Big Ears Festival – Knoxville, Tennessee, 3/31-4/2/16

Having traveled to and experienced first hand the rich music landscape of Tennessee last year (Memphis and Nashville) I find it just and fitting that Knoxville is the host community for the innovative Big Ears Festival, 2016.

The Big Ears Festival is a dynamic, interactive experience that explores connections between musicians and artists, crossing all musical genres while interfacing with film, performance and the visual arts.

I think the 2016 festival is quite eclectic. I especially like that Philip Glass and Laurie Anderson are performing together. For those with avant-garde tastes you have Anthony Braxton in attendance as both the Anthony Braxton Trio and the Anthony Braxton Tentet+1.

Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music, composer John Luther Adams will serve as Composer-in-Residence for the 2016 edition of the internationally acclaimed Big Ears Festival, taking place in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee.

Henry Threadgill

My musical interests are guiding me deeper in the discovery visualizations of avant-garde jazz composition and expression. The three avant-garde jazz composers who are captivating my attention are Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams and Henry Threadgill.

I believe Anthony Braxton is poised for a major renaissance and I will be writing more about his resurgence on this blog going forward.

Today’s daily blog post focuses on Henry Threadgill. Henry is a founding member of AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians).

I have several music reference books I keep close at hand for further study. One title I refer to often is A Power Stronger Than Itself, The AACM and American Experimental Music by George E. Lewis. It’s a fantastic book that is laden with knowledge of AACM Chicago and New York musicians who have been true to the pursuit and accomplishments of experimental music. Henry Threadgill is extensively mentioned in this title, which helps me to fathom what he has given us through his creative muse.

JazzTimes March 2011 cover

The latest Jazz Times issue has a cover story about the enigmatic Henry Threadgill, “Be Ever Out” by David R. Adler a jazz writer I respect greatly. I am savoring David’s article now as  I sip my morning coffee and get ready for my day.

Henry Threadill is a roster artist on the Pi Recordings label. I love the leadership role Pi Recordings is achieving for music that shouts to be heard. They have several artists at the label I have grown to appreciate such as  Marc Ribot,  Rudresh Mahanthappa, Steve Lehman, along with Anthony Braxton and Muhal Richard Abrams 😉

So join me on my journey through avant-garde jazz and let’s get educated together in this richly rewarding American experimental experience.

Anthony Braxton New Web Site Coming!

Anthony Braxton Small Ensemble
Image by Seth Tisue via Flickr

I am very excited to share with my blog readers that Anthony Braxton and Tri-Centric Foundation are relaunching his Web site. This will be a cornucopia of knowledge for scholars and jazz fans worldwide. The Anthony Braxton Web site is now offline and accepting new subscribers until the launch date.  I urge you to subscribe and together we will  be amazed at what we will be taught by Professor Braxton. 😉

Here is the information about the relaunch courtesy of Jazziz Magazine News.

On Tuesday, March 1, Anthony Braxton and the not-for-profit organization Tri-Centric Foundation will publicly launch a comprehensive new website documenting the composer’s music and legacy. The site, to be accessible at http://tricentricfoundation.org, will offer an array of unprecedented features, including exclusive access to Braxton’s extensive personal archive of live recordings and the first-ever digital downloads of the complete out-of-print catalog of releases from his own Braxton House label.

True to its name, the Tri-Centric site will be split into three parts: 1)  a one-stop informational home for the composer and the foundation;  2) a “friendly experience” section for an immersive jump into Braxton’s sound world; and 3) New Braxton House Records, an online label dedicated to offering Braxton’s music for convenient and affordable download.

New Braxton House Records will be releasing two album-length downloads per month, with material ranging from recent Ghost Trance Music concerts to rare recordings from the 1970s, from solo saxophone recitals to orchestra performances. The label’s initial release will be a Sextet (Philadelphia) 2005, a double album-length performance from Braxton’s long-time working ensemble featuring the composer on saxophones, with Taylor Ho Bynum (brass), Jessica Pavone (viola), Jay Rozen (tuba), Carl Testa (bass) and Aaron Siegel (percussion). Additionally, for a limited time the website will be offering a free album download: Septet (Pittsburgh) 2008 with the same ensemble plus Mary Halvorson (guitar). The full catalog of the old Braxton House imprint from the late 1990s will also be available in downloadable format for the first time.

Customers can buy any recording on an a la carte basis, or may choose to become subscribers, receiving each month’s two new downloads plus 10 per cent off all back-catalog items, with all proceeds from the sales directly supporting the Tri-Centric Foundation. Additionally, the website will be culling from the hundreds of unauthorized Braxton concert bootlegs available online, ‘liberating’ those with the most historical value and offering them free-of-charge.

Charles Lloyd New Quartet @Wesleyan University Review

Rosemary and I spent a memorable evening in Middletown, Connecticut last night enjoying ourselves as patrons of the arts. First we savored a superb dinner at Tuscany Grill on College Street. The pan seared scallops over angel hair pasta served in a spicy but oh so tasty sauce was exquisite. We highly recommend this two-floor Italian restaurant. The service was impeccable. We sat upstairs in the restaurant, overlooking the bar, directly across from the high-definition TV screens mounted on the opposite side wall. CNN was broadcasting special coverage of the breaking developments in Egypt which continued to be unsettling. Change is going to come, but what will it mean for the rest of our planet in terms of next-level co-existence?

We finished our meal quickly to get to the Wesleyan University Crowell Concert Hall to hear a pre-concert talk by Sarah Politz. We got a little lost trying to find the building so we missed Sarah’s presentation. 😦 I wonder if Sarah has slides available and how I might contact her about that information? (I’m open to suggestions…)

The Wesleyan University Center for the Arts eleven-building complex houses classroom and studio facilities in support of arts programs at the university. The CFA Spring 2011 calendar offers a comprehensive choice of  leading, innovative world music performers. Anthony Braxton, noted American composer and jazz musician is a Professor of Music in the Wesleyan Music Department.

The Crowell Concert Hall is an architectural wonder with a breathtaking interior design. The stage is all housed in wood with creative textures of multi-tiered roofs that jut out at different angles. The acoustics of this 400+ seat venue are aesthetically pleasing. This was the perfect venue for the Charles Lloyd New Quartet. I felt like we had lifted and placed into the music setting that served as the backdrop for the ECM live Charles Lloyd Quartet recording Rabo de Nube.

I was finally getting to witness Charles Lloyd after many decades of  silently desiring to see him perform live. Charles Lloyd has a spirituality and presence that is very commanding yet humble. He plays the sweetest saxophone I have ever heard. His sax was constructed of soft white gold. His energy was amazing as he drew us in from the first breath.

Charles Lloyd is magical to watch. His phrasing on the sax captures your senses. He accents his saxophone playing with sweet melodic verse contrasted by spiritual meditation of the highest order. I would have to say he creates a church that effectively communicates each person’s sense of self-worship and faith. I truly loved watching him perform as he lifted his leg and knee to further accent the notes. He is a band leader who delegates telepathically and the quartet responds with instinctual punctuality.

Charles Lloyd is complemented by three super talented jazz musicians. Jason Moran on piano has the touch of the keys on the Steinway that mesmerize your senses. My wife and I have seen Jason play before with his bandwagon at Long Wharf  Theater in New Haven, where he did a recreation of Thelonious Monk‘s famous 1959 Town Hall Concert complete with black and white vintage 35mm footage. He made Charles Lloyd smile several times when he improvised or stretched out on his piano solos.

Charles Lloyd offered a varied music program.  His execution of “tenderness sutras” wove rich tapestries of the heart within us. He invited Jason Moran’s wife, Alicia Hall Moran, who is an extraordinary mezzo-soprano vocalist to accompany their version of “Go Down Moses”. Alicia’s operatic voice added a beautiful, haunting accent to the American Negro spiritual. What really struck me was the irony of hearing this song’s lyrics in light of the revolution of change happening in Egypt at the same moment in time as they played. History repeating history…

 

When Israel was in Egypt’s land: Let my people go,
Oppress’d so hard they could not stand, Let my People go.

Go down, Moses,
Way down in Egypt land,
Tell old Pharaoh,
Let my people go.

Charles Lloyd, tenor and alto saxophone, flute

Jason Moran, piano

Reuben Rogers, double-bass

Eric Harland, drums and percussion

Alicia Hall Moran, mezzo soprano

The New Charles Lloyd Quartet also features Reuben Rogers on stand up double bass. He was very relaxed in his role yet his ability to slap the notes or strum the strings earned your immediate respect.  I especially loved how into his distance he would go. taking us on that journey with him. His double bass I think was made of deep cherry red wood and it produced an eloquent resonance.

Eric Harland blew me away with his inventive drumming style. His technique and sensibilities captivated my attention as soon as he started at his drum kit. He would rest a folded over tambourine on the high hat or use the sets of bells he had on draped on either side of his drums. He had a really cool way of using his drum sticks to accent the music. He would drag the tip of the drum stick across the cymbal top at just the right point in the selection. He was never overpowering when he drummed but you paid strict attention to his drum shots and rolls as they were all very unique

Charles Lloyd made time after the concert to meet with fans and sign autographs. I was thrilled to meet him. He signed my concert program and the CD cover of his latest CD, which we heard a few songs from that night, The Mirror . I thanked him for his healing music. He folded his hands in prayer and bowed ever so slightly. I left his company elated and reassured being in his spiritual presence.


Charles Lloyd – Wesleyan University Jan 27/28 – Daily Post 2011 #4

Music is a healing force.” – Charles Lloyd

Charles Lloyd will be visiting Wesleyan University on January 27th for a panel discussion about the spirituality of music and again on January 28th when he will be performing an evening concert with the Charles Lloyd New Quartet. A pre-concert talk will be held at 7:15 p.m. by Sarah Politz, a Wesleyan Music Graduate student.

The Charles Lloyd New Quartet consists of Charles Lloyd on flute and saxophone, Jason Moran on piano, Reuben Rogers on bass,  and Eric Harland on drums.

The latest recording by the Charles Lloyd New Quartet is entitled, Mirror. It is a studio recording that creates an exquisite pastoral setting that accommodates “the need and the call for some tenderness,” says Lloyd.

Mirror was recently reviewed by Nate Chinen, esteemed jazz critic for the NY Times. His review echoes my sentiments about this recording. I consider Mirror one of the Top 10 recordings of 2010.

The dimensionality of an artist’s discussions about music as a healing force and the spirituality involved is of keen interest to me. Wesleyan is an ideal backdrop for this dialog because they have leadership ministry and world music programs. I am jazzed about the opportunity to explore these discussion with Charles Lloyd and other guests.

Anthony Braxton is the Music Department Chair at Wesleyan University and it is my sincere hope he will be directly involved with Charles Lloyd’s appearances on the Wesleyan campus.

I am looking forward to this rare opportunity with Charles Lloyd  to learn more about his music and views on spirituality at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Ct.

A Conversation about Music and Spirituality

with Charles Lloyd and Guests

Thursday January 27, 2011

4:15 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Hall

Free Admission