with Muhal Richard Abrams, Mike Nock, Anthony Cox and John Lindberg.

As a composer, the New York Composer's Orchestra, the Boston Jazz Composer's Alliance, The Lydian String Quartet, The Rova Saxophone Quartet, The Kitchen House Blend Orchestra, the New York String Trio and pianist Ursula Oppens have commissioned works from him. In 1995 he was composer-in-residence at the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum in Boston and in 2000 he was the Peter Ivers Visiting Artist at Harvard University and artist-in-residence at Dartmouth Univeristy. Ehrlich has taught at New England Conservatory of Music and Hampshire College.

Ehrlich has also been in great demand as a sideman, appearing with a distinguished array of artists, covering numerous generations and idioms. He has performed in ensembles led by Muhal Richard Abrams, Ray Anderson, Fontella Bass, Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton, Jaki Byard, John Carter, Anthony Davis, Jack DeJohnette, James Emery, Peter Erskine, Michael Formanek, Don Grolnick, George Gruntz, Chico Hamilton, Jerome Harris, Julius Hemphill, Andrew Hill, Robin Holcomb, Wayne Horvitz, Leroy Jenkins, Oliver Lake, Myra Melford, Roscoe Mitchell, James Newton, Mike Nock, Mario Pavone, Ken Peplowski, Bobby Previte, George Russell, Randy Sandke, Leo Smith, John Zorn and others. He appears on close to 100 albums with these composers.

American saxophonist and scholar Jason Robinson is fascinated by the relationship between improvised music, experimentalism, and cultural identity. His current performance interests include the intersection of improvisation and composition, new electro-acoustic processing and interaction enabled through software-based technologies, and the relationship between popular music and experimentalism. He performs regularly as a soloist (acoustically and with electronics), with groups he co-leads (Cosmologic and the Cross Border Trio), as a leader of varying ensembles performing his original music, and in a variety of collaborative contexts. His latest albums include his third release as a leader—Fingerprint (2008/Circumvention)—and the fourth release by Cosmologic, Eyes in the Back of My Head (2008/Cuneiform). He has performed at festivals and prominent venues in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. He has performed or recorded with Peter Kowald, George Lewis, Anthony Davis, Eugene Chadbourne, Earl Howard, Emily Hay, Jeff Kaiser, Toots and the Maytals, Groundation, Elijah Emanuel and the Revelations, Bertram Turetzky, Mark Dresser, John Russell, Roger Turner, Gerry Hemingway, Kei Akagi, Mel Graves, Liberty Ellman, Babatunde Olatunji, Mel Martin, Marco Eneidi, Lisle Ellis, Raphe Malik, Mike Wofford, Philip Gelb, J.D. Parran, Dana Reason, David Borgo, Nathan Hubbard, Michael Dessen, Contemporary Jazz Orchestra (at Pearl's, San Francisco), the La Jolla Symphony, SONOR (UCSD), and the San Francisco Mime Troupe, among others. Robinson has published articles and reviews in Ethnomusicology and Critical Studies in Improvisation/ Études critiques en improvisation. Robinson is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Amherst College and holds a Ph.D. in Music from the University of California, San Diego.

Websites: www.martyehrlich.com, www.jasonrobinson.com

 

Miya MasaokaMiya Masaoka


Concert: Wednesday October 15, 8:30pm, Buckley Recital Hall, Arms Music Center, Amherst College, free admission

Miya Masaoka resides in New York City and is a classically trained musician, composer and sound/installation artist. She has created works for solo koto, laser interfaces, laptop and video, sculpture installations and written scores for ensembles, chamber orchestra and mixed choirs. She has a large body of work for solo koto, live electronics and video. She often works with the sonification of data, and maps the behavior of brain activity, plants and insect movement to sound.

Her work has been performed throughout the world including the Venice Biennale 2004, the Miller Theater, NYC, V2 (Rotterdam), Ircam, (Paris), KunstRadio (Vienna), Radio Breman (Germany), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), Le Centrale (Canada), and festivals including Moers (Germany), Victoriaville (British Columbia), London Musicians' Collective's Festival of Experimental Music (England), Other Minds Festival, Bang on a Can at Henry Street Settlement and the Santa Fe Electro-Acoustic Music Festival.

Sound installation exhibitions include Lincoln Center Out of Doors (Homemade Instrument Day), The Kitchen (The Cube with participating artists), 2006 Winter Olympics (Torino, Italy), Center for Art and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland (Blur of the Other Worldly), Issue Project Room, Brooklyn.

She has also has performed with leading improvisers and artists working in jazz and world traditions. Toshiko Akiyoshi wrote a piece for her entitled "Suite for Koto and Jazz Orchestra." She has performed with Pharoah Sanders, Cecil Taylor's large ensemble, toured and/or recorded with Steve Coleman, Pauline Oliveros, Andrew Cyrille, Reggie Workman, William Parker, Fred Frith, Larry Ochs, George Lewis, John Butcher, Peter Kowald, Gerry Hemingway, Samir Chatterjee, Zakir Hussein, Christian Wolff and Joan Jeanrenaud, formerly of Kronos Quartet. She has toured throughout India six times with Dr. L. Subramaniam.

A major influence on her musical and philosophical approach has evolved from studying with Gagaku master Suenobu Togi, for whom she formed and directed the San Francisco Gagaku society for eight years. She studied with Wayne Peterson and Eric Moe at San Francisco State University (Bachelor of Arts in Music), Alvin Curran and David Tudor at Mills College (Master of Arts in Composition, 1994).

Commissions include Bang On a Can, Engine 27/Harvestworks, Gerbode Foundation, Wattis Fellowship, British Broadcasting Co. (BBC), Asian Art Foundation, Alonzo King and Lines Ballet. Other ensembles performing her work include Volti, Ensemble of the Piedmont Choirs, ROVA, San Francisco Choral Society; Awards include the Alpert Arts Award, the Mills Faculty Award in Composition (1994), ASCAP and The New Langton Arts Award. Residencies include Other Minds, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Headlands Center for the Arts, Western Front (Vancouver), Jacob's Pillow and STEIM (the Netherlands).

Miya Masaoka is currently a professor in the Music/Sound department at the Milton Avery School of the Arts MFA Program, Bard College, NY.

Websites: www.miyamasaoka.com, www.myspace.com/miyamasaoka

 

Nicole Mitchell and Jeff ParkerJeff ParkerNicole Mitchell


Workshop: Thursday October 30, 2pm, Arms Music Center, Room 212, Amherst College, free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the U-Mass Amherst Fine Arts Center's Solos & Duos Series.

"Nicole Mitchell is a compelling improviser of wit, determination, positivity, and tremendous talent," writes Peter Margasak in the Chicago Reader, "on her way to becoming one of the greatest living flutists in jazz."

For the past three years, Mitchell has placed first in Downbeat's "Rising Star" on her instrument, and was awarded "Chicagoan of the Year 2006" by the Chicago Tribune. The founder of the critically acclaimed Black Earth Ensemble, the Nicole Mitchell Quartet and the Indigo Trio, Mitchell's compositions reach across jazz, gospel, pop, and African music to create a fascinating synthesis of postmodern jazz. Mitchell has performed with George Lewis, James Newton, Bill Dixon and Muhal Richard Abrams and has ongoing projects with Anthony Braxton, Ed Wilkerson, and Hamid Drake. She is currently Co-President of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians – the legendary Chicago-based musician centered self-help organization. "She's the most exciting player on the instrument for a generation," says Brian Morton.

Last year she premiered a number of commissioned works, including, "Many Paths to the Sea: A Tribute to Alice Coltrane", "Qualities of My Father", "Xenogenesis Suite: A Tribute to Octavia Butler", and new music for award-winning poet Haki R. Madhubuti. Mitchell directs the Jazz Ensemble at Wheaton College and teaches jazz history at University of Illinois, Chicago.

"If you went looking for a poster-child for Chicago's multidirectional, cross-pollinating, interstylistic music scene," writes John Corbett, "you couldn't find a better one than Jeff Parker."

Jeff Parker is a widely-traveled jazz guitarist, equally at home in soul-jazz, hard-bop, dub, hip-hop, electronic and free jazz. He studied at Berklee College of Music beginning in 1985 and moved to Chicago in 1991. Once in the Windy City, Parker joined forces with cornettist Robert Mazurek and drummer Chad Taylor to form the Chicago Underground Trio, and he has also invigorated the bands of Ernest Dawkin's New Horizon Ensemble, Fred Anderson, Ken Vandermark and Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Ensemble. He is a member of Isotope 217 and one of the leading post-rock bands, Tortoise. His debut CD as a leader is the acclaimed Like-Coping, released on Delmark in 2003, featuring Chris Lopes and Chad Taylor. His sophomore effort, The Relatives, came out in 2005 on Thrill Jockey.

"Even though there's often an 'out' element to the music Parker performs," writes Guitar Player magazine, "his own guitar playing is usually rather 'in' by comparison. No matter how treacherous the harmonic terrain, Parker provides enough recognizable landmarks for the listener to remain oriented and involved. Perhaps that root sensibility is the reason Parker receives calls from the likes of Branford Marsalis, Joshua Redman, and a host of other top-shelf jazzbos."

Websites: www.nicolemitchell.com, www.myspace.com/peffjarker

 

George LewisGeorge Lewis


Lecture: Wednesday November 12, 8:30pm, Buckley Recital Hall, Arms Music Center, Amherst College, free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the U-Mass Amherst Fine Arts Center's Magic Triangle Jazz Series and Solos & Duos Series.

George E. Lewis, Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music and Director of The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University, will be presenting a lecture on "New Ethnographies of Improvisation." The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship in 2002, an Alpert Award in the Arts in 1999, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lewis studied composition with Muhal Richard Abrams at the AACM School of Music, and trombone with Dean Hey.

A member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1971, Lewis's work as composer, improvisor, performer and interpreter explores electronic and computer music, computer- based multimedia installations, text-sound works, and notated and improvisative forms, and is documented on more than 120 recordings.

His published articles on music, experimental video, visual art, and cultural studies have appeared in numerous scholarly journals and edited volumes, and his widely-acclaimed book, "A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music," appeared in 2008 from the University of Chicago Press.

Lewis has worked closely with film/video artists Stan Douglas and Don Ritter, as well as with contemporary musicians such as Anthony Braxton, Anthony Davis, Bertram Turetzky, Count Basie, David Behrman, David Murray, Derek Bailey, Douglas Ewart, Evan Parker, Fred Anderson, Frederic Rzewski, Gil Evans, Han Bennink, Irene Schweizer, J.D. Parran, James Newton, Joel Ryan, Joelle Leandre, John Zorn, Leroy Jenkins, Michel Portal, Misha Mengelberg, Miya Masaoka, Muhal Richard Abrams, Richard Teitelbaum, Roscoe Mitchell, Sam Rivers, Steve Lacy and Wadada Leo Smith.

Website: Columbia University faculty page

 

Dave Douglas, Marcus Rojas, and Donny McCaslin

Donny McCaslinMarcus RojasDave Douglas


Workshop: Thursday November 20, 2pm, Arms Music Center, Room 212, Amherst College, free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the U-Mass Amherst Fine Arts Center's Solos & Duos Series.

Dave Douglas is widely recognized as one of the most important and original American musicians to emerge from the jazz and improvised music scene of the last decade. His collaborations as a trumpeter read like a who's who of important contemporary artists: John Zorn, Joe Lovano, Bill Frisell, Don Byron, Steve Lacy, Anthony Braxton, Myra Melford, Andy Bey, Trisha Brown, Henry Grimes, Tom Waits, Rabih Abou-Khalil, DJ Olive, Ikue Mori, Han Bennink, Misha Mengelberg, Uri Caine, Roswell Rudd, Andrew Cyrille, Marc Ribot, Karsh Kale, Mark Dresser, Marty Ehrlich, and many others. For the past half decade Dave Douglas has repeatedly been named trumpeter, composer, and jazz artist of the year by such organizations as the New York Jazz Awards, Down Beat, Jazz Times, and Jazziz.

Douglas is "an original thinker blessed with a seemingly bottomless well of intriguing ideas," writes Howard Reich.

Since 1993, Douglas has released 21 albums of original music, and has appeared on over one hundred recordings. His 2000 album "Soul on Soul", was voted "Album of the Year" by DownBeat. In 2002, Douglas formed and has been co-curating the annual Festival of New Trumpet Music, dedicated to presenting the broadest possible spectrum of new music being made by and for trumpeters. Douglas' own ensembles have toured widely since 1994, performing at major jazz and new music festivals in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Australia and New Zealand.

"As a composer and trumpeter, his chops are tops," writes L.A. Weekly. "He never gets in a rut, his formats and viewpoints always swinging from intellectual acoustic to tripped-out electronic to the totally unexpected."

The late Whitney Balliet called Marcus Rojas a "phenomenal tubist". Harvey Pekar considers him one of "the best all around tuba players in the world". This native New Yorker has a vast performance history, including work with the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Ballet, New York City Opera,, Joffrey Ballet, , EOS, Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy, Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis, and ensembles led by Gil Evans, George Russell, Jim Hall, Wayne Shorter and David Byrne. He has also appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the Today Show, Saturday Night Live and The Grammys from New York City.

Rojas has played on over 300 recordings, from CDs of his own groups (Spanish Fly and Les Miserables Brass Band) to reggae stars Sly and Robbie. He has performed and recorded with Michael Jackson, Ray Charles, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Dawn Upshaw, Queen Latifah, Dr. John, Aretha Franklin, They Might be Giants, and Rosie O'Donell among others. He has recorded for every major film, television and record company in the United States.

Born August 11, 1966, Donny McCaslin grew up in Santa Cruz, CA; inspired by his father, a pianist and vibraphonist, the youngster started playing tenor saxophone at 12, and quickly progressed, touring Europe and participating in the prestigious Monterey Jazz Festival's California All-Star band while in high school. After attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston, he joined Berklee professor Gary Burton's quintet, with whom he toured for four years. McCaslin moved to New York, in 1991, working with bassist Eddie Gomez and then joining the group Steps Ahead, with whom he made the 1995 disc Vibe (NYC Records). But he really began to turn heads with his solo work in larger ensembles – first Ken Schaphorst's big band, and subsequently the acclaimed Maria Schneider Orchestra, where his performance on the album Concert In The Garden received a Grammy nomination for "Best Jazz Instrumental Solo" in 2004.

So much for McCaslin's "traditional" credentials, which provide the anchor for his much-admired work in more adventurous realms. Chief among these is the pianoless quartet Lan Xang (which evolved from an experimental partnership with fellow New York saxist David Binney) and the quintet led by the widely lionized trumpeter Dave Douglas, who added McCaslin to his band in 2005. Reviewing the Douglas Quintet in Jazz Times, Josef Woodard wrote of McCaslin: "He's a versatile player who moves easily between inside and outside musical zones . . . . [T]here's a fluidity and grace to his playing even when he's pushing at envelopes."

Thanks to the high profile of the Dave Douglas Quintet, McCaslin in the last two years has achieved wider praise for the incisive twists and purposeful turns of his emotionally charged solos. But those qualities – along with his sometimes startling virtuosity, and his distinctive voice as a composer – had actually been on display for much of the previous decade, during which McCaslin proved himself a valued sideman on recordings by Danilo Perez, Luciana Souza, and performances with Tom Harrell, Brian Blade, John Pattitucci, The Mingus Band, and Pat Metheny. . Meanwhile, the previous albums under his own name have shown him subtly incorporating elements of Latin American music within adventurous jazz frameworks.

In 2006, McCaslin received a Doris Duke grant for new jazz composition from Chamber Music America; "In Pursuit" (2007 Sunnyside) comprises the results of that work.

Websites: www.davedouglas.com, www.marcusrojas.com, www.donnymccaslin.com

 

Anthony DavisAnthony Davis


Concert: Wednesday December 3, 8:30pm, Buckley Recital Hall, Arms Music Center, Amherst College, free admission
Performance Workshop: Thursday December 4, 2-3pm, Arms Music Center, room 212, Amherst College, free admission and open to the public

Anthony Davis is a world-renowned pianist and composer whose work embodies a multiplicity of influences, interests, directions. Opera News has called Anthony Davis, "A National Treasure," for his pioneering work in opera. His music has made an important contribution not only in opera, but in chamber, choral and orchestral music. He has been on the cutting edge of improvised music and Jazz for over three decades. Anthony Davis continues to explore new avenues of expression while retaining a distinctly original voice. Mr. Davis has composed five operas. X: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MALCOLM X with a libretto by Thulani Davis, had its world premiere at the New York City Opera in 1986. A recording of the opera was released in 1992 on the Gramavision label and earned a Grammy nomination for music composition. UNDER THE DOUBLE MOON, with a libretto by Deborah Atherton, premiered at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis in 1989 and TANIA, an opera based on the kidnapping of Patty Hearst with a libretto by Michael John La Chiusa, premiered at the American Music Theater Festival in 1992 was recorded and released for KOCH International in October of 2001 and received its European premiere in Vienna in November, 2003. His fourth opera, AMISTAD premiered at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on November 29th, 1997. AMISTAD was created in collaboration with librettist Thulani Davis and was directed by George C. Wolfe. Anthony Davis' opera WAKONDA'S DREAM with a libretto by Yusef Komunyakaa debuted with Opera Omaha in March 2007. He is also collaborating with director Robert Wilson, writers Alma Guillermo-Prieto and Charles Koppelman and Cuban composer-pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba on a new opera about the Cuban Revolution and with playwright Allan Havis on a chamber opera entitled LILITH. He has two music theater works in development, SHIMMER, a music theater work about the McCarthy Era with Sarah Schulman and Michael Korie and TUPELO, a music theater work about the life of Elvis Presley written with Arnold Weinstein.

He has composed numerous works for orchestra and chamber ensemble commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, St. Lukes Chamber Ensemble, Kansas City Symphony and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His other works include the music for the critically acclaimed Broadway production of Tony Kushner's ANGELS IN AMERICA: MILLENIUM APPROACHES, PART ONE which premiered in May, 1993 and PART TWO, PERESTROIKA which debuted in November of 1993. He has written two choral works. The first, VOYAGE THROUGH DEATH TO LIFE UPON THESE SHORES, an a cappella work based on the poem "Middle Passage" by Robert Hayden, is a harrowing tale about the slave trade and the fateful Middle Passage. His work, RESTLESS MOURNING, is an oratorio for mixed chorus and chamber ensemble with live electronics. The work sets the poetry of Quincy Troupe and Allan Havis as well as the 102nd Psalm and addresses the 9-11 Tragedy. The piece was performed by the Carolina Chamber Chorale and premiered at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival on May 31st, 2002.

A graduate of Yale University in 1975, Mr. Davis is currently a professor of music at the University of California, San Diego. In 2008 he received the "Lift Every Voice" Legacy Award from the National Opera Association acknowledging his pioneering work in opera. In 2006 Mr. Davis was awarded a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Mr. Davis has also been honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the New York Foundation of the Arts, the National Endowment of the Arts, the Massachusetts Arts Council, the Carey Trust, Chamber Music America, Meet-the-Composer Wallace Fund, the MAP fund with the Rockefeller Foundation and Opera America. He has been an artist fellow at the MacDowell Colony and at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center in Italy.

 

Curtis Clark

Curtis Clark


Performance Workshop: Thursday February 5, 5:30-6:30pm, Arms Music Center, Room 7, Amherst College, free admission and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the World of Piano concert series at the Northampton Center for the Arts.

Pianist Curtis Clark was born in Chicago in 1950, and spent his student years in Los Angeles. After graduating from the California Institute of Arts, Clark moved to New York, where he began working and recording with saxophonist David Murray. Active in New York's "loft scene", Clark recorded and toured with Oscar Brown Jr., Billy Bang, Richard Davis, Abby Lincoln, Charles Tyler, John Tchicai and Han Bennink. "Clark sounds like a combination of Bill Evans and Red Garland," writes Ken Waxman, "with tingling arpeggios falling from his fingers." Clark spent decades living in Amsterdam, playing with leading Dutch and South African musicians and recording a number of outstanding releases for Nimbus Records. Clark now lives in Portland, Maine and travels New England performing with his Quartet. "An unsung talent," writes Dusty Groove. "with the same open-ended format as Horace Tapscott." Clark's 2007 solo recording, Reach, Believe It & Play, "offers up a more sensitive side of Clark's work than we remember -- long tracks that are beautifully personal, and filled with as many gentle moments as sharp-edged ones -- in ways that take us back to some of Thelonious Monk's best solo expressions of the 50s and 60s."

Website: Curtis Clark Myspace

 

Connie Crothers

Connie Crothers


Performance Workshop: Thursday February 12, 5:30-6:30pm, Arms Music Center, Room 7, Amherst College, free admission and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the World of Piano concert series at the Northampton Center for the Arts.

Pianist Connie Crothers' approach, while very much her own, has been shaped by her mentor: Lennie Tristano. Crothers moved from California to New York in 1962 and began studying with the iconoclastic pianist and composer. In 1972 he began presenting her in performance, including four solo concerts at Carnegie Recital Hall. She released her first record, Perception for the SteepleChase label, in 1974. "Her mastery of the piano is not to be gainsaid," wrote Gary Giddins, in the Village Voice. "It is her own enigmatic personality that gives this disc its special, haunting character. It clearly heralds the arrival of a pianist of stature." Crothers has recorded and performed around the world with the late Max Roach, and has worked with Jemeel Moondoc, Henry Grimes, Roscoe Mitchell and Warne Marsh, in her distinguished career. In 1980 she began a musical relationship with percussionist Max Roach that lasted into 2002. Their duo recording, "Swish," on New Artists, a record company they co-founded, received a four-star review in Down Beat. "Because she has unerring fingers, unerring swing, and an unerring blues sensibility," writes Patrick Williams, "the music of Connie Crothers causes a captivating joy."

Website: www.conniecrothers.net

 

Cosmologic (Jason Robinson, Michael Dessen, Scott Walton, Nathan Hubbard)

Cosmologic


Concert: Wednesday February 18, 8:30pm, Buckley Recital Hall, Arms Music Center, Amherst College, free admission
Performance Workshop/Presentation: Thursday February 19, 8:30-9:30am, Buckley Recital Hall, Arms Music Center, Amherst College, free admission and open to the public

Cosmologic traverses the broad terrain of creative jazz and improvised music, integrating high-energy playing, intense introspection, rich grooves, open textures, and collective alchemy. Central to the group's sound is a commitment to developing challenging and original compositions. While profoundly dedicated to improvisation, Cosmologic also performs complex pieces that are composed by an individual member and then transformed through extensive group work. This process often leads the quartet into complex musical landscapes, while drawing on the individual strengths of each member. With nearly a decade of experience together, Cosmologic continues to extend their repertoire of original music, in an ongoing search for new ideas.

"In today's world of all-star studio sessions and endless collaborative side-projects, longstanding working bands are growing increasingly uncommon. Cosmologic is a splendid example of such a rarefied entity.... Eyes In The Back Of My Head is a richly rewarding statement from a group whose time for greater exposure is long overdue. Accessible yet forward thinking, this is contemporary West Coast jazz at its most heartfelt and adventurous."
-Troy Collins, All About Jazz.

"[Cosmologic's] perspicacity and ability to capture the unusual gives their music a rather exceptional focus.... Cosmologic does not let the written note be the guiding light. Their sense of juxtaposition dictates the course. Flow and chaos are consonants in constant flight that are navigated by surprise, and the band documents this consummately, making Eyes In The Back Of My Head a stirring listening experience."
-Jerry D'Souza, All About Jazz.

"Cosmologic music is initiated by individual members and then doggedly worked and reworked until its internal logics are available for genuinely creative improvisation.... More than impressive."
-Brian Morton, The Wire

"... The most exhilarating band performance of the entire five days [of the Guelph Jazz Festival]... At times showing a deep fascination with Dave Holland's rhythmic structures and counterpoint improvisations, at times going far further outside, suspending harmony and rhythm entirely, Cosmologic covered a wide range, from intense grooves to raspy textures.... Cosmologic, it seems safe to predict, has wider attention awaiting it in the future."
- Johannes Völz, Musicworks Magazine.

American saxophonist and scholar Jason Robinson is fascinated by the relationship between improvised music, experimentalism, and cultural identity. His current performance interests include the intersection of improvisation and composition, new electro-acoustic processing and interaction enabled through software-based technologies, and the relationship between popular music and experimentalism. He performs regularly as a soloist (acoustically and with electronics), with groups he co-leads (Cosmologic and the Cross Border Trio), as a leader of varying ensembles performing his original music, and in a variety of collaborative contexts. His latest albums include his third release as a leader—Fingerprint (2008/Circumvention)—and the fourth release by Cosmologic, Eyes in the Back of My Head (2008/Cuneiform). He has performed at festivals and prominent venues in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. He has performed or recorded with Peter Kowald, George Lewis, Anthony Davis, Eugene Chadbourne, Earl Howard, Emily Hay, Jeff Kaiser, Toots and the Maytals, Groundation, Elijah Emanuel and the Revelations, Bertram Turetzky, Mark Dresser, John Russell, Roger Turner, Gerry Hemingway, Kei Akagi, Mel Graves, Liberty Ellman, Babatunde Olatunji, Mel Martin, Marco Eneidi, Lisle Ellis, Raphe Malik, Mike Wofford, Philip Gelb, J.D. Parran, Dana Reason, David Borgo, Nathan Hubbard, Michael Dessen, Contemporary Jazz Orchestra (at Pearl's, San Francisco), the La Jolla Symphony, SONOR (UCSD), and the San Francisco Mime Troupe, among others. Robinson has published articles and reviews in Ethnomusicology and Critical Studies in Improvisation/ Études critiques en improvisation. Robinson is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Amherst College and holds a Ph.D. in Music from the University of California, San Diego.

Michael Dessen (trombone) is a composer-improviser who performs on the slide trombone and computer. Drawing on experience across a wide range of contemporary forms, he creates his own unique blend of music and collaborates with some of today's most exciting innovators. In addition to the collectively-run Cosmologic quartet, his other main working ensemble is the Michael Dessen Trio, in which he performs on trombone and laptop, along with Tyshawn Sorey on drums and Christopher Tordini on bass. This trio's first album, Between Shadow and Space, will be released in 2008 by Clean Feed Records, following Dessen's 2007 leader debut, Lineal, which featured Mark Dresser, Susie Ibarra, Vijay Iyer, Terry Jenoure and others performing his acoustic compositions. He has also participated in collaborative projects involving interactive, multimedia and telematic (distance/internet) technologies, and is completing a solo album of trombone and live electronics. In addition to studies with Yusef Lateef, George Lewis and Anthony Davis, and collaborations and mentorships with many other renowned artists, Dessen also draws on extensive freelance experience in diverse contexts, from avant-garde new music ensembles to salsa bands. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the University of California, San Diego, where he received a Ph.D. in Critical Studies and Experimental Practices from the Music Department. Equally important, Dessen has been schooled by numerous musicians outside of academia. He currently teaches at the University of California, Irvine, where he is on the core faculty of an innovative new graduate music program titled Integrated Composition, Improvisation and Technology.

Bassist Scott Walton has performed with luminaries from across the stylistic spectrum of jazz and improvised music. Active projects as a bassist include Cosmologic, the Isbin/Gauthier/Walton trio, the Vinny Golia Quintet, and Nathan Hubbard's Everything After, with recent performances in Belgium, Holland, and Poland. As a pianist he has commissioned and premiered works by numerous composers, has collaborated in web-networked multimedia performances, and has a particular interest in works for piano and mixed-media. Walton is featured on recent CD releases by Ibsin/Gauthier/Walton (Venice Suite), Harris Eisenstadt (All Seeing Eye), and the Vinny Golia Quintet (One, Three, Two). 2008 releases include new CDs with Cosmologic, and the Alex Cline Ensemble. He is a member of the San Diego-based Trummerflora Collective.

Percussionist/composer/instrument builder Nathan Hubbard works in many different fields, but in general his work shows a decided interest in exploring the possibilities of sound and embracing the passing of time. This interest in sound can be seen in everything from his extended sound language as an improvisor to his homemade and found instruments. The different rates of passing time become relevant as both a rhythmic impetus and defining element in his compositions and their changing definitions of form, shape and outcome. Musically his explorations range from solo improvisations through small group collaborations to large scale compositions for his twenty-six member large ensemble, Skeleton Key Orchestra. As a composer his works range from solo pieces to medium scale works for a variety of ensembles, works for tape, electronics and acoustics instruments, large works for orchestras, creative orchestras and traditional big bands as well as pieces involving text, voice and other mediums. In the last several years Hubbard has been more involved with musical situations incorporating acoustics, enviroments and field recordings. His work as an artist can be seen on several of his CD covers and his work as an engineer and producer can be heard on almost all of his recordings. His current projects include solo performances, collaborations with Curtis Glatter (the Glatter/Hubbard Duo), ARC Trio, and Cosmologic, as well as leading his own chamber quintet (Nathan Hubbard/Everything After), octet (Nathan Hubbard Octet) and the large ensemble Nathan Hubbard Skeleton Key Orchestra. In addition to all this work, Hubbard has performed and/or recorded with artists such as Martin Blume, David Borgo, Alex Cline, Anthony Davis, Brad Dutz, Harris Eisenstadt, Justin Grinnell, Vinny Golia, Phillip Greenlief, Rick Helzer, Mike Keneally, Steuart Liebig, George Lewis, Doug Lunn, Noah Phillips, Garth Powell, Tim Root, Jim Ryan, Moe! Staiano, GE Stinson, Kris Tiner, Bertram Turetzky, Phillip Wachsmann and Clay Walker. Hubbard is a member of the Trummerflora Collective.

Website: www.cosmologic.org

 

Kidd Jordan, William Parker, and Hamid Drake

Hamid DrakeWilliam ParkerKidd Jordan


Workshop: Thursday February 26, 3:30-4:30pm, Arms Music Center, Room 7, Amherst College, free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the U-Mass Amherst Fine Arts Center's Magic Triangle Concert Series.

The list of bands and artists legendary New Orleans tenor saxophonist and educator Edward 'Kidd' Jordan has performed with reads like a 40-year Grammy program--from Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder to Aretha Franklin and the Supremes. And the list of jazz musicians he has performed with is even longer, from Ed Blackwell and Ellis Marsalis to Ornette Coleman, Cannonball Adderley and Cecil Taylor. European audiences have long known about Jordan, who was recognized by the French government in 1985 with a knighthood (Chevalier) for his contribution to European performing arts. Americans seem to be catching up. Jordan was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award in June at the Vision Festival in New York. 'Kidd' Jordan was born in Crowley, Louisiana, in 1935 and has spent his entire life in the New Orleans area, resisting the urge to move to a larger metropolis better suited to his avant-garde leanings. He earned a music degree at Southern University, and returned to his alma mater in Baton Rouge and taught there from 1974 to 2006.

William Parker, whom the Village Voice has characterized as "the most consistently brilliant free jazz bassist of all time," has commanded a unique degree of respect throughout his career. After entering the New York music scene in 1972 at the age of 20, Parker quickly became the bass player of choice among his peers. Within a short time he was playing with established musicians such as Bill Dixon, Milford Graves, Billy Higgins and Sunny Murray. In 1980 he became a member of the Cecil Taylor Unit, in which he played a prominent role for over a decade. Since 1995 Parker has produced more than 25 albums as a leader, and directs the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra, The Curtis Mayfield Project, and two small groups: In Order To Survive and Raining on the Moon Quartet.

By the close of the 1990s, Hamid Drake was widely regarded as one of the best percussionists in improvised music. Incorporating Afro-Cuban, Indian, and African percussion instruments and influence, in addition to using the standard trap set, Drake has collaborated extensively with top free jazz improvisers Peter Brotzmann, Fred Anderson, and Ken Vandermark, among others. Drake was born in Monroe, LA, in 1955, and later moved to Chicago with his family. He ended up taking drum lessons with Fred Anderson's son, eventually taking over the son's role as percussionist in Anderson's group. As a result, Fred Anderson also introduced Drake to George Lewis and other AACM members. Drake also has performed world music; by the late '70s, he was a member of Foday Muso Suso's Mandingo Griot Society, and has played reggae. Drake has been a member of the Latin jazz band Night on Earth, the Georg Graewe Quartet, the DKV Trio, Peter Brotzmann's Chicago Octet/Tentet, and Liof Munimula, the oldest free improvising ensemble in Chicago. Drake has also worked with trumpeter Don Cherry, Pharoah Sanders, Fred Anderson, Mahmoud Gania, bassist William Parker (in a large number of lineups), and has performed a solstice celebration with fellow Chicago percussionist Michael Zerang semiannually since 1991.

Websites: Kidd Jordan Wikipedia, www.williamparker.net, Hamid Drake Wikipedia

 

Dave Pietro

Dave Pietro


In Concert with the Amherst College Jazz Combos : Friday February 28, 8pm, Buckley Recital Hall, Arms Music Center, Amherst College. Ticket purchase required. Fundraiser for the Foodbank of Western Massachusetts.

A native of Southboro, Massachusetts, Dave Pietro has been on the New York jazz scene since 1987. His talents as a gifted saxophonist, composer, and educator have made him an in-demand musician leading to performances at jazz clubs, jazz festivals, schools and concert halls in more than 30 countries throughout Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America. From 1994-2003 Dave played lead alto saxophone and recorded six CD's with the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra. He has also toured and/or recorded with the bands of Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, Maynard Ferguson, Maria Schneider, The Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, John Fedchock, Mike Holober, Anita Brown, Pete McGuinness and Arturo O'Farrill among others. In addition Pietro has performed with may other well known musicians such as Paul Anka, Louis Bellson, Blood Sweat & Tears, Bobby Caldwell, Ray Charles, Rosemary Clooney, Harry Connick Jr., Michael Feinstein, Chaka Khan, Liza Minnelli, James Naughton and John Pizzarelli. Dave also studies East Indian music and has performed with various groups led by Indian tablist Sandip Burman.

Website: www.davepietro.com

 

Bruce Diehl and Adam Larrabee

Adam LarrabeeBruce Diehl


Concert: Tuesday March 10, 8pm, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, free and open to the public.

Guitarist Adam Larrabee has an amazing depth as a performer, composer and accompanist. He has appeared as a sideman on Bruce Hornsby's album "Spirit Trail" and other recent recordings include a duo CD with classical mandolinist Marilynn Mair and two CDs with rising star/sax prodigy Grace Kelly. Last year Adam toured as banjoist in the bluegrass group "Joy Kills Sorrow" in addition to his work on mandolin and guitar in "Le Bon Vent", an ensemble devoted to the music of France. Most recently he has performed and plans to record with The Richmond Classical Guitar Quartet, whose debut performance in October received a standing ovation. In the Spring of 2009 look for his forthcoming record of Brazilian music with saxophonist Al Regni of the New York Philharmonic. Adam has been commissioned to write works for The New England Conservatory's Contemporary Music Festival, The Milton Academy Chamber Orchestra, The Virginia Commonwealth Classical Guitar Ensemble, and his music has been premiered at Julliard, Arizona State University, Oberlin College, Roger Williams University, and the Notre Dame Jazz Festival. He has been a guest artist and given master-classes at Eastern Washington University, Amherst College, SUNY Pottsdam, Northern Illinois University, Washington-Jefferson, and James Madison University as well as others schools throughout the US. In 2006, he won an Independent Music Award for his composition "Norwegian Slip" in the world/fusion category. Adam taught jazz theory, composition and arranging at The New England Conservatory in Boston for nine years and currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia and teaches classical and jazz guitar at Virginia Commonwealth University, banjo at the University of Virginia, and mandolin, banjo and bass at The Woodberry Forest School. His regular Thursday night gig at Miller's with trumpeter John D'earth was recently mentioned in the New York Times article "36 Hours is Charlottesville" and he also plays with many other local legends such as, saxophonist Bobby Read (Bruce Hornsby), pianist Bob Hallahan, Jesse Harper (Old School Freight Train), pianist Daniel Clarke (KD Lang), and drummer Brian Jones (Agents of Good Roots).

Saxophonist Bruce Diehl has directed the Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combos at Amherst College since 2000. He has witnessed the growth of the combo program in both numbers and quality. At Amherst College, Bruce has taught Jazz Theory and Improvisation, Jazz History, Birth of Bebop, Arranging and Composing as well as numerous special topic classes with focus on Wayne Shorter, the Jazz Trombone, the Bebop Language, and Electronic applications. He also founded the Robin McBride Jazz Commission, a piece written for the Amherst College Jazz Ensemble to be premiered in the Spring of each academic year. Bruce plays the saxophone and woodwinds, and has two degrees from the Eastman School of Music (BM-1990 Classical Saxophone, BM-1990- Instrumental Music Education). He came to the Amherst, MA area to study at UMASS where he earned a Master's Degree in Jazz Composition and Arranging (1995). While at UMASS, Bruce studied with Jeff Holmes, Yusef Lateef, Dr. Fred Tillis, and Lynn Klock. He taught Instrumental Music in Castleton, VT prior to attending UMASS, and again following UMASS at Northfield Mount Hermon, where he formed the concert band and founded the annual NMH Jazz Festival. Bruce has appeared as guest soloist/performer, clinician, and adjudicator at such diverse places as Eastern Washington University (Cheney, WA), Camp Encore Coda (Sweden, ME), Sarasota Youth Ensembles (Sarasota, FL), Middlebury College (Middlebury, VT), Fryeburg Academy (Fryeburg, ME), Castleton State College (Castleton, VT), and Jazz in July (Amherst, MA). He is a regular member of the Jeff Holmes Big Band, and has performances with Ingrid Jensen, Clark Terry, Branford Marsalis, Dave Pietro, and the Eastman Wind Ensemble. Bruce lives in the Amherst area with his wife Diane, and their two young sons, Jeremy and Paul.

Website: Adam Larrabee Myspace

 

Terry Jenoure, Billy Bang, Charles Burnham, and Marty Ehrlich

Hamid DrakeWilliam ParkerBilly BangTerry Jenoure


Panel Discussion - Celebrating the Music of Violinist Leroy Jenkins Wednesday March 25, 6-730pm, Arms Music Center, Room 7, Amherst College, free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the U-Mass Amherst Fine Arts Center's Magic Triangle Concert Series.

A veteran of the bands of John Carter, Archie Shepp, Henry Threadgill, Butch Morris, Reggie Workman and others, Terry Jenoure is a wide-ranging visual and performing artist. Her sound – on violin and vocals - blends the risk of improvisation, rhythmic influences from her Puerto Rican and Jamaican heritage, the drive and excitement of urban references, and ideas influenced by her world travels. Born and raised in the Bronx, she began studying music at the age of eight, attended New York's High School of Music & Art, received a bachelor's degree in Philosophy, and masters and doctoral degrees in Education. A faculty member at the University of Massachusetts and Lesley University, Jenoure has devoted almost 15 years forging the development of a multicultural and multi-arts program as the director for the Augusta Savage Gallery at UMass, Amherst. "When I perform," Jenoure says,"it feels as though I'm untangling knots or threads or webs in some dense place so we can see some light."

Over the past 30 years, Billy Bang's hard-edged tone, soulful sense of traditional swing and evocatively expressive style has enhanced dozens of albums by top names in a variety of genres, from the blistering funk of Bootsy Collins and the harmolodic groove of Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society to the intergalactic uproar of Sun Ra. With more than 15 albums under his own leadership, nearly a dozen more in co-led endeavors, and five more with the String Trio of New York (which he co-founded in 1977 with guitarist James Emery and bassist John Lindberg), Billy Bang is one of the more prolific and original members of the progressive music scene. "From Bang's violin comes everything we know about black music and a lot we have yet to learn about rhythm, subtlety and swing," writes Ntozake Shange.

Charles Burnham is best known as one-third of Odyssey, guitarist James 'Blood' Ulmer's finest bands (with drummer Warren Benbow.) Odyssey performed as part of the 2006 Magic Triangle Jazz Series. "…unlike any other front line in music," writes Richard Cook about Burnham and Ulmer. "Playful, joyous, agitated and melodic, they become ten strings in unison yet independent of one and other. Burnham's step into the spotlight has long been coming." The passion and fire of Burnham's violin has graced the work of Cassandra Wilson, Steven Bernstein, Susie Ibarra, Henry Threadgrill, String Trio of New York, and Medeski, Martin & Wood, among many others. The violinist's new band includes Clark Gayton and Curtis Fowlkes, trombones, Mark Peterson, bass and Pheeroan akLaff, drums.

Reedist Marty Ehrlich appeared on the Fall 2008 Faultines program. For his bio and web information, click here.

Websites: Terry Jenoure, Billy Bang Myspace, Charles Burnham at All About Jazz

 

Adnan Marquez, Michael Dessen, and Jason Robinson

Jason RobinsonMichael DessenAdnan Marquez


Multi-location Internet-based Concert: Friday April 3; 8pm (EST), Buckley Recital Hall, Amherst College, free admission; 5pm (PST), Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA stage), Stanford University, free admission; 5pm (PST), REALab (Realtime Experimental Audio Laboratory, Room 216, Music and Media Building), University of California, Irvine, free admission; live audiences at all three locations

Mexican saxophonist, improviser, computer musician, and composer Adnan Marquez is active in both Californias--California and Baja California (Mexico). He received his Master's degree in Music, Science and Technology from Stanford University. His music focuses on improvisation and the electronic manipulation of sounds in real-time. Influenced by Jazz, Western concert music, free improvisation, electronic music, and ethnic musics, his improvisations and compositions attempt to synthesize all of these elements into a very personal style. He has participated in numerous projects with the Trummerflora Collective, the Spectrum Saxophone Quartet, and is part of the electroacoustic duo Birthdays and Funerals, the wind duo Viento Reciclado, amongst other independent projects. He is a founding member of the Mexican improvisation collective Generación Espontanea. As a educator, he was actively teaching saxophone lessons for many years in his private studio and is currently an adjunct instructor of Musical Acoustics in Cogswell Polytechnical College in Sunnyvale, California. His debut recording, The Paradox of Continuity, was released in early 2007 on Circumvention Music.

Michael Dessen is a composer-improviser who performs on the slide trombone and computer. Drawing on experience across a wide range of contemporary forms, he creates his own unique blend of music and collaborates with some of today's most exciting innovators. In the Michael Dessen Trio, he performs on trombone and laptop, along with Tyshawn Sorey on drums and Christopher Tordini on bass. Clean Feed Records released the trio's 2008 album, Between Shadow and Space, following Dessen's 2007 leader debut on Circumvention Music, Lineal, which featured Mark Dresser, Susie Ibarra, Vijay Iyer, Terry Jenoure and others performing his acoustic compositions Dessen is also a member of Cosmologic, a longstanding collective quartet whose fourth album of original music has just been released by Cuneiform Records. Since the mid-1990s, Dessen has also collaborated regularly on projects exploring interactive technology and, more recently, telematic (distance/internet) performance. He is currently completing a solo album of trombone and live electronics. Dessen's own writing about music includes articles in The Other Side of Nowhere: Jazz, Improvisation and Communities in Dialogue (Wesleyan University Press), the online journal Critical Studies in Improvisation / Etudes Critique en Improvisation, and Musicworks magazine, as well as a Preface to Yusef Lateef's Songbook. His scholarship focuses especially on the role of African American traditions within late-twentieth century experimental music worlds. In addition to studies with Yusef Lateef, George Lewis and Anthony Davis, and collaborations and mentorships with other renowned composer-improvisers, Dessen also spent many years freelancing in diverse contexts, from avant-garde new music ensembles to salsa bands. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the University of California, San Diego, where he received a Ph.D. in Critical Studies and Experimental Practices from the Music Department. Equally important, Dessen has been schooled by numerous musicians outside of academia. He currently teaches at the University of California, Irvine, where he is on the core faculty of an innovative new graduate music program in Integrated Composition, Improvisation and Technology.

Reedist Jason Robinson appeared on the Fall 2008 Faultines program. For his bio and web information, click here.

Website: Adnan Marquez Myspace, www.mdessen.com

 

Raw Materials (Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa)

Raw Materials (Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Manhathappa)

(photo by Bill Douthart)


Concert: Friday April 17, 8pm, Buckley Recital Hall, Arms Music Center, Amherst College, free admission.
Workshop: Friday April 17, 3:30-4:30pm, Arms Music Center, Room 7, Amherst College, free and open to the public.

Pianist Vijay Iyer and alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa represent a new generation of American jazz musicians who explore the cultures of their ancestry through their music. The sons of immigrants from India, they draw from Asian, African, and European traditions to create original music that is beyond category. They have gained recognition from audiences, musicians, and critics alike as world-class improvisors and composers, outspoken young Asian American voices, and important forces in the music world. Since 1996, Iyer and Mahanthappa have worked together constantly, performing their cutting-edge original music to widespread acclaim around the world. In spring 2006, ten years after the two began collaborating, Savoy Jazz released their first album as a duo, titled Raw Materials. Time Out New York calls it "their most striking collaboration yet. A series of confident duets, the set combines stateliness with rawness... It's like seeing two sides of the same coin." All About Jazz hails the disc as "a total triumph from beginning to end."

Vijay Iyer was described in The Village Voice as "the most commanding pianist and composer to emerge in recent years" and in The New Yorker as one of "today's most important pianists." The American-born son of Indian immigrants, he has released twelve recordings, most recently Tragicomic (2008) with his trio and quartet; Door (2008) with the collective trio Fieldwork; Still Life with Commentator (2007), his second large-scale work with poet-performer Mike Ladd; and Raw Materials (2006) in duo with Mahanthappa. His albums have been selected among the best of the year in dozens of major publications, including JazzTimes, Jazzwise, Downbeat, The Wire, ArtForum, The Utne Reader, The Chicago Tribune, The New Yorker, and The Village Voice. Voted #1 Rising Star Jazz Artist and #1 Rising Star Composer by the Downbeat International Critics Poll for both 2006 and 2007, Vijay has consistently placed near the top of those (as well as the Rising Star Pianist) categories since 2003. He performs constantly around the world with his own projects and collaborations, and he has also joined forces with Steve Coleman, Roscoe Mitchell, Wadada Leo Smith, Amiri Baraka, Amina Claudine Myers, Butch Morris, Ethel, Imani Winds, dead prez, Karsh Kale, George Lewis, DJ Spooky, John Zorn, Will Power, and Dennis Russell Davies, among others. His numerous honors include the CalArts Alpert Award in the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and the JJA Jazz Awards' Up & Coming Artist of the Year award; new works commissioned by American Composers Orchestra, the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Asia Society, and Brooklyn Academy of Music; and project grants from the Rockefeller Foundation MAP Fund, the New York State Council on the Arts, Chamber Music America, Creative Capital, American Composers Forum, Meet the Composer, Arts International, and The Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust. He teaches at New York University, New School University, and the School for Improvisational Music, and has published articles in Music Perception, Journal of Consciousness Studies, Current Musicology, and the anthologies Uptown Conversation and Sound Unbound. www.vijay-iyer.com

Guggenheim fellow Rudresh Mahanthappa is one of the most innovative young musicians and composers in jazz today. Floating near the top of the Downbeat International Critics Poll "Rising Star-Alto Saxophone" category for the past five years, Rudresh has incorporated the culture of his Indian ancestry and has fused myriad influences to create a truly groundbreaking artistic vision. As a performer, he leads/co-leads seven groups to critical acclaim. His most recent release for Pi Recordings Codebook (September 26, 2006) was named one of the Top Jazz Albums of 2006 by The Village Voice, Jazztimes, and The Denver Post to name only a few and received rave reviews from Downbeat, Jazztimes, wired.com and Science Magazine. In Europe, Codebook received the esteemed "CHOC DE L'ANNÉE" (album of the year) for 2007 in France's Jazzman, 4 stars in the UK's Jazzwise, and received the "Bollino di Marzo" from Italy's Musica Jazz. This album also reached #7 on US jazz radio charts and #1 on Canadian jazz radio charts. His previous quartet recording Mother Tongue on Pi Recordings (US release 2004, international release 2005) received 4 stars in DOWNBEAT and was named one of Top Ten Jazz CDs of 2004 by the Chicago Tribune, Jazztimes, Coda, All About Jazz, and Jazzmatazz and was additionally recognized as one of the top jazz albums of 2005 by several European publications including the UK's Jazz Review. As a saxophonist, Mahanthappa has achieved international recognition performing regularly at jazz festivals and clubs worldwide. He has also worked as a sideman with such jazz luminaries as David Murray, Steve Coleman, Jack DeJohnette, Samir Chatterjee, Von Freeman, Tim Hagans, Fareed Haque, Vijay Iyer, Howard Levy, David Liebman, Greg Osby, and Dr. Lonnie Smith. As a composer, Rudresh has received commission grants from the Rockefeller Foundation MAP Fund, American Composers Forum, Chamber Music America, and the New York State Council on the Arts to develop new work. Mahanthappa holds a Bachelors of Music Degree in jazz performance from Berklee College of Music and a Masters of Music degree in jazz composition from Chicago's DePaul University. He now teaches at The New School University. Rudresh Mahanthappa currently lives in New York where he is clearly regarded as an important and influential voice in the jazz world. Rudresh uses Vandoren reeds exclusively. Mahanthappa is also a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow.

Website: www.rawmaterialsduo.com

 

Music Inn, A Documentary Film with producer/drummer George Schuller


Music Inn - A Documentary FilmFilm Screening and Discussion: Monday April 27, 5pm, Pruyne Lecture Hall, 115 Fayerweather, Amherst College, free admission, co-sponsered by Amherst College's Departments of English and American Studies

Faultlines is proud to present a screening of Music Inn, A Documentary Film, a recent documentary exploring the vibrant jazz and folk music scene of Lenox/Stockbridge, in Western Massachusetts, during the 1950s. The screening will be followed by a discussion featuring the film's producer, drummer and bandleader George Schuller.

 

About Music Inn, A Documentary Film:

"They're doing wonderful things up there.
They're really helping make music history."
-Louis Armstrong

Music Inn, A Documentary Film - Trailer:

There was a time in the 1950s when musical giants strutted the Berkshire Hills in Western Massachusetts. Be-boppers, folk singers, African drummers, blues singers, jazz legends, poets, and musicologists gathered at a place called Music Inn in Lenox, Massachusetts, just a stone's throw away from classical music's most famous summer festival at Tanglewood, to share their converging traditions and go looking for roots most people didn't think even existed. In their search, they created not only the first summer-long Jazz Festival, and the First School of Jazz, but a new movement in American music. It was that kind of unique, magical configuration of people and ideas that rarely occurs in the arts, but permanently alters the cultural landscape. In this case, it changed the world of American music, how we understand the meaning of America, and how the world came to appreciate the art of jazz.

During a decade rife with paranoia, in the middle of the McCarthy era, Music Inn was a bold experiment. Halfway between the Second World War and The Civil Rights Movement, Phil and Stephanie Barber created an oasis where aspiring musicians came to learn from the very best. Students and faculty, young and old, rich and poor, white, black, and brown convened together and learned from each other. Defying the surrounding environment, Music Inn harbored a racial and cultural harmony where music was all that mattered.

 

    George Schuller

(photo by Valeria Trucchia)

George Schuller (percussionist, composer, researcher) has released several albums as a leader including "Round'bout Now" (Playscape Records) and "JigSaw" (482 Music). He leads several groups (Circle Wide, Schulldogs) and co-leads several others (Free Range Rat, Conference Call). Schuller appears on Joe Lovano's "Rush Hour" (Blue Note) and has also recorded and/or produced CD's with Orange Then Blue, Ran Blake, Luciana Souza, Mike Musillami, Lisa Thorson, Ballin' The Jack, Mili Bermejo and Gunther Schuller.

Currently Schuller has been touring with such sonic mavericks as saxophonist Lee Konitz and pianist Burton Greene. Since graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1982, he has performed with Dee Dee Bridgewater, Nnenna Freelon, Jaki Byard, Dave Douglas, George Adams, Fred Hersch, Tim Berne, Mose Allison, among many others. Schuller, son of former Lenox School of Jazz (Music Inn) faculty member Gunther Schuller, was only 8 months old when he was first brought to Music Inn with bib and stroller. Since then, many summers were spent at neighboring Tanglewood including frequent visits to the Music Inn during the 70s.

Websites: Music Inn, A Documentary Film Website, www.georgeschuller.net

 

 


SEASON 2 (2009-2010)

 

Evan Parker and Ned Rothenberg

Evan Parker and Ned Rothenberg


Workshop: Thursday September 24, 2pm, Arms Music Center, Room 7, Amherst College, free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the U-Mass Amherst Fine Arts Center's Solos & Duos Series.

Evan Parker may be the most formidable saxophonist since John Coltrane. He plays Trane's instruments, tenor and soprano, and lists Coltrane as one of his principal influences. Born in Bristol, England, in 1944, Parker has worked with Derek Bailey, Tony Oxley, Alexander von Schlippenbach and virtually every other important European innovator of the last 45 years. Parker has developed the possibilities of unpremeditated music more deeply than almost anyone, creating a personal vocabulary that is simultaneously instantly recognizable and adaptable to the most varied of situations.

"If genius is the sustained application of intelligence," writes Richard Cook, "then Evan Parker merits the epitaph."

Ned Rothenberg has been internationally acclaimed for both his solo and ensemble music, presented for the past 25 years in North and South America, Europe and Asia. He leads the trio Sync, with Jerome Harris and Samir Chatterjee, and has collaborated with Sainkho Namchylak, John Zorn, Marc Ribot and Elliot Sharp. He has recorded for Tzadik, New World, and his own Animul label.

"Solo recordings of reed instruments reach from Coleman Hawkins's 'Picasso'‚ to Sonny Rollins' cheerful collages of quotations, and the exploratory tours-de-force by Dolphy, Braxton and Steve Lacy," wrote Manfred Pabst in 2002. "But no on has pursued this difficult undertaking with quite such persistency as Ned Rothenberg. For the last twenty years, the 45-year-old New Yorker who also plays in a variety of ensembles, has evolved an oeuvre of remarkable coherence and poetry. There's no danger of his studies in clarinet, bass clarinet, shakuhachi (a Japanese bamboo flute) and alto sax being confused with easy listening‚. These demand the same qualities of the listener as they do of the performer: alertness, absorption and tantalizingly charged repose. This is not about virtuosity, in spite of Rothenberg's superb technique. In the way he combines circular breathing, overblowing, playing through half-opened keys and the technique of using the keys percussively, he forms tonal loops of timeless beauty. Other kinds of music might entertain you, cheer you up or pump the blood, but his clarifies the mind and throws your soul wide open".

Websites: Evan Parker on European Free Improvisation website, www.nedrothenberg.com

 

Peter Evans

(photo by C. Neil Scott)

Peter Evans


Concert: Saturday September 26, 8pm, Rotherwas Gallery, Mead Art Museum,
Amherst College, free and open to the public.

Peter Evans has been a member of the New York musical community since 2003, when he moved to the city after graduating Oberlin Conservatory with a degree in classical trumpet. Evans currently works in a wide variety of areas, including solo performance, chamber orchestras, performance art, free improvised settings, electro-acoustic music and composition. As a performer, Evans strives to broaden the expressive range of the trumpet and enjoys playing with steady configurations of players and composers. Current bands include the Peter Evans Quartet, Moppa Elliott's bombastic bebop band Mostly Other People Do the Killing, the hyperactive improvisation duo Sparks (with Tom Blancarte), duo with trumpeter Nate Wooley, as well as a sustained interest in solo performance. Other collaborators include: Mary Halvorson, Dave Taylor, Steve Beresford, Okkyung Lee, Keiji Haino, Jim Black, Evan Parker, Tyshawn Sorey, Peter Brotzmann, Mark Gould, Weasel Walter, Tobias Delius, Joel Ryan, and Luka Ivanovic. In New York, Peter also performs contemporary notated music and is a member of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). He has continued to perform on piccolo trumpet in Baroque settings, performing Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 at the Bargemusic series, and in Bach's Mass in B Minor at St Peter's Church. Peter is also an experienced teacher, having given workshops on music, trumpet, and improvisation at institutions including the University of California in San Diego, Buffalo University, University of Oregon, Northwestern University and the Walden School. In June 2008 Peter traveled to the Philippines with the Cultures in Harmony project, teaching, collaborating and performing with tribal musicians in Mindanao. Recent travels have brought Peter to venues and festivals in the U.S., Canada, Europe, the UK, and Southeast Asia. These include appearances at the Moers Festival, the Ulrichsberg Kaleidophon Festival, Bordeaux Jazz Festival, Jazz a Mulhouse, and the Free Music Festival in Antwerp. Recordings include the Peter Evans Quartet (firehouse12), Sparks (Creative Sources), and This is Our Moosic (HotCup Records), the third album by MOPDTK. Evans recently released his second solo recording, a 2-disc set titled "Nature/Culture" (psi/2009).

Website: www.myspace.com/peterevanstrumpet

 

Steve Lehman Trio

Steve Lehman


Concert: Sunday October 4, 4pm, Cole Assembly Room, Converse Hall, Amherst College, free and open to the public.
Post-concert talk: immediately following concert.

For his only 2009 appearance in Massachusetts, Steve will present a set of his cutting-edge trio music, including selected compositions from his critically acclaimed octet record, Travail, Transformation & Flow (2009/Pi), meticulously re-arranged for the acoustic trio format. The Steve Lehman trio is Steve Lehman (alto saxophone), Matt Brewer (acoustic bass), and Damion Reid (drum set).

Named a Rising Star on the alto saxophone in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 by the Downbeat Magazine International Critics Poll, STEVE LEHMAN is a saxophonist and composer whose work resides on the frontiers of contemporary music. He has been recognized as one of today's truly original creative voices by The Wire, The New York Times, and Downbeat Magazine, as well as by National Public Radio and The BBC. A former student of both Jackie McLean and Anthony Braxton, he has performed and recorded throughout the United States and Europe with his own ensembles, and with those led by Anthony Braxton, Dave Burrell, Meshell Ndgeocello, Mark Dresser, Vijay Iyer, Oliver Lake, and High Priest of Anti-Pop Consortium.

An award-winning composer, Lehman's pieces for large orchestra and chamber ensembles have been performed by the Janacek Philharmonic, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), So Percussion, Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin, members of the Argento and Wet Ink Ensembles, and by the pianist Marilyn Nonken. His electro-acoustic music, recently showcased in Boston, Chicago, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and New York, has focused on the development of computer-driven models for improvisation, based in the Max/MSP programming environment.

In 2003, as a Fulbright scholar in France, Lehman was invited to teach a weekly undergraduate course on current trends in improvised music at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris. Since the fall of 2006, Lehman has been a doctoral candidate in Music Composition at Columbia University where he is a departmental fellow and teaches in the Music Department.

His most recent recordings as a leader include Travail, Transformation & Flow (Pi 2009), with his critically acclaimed octet, On Meaning (2007/Pi), Door (2008/Pi), with the collective trio Fieldwork, Manifold (2007/Clean Feed), Demian as Posthuman (2005/Pi), featuring Tyshawn Sorey and nine-time Grammy nominee Meshell Ndegeocello, and Interface (2004/Clean Feed), featuring Mark Dresser and Pheeroan akLaff.

Website: www.stevelehman.com

 

Adam Rudolph

Adam Rudolph


Workshop: Thursday October 15, 2pm, Arms Music Center, Room 7, Amherst College, free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the U-Mass Amherst Fine Arts Center's Solos & Duos Series.

Originally from Chicago, composer and percussionist Adam Rudolph has appeared at festivals and concerts throughout the world. Since the 1970's, Rudolph has been developing his unique approach to hand drums in creative collaboration with such masters of cross-cultural and improvised music such as Sam Rivers, Pharaoh Sanders, L. Shankar, and Fred Anderson. He is known especially for his innovative small group and duo collaborations with Don Cherry, Jon Hassell and Wadada Leo Smith. In 1977 he co-founded The Mandingo Griot Society with Foday Musa Suso, and in 1988, recorded the first fusion of American and Gnawa (Moroccan) music with sintir player and singer Hassan Hakmoun. Active as a performer and concert producer in the Los Angeles creative music scene since 1979, Rudolph recently moved to New York. He runs the Meta Records label.

"Rudolph re¬invents world music for sophisticated listeners...he fuses many world musics into a very artful and keenly constructed whole," writes EAR. Earshot Jazz called his recent release, "Dream Garden", featuring his Moving Pictures Octet, "a project of haunting power and beauty. Captivating and profoundly beautiful."

Website: www.metarecords.com/adam.html

 

Jason Robinson

(photo by Michael Klayman)

Jason Robinson


Concert: Appearing as a special guest with the Amherst College Jazz Ensemble, Friday November 6, 8:30pm, Family Weekend, Buckley Recital Hall, Amherst College, ticket purchase required.

American saxophonist and scholar Jason Robinson is fascinated by the relationship between improvised music, experimentalism, and cultural identity. His current performance interests include the intersection of improvisation and composition, new electro-acoustic processing and interaction enabled through software-based technologies, and the relationship between popular music and experimentalism. He performs regularly as a soloist (acoustically and with electronics), with groups he co-leads (Cosmologic and the Cross Border Trio), as a leader of varying ensembles performing his original music, and in a variety of collaborative contexts. His latest albums include his fourth release as a leader—Cerberus Rising (2009/Circumvention)—the fourth release by Cosmologic, Eyes in the Back of My Head (2008/Cuneiform), and an upcoming duo album with pianist Anthony Davis titled Cerulean Landscape (2010/Clean Feed). He has performed at festivals and prominent venues in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. He has performed or recorded with Peter Kowald, George Lewis, Anthony Davis, Eugene Chadbourne, Earl Howard, Emily Hay, Jeff Kaiser, Toots and the Maytals, Groundation, Elijah Emanuel and the Revelations, Bertram Turetzky, Mark Dresser, John Russell, Roger Turner, Gerry Hemingway, Kei Akagi, Mel Graves, Liberty Ellman, Babatunde Olatunji, Mel Martin, Marco Eneidi, Lisle Ellis, Raphe Malik, Mike Wofford, Philip Gelb, J.D. Parran, Dana Reason, David Borgo, Nathan Hubbard, Michael Dessen, Contemporary Jazz Orchestra (at Pearl's, San Francisco), the La Jolla Symphony, SONOR (UCSD), and the San Francisco Mime Troupe, among others. Robinson has published articles and reviews in Ethnomusicology and Critical Studies in Improvisation/ Études critiques en improvisation. Robinson is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Amherst College and holds a Ph.D. in Music from the University of California, San Diego.

Website: www.jasonrobinson.com

 

Adam Rudolph

(photo by Bonnie Wright)

Lisle Ellis, with Bob Weiner and Jason Robinson


Concert: Sunday, November 8, Arms Music Center, Room 7, Amherst College, free and open to the public.

Lisle Ellis is a multifaceted creator whose work reflects his interests in music, visual art, computers/technology, and community. As a composer and improvisor-bassist his oeuvre spans three decades and two countries and has brought him international recognition as an artist with an exceptional vision. Some critics consider him to possess an important voice and to have made a significant contribution to the field of experimental music. Recent years have also brought him attention as a creator of computer/electronic music and as a visual artist.

Ellis began playing electric bass in his teens and worked professionally from an early age in numerous environments including studios, radio & tv shows, and even strip clubs. When his teacher and mentor, Walter Robertson, suddenly died in 1974, Ellis abandoned his studies at a music conservatory in Vancouver, Canada in favor of the seminal, and now legendary, Creative Music Studio in New York. There, over a period of several years, he had intimate contact with the vital NYC music scene at a time of surging changes and extraordinary developments. Ellis' pioneering role in improvised and experimental music in his native Canada was recognized in 1986 when he he received the first Frederick Stone Award. In Vancouver in the early 1980's and Montreal in the late 80's, Ellis was a conspicuous activator of musician alliance organizations, performance venues, and concert series presentations. One collective in particular, Vancouver's New Orchestra Workshop, is still active nearly thirty years later. Almost immediately after relocating to the United States in 1992, Ellis's music began to attract attention and acclaim on a global level. His recording, Kaleidoscopes: The Ornette Coleman Songbook (Hat Art), with pianist Paul Plimley, was given five stars in Downbeat Magazine and has been hailed as a modern masterpiece.

Ellis's distinct instrumental voice has been heard in a multitude of concerts on the world stage in the company of legends of the avant-garde such as Paul Bley, Peter Broetzmann, Andrew Cyrille, Joe Mcphee, and Cecil Taylor; leading contemporary players Marilyn Crispell, Dave Douglas, Fred Frith, and John Zorn, and on more than 40 recordings for international labels such as Black Saint, DIW, and Hat Art, and New World. Currently, Ellis's principal interest is in developing an electro-acoustic architecture he calls string-circuitry-confluence. Secondary to that are projects such as his long standing trio with Larry Ochs and Donald Robinson called What We Live, Di Terra, an Italy based trio with Alberto Braida and Fabrizio Spera, and duos with pianists Paul Plimley and Mike Wofford. Ellis lives in New York City.

Bob Weiner

Drummer and percussionist Bob Weiner has toured and performed with Harry Belafonte, Itzhak Perlman, Betty Buckley, Jon Lucien, Dianne Reeves, Andy Statman, Rebecca Paris, Kenny Werner, Bob Moses and many others. He has taught at the Drummers Collective in New York, New England Conservatory, and Berklee College of Music, and has taught and mentored hundreds of private students.

Bob has co-authored two important percussion books, Afro-Cuban Rhythms for Drumset, with Frank Malabe, and Brazilian Rhythms for Drumset, with Duduka da Fonseca (Alfred Publications). He holds a MA in Music and Human Development from Leslie University and a BA in History from UMass, Boston.

Reedist and computer musician Jason Robinson appeared on a previous Faultlines event this Fall. For his bio and web information, click here.

Websites: www.lisleellis.com, www.myspace.com/lisleellis

 

Tyshawn Sorey

Tyshawn Sorey


Workshop: Thursday November 19, 2pm, Arms Music Center, Room 7, Amherst College, free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the U-Mass Amherst Fine Arts Center's Solos & Duos Series.

"The enigma that is Tyshawn Sorey: while most young drummers are walking in the footsteps of the elders and the influences of the mainstream," writes Mark F Turner. "Sorey thrives on the outside, composing and performing free improvised music, leading experimental groups such as Oblique, or doing stints with progressives like Dave Douglas, Mark Helias and Steve Coleman. His debut 'That/Not' further exposes the inner workings of a young musician with the ability to play in any context, but the boldness to do his own thing." Born on July 8, 1980, multi-instrumentalist Tyshawn Sorey is fast becoming a vital voice in New York City's jazz and creative music scene. Originally self-taught in composition, piano, trombone, and percussion, he has worked with chamber ensembles and collaborated with a diverse array of musicians, including Muhal Richard Abrams, Ray Anderson, Wadada Leo Smith, Peter Evans, Mario Pavone, Ellery Eskelin and Butch Morris, among many others. Sorey's debut release "That/Not" (Firehouse 12) baffled many critics, becoming one of 2007's most critically acclaimed recordings. He is also co-leader of the collaborative trio Fieldwork (with Steve Lehman and Vijay Iyer) whose album, "Door," also received critical praise.

Sorey is on the faculty of Brooklyn's School of Improvisational Music and the Jazz and Contemporary Music Department at The New School for Social Research. He has received grants and commissions from the Van Lier Fellowship and Roulette Intermedium, most recently for a multi-chapter work in progress entitled "Wu-Wei." Other critical accolades include nominations for Up and Coming Artist and Drummer of the Year from the Jazz Journalists Association and Rising Star Artist and Rising Star Drummer from Downbeat magazine.

"It's a two-disc manifesto of some downright iconoclastic music," writes Nic Jones about Sorey's "That/Not," "and the work of a quartet of musicians with their eyes seemingly on expansive, open, new vistas. That much is clear in every note they play. The overall effect is that of a group working within the widest parameters of the avant-garde, and the music has no obvious precedents. The pervasive feeling throughout this programme is that Sorey and his colleagues have arrived fully formed on the scene, in the same way as saxophonist Ornette Coleman's quartets did on that body of albums they cut for Atlantic all those years ago."

Website: www.myspace.com/tyshawnsorey

 

Matana Roberts

(photo by Owen Richards)

Matana Roberts presents COIN COIN


Concert: Friday February 5, 8pm, Buckley Recital Hall, Arms Music Center, Amherst College, free and open to the public.

Matana ( mah-tah-nah) Roberts is a dynamic saxophonist, composer, and improviser, who exposes the mystical roots and spiritual traditions of American creative expression. As a Chicago native she was fortunate to be surrounded by musicians who showed her by distinct example the importance of listening to one's personal creative voice while at the same time using the profound and many layered traditions of jazz and improvised musics to act only as her creative guide, not as her creative definer. She has crafted a voice and creative focus that speaks to her artistic individuality. She feels strongly that her music should not only reflect the many colors and moods of universal human emotions, but that it should also testify, critique, document, and respond to the many socio-economic, historical, and cultural inequalities that exist not only in this country, but all over the world.

A 2006 Van Lier fellow, Brecht Forum fellow, and 2008 and 2009 Alpert Award in the Arts nominee, Matana has appeared as a collaborator on recordings and performances in the U.S., Europe, and Canada with her own ensembles as well as with the collaborative jazz trio Sticks and Stones, Black Rock Coalition founder Greg Tate's Burnt Sugar, Reg E Gaines and Savion Glover's homage project to the late John Coltrane, the Oliver Lake Big Band, and the Julius Hemphill Sextet and Merce Cunningham dance. She recently released a homage project to her hometown entitled The Chicago Project, on Barry Adamson's Central Control International, produced by pianist extraordinaire Vijay Iyer, featuring friends and supporters of her Chicago development. She has also recorded as a side person on recordings with such iconic bands as Godspeed You Black Emperor, TV on the Radio, Guillermo Scott Herren's Savath and Savalas, Silver Mt Zion, and sound artist Daniel Given's Day Clear/Day dark. Matana is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and the Black Rock Coalition (BRC). She has played alongside some of the most intriguing creative sound visionaries spanning across genres of this time period and currently resides in New York City.

For this performance Matana will be workshopping Chapter 1 of COIN COIN: a blood narrative in blacks, browns, reds , and blues…, a 12 cycle sound narrative. Chapter 1 is subtitled Gens de Couleur Libre / Free People of Color and deals with Matana's Cane River / New Orleans / Nachitoches Louisiana heritage.

Since 2005 Matana has experimented with a sound narrative about the intricacies, contradictions, and questions surrounding the human bloodline experience. When broken down to the most minute details, these experiences offer new meanings that go beyond the surface levels of one dimensional human acceptance, which are generally attached to shades of difference and fear of the unknown. This process helps to transcend the unbearable in order to create new possible understandings the human condition. Drawing upon her own experiences and research into her own bloodline history, Matana has culled myriad rich and awe inspiring stories that speak revealing truths about the flexibility and wonder of individual understanding. Transversing the American South of days past--traveling reflections of African, French, Irish, English, Scottish, Canadian, and Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw Native America history--Matana is weaves together stories and lore that speak to a very distinct, historically experimental, yet common, American experience. For her, COIN COIN is a very personal search that opens a dialogue beyond the specific; it celebrates the inherent potential that resides in the overflowing capability of human love, sadness, kindredness, perseverance, and joy. COIN COIN is a musical monument to the human experience.

"...there are some things that just can't be told afterall, they have to be experienced"
-Nate Chinen, New York Times

Website: www.matanaroberts.com

 

Theo Bleckmann and Ben Monder

(photo by Christoph Giese)

Theo Bleckmann / Ben Monder Duo


Concert: Sunday March 7, 7pm, Cole Assembly Room, Converse Hall, Amherst College, free and open to the public.

A genre bending, skipping, and skirting vocalist and composer, Theo Bleckmann has been a steady force in the New York music scene for over 15 years, forging his own sound in contemporary music by incorporating jazz, ambient, electronic music, and performance art. He has performed worldwide on some of the great stages including Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall, the Sydney Opera House, L.A.'s Disney Hall, The Whitney Museum and the new Library in Alexandria, Egypt with artists like Laurie Anderson, Anthony Braxton, Steve Coleman, Dave Douglas, John Hollenbeck, Sheila Jordan, Ben Monder, Meredith Monk, Michael Tilson Thomas, Bang On A Can All-stars and John Zorn. The New Yorker called him a "local cult favorite," Downbeat a " "mad" genius," The New York Times "excellent" and according to OUT Magazine, Bleckmann is "a singer who has only recently fallen to earth." Bleckmann was recently interviewed by Terry Gross for NPR's Fresh Air. A Winter and Winter recording artist, Bleckmann's releases include Las Vegas Rhapsody, Berlin, 12 Ives songs (with Kneebody), refuge trio's first self-titled recording and his upcoming accoustic solo voice CD. Origami (Songlines), his first recording as a leader, received 4 +1/2 stars (out of 5) from Downbeat Magazine. His voice can be heard on over 40 recordings found on ECM, CRI, Label Bleu, Polygram, Songlines, Traumton and Winter and Winter.

A musician in the New York area for 25 years, Ben Monder has performed with a variety of influential artists, including Jack McDuff, Marc Johnson, Lee Konitz, George Garzone, Tim Berne, and Kenny Wheeler. He is a regular member of the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra and the Paul Motian Octet, as well as many other projects. He has conducted clinics and workshops around the world, and served on the faculty of the New England Conservatory from 2002-2005. Ben continues to perform original music internationally with his own quartet, trio, and in a duo project with vocalist Theo Bleckmann. He has appeared on over 100 CDs as a sideman, and has released 4 as a leader: Oceana (Sunnyside, 2005), Excavation (Arabesque, 2000), Dust (Arabesque, 1997), and Flux (Songlines,1995).

Websites: www.theobleckmann.com, www.benmonder.com

 

Myra Melford and Jason Robinson


Multi-site Networked Concert: Sunday April 25, 5pm (PST) at CNMAT (Center for New Music & Audio Technologies), University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California; 8pm (EST), Buckley Recital Hall, Arms Music Center, Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts. Audiences at both locations, free and open to the public.

NOTE: due to a last minute personal emergency, Myra Melford will not be playing in the concert. Trombonist and electronic musician Michael Dessen will replace Melford for the concert. Dessen will perform from the campus of the University of California, Irvine. More information about Dessen can be found on his website: www.mdessen.com.

Myra Melford

(photo by Valerie Trucchia)

A fearless musical adventurer in both her composing and playing, Myra Melford has followed a fascinating path since determining to forge a career in music in 1980. Having studied classical piano into her teens, she had no real exposure to jazz until college. Improvisation rekindled her early love of the piano and she quickly developed a signature style. At the keyboard, Melford recasts the blues and boogie-woogie of her native Chicago, folds in elements of the music of Eastern Europe and India, and blends them with the rangy, percussive avant-garde approach she cultivated in studies with Don Pullen and Henry Threadgill. This personal musical vocabulary is further enriched by a lush lyricism and organized by an architectural sense of composition that she derived from classical training. As veteran critic Francis Davis wrote: "(She) is the genuine article, the most gifted pianist/composer to emerge from jazz since Anthony Davis." With more than 30 recordings in her catalog--including 19 as leader or co-leader--Melford currently divides her time between teaching, composition and performance. Since 2004, she has been on the music faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, where she has developed and taught a series of courses in contemporary jazz and improvisation-based music for performers and composers. She also lectures on innovations in jazz since the 1960s and other topics in contemporary improvised music.

Reedist and electronics musician Jason Robinson appeared on a previous Faultlines event in Fall 2009. For his bio and web information, click here.

Websites: www.myramelford.com, www.jasonrobinson.com

 

 

 

 


SEASON 3 (2010-2011)

 

Lionel Loueke Trio (with Massimo Biolcati and Ferenc Nemeth)

Lionel Loueke


Workshop: Wednesday October 6, 2pm - 3:20pm, Arms Music Center, Room 7, Amherst College, free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the U-Mass Amherst Center Series .

Played in unison with his tongue-click percussion, scat-singing and other vocal improvisations, Loueke's highly syncopated, fresh approach to jazz guitar that JazzTimes has called "smartly formed, deftly executed and ear-friendly" has caught the ears of jazz stalwarts including Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Terence Blanchard – all of whom have served as mentors to Loueke as well as collaborators in performance and in the studio. Named "Up & Coming Musician of the Year" in 2008 by the Jazz Journalists Association, Loueke opened for Hancock at Carnegie Hall the same year with his trio; the performance was hailed by the New York Times as full of "serpentine grooves" and of "engrossing intricacy and ambition."

"His ear-friendly melodicism draws both from traditional African sources and a lifetime of closely studying the likes of Jim Hall and George Benson, and his rhythmic shifts come quickly and packed with surprises" -JazzTimes.

Website: www.lionelloueke.com

 

Fred Frith

Fred Frith


Conversation/Workshop: Thursday October 28, 10am, Arms Music Center, Room 212, Amherst College, free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the U-Mass Amherst Fine Arts Center's Solos & Duos Series.

Guitarist and composer Fred Frith is an icon of avant-garde music. "A musical consciousness of rare intelligence backed with an omnipresent sense of humour," writes Libération, "Frith makes music that is amongst the most powerful and original of the present time". Born in 1949 and raised in Yorkshire, England, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and improviser Fred Frith has been active across a broad spectrum of music-making since the late 1960s, starting with the iconic rock collective Henry Cow. In a career spanning more than 40 years, Frith is internationally renowned as an electric guitarist and improviser, songwriter, and composer for film, dance and theater. Through bands like Art Bears, Massacre, Skeleton Crew, the Fred Frith Guitar Quartet, and Cosa Brava, Frith has managed to keep one foot in the rock world while continuing to branch out into almost every area of contemporary music.

His compositions have been performed by ensembles ranging from Arditti Quartet and the Ensemble Modern to the Baroque ensembles Concerto Köln and Galax Quartet, from the Dutch Radio Chamber Orchestra to ROVA and Arte Sax Quartets, from rock bands Hieronymus Firebrain and Ground Zero to the Glasgow Improvisers' Orchestra. Film music credits include the acclaimed documentary Rivers and Tides, directed by Thomas Riedelsheimer, The Tango Lesson and Yes by Sally Potter, and Peter Mettler's astonishing Gods, Gambling and LSD. His vast catalogue of recordings is available on Tzadik, Winter & Winter, ReR, and his own label Fred Records, among many others.

Frith has performed and recorded with a who's who of modern music including Lotte Anker, Derek Bailey, Anthony Braxton, Sylvie Courvoisier, Alvin Curran, Brian Eno, Evelyn Glennie, Carla Kihlstedt, Katia Labeque, Bill Laswell, Ikue Mori, Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris, Bob Ostertag, Zeena Parkins, The Residents, Christian Wolff, Robert Wyatt, Otomo Yoshihide, and John Zorn, among many others. Frith is the subject of Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzels' award-winning documentary film, Step Across the Border. He is currently Chair of the Graduate Music Department at Mills College in Oakland, California.

"....undying curiosity, bitter wit, child-like sense of play, and creeping melancholy percolate through the guitarist's records," writes Guitar Player. "It might be useful, perhaps, to think of him as a folk musician who makes miniatures of the world around him using scraps torn from corners of the map."

Website: www.fredfrith.com

 

Randy Weston

Randy Weston


Conversation/Workshop: Thursday November 18, 10am, Arms Music Center, Room 212, Amherst College, free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the U-Mass Amherst Fine Arts Center's Solos & Duos Series.

After six decades as a professional musician, Randy Weston remains one of the world's foremost pianists and composers, a true innovator and visionary. "Weston has the biggest sound of any jazz pianist since Ellington and Monk," writes Stanley Crouch. In a career that began in the late 1940s, Weston has criss-crossed the globe connecting the African diaspora through sound. "Mr. Weston is a truth seeker who sees a power in music much greater than all of us," writes The New York Times.

Born in Brooklyn in 1926, Weston's first recording as a leader came in 1954 on Riverside Records, Randy Weston plays Cole Porter - Cole Porter in a Modern Mood. In the 50's Weston played around New York with Cecil Payne and Kenny Dorham and wrote many of his best loved tunes, "Saucer Eyes," "Pam's Waltz," "Little Niles," and, "Hi-Fly", now all jazz standards. In the 1960s, Weston's music prominently incorporated African elements, as in the large-scale suite Uhuru Africa (with poet Langston Hughes) and Highlife: Music From the New African Nations. On both these albums he teamed up with the arranger and his long-time collaborator, Melba Liston. In 1967 Weston traveled throughout Africa with a U.S. cultural delegation, and decided to settle in Morocco, running his African Rhythms Club from 1967 to 1972. For a long stretch he recorded infrequently on smaller record labels, but made quite an impact with the recording The Spirits of Our Ancestors (1992), which contained new, expanded versions of many of his well-known pieces and featured an ensemble including African musicians and North American such as Dizzy Gillespie and Pharoah Sanders.

Randy Weston has made more than 40 albums and performed throughout the world. He has been inducted into the ASCAP "Jazz Wall of Fame," designated a Jazz Master by the National Endowment of the Arts, and named jazz composer of the year three times by Downbeat magazine. He is the recipient of many other honors and awards, including the French Order of Arts and Letters, the "Black Music Star Award" from the Art Critics and Reviewers Association of Ghana, and a five-night tribute at the Montreal Jazz Festival. In October 2010, Weston will publish his autobiography, African Rhythms: The Autobiography of Randy Weston (Duke University Press).

Randy Weston appears in Amherst as part of "Art & Power in Movement -Rethinking the Black Power and Black Arts Movements", produced by the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, University of Massachusetts.

Website: www.randyweston.info

 

Roundtable Discussion with Charles Lloyd: "Creativity, Life, and Music"


Roundtable discussion: Wednesday, January 26, 2011, 7pm, Room 212, Arms Music Center, Amherst College.

Charles Lloyd Participants: Charles Lloyd, Jason Moran, Marty Ehrlich (Associate Professor, Hampshire College), Terry Jenoure (Director, Augusta Savage Gallery, UMass), moderated by Amherst College Assistant Professor Jason Robinson. Co-sponsored by the U-Mass Amherst Fine Arts Center's Center Series. Free and open to the public. [Note: due to unforeseen circumstances, Terry Jenoure was unable to participate.]

Charles Lloyd was born March 15, 1938 in Memphis, Tennessee. From an early age, he was immersed in that city's rich musical life and was exposed to jazz. He began playing the saxophone at the age of 9. Pianist Phineas Newborn became his mentor, and took him to Irvin Reason for lessons. Lloyd worked in Phineas Sr's band, and from the age of 12 worked as sideman in the blues bands of B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Johnnie Ace, Bobbie "Blue" Bland, and others. His closest friend in high-school was trumpeter, Booker Little.

In 1956 Lloyd moved to Los Angeles and earned a Master's degree from the University of Southern California. During this period Lloyd played in Gerald Wilson's big band and he also had his own group that included Billy Higgins, Don Cherry, Bobby Hutcherson, and Terry Trotter. Lloyd joined Chico Hamilton in 1960, though the band was known for playing "chamber jazz" at the beginning of Lloyd's tenure. His influence as a composer and a player quickly pushed it in a more progressive post-bop direction especially after Hamilton asked him to be the group's "music director." Lloyd's key musical partner in the band was Hungarian guitarist, Gabor Szabo. In 1964 Lloyd left Hamilton's group to join alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderly. During this period he recorded two albums as a leader for Columbia Records, Discovery and Of Course, Of Course; his sidemen were other young musicians including Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. Through 1965- 1969 Lloyd led a quartet with pianist, Keith Jarrett, bassist, Cecil McBee (later, Ron McClure), and drummer, Jack DeJohnette. The quartet's music was an interesting fusion of straight-ahead post-bop, free jazz and world music which quickly caught the attention of both jazz fans and critics. They also achieved a fair amount of crossover success with young rock fans and became the first jazz group to play at The Fillmore. Lloyd's album Forest Flower, Live at Monterey, became a big commercial hit, largely on the strength of the title track. Other noteworthy albums include Dream Weaver, Soviet Union, and In Europe, all on Atlantic.

In 1970, after the quartet disbanded, Lloyd moved back to California and entered a state of semi-retirement. He practically disappeared from the jazz scene, but can be heard on recordings with the Doors, Canned Heat, and the Beach Boys. Occasionally during the 1970s Lloyd played with The Beach Boys; both on their studio recordings and as a member of their touring band.

Upon being approached by pianist, Michel Petrucciani in 1981, he resumed playing actively for two years and then retreated again. Upon his recovery from a near death experience in 1986, Lloyd decided to rededicate himself to music. He started performing occasionally in 1987 & 88. In 1989, Lloyd reestablished an active touring schedule and began recording for ECM Records. The first ECM release was Fish Out of Water with Bobo Stenson, Palle Danielsson, and Jon Christensen. The ECM recordings showcased his sensitivity as a ballad player and composer. Between 1993 and 1997 the quartet included Bobo Stenson, Anders Jormin, and Billy Hart. In 1998 the Billy Higgins replaced Hart, and Lloyd alternated between Stenson and John Abercrombie. Noteworthy albums include Canto, Voice In The Night, The Water Is Wide (featuring Brad Mehldau, John Abercrombie, Larry Grenadier and Billy Higgins). Geri Allen replaced Stenson, touring and recording with Lloyd between 2001 and 2006 (Lift Every Voice and Jumping the Creek). Drummer, Eric Harland joined Lloyd's quartet in 2002, following Billy Higgins' passing, and is also a part of Lloyd's Sangam trio, formed in 2004 with tabla master, Zakir Hussain. They continue to perform and record together.

Lloyd maintains an active recording and tour schedule. His "new" quartet with Jason Moran on piano, Reuben Roger, bass and Eric Harland, drums is well matched with Lloyd's creative and adventurous spirit. They have two recordings on ECM, Rabo de Nube (2008) and Mirror (2010). [Bio taken from artist's website.]

Website: www.charleslloyd.com

 

Robert O'Meally

Robert O'Meally


Lecture and Pre-Lecture Reception: Tuesday, February 22, 2011.

Lecture: "Collage Aesthetic: Louis Armstrong, Romare Bearden, and Toni Morrison," 4pm, Pruyne Lecture Hall (Fayerweather 115), Amherst College.

Pre-lecture reception: "Collages, Cider, and Conversation: Pre-Lecture Museum Reception for Prof. Robert O'Meally Featuring Related Artworks in the Mead," 2:30pm, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College. Both events are free and open to the public.

Co-sponsored by Jazz@Amherst and the Amherst College Departments of Music, English, and Art and the History of Art.

Robert G. O'Meally is the Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where he founded (and, for ten years, directed) The Center for Jazz Studies. At Columbia, he won both the Van Doren and the Lenfest awards for teaching. O'Meally is the author of The Craft of Ralph Ellison, Lady Day: The Many Faces of Billie Holiday, and The Jazz Singers. He is the principal writer for the Smithsonian Institution's exhibition catalogue, Seeing Jazz; editor of The Jazz Cadence of American Culture, and of several other volumes, including Barnes and Noble classics by Melville, Douglass, and Mark Twain. He also co-edited The Norton Anthology of African-American Literature, History and Memory in African American Culture, and Uptown Conversation: The New Jazz Studies. His articles on literature, music, and visual art have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, Callaloo, and The American Scholar. For his co-production of a Smithsonian record set called The Jazz Singers, he was nominated for a Grammy Award. Since 2008, he has been co-curator of exhibitions, Jazz at Lincoln Center. His new book is Romare Bearden: A Black Odyssey—the catalogue essay for an exhibition of the artist's collages based on Homer.

Website: www.columbia.edu/cu/english/fac_profiles.htm#rgo1

 

Rova Saxophone Quartet

Rova Saxophone Quartet


Mini-concert/workshop: Wednesday, February 23, 2011, 5pm, Cole Assembly Room, Converse Hall, Amherst College, free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the U-Mass Amherst Fine Arts Center's Magic Triangle Concert Series.

Rova Saxophone Quartet explores the synthesis of composition and collective improvisation, creating exciting, genre-bending music that challenges and inspires.

Rova is one of the longest-standing groups in the music movement that has its roots in post-bop, free jazz, avant-rock, and 20th century new music, and draws inspiration from the visual arts and from the traditional and popular music styles of Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States.

In noting Rova's innovative role in developing the all-saxophone ensemble as "a regular and conceptually wide-ranging unit," The Penguin Guide to Jazz calls its music "a teeming cosmos of saxophone sounds" created by "deliberately eschewing conventional notions about swing [and] prodding at the boundaries of sound and space..." Likewise Jazz: The Rough Guide notes, "Highly inventive, eclectic and willing to experiment, Rova [is] arguably the most exciting of the saxophone quartets to emerge in the format's late '70s boom."

Inspired by a broad spectrum of musical influences - from Charles Ives, Edgard Varese, Olivier Messiaen, Iannis Xenakis and Morton Feldman to The Art Ensemble of Chicago, John Coltrane, Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy, Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra and Ornette Coleman - Rova began, in 1978, writing new material, touring, and recording, including early collaborations with such like-minded colleagues as guitarists Henry Kaiser and Fred Frith, and saxophonist John Zorn. Also in its early years, Rova shared the stage in collaborations with fellow San Francisco based trailblazers Kronos Quartet and Margaret Jenkins Dance Company. A 1983 tour of the USSR and accompanying PBS documentary highlighted the first five years of Rova?s existence.

In 1985, the Rova Saxophone Quartet incorporated as the not-for-profit organization Rova:Arts. Founding member Andrew Voigt left Rova in August 1988 and was replaced by Steve Adams. Otherwise, the personnel - Larry Ochs, Jon Raskin and Bruce Ackley - has remained the same throughout these 30-plus years, giving the group a consistency and sensitivity that has enabled its ever-evolving and highly nuanced explorations into new musical territory.

Website: www.rova.org

 

Amir ElSaffar

Amir ElSaffar


Workshop: Wednesday, March 30, 2pm, Arms Music Center, Room 212, Amherst College, free and open to the public. Preceded by a concert by Amir ElSaffar's Two Rivers Ensemble on the U-Mass Amherst Fine Arts Center's Magic Triangle Concert Series, Tuesday March 29, 8pm, Bezanson Recital Hall, UMass. Info here.

In 2006, upon receiving commissions from the Painted Bride Arts Center in Philadelphia and from the Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT), Iraqi American trumpeter Amir ElSaffar composed Two Rivers, a suite that invokes Iraqi musical traditions and frames them in a modern jazz setting. His 2007 Pi Recordings release, Two Rivers, featuring jazz (Rudresh Mahanthappa, Nasheet Waits, Carlo DeRosa, Amir ElSaffar) and traditional Iraqi musicians (Tareq Abboushi, Zaafer Tawil), was described by All About Jazz as, "a stirring example of the creative possibilities of international jazz in the 21st century." The disc landed on many Top 10 of the year lists. "Two Rivers is a staggering accomplishment," writes The Chicago Reader.

After winning the 2001 Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet competition, Amir ElSaffar traveled to his father's homeland to immerse himself in the Iraqi maqam, pursuing masters who could impart this centuries-old oral tradition. "This is new turf," writes The Philadelphia Inquirer, "and it's likely to be a lot for either culture to digest. Yet the feeling and eloquence that emanate from this sextet make the experiment worthwhile."

ElSaffar also leads a collaborative quartet with tenor saxophonist Hafez Modirzadeh, featuring Mark Dresser, bass and Alex Cline, drums. Their recent release, Radif Suite (Pi Recordings), has already received considerable acclaim. Time Out Chicago calls it "a stunning album...a surprisingly inviting amalgam of influences, merging both Iraqi and Persian modal systems into a continuous whole. The quartet adds a new chapter to the jazz tradition's ever-evolving history."

ElSaffar has received commissions from the Jazz Gallery and Jerome Foundation for the creation of a new work, Within Between, which premiered in February, and from Chamber Music America for a new work for Two Rivers. ElSaffar has also composed for theater projects, including the Wilma Theater's productions of Heather Raffo's Nine Parts of Desire and Wajdi Mouawad's Scorched. He has composed, improvised, and performed on several film soundtracks, and appeared in Jonathan Demme's Oscar-nominated film, Rachel Getting Married. [Text from the Magic Triangle Concert Series website.]

Website: www.amirelsaffar.com

 

Stephan Crump's Rosetta Trio

Stephan Crump


Concert: Friday, April 1, 2011, 8pm, Stirn Auditorium, Amherst College, free and open to the public.
Workshop: Friday, April 1, 2011, 4pm, Arms Music Center, Room 7, Amherst College, free and open to the public.

Stephan Crump (bass), Liberty Ellman (guitar), Jamie Fox (guitar).

Memphis-bred Brooklynite bassist/composer Stephan Crump will perform with his unique all-string Rosetta Trio highlighting their new Sunnyside Records release, Reclamation. Featuring nine intensely personal compositions including the polyglot "Pernambuco," a piece commissioned by 92nd St Y and New York Guitar Festival, Reclamation is a declaration of a unique new compositional voice.

The freshness of the compositions is matched by the intimate synergy of the ensemble, first convened on the 2006 release Rosetta that gave the trio its name. Reviewers were ecstatic about the "engaging and sublime meeting" of Crump on acoustic bass with guitarists Liberty Ellman and Jamie Fox. "Here is a string ensemble for the new century!" raved Donald Elfman in All About Jazz NY. Having toured the US and UK and performed together in a varied contexts for years, Rosetta Trio has developed into a formidable unit, sensitively and powerfully rendering Crump's often profound, sometimes playful and always honest music.

The diverse array of sounds and sources on display is a natural extension of Crump's varied work as a performer. Known for transforming his instrument into a speaking entity with a magnetic pull on audiences, Crump recently launched his solo performance career as an invited artist at the 2009 International Society of Bassists conference. 2010 will see the release of new recordings documenting his free-improvised duo collaborations with both alto saxophonist Steve Lehman and pianist James Carney. Crump has received special notice of late, including a Grammy Award nomination, for his 11 years of collaboration with pianist/composer Vijay Iyer, whose 2009 trio release, Historicity, has been heralded a game-changing jazz recording. "Someone's got to be the Holy Spirit, representing your faith that this jazz will breathe.." noted Ben Ratliff in his New York Times review of a Vijay Iyer Trio performance in NYC, "It's the bassist, of course, cutting through with big, wise, rounded notes."

The elegance and purposeful groove of Crump's playing, making him much more than a "sideman", are also on display outside of the jazz world, most often with the Jim Campilongo Electric Trio and with Crump's wife, the radiant singer/songwriter Jen Chapin, with whom he has worked as a bassist, arranger, and producer. Over the years, Crump's performances on both acoustic and electric bass have been heard across North America and Europe with Joel Harrison, Mahavishnu Project, Bobby Previte, Patti Austin, Gordon Gano, Lucy Kaplansky, Big Ass Truck, and the late Johnny Clyde Copeland. His compositions can be heard in Miramax, HBO, Showtime, Bravo, Granada America and Simple Focus Films, as well as on his earlier albums as a leader: Poems and Other Things, Tuckahoe and Rosetta.

Ellman and Fox were both fixtures on the San Francisco Bay area scene and had toured internationally before arriving in New York in the 90s. Aside from his own critically-acclaimed recording career, Ellman has been featured as guitarist and producer in Henry Threadgill's innovative group, Zooid, and has performed with other jazz visionaries such as Steve Coleman and Greg Osby. An accomplished jazz composer in his own right, Fox brings his idiosyncratic folk, R&B and blues perspective that has contributed to the music of such legends as Joan Baez and Brother Jack McDuff.

Website: www.stephancrump.com

 

 

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