UNsafe concert: Threadgill, La Barbara, ACO dare to fail

"Playing It UNsafe" is how the American Composers Orchestra characterizes tonight's concert of works by Henry Threadgill, Joan La Barbara, Sean Friar and Laura Schwendinger at Zankel Hall, NYC. Afraid of classical musicians improvising? Multi-layered "sound paintings" of multi-tracked voice, electronic ambiance and instrumentalists sitting in the audience? Symphonic and light collaborations? Then walk on the wild side -- or at least watch the fine videos by Jeremy Robins -- like the two of Threadgill explaining his … [Read more...]

Henry Threadgill, seer beyond ‘jazz’

In my City Arts column: a new album and Roulette concert with commissioned work from a worldly-wise 65 yr-old NYC/East Village-based composer-bandleader who keeps looking at music -- Varese's and Wagner's, Scott Joplin's and Ornette Coleman's -- to find something new. I call Henry Threadgill a prophet in the wilderness, urgently trying to shake us from complacency. At De Roberti's classic Italian pastry shop for coffee yesterday, Threadgill claimed he's just helping American music born in the urban late 20th century to develop its full … [Read more...]

Jazz time-out of the year?

A major international jazz festival right now in Washington D.C.? How odd: Is it the End of Times? Are we fiddlin' while Rome burns? Or could it be a new beginning? Ignore the credit crisis, the vp debates, end-game positioning by the One and the Other, Rosh Hashanah and Eid, Cubs and White Sox both in the playoffs -- here's the under-promoted but highly impressive fourth annual Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, Oct. 1 - 7! Balancing Kennedy Center concerts with "jazz in the 'hoods"  (club and arts center gigs mostly but not only NW), sophisticated … [Read more...]