Jazz beyond Jazz: April 2008 Archives
Oleg Kireyev, born in Bashkiria (aka Bashkortostan, more on which follows), is a dynamite soprano and tenor saxophonist who smiles broadly when he asks audiences to chime in with Mongolian throat-singing and quick-tonguing techniques. In New York City, a small group of listeners at Symphony Space complied, giving Kireyev's Feng Shui Theatre quartet, making its Stateside debut, a sweet welcome.
It's jazz-beyond-jazz, alright, when Wynton Marsalis composes a work for gospel choir and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, in honor of the 200th anniversary of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. But I must admit that I am neither drawn to hear such work nor qualified to comment on it. Having experienced Marsalis' previous large-scale religiously oriented works All Rise and In This House, On This Morning, I have developed some unshakable expectations and prejudices about such endeavors -- it's just not my cuppa tea. So I sought someone with fresh ears, more affinity for the material and less bias to report on the grand event. Meet Monica Hope seen here singing Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday" at a memorial service for the bassist Walter Booker, Jr.
Another victim of global economics? Or of flawed leadership? The 40-year-old International Association for Jazz Education has announced its bankruptcy, following an ill-attended conference in Toronto and unexpected departures by its executive director and president. "Industry of jazz" players are shocked, shocked!
Way out northwest last weekend for the Experience Music Project's 7th Annual Pop Conference, I also visited Earshot Jazz fest and concert producer John Gilbreath doing his weekly late night show "Jazz Theater" on KEXP.org.
Listen to Ornette Coleman's "Law Years" and a track from his concerto grosso "Skies of America," as well as Miles Davis's "Freedom Jazz Dance" remixed by Nas and "Black Satin" from On The Corner, interspersed with our conversation, for two weeks, as archived. Gilbreath interviewed author, Black Rock Coalition co-founder and Burnt Sugar guitarist-conspirator Greg Tate (who wrote the preface to my book) right after me.
Who presents and supports the articulation of ambitious thinking about American vernacular music? The Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum (Seattle's answer to NYC's American Museum of Natural History?) holds its seventh annual Pop Conference April 10 - 13, with dozens of scholars, journalists and musicians giving 20-minute run-throughs of their specialities on panels regarding the overall theme "Shake, Rattle: Music, Conflict and Change." I'm among the presenters, offering "Jazz Beyond Jazz: Breakthroughs and Coalitions" in a discussion moderated by Nate Chinen, music reviewer for the New York Times, columnist for Jazz Times. The panel is unfortunately (in my view) titled "Freedom Then." What about now?
It's a sad day when an established stage for national and local jazz closes, as JazzWest.com's Wayne Saroyan reports will happen to Jazz at Pearl's in San Francisco's North Beach (right across the street from City Lights Books ) at the end of April. One such closing does not signal a trend; small independent venues come and go. San Francisco does have its newly opened Yoshi's in the historically fascinating Fillmore district.