Archives for posts with tag: Arts for Art

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Photo: Francisco Mora Catlett, one of many performers at Justice is Compassion: Not a Police State.| Joyce Jones. Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND.
 
Words by Hank Williams
 
We’ve been spending lots of time lately covering the 2017 Winter Jazz Fest—with good reason, I’d argue, since it’s an annual blowout of experimental music. With WJF almost a wrap for this year, it’s time to turn to other venues to get your musical fix.
 
Fortunately, Arts for Art, best known for their annual Vision Fest which has become a mainstay of the avant garde music scene, is firing back with a series of their own. And–in true Arts for Art fashion—are operating on the principle that more is better (which in their case is usually true) and sponsoring a 3-week festival of their own. “Justice is Compassion: Not a Police State” is the latest incarnation of their long running Evolving music series that rolls around this time of year.
 
As with everything Arts for Art does, politics is front and center with the festival and deeply ingrained, not something tacked on at the last minute.
 

Justice is Compassion also stays true to another Arts for Art trait: while it centers the music, it gives time to dance, poetry, and visual art

Justice is Compassion also stays true to another Arts for Art trait: while it centers the music, it gives time to dance, poetry, and visual art as well. Jo Wood-Brown’s “Oasis Paintings” are on display throughout the festival and there are poetry sets on various days by Jesus Papoleto Melendez, Patricia Spears-Jones, David Mills, Yuko Otomo, and Steve Dalachinsky. Dance fans can look to Patricia Nicholson Parker and Miriam Parker, who’ll both be performing in separate sets.
 
All of this happens in Clemente Soto Velez Center, at 107 Suffolk St, just off Houston on the Lower East Side.
 
There are way too many musicians and sets to name here, with events nearly every night until January 22nd, but the personnel will be familiar to those who know Vision Fest. If you’re not, that’s fine, too, but expect a wide variety of artists–both young and old—and some who should be much better known than they are, like the incredibly prolific bassist William Parker, who’s a mainstay of the avant garde, and fellow bassist Henry Grimes, who’s been a key person on the scene since his reappearance on the avant garde jazz landscape a decade ago.
 
We’re looking forward to drummer/percussionist Francisco Mora- Catlett’s set on January 19, leading his AfroHORN ensemble.
 
The closing night on January 22nd features a finale helmed by Henry Grimes with what looks to be a wide assortment of artists from the fest and promises to be a freewheeling jam session and the type of blowout usually reserved for the last day of the summer’s Vision Fest. It’s titled “Heal and Resist”, which is an excellent note to go forward on in uncertain times.
 
See the entire schedule at the Arts for Art website.
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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York. Find him on Twitter @streetgriot

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bandstand_picPhoto Credit: Hank Williams

Welcome to Suga in My Bowl radio‘s weekly feature, On The Bandstand, where we collect upcoming NYC area shows from current and past Suga’ guests. We’re online weekly and on the air on NYC’s WBAI-FM radio alternate Sunday nights from 11 PM -1 AM. Keep up with us via Facebook, the blog here, or our main website, or Twitter and we’ll keep track of the schedule for you.
 
This week’s show continues our 2017 Winter Jazz Fest coverage with percussionist Francisco Mora Catlett and a brief visit by trombonist Craig Harris. You can see Harris lead his “Breathe” composition on the first marathon night of music on January 6th at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium. Catlett leads AfroHORN on the second marathon night at Zinc Bar on the 7th and later in the month at Clemente Soto Velez Center on the 19th. We recommend getting to Zinc Bar extremely early for the Catlett show.
 
Pianist Harold Mabern closes out the year at Smoke with a John Coltrane tribute through January 1st. Trombonist Steve Turre joins him as a special guest on the 29-30.
 
Blues vocalist Alexis P. Suter is at Iridium on the 27th.
 
Dr. Leonard Jeffries has 3 appearances this week at Kwanzaa events. You can catch him on the 27th in Harlem at the New Amsterdam Music Association and in Queens on the 30th at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center, and on New Year’s Eve at the Dr. John Henrik Clarke House in Harlem.
 
Hammond B3 organ master Dr. Lonnie Smith leads an octet at the Jazz Standard from December 28-January 1.
 
Bassist Mimi Jones hosts a jam session in the late set at Smoke on January 2.
 
Pianist Harold Mabern joins Brandi Disterheft’s trio at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club on January 4.
 
Saxophonist Billy Harper leads a quintet at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club on January 4 and at Smoke on January 6.
 
Poet Jesus Papoleto Melendez reads and dancer Patricia Nicholson Parker performs in separate sets on January 7 at the Clemente Soto Velez Center as part of Arts for Art’s monthlong Justice is Compassion series.
 
Bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake team up for a Roy Campbell tribute on January 9 and again on the 16 and 18 at the Clemente Soto Velez Center as part of Arts for Art’s Justice is Compassion series.
 
Drummer and percussionist Will Calhoun’s gallery exhibit of his visual art collaboration Aza is on view at the Bronx Music Heritage Center through February 11. We reviewed the show earlier this year.
 
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Not to be outdone by the Winter Jazz Fest, Vision Fest promoters Arts for Art is again sponsoring a nearly monthlong series from January 2-22nd of music, poetry, dance, and visual art titled “Justice is Compassion/ Not a Police State” at the Clemente Soto Velez Center on the Lower East Side. Poet Jesus Papoleto Melendez, bassist William Parker, drummer Hamid Drake, drummer/percussionist Francisco Mora Catlett’s AfroHORN, and dancer Patricia Nicholson Parker are just a few of the many involved. See the full schedule of 65 performances at their website.
 
Finally, the annual Winter Jazz Fest blows through town from January 5-10. We already mentioned Francisco Mora Catlett and AfroHORN and Craig Harris’s “Breathe”. Other festival highlights include an opening concert by saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders on the 5th, a closing performance by the Liberation Music Orchestra led by pianist Geri Allen on the 10th as a tribute to the late bassist Charlie Haden, and two marathon nights of music on the 7th and 8th. Drummer Andrew Cyrille is artist in residence and the festival theme is social justice. There are way too many former show guests there to mention, the full schedule is already up and we’ll have our own annual Cheat Sheet festival guide up right here after New Year’s.
 

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl is scheduled to be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on January 8. We’ll also have another edition of “On the Bandstand” online next Sunday with a fresh set of listings.
 
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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York.

bandstand_picPhoto Credit: Hank Williams

Welcome to Suga in My Bowl radio‘s weekly feature, On The Bandstand, where we collect upcoming NYC area shows from current and past Suga’ guests. We’re online weekly and on the air on NYC’s WBAI-FM radio alternate Sunday nights from 11 PM -1 AM. Keep up with us via Facebook, the blog here, or our main website, or Twitter and we’ll keep track of the schedule for you.
 
We’re off this week, but head on over to our archives for last week’s show with pianist David Virelles and nearly 7 years of archived shows. And let’s get to our music listings.
 
Saxophonist Gary Bartz‘s John Coltrane tribute at Smoke ends December 19th.
 
Pianist Vijay Iyer is at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith on the 19th and the duo repeats the next night at Brooklyn’s National Sawdust on the 20th.
 
Looking ahead, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane is with the James Carney Sextet at the Jazz Gallery on the 21st.
 
Organist John Medeski is at The Stone with Simulacrum from December 21-23.
 
Trombonist Craig Harris is at Harlem’s Mt. Olivet Baptist Church for a production of the James Weldon Johnson classic God’s Trombones on December 22-23.
 
Pianist Harold Mabern leads a trio at Smalls on the 21st then closes out the year at Smoke with a John Coltrane tribute from December 22nd-January 1st. Trombonist Steve Turre joins him as a special guest on the 29-30.
 
Hammond B3 organ master Dr. Lonnie Smith leads an octet at the Jazz Standard from December 28-January 1.
 
Drummer and percussionist Will Calhoun’s gallery exhibit of his visual art collaboration Aza is on view at the Bronx Music Heritage Center through February 11. We reviewed the show earlier this year.
 
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Not to be outdone by the Winter Jazz Fest, Vision Fest promoters Arts for Art is again sponsoring a nearly monthlong series throughout January of music, poetry, dance, and visual art titled “Justice is Compassion/ Not a Police State” at the Clemente Soto Velez Center on the Lower East Side. Poet Jesus Papoleto Melendez, bassist William Parker, drummer Hamid Drake, and dancer Patricia Nicholson Parker are just a few of the many involved.
 
Finally, looking much further ahead, the Winter Jazz Fest has released a teaser and preliminary lineup for the 2017 shinding from January 5-10! We’ll have a lot more to say about it, but for now, we’ll point you to their promo video with the highlights.
 

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl is scheduled to be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on December 25 (yes, we’re working on Christmas Day). We’ll also have another edition of “On the Bandstand” online next Sunday with a fresh set of listings.
 
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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York.

bandstand_picPhoto Credit: Hank Williams

Welcome to Suga in My Bowl radio‘s weekly feature, On The Bandstand, where we collect upcoming NYC area shows from current and past Suga’ guests. We’re online weekly and on the air on NYC’s WBAI-FM radio alternate Sunday nights from 11 PM -1 AM. Keep up with us via Facebook, the blog here, or our main website, or Twitter and we’ll keep track of the schedule for you.
 
We’re off the air this week, but if you missed last week’s show with Chris Becker, author of Freedom of Expression: Interviews With Women in Jazz, head on over to our audio archives. Be sure to join us next week for NEA Jazz Master Archie Shepp! As usual, we have lots more music for you this week.
 
The Mavis Staples documentary Mavis! airs on HBO’s streaming sites until April 3rd.
 

 
Pianist Vijay Iyer has a residency at the Met Museum’s new Breuer Building (that’s the former Whitney Museum) until March 31 and will be performing or curating performances during all of the museum’s open hours.
 
Toshi Reagon wraps up the Women’s Jazz Festival at the the NYPL’s Schomburg Center on the 28th. The show is sold out, but we’re giving away a pair of tickets. Email us for a chance to win at sugainmybowl [at] gmail [dot] com before 12 noon on Monday. Leave your phone number and we’ll call you Monday afternoon if you’re the winner.
 
WBGO Radio host Rhonda Hamilton and vocalist Dianne Reeves will be speaking at Newark (NJ) Symphony Hall in a ceremony celebrating the release of a new postage stamp honoring Sarah Vaughn on the 29th.
 
Drummer and percussionist Bobby Sanabria takes part in a celebration of the music of the Dominican Republic at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club on the 28th and Manhattan School of Music’s Borden Auditorium on April 4th.
 
Arts for Art’s Justice is Compassion series runs from March 26th to April 10th at Clemente Soto Velez Center with performances by bassist William Parker and dancer Patricia Nicholson Parker.
 
Bassist Mimi Jones leads a quartet in a free concert at Rutgers University Newark’s Paul Robeson Student Center on March 30 and will be at WBGO Radio’s studio in Newark as part of a free screening of the films Seeking Hope and The Girls in the Band on March 31.
 
Vocalist Dianne Reeves is at Carnegie Hall on March 30.
 
Blues vocalist Alexis P. Suter is at Iridium on March 31, The Turning Point in Piermont NY on April 9, and at The Record Collector in Bordentown NJ on the 16th.
 
Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane is at at the Jazz Standard from March 29-April 3.
 
Saxophonist Kenny Garrett is at Western Connecticut State University on April 2nd.
 
Saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders is at Birdland from April 5-9th.
 
Pianist Harold Mabern leads a trio at Village Vanguard from April 5-10th.
 
Organist John Medeski is at The Blue Note from April 5-10th with John Scofield.
 
Organist Dr. Lonnie Smith leads his Evolution ensemble at in a CD release party at Brooklyn Bowl on April 6th.
 
Film director Carol Bash is at Rutgers University Newark’s Institute for Jazz Studies for a talk and screening of her Mary Lou Williams documentary film The Lady Who Swings the Band on April 6th.
 
Drummer Michael Carvin leads a trio in a free lunchtime concert at Newark’s Gateway Center at 12 noon on April 7th.
 
Bassist Bob Cranshaw is at Smoke with George Coleman’s Quartet from April 8-10th.
 
Saxophonist Oliver Lake is at the Montclair NJ Public Library on April 9th.
 
Pianist Randy Weston celebrates his 90th birthday at Brooklyn’s Jazz 966 on April 9th.
 
Bassist Christian McBride leads a trio at The Ridgefield Playhouse in CT on April 10.
 
That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl is back on WBAI‘s airwaves on April 3rd. We’ll also have another edition of “On the Bandstand” online next Sunday with a fresh set of listings.
 
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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York.

bandstand_picPhoto Credit: Hank Williams

Welcome to Suga in My Bowl radio‘s weekly feature, On The Bandstand, where we collect upcoming NYC area shows from current and past Suga’ guests. We’re online weekly and on the air on NYC’s WBAI-FM radio alternate Sunday nights from 11 PM -1 AM. Keep up with us via Facebook, the blog here, or our main website, or Twitter and we’ll keep track of the schedule for you.
 
We’re off the air this week, but look for our review coverage of the 2016 Winter Jazz Fest that wrapped up this weekend. Now let’s take a look at some upcoming gigs.
 
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Annual Vision Fest producers Arts for Art’s nearly monthlong “Justice is Compassion” festival continues at Clemente Soto Velez Center until January 24 with drummer Hamid Drake, dancer Patricia Nicholson Parker, bassist William Parker and many more.
 
The Harlem Jazz Parlor Festival hosts low brass specialist Joe Daley on the 18.
 
Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane will be at the John Coltrane House in Dix Hills, LI on the 20th.
 
Vocalist René Marie is at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club from January 21-24.
 
Saxophonist Gary Bartz leads a quartet at the new Cassandra’s Jazz Club and Gallery in Harlem from January 22-23rd. He then moves to the Blue Note on the 25 with legendary pianist McCoy Tyner. They’re also there on February 1, 15, and March 1. Tyner’s been less public lately, so it’s a good idea to catch one of these dates and see the last remaining member of Coltrane’s band in action.
 
Also at the Blue Note is legendary drummer Roy Haynes from January 26-27.
 
Vibraphonist Gary Burton, bassist Christian McBride, and saxophonist Tia Fuller are at Birdland with the Mack Avenue Records Superband from January 26-30.
 
Drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts is at the Jazz Standard with saxophonist Jimmy Greene’s Quartet from January 29-31.
 
Saxophonist Kenny Garrett is at Iridium from January 29-31.
 
Drummer Craig Haynes has an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign to support making a CD and DVD of his band’s performance at the 2016 Dakar Goree Jazz Festival.
 
That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl is back on WBAI‘s airwaves on January 24th. We’ll also have another edition of “On the Bandstand” online next Sunday with a fresh set of listings.
 
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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York.

bandstand_picPhoto Credit: Hank Williams

Welcome to Suga in My Bowl radio‘s weekly feature, On The Bandstand, where we collect upcoming NYC area shows from current and past Suga’ guests. We’re online weekly and on the air on NYC’s WBAI-FM radio alternate Sunday nights from 11 PM -1 AM. Keep up with us via Facebook, the blog here, or our main website, or Twitter and we’ll keep track of the schedule for you.
 
Suga’ in My Bowl is off the air this week: we’re back on December 27th with another preview of the 2016 Winter Jazz Fest. If you missed our last show with promoter and WJF director Brice Rosenbloom, then head on over to our our audio archives for that and much more. Now let’s take a look at some upcoming gigs.
 
Saxophonist Gary Bartz leads a quartet at Smoke until December 21st.
 
Also at Smoke is pianist Harold Mabern in a John Coltrane Festival from the 22nd to the 31st. He’s joined by trombonist Steve Turre on the 26-27th.
 
Pianist and vocalist Diane Schuur is at Iridium for a Frank Sinatra centennial celebration from the 26-28.
 
Guitarist Marc Ribot is at The Stone with John Zorn on the 29th.
 
Trombonist Craig Harris is at Sistas’ Place on New Year’s Eve.
 
Saxophonist Lou Donaldson leads a quartet the Jazz Standard from January 1-3.
 
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Looking ahead, Arts for Art (producers of the annual Vision Fest) are sponsoring a nearly monthlong “Justice is Compassion” festival at Clemente Soto Velez Center from January 4-24 with dancer Patricia Nicholson Parker, bassist William Parker and many more.
 
Looking even further ahead, the annual Winter Jazz Fest blows into town from January 13-17 with so many past, present (and future) Suga’ guests that it needs its own coverage, which we’ll get to this week. But for now, you can head on over to their site and check out the complete rundown for yourself. If that’s too overwhelming, don’t worry, we’ll have you covered with a cheat sheet like we did last year.
 
That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl is back on WBAI‘s airwaves on December 27. We’ll also have another edition of “On the Bandstand” online next Sunday with a fresh set of listings.
 
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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York.

bandstand_picPhoto Credit: Hank Williams

Welcome to Suga in My Bowl radio‘s weekly feature, On The Bandstand, where we collect upcoming NYC area shows from current and past Suga’ guests. We’re online weekly and on the air on NYC’s WBAI-FM radio alternate Sunday nights from 11 PM -1 AM. Keep up with us via Facebook, the blog here, or our main website, or Twitter and we’ll keep track of the schedule for you.

This week’s show marked the centennial of Billie Holiday’s birth. Vocalist Nona Hendryx was one of the people featured on the show and is appearing at Harlem Stage on April 30 and May 1 in “Parallel Lives: Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf.” Meanwhile, let’s take a look at some upcoming gigs.

Saxophonist Oliver Lake is also a visual artist and has an exhibit of his painted sticks at the Aljira Center for Contemporary Art in downtown Newark NJ until May 21st.

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Photo: Oliver Lake’s Redbone Stick Plus. | oliverlake.net

Drummer Bobby Sanabria will be at Zinc Bar on April 8th.

Vocalist Catherine Russell is at City Winery on April 9 and at the Rainbow Room on the 13th with the After Midnight Orchestra.

Pianist Harold Mabern’s trio celebrates the release of their Afro Blue CD at Smoke on April 10-12th.

Vibraphonist Roy Ayers is at Iridium on April 17-18.

Low brass specialist on tuba and trombone Joe Daley will be at Terra Blues with Hazmat Modine on April 18th.

Arts for Art’s monthlong “Our Earth/Our World” festival of musicians, poets, and visual artists continues at at Clemente Soto Velez Center on the Lower East Side.

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WBAI Radio is a media sponsor of Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium’s month-long jazz festival from April 17-May 17 at various Brooklyn locations.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl is back on WBAI‘s airwaves April 5th. We’ll also have another edition of “On the Bandstand” online next Sunday with a fresh set of listings.

Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York.

bandstand_picPhoto Credit: Hank Williams

Suga in My Bowl radio presents a new weekly feature, On The Bandstand where we collect upcoming NYC area shows from current and past Suga’ guests.

Program note: Suga’ in My Bowl has changed to a biweekly schedule on WBAI Radio and now alternates Sunday nights with Sports Qualified at our usual 11 PM -1 AM time period. You’ll get the same great show; just every other week! So mark your calendars or just keep up with us via our Facebook page, the blog here, or our main website and we’ll keep track of the schedule for you.

Suga’ in My Bowl is off the air this week. Join us on air next Sunday. To get your fix until then, check out our our audio archives and scroll down the page for our coverage of the Charlie Haden Memorial in NYC. And check back later on for our review of this year’s Winter Jazz Fest. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at some upcoming gigs.

Pianist Vijay Iyer has a residency at The Stone from January 20-25th with various guests sitting in each night. Legendary bassist Reggie Workman joins him on the 20th and 25th.

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The Arts for Art organization (promoters of the annual Vision Fest) will have an artist response to the Black Lives Matter movement from the 23rd to 30th at Clemente Soto Velez Center on the Lower East Side. Dancer Patricia Nicholson Parker and trombonist Dick Griffin (who will be showing his visual art) will be among the many artists and performers there.

Pianist Marc Cary leads his Focus Trio at Harlem’s Ginny’s Supper Club on January 23rd and 24th. They continue a 5-week residency at the Cell Theatre on January 31st, running through February.

Pianist Onaje Allen Gumbs is at Sista’s Place in Brooklyn on the 24th.

Harpist Brandee Younger is at Minton’s in Harlem on the 25th.

Looking ahead, you have a rare opportunity to catch multi-instrumentalist Charles Gayle on saxophone, bass, and piano with guitarist Marc Ribot at The Stone on January 28th.

Also on the 28th, keyboardist John Medeski is at the Village Vanguard.

Looking further ahead, saxophonist Pharoah Sanders will be at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club from January 29th to February 1st.

Saxophonist Oliver Lake will be at Roulette in Brooklyn on January 30th.

Finally, looking even further ahead, Blues vocalist Alexis P. Suter will be at Treme in Islip, LI on January 31st.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl is back on WBAI next week, January 25th. We’ll have another edition of “On the Bandstand” on air and online next Sunday with a fresh set of listings.

Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York.

One thing I look forward to every year in mid-June is the Vision Fest, a weeklong celebration of improvised music they’re referring to as “AvantJazz”, poetry, and visual art.

This year’s Vision Festival (number 19) kicked off on June 11th at Roulette in Brooklyn with the spotlight on multi-instrumentalist Charles Gayle, one of this year’s recipient of the lifetime achievement award organizer Arts for Art presents to selected artists at the Fest.

If you didn’t catch the June 8th Suga’ in My Bowl show with Joyce Jones’s interview with Gayle and Patricia Nicholson Parker, it’s worth checking out. Parker runs down some important history of Vision and its evolution over the years, including its struggle to survive as an independent institution free from corporate sponsorship. Gayle, who’s a man of few words and extreme humility, talks about his work and approach to music. (you can hear a short preview of the show below.)

Last night, Gayle took the stage with drummer Michael T.A. Thompson for the first set dressed as his alter-ego “Streets”, and playing upright bass. The set gradually grew in intensity with Gayle and Thompson playing off each other.

William Parker (b) and Charles Gayle (sax) at Vision Fest 19.| Joyce Jones Photo.

William Parker (b) and Charles Gayle (sax) at Vision Fest 19.| Joyce Jones Photo.

Gayle played the most of the night as “Streets”, his Chaplin-esque alter ego in clown makeup. Gayle explains in a Village Voice interview that he took on that stage persona to free himself from some of the constraints he saw and allow him more space as an artist, feeling that he could be more expressive in costume. Don’t be confused, though: Gayle’s playing is no joke and he takes the music so seriously that he is probably harder on himself than the average critic would be. He walked away from a teaching position at SUNY Buffalo, for example, because too many of the students he dealt with couldn’t put in the voluminous amount of time practicing that he did and he didn’t feel that he could bring out their best without that high level of commitment. Thus Gayle eased himself away from what’s become an important income source for many working artists these days.

Charles_Gayle_Piano_Vis19Gayle then switched to piano for the rest of the set, playing in an angular, percussive style reminiscent of Cecil Taylor. For the final part of the opening set, dancers Patricia Nicholson Parker and Miriam Parker joined Gayle onstage along with Daniel Carter on trumpet and saxophone.

WKCR Radio’s Ben Young emceed the evening and was on hand to reflect on Gayle’s legacy. Young compared Gayle to the main character in the Bernard Malamud story “The Natural”: someone who is in the game for the purity of it. As journalists, Young pointed out, “we always wanted to put a brand identity on” Gayle’s work and “make a marketing plan”, but Gayle has resisted such efforts, partly as a result of his own humility; partly in an effort to resist outside pressure on his musical creativity.

Young also reflected on past shows at disappeared venues such as the Knitting Factory and other disappeared NYC venues where Gayle honed his craft.

Gayle’s second set was a quartet with bassist William Parker, drummer Michael Wimberly, and pianist Dave Burrell with Gayle on tenor saxophone.

Quincy Troupe reads on opening night of Vision Fest 19 | Joyce Jones photo.

Quincy Troupe reads on opening night of Vision Fest 19 | Joyce Jones photo.

Poet and writer Quincy Troupe (also known for collaborating with Miles Davis on his autobiography) had a short set all to himself. Some of his readings were dedicated to the late Amiri Baraka, whose been a fixture at Vision, reading poetry either by himself or with wife (and fellow poet Amina) and their Blue Ark jazz ensemble or participating in discussions around the culture and politics. Troupe recalled meeting Baraka in the late 1960s in Los Angeles and being surprised that Baraka knew his work. “A lot of people didn’t like [Amiri] because he told the truth [and] people don’t like truth tellers. But that’s what poets are supposed to do”, Troupe reflected. Troupe read Baraka’s poem “Wise 1 as a salute.

From his own work, Troupe read an excerpt from the intro to his book Miles and Me on the poetry of Miles’s music. Troupe finished his set with a poem on Duke Ellington and one dedicated to the late vocalist Leon Thomas.

Final set on Vision 19's opening night. | Joyce Jones photo.

Final set on Vision 19’s opening night. | Joyce Jones photo.

The night’s closing set featured Gayle returning on piano and conduction and a number of musicians joined him in the type of freewheeling jam Vision is known for: Andrew Cyrille (percussion), Shayna Dulberger (upright bass), Ted Daniels (trumpet), former Vision lifetime honoree Kidd Jordan (tenor sax), Steve Swell (trombone), Mazz Swift (violin), Nioka Workman on cello, Jason Kao Hwang (violin), and Ingrid Laubrock (tenor sax).

Thursday evening’s line-up includes another Vision regular, poet Steve Dalachinsky, who’ll also be paying tribute to Baraka; a film tribute to visual artist musicWitness® Jeff Schlanger, who’s being awarded a lifetime achievement award by Vision and whose work provides the backdrop for the sounds each year; guitarists Mary Halvorson and Susan Alcorn; and a closing set by saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, drummer Hamid Drake and bassist William Parker.

The final set is one to look forward to and looks to be one of the highlights of the week. Brötzmann’s frenetic, rapid-fire sax playing is serious and he doesn’t get to the US very often. In combination with Parker and Drake, it’s likely to be a set to remember.

Are you there this week? Share your thoughts in the comments.

All photos courtesy of Joyce Jones and used with permission. Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York.

Joyce Jones is producer and host for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and a graphic artist.

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