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  • richardmitnick 5:10 PM on June 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Ethan Iverson,   

    From NEWMUSICBOX: “The Syncopated Stylings of Charles Wuorinen” 

    New Music USA


    From NEWMUSICBOX

    June 6, 2018
    Ethan Iverson

    Ethan Iverson 2016 photo by Jimmy Katz at http://www.jimmykatz.com, with permission

    Charles Wuorinen by Nina Roberts. jpg

    1

    When the arguments were over, only a few famous composers younger than Milton Babbitt and Elliott Carter remained committed to old-school high modernism. Two of the best were Peter Lieberson and Charles Wuorinen. Lieberson died in 2011 at 64, Wuorinen turns 80 on June 9.

    There were easy to bracket because they were friends, had a similar circle of New York City advocates, and shared something of an aesthetic trajectory inspired by the late music of Igor Stravinsky. Both Lieberson and Wuorinen had met Stravinsky in person and Vera Stravinsky asked Wuorinen to “finish” sketches from her late husband, which became his A Reliquary for Igor Stravinsky.

    Stravinsky had jumped into the twelve-tone pool after the passing of his rival Arnold Schoenberg, and his last great work, Requiem Canticles, is as instantly charismatic as dodecaphony has ever been. While the early works of Lieberson and Wuorinen are relentlessly esoteric products of the hardcore Babbitt school, at some point both followed Stravinsky’s lead into comparatively accessible territory. Lieberson worked on softening the lyric line, culminating in glorious song cycles for his wife Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson, and Wuorinen took on the challenge of creating modernist composition informed by perceptible pulsating rhythm.

    In his way, Wuorinen’s “perceptible pulsating rhythm” was a return to ragtime. Before Babbitt and Carter, American formal composition frequently contained the echo of Scott Joplin, a patron saint of Charles Ives, Conlon Nancarrow, George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, and Leonard Bernstein.

    This ragtime perspective also fit with the Stravinsky influence, as Stravinsky found syncopation a natural source for his cubist phrases. Perhaps Stravinsky’s Movements for Piano and Orchestra is close to Babbitt’s rigorous discontinuity, but much else in the Stravinsky canon has a taste of ragtime, especially after he emigrated to America. Ebony Concerto (written for the Woody Herman band) is still one of best pieces in the conventional European concert idiom scored for jazz ensemble, and Stravinsky’s late non-tonal Agon (made famous by the George Balanchine ballet) is full of syncopation.

    Wynton Marsalis says of The Rite of Spring: “Stravinsky turned European music over with a backbeat. Check it out. What they thought was weird and primitive was just a Negro beat on the bass drum.” If we pressed Marsalis further, he certainly would add there’s actually no “just” about that “Negro beat.” Asking musicians who are most comfortable with the European tradition to play with a groove is dicey territory. For that matter, composers themselves have seldom allowed a drummer to make up their own part.

    Film composer Howard Shore had this to say about his experience trying to find an authentic “feel” for the soundtrack for Ed Wood:

    “Beatnik dance music—a conga player and a bongo player. At the time I recorded the score there were no studios available in Los Angeles…We ended up going to England—I recorded the score with the London Philharmonic—and it was very fortunate that we did. The British percussionists were so square, but it was the perfect sound! The bongo player was English! He was a good player and a good musician, just a little square, a little straight. In Los Angeles, they probably would have been too hip. As soon as I heard this English guy, I thought, oh, we’re so lucky to have this guy play this bongo track.”

    This “a little square” place is important to the soundscape of 20th-century American formal composition. It isn’t as rhythmically profound as jazz or hip hop (or another dozen American musics); it is simply basic syncopations and polyrhythms played “correctly.” The outsized pop version is found in musical theater. Leonard Bernstein is the emperor of that uninitiated energy—West Side Story is never better than when done by a college group—but a dollop of that “naive swing” has been a factor in many good performances of American concert music from Ives onward.

    To bring this back to Wuorinen: the default setting of high modernism is Very Serious Indeed. Wuorinen’s post-Stravinsky “perceptible pulsating rhythm” pieces are Very Serious, but they also ask for European-style concert musicians to drive syncopations in a reasonably straight line, or at least straight enough for Wuorinen to claim they are “a hip-swinging wing-ding” (his comment on the finale to the Third Piano Concerto).

    Honestly, it is as goofy as hell but remains a pleasure to listen to, especially for those who want to clear their ears out with some proper atonality once in a while. Like West Side Story, these pieces are well suited to talented college students who are reveling in their vitality: YouTube is full of smart kids nailing difficult Wuorinen scores.

    For my own private 80th Wuorinen birthday celebration, I’ve been repeatedly listening to four works from the early ’80s, when he seemed to give high modernism a proper injection of “ragtime.” I imagine the composer’s smile hanging over the proceedings like a 12-tone Cheshire Cat.

    2

    The Blue Bamboula (1980)

    Wuorinen has four pieces with “Bamboula” in the title. This is a tip of the hat to Scott Joplin’s notable predecessor Louis Moreau Gottschalk, who’s once-famous Bamboula from 1848 is a fantasy on two Creole themes.

    Commissioned by Ursula Oppens, The Blue Bamboula is, in Wuorinen’s words, “A single-movement piece in which I tried to respond to Oppens’s request that the work embody the spirit of an earlier work of mine, the Grand Bamboula of 1971.” Amusingly, a quote from Tchaikovsky is fed through the modernist meat grinder. Carla Bley told Amy Beal, “To me, the piece Blue Bamboula with Garrick Ohlsson playing it, is the best piece of piano music in the world.” At one point I had a playlist of the Ohlsson and Oppens performances in rotation. Both are beautiful. (This was before the comparatively recent Molly Morkoski issue, which is also excellent.) It didn’t take long before my ears tuned up enough that I could follow the narrative smoothly: The whole work might be seen as a move from C to D-flat, and Wuorinen even gives a few repeat signs near the end.

    Admittedly, if you aren’t intrigued by the style to begin with, the surface of The Blue Bamboula may still seem incoherent. It’s possible that high modernism is mostly for fellow professionals. Steve Swallow said about Carla Bley: “She has perfect pitch and can sing the notes in the voicing of incredibly dense harmonies. I’ve heard her do this to music of Charles Wuorinen, perhaps her favorite composer.”

    New York Notes (1982)

    Violinist Miranda Cuckson suggested I listen to this piece, which has attained the status of a classic. There are two excellent recordings. It’s common at colleges, and was one of the earliest pieces rehearsed by the important new music group eighth blackbird. For his 60th birthday it was played by the New York New Music Ensemble at the Kaye Playhouse, and for his 75th, the composer conducted it at the Guggenheim.

    New York Notes refers to New York New Music Ensemble, who commissioned the work, but it is also the title of a book by celebrated New Yorker critic Whitney Balliett: New York Notes: A Journal of Jazz, 1972-1975. I doubt Wuorinen was attempting to make a connection to Balliett, but nonetheless there are many pretty jazz chords in Wuorinen’s chamber piece. Of the Wuorinen I know, New York Notes is the closest to Peter Lieberson, who was perhaps the greatest American master of sensuous, “jazzy” atonality.

    Wuorinen writes, “The six members of the ensemble (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion) are all engaged in virtuoso play, but I also think of their music as comprising three duets of the related pairs of instruments, as well as six solos.” This explanation may obscure the real fun of New York Notes, which is simply that almost all fast-moving material is doubled. Usually “duets” in new music-speak means conversation and counterpoint, but not here, where “duets” literally means, “play the exact same material.”

    For the first recording with New York New Music Ensemble, Daniel Druckman does a herculean job of managing all the percussion himself. On the later version with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, there are two percussionists and a few intriguing “cadenzas” from computer generated sounds.

    It might be a stretch to say that New York Notes is “grooving,” but the rhythmic excitement is palpable. The phrases are usually in obvious duples like sixteenth notes and the occasional triplet. Wuorinen told Tim Page in 1989: “From my vantage point, it is a little difficult to say what’s happened—I’ve just kept on scribbling…. [but] my use of rhythm is more periodic, more regular, more intimately related to the background pulse than it used to be—which is a long, complicated, and rather pompous way of saying that the beat is clearer.”

    In New York Notes, that clearer beat powers near-vamps in the low registers and near-bebop at the top, perfect for the city of jazz, subways, and skyscrapers.

    Piano Concerto No. 3 (1983)

    It’s a hell of a thing. Garrick Ohlsson begins with an intense toccata that barely lets up. The percussion enters, tentatively at first, then swarming the pianist. A hypnotic slow movement gently pulses away before the coruscating finale. Like New York Notes, duples and doubling are major features: The piano plays almost the whole time and various sections of the orchestra double the piano exactly, especially in the outer movements. (This must have been a real help in rehearsal!) The language is of course atonal, but there are plenty of harmonic puns: The first movement ends with G major over D minor, the last ends with G minor over D major.

    As mentioned above, Wuorinen calls the finale “a hip-swinging wing-ding.” The rhythmic excitement is perfectly judged. It’s not too square, but there’s just enough “beat” to feel propulsion.

    It’s interesting to compare Peter Lieberson’s Piano Concerto played by Peter Serkin from the exact same vintage. Lieberson’s harmonies speak more naturally; they are perhaps more glamorous and “Stravinskyian” in the best sense, but Wuorinen has the syncopated edge. I have tried to listen to as many of the 20th-century piano concertos as possible, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Lieberson’s First and Wuorinen’s Third are two of the best.

    These composers were producing this great music on a reasonably well-lit platform. Ohlsson and Serkin were and are two beloved pianists, accompanied on record by Seji Ozawa/Boston Symphony and Herbert Blomstedt/San Francisco Symphony respectively. Lieberson’s concerto was commissioned for the Boston Symphony centennial, Wuorinen’s piece commissioned by a consortium of five orchestras. Both works were given technically insightful rave reviews by Andrew Porter in The New Yorker.

    That was then. At this point it is hard to imagine either concerto entering the general repertory, but I presume both composers were taking the long view and hoping to create music that will give at least a few people pleasure in perpetuity. The virtuosity of new music performers keeps improving (a process partially kickstarted in New York by the Group for Contemporary Music founded by Wuorinen and Harvey Sollberger in the early ’60s), and I suppose it is just barely possible that future young players will be able to put up a performance of Lieberson 1 or Wuorinen 3 as easily as Beethoven or Rachmaninoff. Time will tell. At this moment Wuorinen’s public face, a grouchy, “you kids get off my lawn” personality—a personality he seems to have had for decades, if not his whole life—has probably done harm to his status as an essential composer.

    Before the performance of Brokeback Mountain this past Monday night, Miranda Cuckson quickly introduced me to Mr. Wuorinen in the foyer of Jazz at Lincoln Center. The conversation went like this:

    EI: Hello! I’m a fan.

    CW: (grumpy) Hello.

    EI: I have the score to your Third Piano Concerto in my bag.

    CW: (less grumpy) Well, that’s an antique.

    EI: It seems like some of the same material is used in Spinoff.

    CW: (smiling) Yes! That’s true. I totally ripped off the Concerto for Spinoff. That was the same year.

    EI: Well. Thanks for all the music. You’ve written so much.

    CW: (grumpy) It’s not so much. I’m 80 and there are 275 pieces. But I do work all the time.

    Spinoff (1983)

    Patrick Zimmerli told me about this piece in 1992, so I searched out the Speculum Musicae 15th anniversary LP. Spinoff remains something I play for jazz students who are interested in combining modernist notes with pulsating rhythm. It’s only six minutes. For the first minute, the violin and bass sound like “normal” discontinuous modern music, but then Howard Shore’s beatnik conga enters and all bets are off. And, yes, a few of the lines are exactly the same as from the first movement of Piano Concerto No. 3.

    It’s appropriate to compare Spinoff to another valuable item for jazz students, All Set by Milton Babbitt. Spinoff might be a bit dorky, but All Set is more dorky. If this admittedly subjective judgment is true, it’s because the beatnik conga in Spinoff holds the thread together more convincingly than Babbitt’s fragmented drum set notation for All Set.

    Congas star in Spinoff, but over the years Wuorinen has written for the full percussion arsenal extensively—and well. In the liner note for his mammoth Percussion Symphony, Wuorinen says he likes drums not just for clarity, but for a “very ancient, layered set of associations, reaching well back into our distant past. Thus, modernity and antiquity are pleasingly conjoined.” Daniel Druckman (who recorded New York Notes for one percussionist) has said of Wuorinen, “He’s one of the two or three most important people for us in terms of central works and stretching the limits of what the instruments can do.” (See also Tyshawn Sorey’s note below.)

    The only professional recording of Spinoff remains the first by Benjamin Hudson, Donald Palma, and Joseph Passaro. It’s good (especially from Palma, who can play jazz), but upon finally looking at the score for the first time last week, I’ve realized that some of Wuorinen’s obvious syncopations could and should be articulated more clearly.

    Big Spinoff is a fun amplification of the work for Alarm Will Sound, which does justice to the “finger snapping” moments in the piece. AWS Artistic Director Alan Pierson explains, “AWS got excited about the idea of arranging it years ago. The propulsive energy and driving rhythms felt like a great match for us. We actually originally proposed doing the arrangement ourselves (Stefan Freund was gonna do it) and asked Charles’s permission. But he said he wanted to do it himself! And we love the result.”

    Peter Lieberson’s note to the original LP is now hard to find. After recapping Wuorinen’s relationships to Igor and Vera Stravinsky, Lieberson offers the following observation:

    Spinoff is itself replete with little homages: one cannot help but hear echoes of L’Histoire du Soldat, the music from scenes one and two, with the characteristic “breathy” rhythm of the violin against the regular pizzicati of the bass acting as a refrain throughout. The ending sounds like a pitched version of L’Histoire’s and there are other smoky echoes in the congas from Ebony Concerto. Because Wuorinen’s voice is strong and recognizably his, such homages are agreeable adornments to the direct and exuberant discourse.”

    If I’m arguing that Spinoff is at least a little bit goofy, there’s no way to leave out Cicadas of the Sea’s excerpt of Spinoff with vocalese and hand puppets.

    I have been re-listening to early ’80s Wuorinen because I’ve kept these pieces in rotation over the last 25 years. Since then, he hasn’t given up on a syncopated style—indeed, that aspect has proven perfect for several dance commissions—but among other things there has been an abundance of vocal music and an overt engagement with early European composers like Machaut and Josquin.

    At Rose Theater for Brokeback Mountain, there were several audience members in cowboy hats and jeans, apparently doing a kind of cosplay based on the hit movie. I hope they enjoyed the opera as much as I did. High modernism is a fabulous fit for the classic operatic themes of sex and death: indeed, I think opera might be the one place where a civilian can enjoy rigorous atonality as much as a professional. Unlike some reviewers, I didn’t find Brokeback overbearing or contrived. Indeed, there was a lightness in orchestration that suited the sparse set and simple story. There were even many comic moments… I mean, let’s face it, the meeting of cowboys and 12-tone music is already absurd and amusing. In the final analysis, I have only one criteria as to whether an opera is good: I need to be crying by the end, and Brokeback Mountain passed the test.

    A common interpretation of Schoenberg’s Moses Und Aron is that Schoenberg thought of himself as the mute prophet Moses, offering the glories of 12-tone music to a society mostly deaf to his vision. When the lonely rancher in Brokeback Mountain swears fidelity to his dead lover, it was easy to imagine the last remaining high modernist Charles Wuorinen promising continued fealty to his beloved palette of uncompromising sounds.

    Coda: With a canon as large as Wuorinen’s, it only makes sense that responses to his work will vary widely. On a hunch, I sent Tyshawn Sorey my piece and asked him if he found Wuorinen relevant. He replied:

    “In my view, not only is Wuorinen totally relevant to me, but his works should be considered relevant for anyone who is interested in the study and presentment of contemporary music! Wuorinen’s music has a very direct relationship to my life in several ways. I’m mostly familiar with his 60’s and 70’s work, both as a performer and as a listener. Not so much his music from, say, the late 80’s up to now, except for New York Notes, which I really like. Since we’re discussing his 1980s music, it was also a wonderful experience preparing his Trombone Trio (1985) for performance by myself on tenor trombone and two other professors at William Paterson University from the New Jersey New Music Ensemble (a sub-group from the New Jersey Percussion Ensemble), but further opportunities to rehearse and perform the piece together fell through due to insanely crazy schedules. I’d still play that piece in a heartbeat if a pianist and percussionist would ever want to do it with me!

    But if you want to talk about the side of Wuorinen’s work I admire most, then I should mention being one of the percussionists in an exhilarating, life-changing performance of Ringing Changes (1969), a staple in contemporary music literature along with the incredible Percussion Symphony (1976), which as far as I’m concerned should be considered a ‘standard.” Even though the music itself is not nearly as rhythmically complex or discontinuous as his earlier pieces, these works are fascinating on every level—the last section of Ringing Changes featuring the tubular bells, for example, is probably some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard anywhere. It brought me to tears, playing the tubular bells in that section. That sound world was revolutionary for its time, and so full of life!

    It should also go without saying that I am very much in love with his earlier, more ‘rhythmically disjunct’ pieces—the ones that really did it for me were the Piano Variations, Flute Variations I & II, all of the 60s Concertos, the First Piano Sonata (Robert Miller’s performance is for me the definitive performance of this masterwork), Time’s Encomium, Arabia Felix, String Trio and the list goes on and on… And last (but certainly not least) there is my favorite composition of his, Janissary Music, which I think is one of the most virtuosic works ever to exist for one percussionist alone. The performance of this piece exemplifies a whole different kind of complexity and rigor; it’s not ‘new complexity’, and it’s not even trying to be that—it’s simply Wuorinen’s genuine compositional language. Hell, it’s new complexity done Wuorinen’s way! The percussion writing is full of extreme rigor and technical fluidity as well as some mesmerizing moments. That music truly ‘grooves’ in its own way, and doesn’t sound rhythmically ‘square’ at all! After happening upon the original CRI LP record of the piece at the William Paterson Library, I asked the genius percussionist Ray Des Roches (for whom Wuorinen composed this piece) what was it like for him to prepare this piece. He then informed me that it was so difficult to play, that it took him over a year to learn it! (This—coming from one of the most revered, pioneering figures ever to exist in the performance of contemporary music—was quite the news to hear! Des Roches’s classic recording also remains definitive!)

    I continue to listen to Wuorinen to the very present day. In fact, I was recently blasting and sort of ‘dancing’ along to one of his pieces in my car in downtown New York while waiting on a friend… folks stared, but I didn’t give a damn who was staring at me because the music excites and inspires me to move. The music is both “serious” and enjoyable, to my ears. I like to sit and read the scores, and sometimes I like to just listen and enjoy it to my heart’s content—it is totally possible to do this. Wuorinen remains a huge influence in my own work, both in terms of the rigor with which he deals with pitch selection and form, as well as the sense of melodic and rhythmic gesturing that is evidenced in all of his compositions. One of the greatest to ever do it, in my opinion!”

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    At NewMusicUSA, we see ourselves first and foremost as advocates. Our mission is to support and promote new music created in the United States. We do that in many ways, fostering connections, deepening knowledge, encouraging appreciation, and providing financial support. In recognition of the possibility and power inherent in the virtual world, we’ve worked to build a strong internet platform to serve our constituency. And that constituency is broad and diverse, from composers and performers to presenters and producers, casual listeners to die-hard fans. We’re truly committed to serving the WHOLE new music community.

    As we go about our work, we make a point of not defining too precisely what we mean by new music. To define is to limit. It’s a spectacular time for musical creativity in part because so much music is being made that isn’t bound by conventional limitations of style or genre or background. The music that we hear being created in such abundance all around us is definition enough. We simply want it to flourish.

    We’re fortunate to have as our legacy the history of previous decades of good works done by the American Music Center and Meet The Composer, the two great organizations that merged to form us in 2011. Their legacies have also brought a small financial endowment that mostly helps support our grantmaking. But we’re not a foundation. We depend decisively each year on the generosity of so many institutions and individuals around the country who are dedicated as we are to the advancement of new music and are devoted to supporting our work.

    New Music USA is part of an international community of advocates for the arts. We’re members of the Performing Arts Alliance, the International Association of Music Information Centres, and the International Society for Contemporary Music. Those partnerships help us represent the interests of our constituents at every level.

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

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  • richardmitnick 1:08 PM on May 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Ethan Iverson,   

    From Ethan Iverson: Charles Wuorinen 

    From Ethan Iverson

    Ethan Iverson 2016 photo by Jimmy Katz at http://www.jimmykatz.com, with permission

    By William Robin

    May 25, 2018

    1
    Charles Wuorinen. Credit Karsten Moran for The New York Times

    The composer Charles Wuorinen should be in good spirits. The San Francisco Symphony recently gave the premiere of a colorful new orchestral work. He is currently writing a ballet score, and just finished a string trio.

    Organizations large and small continue to commission Mr. Wuorinen, expanding a catalog of more than 270 pieces. New York City Opera will present the American premiere of his “Brokeback Mountain” on May 31, a little more than a week before his 80th birthday.

    But on an April visit to the Upper West Side brownstone he shares with his husband and manager, Howard Stokar, Mr. Wuorinen was characteristically carping.

    See the full article here.

    Ethan Iverson is a pianist, composer, and critic best known for his work in the avant-garde jazz trio The Bad Plus with bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King.

    Iverson was born in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Before The Bad Plus, he was musical director for the Mark Morris Dance Group and a student of both Fred Hersch and Sophia Rosoff. He has worked with artists such as Billy Hart, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Tim Berne, Mark Turner, Ben Street, Lee Konitz, Albert “Tootie” Heath, Paul Motian, Larry Grenadier, Charlie Haden and Ron Carter.

    He currently studies with John Bloomfield and serves on the faculty at New England Conservatory.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    stem

    Stem Education Coalition

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 4:26 PM on May 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Andre Guess, Ethan Iverson, JazzTimes, Wynton Marsalis   

    From JazzTimes: “Wynton Marsalis & Ethan Iverson: A Conversation on Jazz & Race” 

    From JazzTimes

    05/14/2018
    Andre Guess

    A freewheeling discussion from the 2018 Jazz Congress in NYC.

    1
    Ethan Iverson, Andre Guess and Wynton Marsalis (from left) at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room in January. Credit: Lawrence Sumulong/Jazz at Lincoln Center

    Ethan Iverson 2016 photo by Jimmy Katz at http://www.jimmykatz.com, with permission

    Wynton Marsalis by Eric Delmar

    At the inaugural Jazz Congress, co-produced by Jazz at Lincoln Center and JazzTimes in New York City on Jan. 11-12, among the most anticipated events was a conversation on Jazz and race featuring JALC managing and artistic director Wynton Marsalis and Ethan Iverson, a founding member of the Bad Plus, an important Jazz blogger and a pianist with a deep reverence for Jazz history. Moderated by artist manager/consultant Andre Guess, the hour-long conversation in JALC’s the Appel Room moved swiftly through ideas and anecdotes while never losing its feeling of diplomacy and mutual respect. Here are some highlights.

    ANDRE GUESS: We know historically that, in jazz’s heyday, the country was dealing with race in a much different way than it is right now. So I want you both to respond to [these questions]: When we were a segregated society, how did jazz help to move forward the conversation on race, and then, conversely, in a contemporary setting, what if anything is jazz doing to not advance the agenda?

    ETHAN IVERSON: No problem, I got this. [audience laughter] Thank you, Wynton, for inviting me into your house, by the way. A couple of my friends were like, “What are you doing?” [laughter from audience and panel]

    To respond to the question, I think jazz was the greatest 20th-century music. I’m actually fairly adept at music that has more of a European framework. I know it pretty well; I’ve played Schumann with Yo-Yo Ma. I’m not at Wynton’s level at dealing with that stuff, but I’ve dealt with it, and I’m a composer. The older I get, the more I think, man, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, John Coltrane—those were the best. It was the best music of the 20th century, and almost always, the best musicians of this greatest music were black. End of story.

    WYNTON MARSALIS: I want to start by saying something about “black.” First, “black” is not anthropological; it’s social and it’s political. Once they decoded the genome, it’s clear—that’s the science. So the concept of race itself is not real. And jazz symbolically is a unifier, the result of hybridization of cultures. You cannot separate Irish jigs and forms of European music, theme and variation—those things cannot be taken out of jazz or diminished because it also adds African sounds. Those things came together in our music. For us to try to separate them is like punching water.

    So I think that, for our purposes, we’re not talking about whether a musician is black or not. Your chance of playing like Charlie Parker is zero whether you’re white or black. [audience laughter] My father used to make this point to me when we were growing up: “Who somebody is is always more important than what they are.” And you don’t know what they are anyway. So I want us to consider the fact that maybe race might be something that’s only made real by the politicization of it in our country.

    GUESS: In Eddie Glaude’s book Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul, he coins two phrases. One is “the value gap” and the other one is “racial habits.” The value gap is the fact that in America white people are valued more than non-white people, and racial habits are the things that we all do—white, black, yellow, red or brown—to perpetuate that, knowingly or unknowingly. Wynton, you’ve been on a crusade of dealing with swing as the foundational aspect of jazz, rhythmically. Why is there no consensus that swing is the foundational rhythm of jazz, and is there a value gap or racial argument inside of that as to why that may not be the case?

    MARSALIS: It’s always interesting what you get taught in a school. I had the benefit of a lot of really good teachers, but I know that with some teachers it was always “Don’t learn what Louis Armstrong played.” Or the choice of music that we would play—we’d say, “Why don’t we play one of these?” “We don’t need to play that music.” It was always kind of selective along racial lines.

    We have not only taken the swing rhythm out of our culture, which was a mistake, but also the ability to dance. In the ’90s, when I went to schools, the schools I went to, which would have to be close to a thousand, were always black or white; every now and then you’d see an integrated school. One thing that I would do with the white kids was ask them, “Can white people dance?” And they would say, “No.” [laughter from audience and panel] And I’d say, “Why? The United States was one of the most dancing countries in the world. Why do y’all think now, 30 or 40 years later, white people can’t dance? Is it a racial thing? Is it cultural?” “Oh, we don’t really know.” “Do y’all think it’s important to be able to dance?” “Well, no. Maybe. Yeah, I guess.” Why are we not teaching them? Speaking specifically of the swing rhythm, I think that there’s something in it that the nation has been against.

    IVERSON: You know what? I just left the Bad Plus and I have some more time on my hands. And one thing I said to my wife was, “Finally! Let’s take some swing-dancing classes, ’cause I want to learn how to dance.”

    It feels like there’s the personal and then there’s the institutional. I’ve gotten to know some jazz masters: I’ve gotten to talk to Ron Carter, play some gigs with Billy Hart; there was one night here in your house [JALC], at Dizzy’s, that I got to talk to Frank Wess for a bit. If you’re in the presence of someone who actually played this music for real, all the questions sort of vanish. There I’m totally on your side: Race is a construct, it’s just about the language, and this sort of stuff.

    But that’s the personal level, and then there’s this institutional level. I think you [Marsalis] must have had some very interesting experiences going into institutions that only dealt with European music, and you’re there having to be like, “OK, guys, you want me to talk about the shuffle?” I don’t know how you have the patience for it, frankly, ’cause every time I’m around some of those cats and jazz comes into the conversation, it’s like a brick wall. It’s probably better now than it was 20 years ago, but still—just getting institutional respect for the most beautiful and esoteric elements of jazz is difficult.

    MARSALIS: Well, in my neighborhood, all my friends were the most ignorant group of people about jazz that I ever encountered in my life. So if I go to my real experience, the truth of what we [African-Americans] all know about our music is very thin.

    When I went to Juilliard—first, for me, just to be here [in New York] … I mean, New Orleans had one skyscraper at that time, and it wasn’t really a skyscraper; it was like a … scraper. [laughter] And to be at Juilliard, I had come from playing only funk, so it was enlightening for me to be around that many serious students. I didn’t really care whether they knew about jazz. I was used to being in an environment where nobody knew about the music. I’m from New Orleans. What did we know about the music? Nothing. I had less of an excuse ’cause I had a father who would say, “Listen to Louis Armstrong.” Did any of my friends ever listen to Louis Armstrong? We didn’t know; he was just a guy with a handkerchief. It’s like what you said about taking swing-dance classes with your wife. Can I swing dance? Hell no. My brother would laugh at me just for my funk dancing. He’d be like, “Damn, man, you gonna get out there with that?” [laughter] And we had dance rehearsals once a week. So it’s just for us to come to grips with the absoluteness of the ignorance of our form.

    For years I would try to beat the students over the head with the swing, which they weren’t going to accept anyway, ’cause they had the kind of attitude about the funk and the pop like we all had. They grew up with it; it’s easy for them to play. So I just went through a roll call of rhythms in the beginning of the class. I said, “If I ask y’all to sing a clave, what would that be?” They were singing it. I said, “New Orleans march.” I said rock, funk, hip-hop, bossa nova—they started playing all these rhythms. Then I said, “OK, what’s the rhythm of jazz?” Once we got to that rhythm, they realized that that rhythm was going to have to be swing. I took the funk and the rock and the hip-hop from them. They enthusiastically sang all those rhythms, and then when they realized swing was the rhythm, this is what they did. [turns head to the side and looks sheepishly at the floor, to much laughter from the panel and audience]

    So then I asked them a question. I said, “If we were in Brazil, and this was a group of Brazilian musicians, and I asked, ‘What is the rhythm of samba?,’ would they drop their heads? If we were in New Orleans and I asked a group of musicians, ‘What’s the rhythm of New Orleans?,’ would they drop their heads? If we were in Cuba and we started talking about their music, would they drop their heads? Why y’all dropping your head?”

    IVERSON: I have something to say related to this that I’ve been thinking about lately. This anecdote might already be outdated, ’cause jazz education has come a long way, in no little part thanks to Wynton Marsalis.

    MARSALIS: Thanks to a lot of us.

    IVERSON: When I was a kid trying to learn about the music in Wisconsin in the ’80s, the one textbook that seemed universally to be the secret text you needed to find was something called The Real Book. Now The Real Book is still around; people still have it. In fact, last night I played a gig and the cat was playing Turn Out the Stars from the Real Book chart. It’s fine; the chart’s accurate. But The Real Book sort of came into existence around the same time [the 1970s] as a certain movement in jazz education centered on Berklee in Boston, and some really brilliant musicians too: Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, Steve Swallow, Carla Bley. But it’s striking that, if you look at the [original] book, sort of notey, even-eighth, “compositionally advanced” white-people composers are perfect: just like the record, an absolute gateway into understanding something about complexity and writing a thorny piece of modern jazz. And if you look at the charts of Thelonious Monk or Duke Ellington, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Hutcherson, they’re essentially worthless: totally inaccurate, and they’ll give you no help in trying to understand how to play that music.

    I think jazz education, the focus of it, people always have their personal fiefdoms. Apparently, when the Lenox Music Inn started in the ’50s, Max Roach said, “We shouldn’t teach anybody this stuff,” because he was worried about it just becoming a vehicle for people to have their fiefdoms and make some money as educators. And Stan Kenton, God bless him, great musician, great band, some very important jazz—there’s a sort of thing that goes into North Texas State [now the University of North Texas] and a certain way of thinking about the music which is … it’s not about swing, not really. They might be trying to do it sometimes, but they’re far more confident with “music of the future” than with the music of New Orleans. And then with Berklee and that Real Book, I think it’s telling about some mistakes that were made in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s: There was too much confidence from people in power [who said], “Yeah, we’ve got this,” rather than being like, “Well, what does Ron Carter actually have to say about this? What does someone who’s a consecrated, confident musician in all sorts of genres, what would they say is important to learn about jazz?”

    GUESS: That leads me to a quote by Harold Cruse, from his book The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual: “Without a cultural identity that adequately defines himself, the Negro cannot even identify with the American nation as a whole. The fact of the matter is that American whites as a whole are just as much in doubt about their nationality, their cultural identity, as are Negroes. Thus the problem of the Negro cultural identity is an unsolved problem within the context of an American nation that is still in the process of formation.” He wrote that 50 years ago. In essence, what he’s saying is nobody knows who they are, this country’s so young, and until you begin to understand that you’re inextricably tied culturally, then we cannot move forward. I want both of you to respond, starting with Ethan: [Tell us] whether you agree with this or not and how you think jazz can bring this problem of identity to a head.

    IVERSON: I feel like I need to come out here and say we’ve gotta deal with black music. That’s part of my job, and it’s part of my job as an educator when I’m talking to my white piano students. At the same time, man, it’s the mixture of all the stuff that made this music that I personally think is the greatest 20th-century stuff. … I can love myself as a white Wisconsin boy better, you know what I mean? I can have some pride in where I’m from. … It’s American music.

    MARSALIS: I grew up in absolute segregation. I remember we went to some white people’s house. It was a piano player; his name was Chuck Berlin. Now to kind of put you in the South, the level of segregation was so absolute, we had never actually been to any white person’s house. Maybe I was nine years old then, or 10. And I was like, “Why are we going to his house?” My mama said, “That’s your daddy’s friend.” I said, “My daddy got a white friend?” So we went to the man’s house. It was a house. It had toilets [laughter], a TV, you know. It wasn’t like our house necessarily, but it was a house. And then he came to our house, and one of my friends said, “Man, is your daddy in trouble? [laughter] I saw that white man came to y’all house. Is he going to jail?”

    Now we’re laughing at it, because it’s funny. But the fact that race is a construct and that it’s not real doesn’t mean that we don’t live in the non-reality of it. There are always stand-ins for reality, and those stand-ins then become what we misconstrue as reality, so it becomes difficult for us to get back to reality. People who can play come from anywhere. But this kind of desire to take the achievements of a few people and make it be a representation of a group—now all these groups are gonna battle.

    I’m just gonna tell y’all a couple of stories, funny things that stuck out in my mind. Me and Gerry Mulligan—you know, I always loved him and we would always argue about race. He’d say, “I notice you got all black guys in your band.” I’d say, “I notice you got all white people in your band.” [laughter] He’d say, “Man, why would I get some black guys who can’t play in my band to tell me I can’t play ’cause I’m white?” I’d say, “Why would I get some white dudes that can’t play in my band because they’re white?” He said, “I want you to listen to this recording of Adrian Rollini.” I said, “Adrian Rollini? Psssh.” He said, “You ever heard him play?” I said, “No, but I know he’s white.” [laughter] He said, “Well, can I ask you a question?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Are you a better musician because you don’t know who he is?” Now, that’s a good story, and he was right. I listened to Adrian Rollini, and damn, he could play vibes, he could play bass saxophone. But did I have a white person in my band and did he have a black one? No.

    Albert Murray, I would always have stories for him when I was growing up about white people I fought with, racism, teachers that cheated me out of stuff, stuff that I had to go through that I didn’t like. One day he said, “Man, of all the experiences you had that you didn’t like, that I’ve heard you chronicle for the last 15 years ad nauseam, did a white person ever do something that you liked? [laughter] Who was your teacher?” I said, “Oh yeah, George Jansen. I loved him.” He said, “Why is he not ever a part of these stories you’re telling me? Why is the actual totality of your experience never a part of how you’ve decided to construct your view of the universe?” So the question for America is, why is this universe never inclusive of all the things black people contributed to this country?

    GUESS: Ethan, have you experienced a value gap for yourself or other white musicians playing this music that is considered to have come from—that does come from—the Afro-American experience and is born out of slaves and the descendants of slaves?

    IVERSON: The Bad Plus had this incredible breakthrough in 2003. We got signed to a major label and sold 100,000 copies of our first record. And it was stylistically diverse. There were influences that were non-jazz. And I stand by that music. But once I had a platform that I felt had some light on it, I thought, “I want to make sure that anyone who’s following me knows that other people built this house that I’m living in now.” Which is why I started writing about the music, with an emphasis on people I considered jazz masters and who were often black. I think when you’re young and you’re good, you want to emulate the people you feel like you can be. So I have to turn the question around on you a little bit. I’ve never seen a creative, good white jazz musician questioned about whether they can play or not. In fact, it’s a tragedy to look at a DownBeat from the 1950s and ’60s. I actually wrote a letter one time to DownBeat because I was thinking about doing a story about who’s on the cover and who’s in the advertisements. It’s straight-up racist. Not that they aren’t all worthy musicians, but all you need to know is that [Dave] Brubeck was the first [jazz musician] on the cover of Time [actually the second, after Louis Armstrong].

    I’m pretty sure that Wynton and I don’t share the same tastes in this music. There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t sound like jazz to him that I think is great. It’s “improvised music,” whatever. [Marsalis laughs] But I think part of what I’m here to do, in my role as a writer or as an educator, is to be like, “I hear you, I’m glad you’re checking out Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett and this kind of thing, but you should also make sure to check out James P. Johnson and Thelonious Monk and Sonny Clark and Kenny Kirkland. Just because this feels good to you and you feel like, ‘Oh, I can see myself in the image of Brad Mehldau more easily than in the image of Marcus Roberts,’ that doesn’t mean you should just take that and run with it to the exclusion of thinking about the whole parameter of this American music.”

    GUESS: I’m not a musician; I’m a lover of the music. But when I hear the blues, when I hear the turnaround, the turnaround to me is the most palpable sense of hope in the blues. And where we find ourselves as a country, with the line of demarcation that’s being drawn for us to make a false binary choice, Obama in 2008 symbolized the turnaround—the aspect of hope for the country in general and for blacks in particular. What do you guys think? Is the turnaround coming? [laughter from panel and audience]

    MARSALIS: Let me tell you, I don’t see it. But I believe in it, and sometimes that belief is seeing it.

    IVERSON: Well, the blues is strangely optimistic. [And although] there’s this adolescent period when you’re really into sad music—you think Mahler has all the answers or something…

    MARSALIS: Mahler? Who’d he play for? [laughter]

    GUESS: Bob Mahler, the reggae guy? [laughter]

    IVERSON: I do believe in optimistic music. And frankly, most of the music I consume as a fan, I do feel optimism from that. One of the beautiful things about classic jazz is that there’s a lot of complex textures. The blues is a complex texture. A lot of music can be straight-up—it’s just telling you what this is and this is how you’re supposed to feel. But the blues, man, there’s warp and woof in that. And the jazz masters that I’ve gotten to talk to—I’ll say some of the same names again, Ron Carter, Billy Hart, Tootie Heath—whatever they say, it’s complicated. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s the whole thing, in these sort of pronouncements about life. It’s circular.

    One of the greatest, perhaps the greatest book on jazz for me is Notes and Tones by Arthur Taylor. It’s really the only time the cats spoke to each other. ’Cause in interviews where some white critic is talking to them, it’s OK, but this is the people that really made this music talking to a great drummer. And maybe I’ll just close my part here with something about the complex emotion of this music, and how there’s optimism in the blues moment. [picks up book and opens it]

    This is Don Byas talking, and Don Byas was one of the greats, a key person for harmony. Anyway, Art Taylor says [reading from book], “Have you ever felt any kind of protest in your music?” Byas says, “I’m protesting now. If you will listen, you will notice I’m always trying to make my sound stronger and more brutal than ever. I shake the walls in the joints I play in. I’m always trying to sound brutal without losing the beauty, in order to impress people and wake them up. … My form of protest is to play as hard and strong as I can. In other words, you did this and you did that, so now take this!” [applause]

    MARSALIS: That’s great. I always say that, with Gerry Mulligan and Marcus Belgrave and Lew Soloff and all the unbelievable, great musicians I knew like I was a part of the family, people like Elvin Jones and John Lewis … I feel like we want to create the world they were trying to create. They were people of great reality, like what Ethan read of what Don Byas said. They weren’t like, “OK, we had this history in the country, we got messed over, but let’s all smile and have a Coke and it’s gonna work out.” We had eight years of that, hope and change. Now we see what that led to. So we’re not saying non-constructive engagement, we’re saying constructive engagement.

    See the full article here .

    About JazzTimes

    The history of the magazine dates back to Radio Free Jazz, a publication founded in 1970 by Ira Sabin when he was operating a record store in Washington, DC. It was originally a newsletter designed to update shoppers on the latest jazz releases and provide jazz radio programmers with a means of communicating with the industry. However, Radio Free Jazz grew substantially over the next decade, attracting readers and writers from around the world.

    In 1980, the magazine’s broader focus and appeal prompted a name change, so Radio Free became JazzTimes. In 1990, the magazine also underwent a change, receiving a bold new look that incorporated exclusive cover photography and state of the art graphic design. Since then JazzTimes has continued to evolve into what is widely regarded as the world’s leading jazz publication.

    Here’s what you’ll find in the pages of JazzTimes today:

    Extensive News Coverage

    Who’s recording what and with whom? What are the latest releases and reissues? Who’s booked to perform at your favorite jazz festival? What’s the latest word in books, films, TV, cyberspace? You’ll find the answers to these and many other questions in every issue of JazzTimes.

    Award Winning Jazz Journalism

    The list of contributors reads like a who’s who of jazz journalism. Nate Chinen, Ashley Kahn, David Adler and other well known writers regularly appear in JazzTimes, providing readers with the kind of insightful reviews and coverage unavailable anywhere else. Not surprisingly, several JazzTimes contributors have received ASCAP/Deems Taylor awards for jazz journalism.

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    How do you keep up with the hundreds of CDs released every month? It’s not easy. Each month JazzTimes sifts through all the CD releases–plus book and video releases–in order to provide readers with informative, money saving reviews of what’s worth purchasing–and what isn’t.

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    The unrivaled roster of photographers who contribute to JazzTimes speaks for itself: Herman Leonard, Lee Tanner, John Abbott and Jimmy Katz top the distinguished list. The combination of their images and award-winning graphic treatments has given JazzTimes a truly distinctive visual signature. In recognition of exceptional graphic design, the magazine has been honored with several prestigious Gold and Silver Ozzie Awards.

    Informative Features and Columns

    In each issue of JazzTimes you’ll find a series of features and columns that shed light on a variety of artists and subjects. In Before and After, well-known jazz musicians get their ears tested to see if they can recognize the music of their peers and predecessors. In Audio/Video Files, noted audio expert Brent Butterworth gives readers the lowdown on audio and video components. The Currents columns reports monthly on contemporary jazz recordings.

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    Every year JazzTimes readers and JazzTimes critics cast their ballots in a pair of widely read and wildly entertaining jazz polls.

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    stem

    Stem Education Coalition

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 1:47 PM on May 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , A Paragraph from Tom Wolfe, , , Ethan Iverson,   

    From Ethan Iverson DO THE M@TH: “A Paragraph from Tom Wolfe” 

    From From Ethan Iverson DO THE M@TH

    Ethan Iverson 2016 photo by Jimmy Katz at http://www.jimmykatz.com, with permission

    “As a teenager I thumbed through my mother’s copy of From Bauhaus to Our House without understanding much of it. However, one paragraph naturally stood out. Looking at it again I am struck by the perhaps needless cruelty of the author..

    ‘… In the field of serious music, the case was even more advanced; in fact, it was very nearly terminal. Within the university compounds, composers had become so ultra-Schoenbergian, so exquisitely abstract, that no one from the outside world any longer had the slightest interest in, much less comprehension of, what was going on. In the cities, not even that Gideon’s army known as “the concert-going public” could be drawn to an all-contemporary program. They took place only in university concert halls. Here on the campus the program begins with Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag,” followed by one of Stockhausen’s early compositions, “Punkte,” then Babbitt’s Ensembles for Synthesizer, a little Easley Blackwood and Jean Barraqué for a change of pace, then the committed plunge into a random-note or, as they say, “stochastic” piece for piano, brass, Moog synthesizer, and computer by Iannis Xenakis…..’

    …Still, the larger point hits home then and now.”

    See the full article here.

    Ethan Iverson is a pianist, composer, and critic best known for his work in the avant-garde jazz trio The Bad Plus with bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King.

    Iverson was born in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Before The Bad Plus, he was musical director for the Mark Morris Dance Group and a student of both Fred Hersch and Sophia Rosoff. He has worked with artists such as Billy Hart, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Tim Berne, Mark Turner, Ben Street, Lee Konitz, Albert “Tootie” Heath, Paul Motian, Larry Grenadier, Charlie Haden and Ron Carter.

    He currently studies with John Bloomfield and serves on the faculty at New England Conservatory.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    stem

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 8:41 AM on May 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Carla Bley, Ethan Iverson, ,   

    From Ethan Iverson in The New Yorker: “A Lifetime of Carla Bley” 

    From From Ethan Iverson

    Ethan Iverson 2016 photo by Jimmy Katz at http://www.jimmykatz.com, with permission

    May 13, 2018

    1
    Carla Bley. No album by the legendary composer, pianist, and bandleader sounds like anyone else could have created it. Photograph by Lauren Lancaster / NYT / Redux

    2
    Carla Bley. 28 August 2007 User:Ericd/Photos from Nice

    Every Jazz fan knows the name of Carla Bley, but her relentless productivity and constant reinvention can make it difficult to grasp her contribution to music. I began listening to her in high school when I was enamored with the pianist Paul Bley, whose seminal nineteen-sixties LPs were filled with Carla Bley compositions. (The two were married.) My small home-town library also had a copy of “The Carla Bley Band: European Tour 1977,” a superb disk of rowdy horn soloists carousing through instantly memorable Bley compositions and arrangements. Some pieces change you forever. The deadly serious yet hilarious Spangled Banner Minor and Other Patriotic Songs, from that 1977 recording, celebrates and defaces several nationalistic themes, beginning with the American national anthem recast as Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata. From the first notes onward, I was never quite the same again.

    See the full article here.

    Ethan Iverson is a pianist, composer, and critic best known for his work in the avant-garde jazz trio The Bad Plus with bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King.

    Iverson was born in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Before The Bad Plus, he was musical director for the Mark Morris Dance Group and a student of both Fred Hersch and Sophia Rosoff. He has worked with artists such as Billy Hart, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Tim Berne, Mark Turner, Ben Street, Lee Konitz, Albert “Tootie” Heath, Paul Motian, Larry Grenadier, Charlie Haden and Ron Carter.

    He currently studies with John Bloomfield and serves on the faculty at New England Conservatory.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    stem

    Stem Education Coalition

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 8:07 AM on May 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , 5/14/18: Events of the week, Ethan Iverson,   

    From Ethan Iverson Do The GIG: “b there or b square” 5/14/18: Events of the week 

    From From Ethan Iverson Do The GIG

    Ethan Iverson 2016 photo by Jimmy Katz at http://www.jimmykatz.com, with permission

    “b there or b square” 5/14/18

    See the full article here.

    Ethan Iverson is a pianist, composer, and critic best known for his work in the avant-garde jazz trio The Bad Plus with bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King.

    Iverson was born in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Before The Bad Plus, he was musical director for the Mark Morris Dance Group and a student of both Fred Hersch and Sophia Rosoff. He has worked with artists such as Billy Hart, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Tim Berne, Mark Turner, Ben Street, Lee Konitz, Albert “Tootie” Heath, Paul Motian, Larry Grenadier, Charlie Haden and Ron Carter.

    He currently studies with John Bloomfield and serves on the faculty at New England Conservatory.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 2:40 PM on May 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Ethan Iverson,   

    From Ethan Iverson DO THE M@TH : “All the Things You Would Be By Now If Carl Jung’s Wife Was Your Mother” 

    From From Ethan Iverson DO THE M@TH

    Ethan Iverson 2016 photo by Jimmy Katz at http://www.jimmykatz.com, with permission

    May 12, 2018

    Yesterday in San Diego Vinnie Sperrazza and I visited Lynn and Charles McPherson. Among topics discussed were chord scales (I didn’t think Bird played any, Charles gently corrected me) and the right size of the bass drum for serious swing (22 inches is the proper “old school” choice).

    1

    We played a bit. At one point I kind of threw in some atonal chords, and Charles told me to keep going: “Let’s play out!”

    Lynn then took a video of three choruses of intentionally avant-garde “All the Things You Are.” Charles played with Mingus, who recorded “All The Things You Could Be By Now If Sigmund Freud’s Wife Was Your Mother.” Charles said our trio video would be called, “All The Things You Could Be By Now If Carl Jung’s Wife Was Your Mother.”

    We take a moment to find the zone — I might have charged in there a bit too hard — but the second and third choruses have absolutely AMAZING alto playing.

    See the full article here.

    Ethan Iverson is a pianist, composer, and critic best known for his work in the avant-garde jazz trio The Bad Plus with bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King.

    Iverson was born in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Before The Bad Plus, he was musical director for the Mark Morris Dance Group and a student of both Fred Hersch and Sophia Rosoff. He has worked with artists such as Billy Hart, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Tim Berne, Mark Turner, Ben Street, Lee Konitz, Albert “Tootie” Heath, Paul Motian, Larry Grenadier, Charlie Haden and Ron Carter.

    He currently studies with John Bloomfield and serves on the faculty at New England Conservatory.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 11:26 AM on May 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Ethan Iverson, L.A. Times, Mark Morris' "Pepperland"   

    Brought Forward From the L.A. Tines by Ethan Iverson: “Mark Morris mines the Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’ for an irresistible ‘Pepperland'” A master filled review 

    From Ethan Iverson

    Ethan Iverson 2016 photo by Jimmy Katz at http://www.jimmykatz.com, with permission

    L.A. Times

    May 11, 2018
    Mark Swed

    2
    The Mark Morris Dance Group performing the California premiere of Pepperland at the Granada Theatre Thursday night. (David Bazemore)

    4
    Mark Morris. Charles Haynes CC-BY-SA-2.0

    From Carlsbad to Santa Barbara, the Southern California coast is peppered with pepper — Pepperland Recording Studios, Pepperdine University, Pepper Lane in Montecito, the Pepper Tree Inn in Santa Barbara just up the road from the Granada Theatre, where choreographer Mark Morris’ Pepperland had its California premiere Thursday night.

    An eveninglong dance program based on parts of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Pepperland, of course, felt very much like it belonged.

    3
    Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. Robert Fraser/Jann Haworth/Michael Cooper

    Indeed, in an extraordinary nod to California, Morris even found a way to pepper George Harrison’s Indian raga-inspired Within You Without You with an Indonesian gamelan lick in the style of the late Californian maverick composer Lou Harrison.

    Louis Andriessen


    George Harrison. No image credit found

    7
    Lou Harrison. Wikipedia Fair Use

    The dance was originally commissioned by the city of Liverpool, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ historic album, along with a host of other international presenters, including UC Santa Barbara’s Arts & Lectures series. For the next couple of years, it will tour the world. Or maybe even across the universe. It’s that dazzling. (Upcoming local performances will be at the San Diego Civic Theatre on Saturday, and at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa in June 2019.)

    So here comes some of what’s new under the Beatles sun. The visionary German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, who happens to be among the notable figures who found their way onto the legendary album cover collage, is introduced as a female dancer in DayGlo turquoise and purple.

    5
    Karlheinz Stockhausen. Kathinka Pasveer

    A Day in the Life begins as an otherworldly theremin solo with a cocktail lounge piano accompaniment. Morris’ frisky dancers mimic every single instance of Penny Lane with choreography of such dazzling fast-forward quickness you can’t catch half of it.

    I would suggest that the most astounding achievement of Sgt. Pepper is not that it invented the concept album, now a dated concept in the age of streaming songs and making your own playlists. Nor is it that this is the first great pop album — meant to be, like electronic music, studio-made, not composed of songs intended for live performance. The difference is like that of film and the stage, but obviously Sgt. Pepper is, in the end, performable.

    Instead, the great advance of Sgt. Pepper was the Beatles’ genius for contrasting provincially comfy old Liverpool with the mod rockers of the late 1960s as well as the psychedelic visions of unseen, unimaginable other worlds. No pop record of the past, and none of such significance since, had its musical range, from music hall sentimentality to Bach to Ravi Shankar to the avant-garde of Stockhausen, John Cage and Luciano Berio.

    5
    Ravi Shankar. AP.

    The look of Pepperland — Elizabeth Kurtman’s mod costumes are as bright as neon, with vividly clashing colors and patterns — is not so surprising, nor is Morris’ playful choreography. That’s the popular side of Morris, such as in his hit The Hard Nut. But every single move in the dance is, while being utterly musical, entirely unexpected. What first seems wrong always feels right, as though, to confirm John Lennon’s lyric, “Nothing real, but nothing to get hung about.”

    The music includes Sgt. Pepper, With a Little Help From My Friends, When I’m Sixty Four and A Day in the Life, along with Penny Lane. But other music comes from the jazz pianist Ethan Iverson, a longtime Morris collaborator, writing for a mixed band that includes soprano sax, trombone, harpsichord, percussion and theremin. Baritone Clinton Curtis, who traipses between the classical and pop worlds, adds cool, uninflected lyrics.

    The rest of the hourlong score is made up of Iverson numbers meant to reflect on aspects of the songs, say a riff on Bach (the trumpet solo in Penny Lane having been inspired by the second Brandenburg Concerto) with bravura piano and harpsichord runs, or extending a bluesy guitar lick here, the album’s opening chord extended there. One number is meant to introduce some of the characters on the cover.

    Nothing sounds like Sgt. Pepper. Nothing looks like Sgt. Pepper either. Some dances have a theme. Some don’t. Dancers simply have a ball in chorus line routines. Small psychodramas play out with couples and threesomes but not exactly as narrative to the songs, except in A Day in the Life, which is done as an instrumental.

    Few dances end where they start. Morris and Iverson are masters of the fake-out in general and the false ending in particular. Morris continually plays around with the Beatles’ own contrasts between sentiment and abstraction and sheer fantasy, although he throws in an extra helping of irony now and then.

    There is also an overall mood of flippancy (of which Morris is also an amusing master) that turns out not to be flippancy at all but a deep investigation in the way movement tells us who we are.

    Ultimately Morris’ is the gift of life, as when a mindless meditating hippie sits cross-legged on the floor, while the rest of the company grooves around him in Within You Without You, until he finally rises, not enlightened, just alive.

    Nor is Pepperland sheer joy, although you can be deceived into thinking it is. It can be so much bouncy fun, especially in Morris’ brilliantly animated big ensemble numbers, untouched by cliché.

    But the lonely bits remain in the memory too, the way solo dancers stand apart from the crowd, the way Rob Schwimmer’s desolate theremin solos, Iverson’s torchy piano solos and Curtis’ cheerless vocals could, on their own, comprise a lonely hearts club combo.

    Pepperland is Sgt. Pepper at 50, looking back with irresistible fondness — what fun it all was — but also with wisdom, knowing that it was real and was something to get hung about.

    See the full article here.

    Ethan Iverson is a pianist, composer, and critic best known for his work in the avant-garde jazz trio The Bad Plus with bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King.

    Iverson was born in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Before The Bad Plus, he was musical director for the Mark Morris Dance Group and a student of both Fred Hersch and Sophia Rosoff. He has worked with artists such as Billy Hart, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Tim Berne, Mark Turner, Ben Street, Lee Konitz, Albert “Tootie” Heath, Paul Motian, Larry Grenadier, Charlie Haden and Ron Carter.

    He currently studies with John Bloomfield and serves on the faculty at New England Conservatory.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 5:13 PM on May 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Ethan Iverson, Ron Carter   

    From Ethan Iverson Do The M@TH: “Word Association with Ron Carter” 

    DO THE M@TH
    From Ethan Iverson

    Ethan Iverson 2016 photo by Jimmy Katz at http://www.jimmykatz.com, with permission

    “I interviewed Ron once before for DTM on the phone. This time when I visited him at his luxurious NYC apartment, the idea was just to bounce names off him and see what came to mind. Thanks to Kevin Sun for transcribing the interview.”

    Ron Carter – courtesy of Ron Carter

    Read the full interview at the full article.

    See the full article here.

    Ethan Iverson is a pianist, composer, and critic best known for his work in the avant-garde jazz trio The Bad Plus with bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King.

    Iverson was born in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Before The Bad Plus, he was musical director for the Mark Morris Dance Group and a student of both Fred Hersch and Sophia Rosoff. He has worked with artists such as Billy Hart, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Tim Berne, Mark Turner, Ben Street, Lee Konitz, Albert “Tootie” Heath, Paul Motian, Larry Grenadier, Charlie Haden and Ron Carter.

    He currently studies with John Bloomfield and serves on the faculty at New England Conservatory.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 1:52 PM on May 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Ethan Iverson,   

    From Ethan Iverson: “Reverential Gesture” 

    DO THE M@TH
    From Ethan Iverson

    Ethan Iverson 2016 photo by Jimmy Katz at http://www.jimmykatz.com, with permission

    Reverential Gesture

    “I think all the musicians in jazz should get together on one certain day and get down on their knees and thank Duke.” – Miles Davis

    Duke Ellington – no image credit

    Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington is recommended as a valuable historical overview. Unlike most jazz biographies, Terry Teachout uses all of 20th Century art and pop culture to tell Ellington’s story. It’s rough on Duke in some ways, but that’s the way of all serious biographies: Those who want to keep their heroes on pedestals shouldn’t read their life stories.

    Some of the musical analysis in Duke is surprising and controversial. Terry Teachout knows a lot about music—a hell of a lot—but he discusses Ellington differently from any jazz player I’ve ever known.

    His perspective has led other critical voices to respond to Duke in remarkably toxic ways…

    To see the full article, go to
    Reverential Gesture

    Ethan Iverson is a pianist, composer, and critic best known for his work in the avant-garde jazz trio The Bad Plus with bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King.

    Iverson was born in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Before The Bad Plus, he was musical director for the Mark Morris Dance Group and a student of both Fred Hersch and Sophia Rosoff. He has worked with artists such as Billy Hart, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Tim Berne, Mark Turner, Ben Street, Lee Konitz, Albert “Tootie” Heath, Paul Motian, Larry Grenadier, Charlie Haden and Ron Carter.

    He currently studies with John Bloomfield and serves on the faculty at New England Conservatory.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
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