Archives for posts with tag: Cooper-Moore

Words by Hank Williams. Photos © Joyce Jones/SugaBowl Photography. | MAIN PHOTO: Cooper-Moore @ the 2017 Vision Fest. Used with Permission. Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND.

The 22nd annual Vision Fest opened to a nearly full house on Memorial Day in Judson Memorial Church’s expansive main hall. The festival’s starting earlier than usual this year, though spanning its traditional week.

Pianist and multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore was the recipient of this year’s lifetime achievement award, given annually by Vision to highlight artists working within the avant garde jazz framework. As is the custom with awardees, Cooper-Moore appeared in three different ensembles over the course of the evening, which allowed a view into his richly expansive range of work.

Poet/ playwright/ spoken word artist Carl Hancock Rux had a set interspersed with Cooper-Moore’s and provided a bluesy, soulful set of works accompanied by a DJ. Rux sang/read several pieces including one appropriately dedicated to the late avant garde vocalist Jeanne Lee.

Cooper-Moore’s first set was with bassist William Parker’s “In Order to Survive.” Parker explained from the bandstand that the ensemble has been together since about 1992 and that all the music for the night’s set was written by Cooper-Moore.

As one might expect with two longtime collaborators, the two musicians’ relationship extends beyond the bandstand. “When I got back to New York I was [living] out on the street” Cooper-Moore recalled, adding that when he finally got an apartment he put a picture of William Parker on the wall.

Photo: In Order to Survive at Vision 22’s Opening Night

Cooper-Moore was on piano for the set, with drummer Hamid Drake and saxophonist Rob Brown. The first composition titled “Welcome” began melodically with all members swinging hard before a frenetic angular piano attack by Cooper-Moore.

An interconnected series of pieces (titled “Vision #1, #2, and #3,” we were told) left plenty of space for a long exploration by Parker on the bass using the bow. Cooper-Moore re-entered with a melodic, contemplative piano solo and ended somewhat abruptly on a quiet note.

A piece titled “Jack Spratt” began with a jaunty sax line by Brown, then settled into the interaction between Cooper-Moore and Parker.

The Cooper-Moore-led ensemble “Digital Primitives” began the second set with a dramatic reading of an excerpt of Kurt Gottschalk’s story “Ellington and Gerald” (PDF available on his website) accompanied by Chad Taylor’s light brush work on the drum kit.

The second piece was a duo between Taylor on mbira and Cooper-Moore on one of his custom, handmade instruments: a long bow held and played like a violin.

Photo: Digital Primitives at Vision 22’s Opening Night

The third song changed tone again. Cooper-Moore said, “we’ll let Chad start it off with some funky stuff,” vowing to catch up later on when he got his preferred instrument for the set connected to the amplifier: an electrified device resembling the offspring of a bass guitar and a banjo. Taylor dutifully launched into a sturdy backbeat accompanied by saxophonists Assif Tsahar and Brian Price until Cooper-Moore joined them to rock out for the rest of the piece.

The set ended abruptly with Cooper-Moore leading the ensemble singing “It’s a great day to be alive.”

Photo: Digital Primitives at Vision 22’s Opening Night

There’s no other way to say it than to resort to an overused and often undeserved phrase: Cooper-Moore is simply a musical genius. I struggled for a while with wording because calling his instruments handmade (although they are) doesn’t fully convey the level of mastery and craftsmanship involved in creating the instruments, have them actually work, and achieve the level of proficiency he has playing all of them. Add to that his equal proficiency on the piano and the range of textures he’s able to create and the adjective seems to fit.

If you hear Cooper-Moore on anything he plays or in most any combo, it is indeed a great day (or evening) to be alive.

The fest continues until Saturday June 3 at Judson, with afterhours sets at Nublu on selected nights and a conference on Thursday at Columbia University. See our in-depth cheat sheet preview or just head to Vision’s site for details. I’ll be reporting daily throughout the festival as well, so keep an eye out for updates. For a deeper dive into Cooper-Moore, see the Suga’ in My Bowl episode with an interview on him in our archives.

Hank Williams is assistant producer for Suga’ in My Bowl and produces the weekly “On the Bandstand” segment as well as running the show’s website and blog, where he has reviewed several jazz festivals. His writing has also appeared in Left Turn magazine and American Music Review. He teaches at Lehman and Hunter colleges in the City University of New York system. Find him on Twitter @streetgriot.

Joyce Jones is the executive producer and host of Suga’ in My Bowl. She is a graphic designer and her photos have been published in Black Renaissance Noir.

It’s that time of year again: time for New York’s weeklong avantjazz blowout run by the scrappy nonprofit Arts for Art organization. While larger, bigger festivals have crashed and burned over the years,  the Vision Festival just keeps rolling on, getting better every year and setting a high bar for improvised music.

For 2017, the festival returns to the historic Judson Memorial Church with nightly concerts from May 29-June 3, with an all-day conference at Columbia University on Thursday June 1 and a new series of after-hours midnight sets  at the cozy Nublu on Ave C. This is all in addition to the usual well-managed mayhem at the Judson mothership where you can casually run into visual artists like Jeff Schlanger, furiously sketching and translating the sound to lines, shapes, and color or the musicians themselves, who often hang out to see other sets. There’s also the marketplace in Judson’s basement, where you can grab a drink, or buy some music (and probably get it signed by at least one of the musicians).

Although Vision’s focus is avant garde jazz and poetry, the scope and variety shows how broad a spectrum there is even within that category. There are acoustic acts, ones that experiment with various electronic instruments and other electronics, duos, trios, big bands, the occasional solo act, with the most common thread being a fierce allegiance to Wayne Shorter’s definition of jazz as challenge– “I dare you”–to which Vision’s artists respond “challenge accepted.”

With that said, I’ll walk through a few highlights (with an admitted slight bias to former Suga’ in My Bowl guests) of acts I’m looking forward to. With those caveats admitted up front, I’ll say that one of the great pleasures of Vision is learning about someone new or getting blown away by the set of someone you’d heard or seen before and not appreciated. So while this guide is meant to point to a few highlights, leave yourself open to listening to a few new things. Some might hit; others might not, but that’s the way it goes with challenges and taking risks. When they pay off, however, they pay off big time.

Monday May 29

Pianist and multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore is the focus of tonight’s sets and recipient of this year’s lifetime achievement award from Vision. Cooper-Moore is featured in three ensembles over the course of the evening: In Order to Survive, Digital Primitives, and Black Host. Sandwiched between the sets is poet Carl Hancock Rux, who takes the stage at 9 PM with DJ Hamilton Kirby. Rux’s storytelling skills are phenomenal, as is his grasp of music. Expect a highly lyrical, deeply captivating set.

William Parker’s “In Order to Survive” is appearing in just one of its numerous permutations this evening, but here the quartet of bassist Parker, saxophonist Rob Brown, drummer Hamid Drake, and Cooper-Moore on piano joins some of the most frequent collaborators in the ensemble. It also fuses a quartet that thoroughly embraces the philosophy of free improvisation, which makes it somewhat difficult to predict exactly where things will go, but it’s sure to be one of the highlights of the evening and the festival itself. See the video on the Vision page for an idea of that to expect.

“Digital Primitives”, on the other hand, joins Cooper-Moore with Assif Tsahar (tenor sax), Chad Taylor (drums, m’bira), and Brian Price (tenor sax). Here, Cooper-Moore’s weapons of choice will be his hand-crafted instruments, which promises a much different interpretation of free jazz. Check out the video on the Vision page for a sample of their work.

The evening’s closing set promises that “Black Host”  will “bring forth original compositions that blend modern jazz, free music, psych, post-punk and electrified noise with painstaking detail and heady abandon. A reverb-drenched and incisive stew of rhapsodic piano, searing alto and fractured guitar over rhythms that are alternately chunky and airy, rendered with a tremendous live energy.” Cooper-Moore returns to piano for this set and one can expect a high energy climax to end the evening. Again, Vision’s page has a video.

For a much deeper dive into Cooper-Moore, check out Suga in My Bowl’s show focused on his career.

Tuesday May 30

Yoshiko Chuma’s “School of Hard Knocks” shows a different end of the Vision spectrum, combining dancers, visual projections and music to kick off the evening’s festivities. The “Jazz and Poetry Choir Collective,” on the other hand, fulfills Vision’s longstanding practice of centering experimental poetry and music collaborations.

Drummer Tomas Fujiwara’s ‘Double Trio” teams him up with frequent collaborator, guitarist Mary Halvorson. Halvorson’s own career is starting to take off and her work with fellow electric guitarist Marc Ribot always produces brilliant exchanges of exciting improvised work.

Closing out the evening are “TRIO3,” who make a welcome return to the Vision Fest. This time, the core veteran trio of saxophonist Oliver Lake, bassist Reggie Workman, and drummer Andrew Cyrille are joined by Marc Cary on piano and Ayana Workman, who’ll read text from “Suite for Courage.” TRIO3 is always worth catching and will likely be playing some music from their just-released Visiting Texture album. See Vision’s page for a video of them in action.

Wednesday May 31

The trio of Whit Dickey (drums), Mat Maneri (viola), and Matthew Shipp (piano) combines three Vision regulars, but for the first time in this specific combination, according to Vision organizer Patricia Nicholson Parker. In a later set, violinist Jason Kao Hwang’s “Burning Bridge” brings tuba player Joe Daley back in a medium-sized ensemble. Poet Tracie Morris returns to Vision after a long hiatus accompanied by guitarist Marvin Sewell for a short set that promises a set rooted in Morris’s bluesy spoken word.

Saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Charles Gayle also makes a return, joined by Vision stalwart William Parker on bass and
Michael TA Thompson on drums for the closing set. It’s a rare treat to get to see Gayle, and you should do so. Vision’s page has a video from 3 years ago, when he received a lifetime achievement award. For a much deeper dive into Gayle, I’ll send you to the Suga’ archives again, where we discussed Gayle’s career in a Vision preview.

Thursday June 1

If you’re a hardcore Vision fan and attending several (all?) nights, you might be running a little ragged by now, but Thursday’s not a night to skip.

First, however, if you’re on vacation or can manage a day off from work, then head to Columbia University for a free Vision Fest-focused conference titled “The Sound of Resistance.” Academics, including Ingrid Monson (Freedom Sounds: Civil Rights Call out to Jazz and Africa; Saying Something: Jazz Improvisation and Interaction) and Fred Moten (In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition) will be joined by Cooper-Moore, Patricia Nicholson Parker, and many others to go deeper into the state of improvised music, politics, and culture.

Head back to Judson in the evening for Odean Pope’s “Saxophone Choir”, which starts things off at Judson with a 7 PM set. Poet Jesus Papoleto Melendez follows with a short set (which will hopefully include his poem for Oscar Lopez Rivera).

Flutist Nicole Mitchell’s “Artifacts Trio” gets tasked with batting cleanup this evening and will be easily up to the task. Mitchell had a memorable part in last year’s ensemble with bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Chad Taylor and this year helms her own trio with two other members of the legendary Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians collective: cellist Tomeka Reid and drummer Mike Reed. Vision’s page has an audio sample and you can listen to our March 2017 show with Mitchell for a deeper dive into her work.

Friday June 2

“Dream Book” joins Vision veterans Joe McPhee (sax, trumpet) and Daniel Carter (sax, trumpet, flute) with a capable ensemble in tribute to late bassist Dominic Duval and saxophonist Ornette Coleman.

Later in the evening, pianist Dave Burrell leads a quartet that should provide lots of fireworks and interesting interaction. William Parker joins in on bass with drummer William Hooker and the first appearance this year of saxophonist Kidd Jordan. Jordan’s saxophone style has evolved into an impressive mix of free-form eclecticism, as he seamlessly moves between upper register squeals  and more open free-form blowing. But for Jordan, it always seems to revert to the roots of the music in the Blues and what he referred to as the “Holy ghost” in Joyce Jones’s interview in our last show.

Saturday June 3

Vision has a tradition of closing with big blowout performances and this year looks to hold true to form. “Postitive Knowledge” with Oluyemi Thomas (bass clarinet, soprano sax) and Ijeoma Thomas (voice poetry, percussion) should provide a spiritually grounded (and spirited) opening set–especially when accompanied by special Guest Andrew Cyrille on drums.

Later in the evening, David Murray (tenor sax, bass clarinet) leads a unique trio with percussionist Kahil El’Zabar and
Gerry Eastman on bass and guitar. Murray’s well known for his “Class Struggle” ensembles, but Murray promises an experience different from any of his previous Vision appearances. He writes in introduction that “Kahil and I have broken ground by composing extremely memorable songs which he leads and I answer vocally, which is something I rarely do. His infectious enthusiastic spirit always takes my horns to another level.” For a deeper dive into Murray, I’ll point you to our 2014 show with him.

William Parker and saxophonist Oliver Lake are tasked with co-leading the closing set with “Songs for a Free World,” featuring choreography by Patricia Nicholson Parker and a vast assemblage of vocalists and musicians marshalled to bring their swirling vision (pun unintentional) to life. It promises to be an incredibly moving set to end the festival.

If you can stay up late, head over to the postage-stamp sized Nublu for the midnight set with “Heroes are Gang Leaders,” featuring an expanded version of saxophonist James Brandon Lewis’s trio with vocalists and spoken word artists (including the incomparable Thomas Sayers Ellis) joining JBL’s normal collaborators Luke Stewart on electric bass and  Warren Trae Crudup on drums. Last year, Lewis’s trio was one of the revelations of the festival for me and put his work squarely on my radar with their hard-hitting style and inspired energetic playing.

I’ll be reporting daily dispatches throughout the festival including photos from Suga’ in My Bowl host and executive producer Joyce Jones. We also have tentative plans to try some video shorts this year during the festival. Check back for all of it.

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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

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 Vision Festival 22 preview coverage with saxophonist Kidd Jordan, who you can catch at Vision on Friday June 2.  V22 opens at Judson Memorial Church on May 29 and runs through June 3. Scroll down for details and our annual preview is on the way.

 

Before we get to this week’s listings, a reminder that WBAI Radio’s starting its Spring Fund Drive and needs your support to stay on the air and keep our show on the air. There are 3 ways to give. You can call 516-620-3602 (preferably while we’re on the air), pledge online, or just send a text message to 41444 and enter WBAI as the message. You can pledge as little as $5 or consider becoming a sustaining member with a monthly pledge. Of course, we’re grateful for any help you can give.

WBGO Radio has a visual art exhibit featuring works produced by musicians. It’s on view at their studio in downtown Newark NJ and features the work of Will Calhoun, Mino Cinelu, Dick Griffin, Oliver Lake, Carmen Lundy and others. Saxophonist Oliver Lake will be performing for the reception on June 8.

It’s the last call for director John Scheinfeld’s John Coltrane documentary film Chasing ‘Trane at the IFC Center in Manhattan. It’s been held over for awhile now, so best not to delay any longer. See our review of the film for a preview.

Bassist Alex Blake is at The Blue Note with vocalist Julie E on May 29.

Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane is at Birdland from May 30-June 3.

Saxophonist Gary Bartz is at The Blue Note on May 30-31 with pianist McCoy Tyner.

Drummer JT Lewis and bassist Melvin Gibbs are at Le Poisson Rouge with Harriet Tubman on May 31.

Pianist Randy Weston is at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark NJ on June 3 for Jazz Vespers.

Myself—Hank Williams—will be at the Left Forum at John Jay College on June 3 as part of the “Writer as Revolutionary” panel speaking on the Black Arts Movement.

Drummer Will Calhoun is at Prince Street Project Space with Adejoke Tugbiyele on June 4.

Saxophonist Kamasi Washington is at Brooklyn’s McCarren Park on June 8 as part of the Northside Festival.

Guitarist Pat Metheny, bassist Linda May Han Oh, and drummer Antonio Sanchez are at the Beacon Theater on June 10.

The Sun Ra Arkestra led by saxophonist Marshall Allen is at Union Pool in Brooklyn on June 10.

Vocalist Thana Alexa and bassist William Parker are both at the Red Hook Jazz Festival on June 11.

The big event on the horizon is this year’s Vision Fest. It starts on the May 28 at Anthology film archives and moves to Judson Memorial Church from the 29-June 3 with nightly performances of jazz, dance, poetry, and visual art. In addition to William Parker and Cooper-Moore, you can see drummer Hamid Drake, poets Carl Hancock Rux and Jesus Papoleto Melendez, TRIO 3 with Reggie Workman, Andrew Cyrille and Oliver Lake; and saxophonists Charles Gayle and David Murray. There’s also a conference on June 1 at Columbia University sponsored by the Center for Jazz Studies and a new series of after hours sets starting at midnight at Nublu.

WBAI Radio returns as a media sponsor of this year’s Vision Fest.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl is scheduled to be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on Sunday June 11. 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. Find him on Twitter @streetgriot

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 (which was a preview of the upcoming Vision Fest) with guests pianist/multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore, bassist William Parker, and Vision Festival organizer Patricia Nicholson Parker, head to our archives for the full recap.  Vision Festival opens at Judson Memorial Church on May 29 and the festival runs through June 3. Scroll down for details and our annual preview is coming next week.

Before we get to this week’s listings, a reminder that WBAI Radio’s starting its Spring Fund Drive and needs your support to stay on the air and keep our show on the air. There are 3 ways to give. You can call 516-620-3602 (preferably while we’re on the air), pledge online, or just send a text message to 41444 and enter WBAI as the message. You can pledge as little as $5 or consider becoming a sustaining member with a monthly pledge. Of course, we’re grateful for any help you can give.

WBGO Radio has a visual art exhibit featuring works produced by musicians. It’s on view at their studio in downtown Newark NJ and features the work of Will Calhoun, Mino Cinelu, Dick Griffin, Oliver Lake, Carmen Lundy and others.

It’s the last call for director John Scheinfeld’s John Coltrane documentary film Chasing ‘Trane at the IFC Center in Manhattan. It’s been held over for awhile now, so best not to delay any longer. See our review of the film for a preview.

Drummer and percussionist Bobby Sanabria is at the Blue Note from May 25-28 with Larry Harlow’s Latin Legends.

Poet Carl Hancock Rux is at the Jazz Gallery as part of Joel Ross’ “Being a Young Black Man” on May 26-27.

Saxophonist Oliver Lake leads an organ quartet at Trumpets in Montclair NJ on May 26 and at Smalls on May 27. He’ll also be at the Vision Fest on May 30 and June 3.

Bassist Alex Blake is at The Blue Note with vocalist Julie E on May 29.

Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane is at Birdland from May 30-June 3.

Saxophonist Gary Bartz is at The Blue Note on May 30-31 with pianist McCoy Tyner.

Pianist Randy Weston is at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark NJ on June 3 for Jazz Vespers.

The big event on the horizon is this year’s Vision Fest. It starts on the May 28 at Anthology film archives and moves to Judson Memorial Church from the 29-June 3 with nightly performances of jazz, dance, poetry, and visual art. In addition to William Parker and Cooper-Moore, you can see drummer Hamid Drake, poets Carl Hancock Rux and Jesus Papoleto Melendez, TRIO 3 with Reggie Workman, Andrew Cyrille and Oliver Lake; and saxophonists Charles Gayle and David Murray. There’s also a conference on June 1 at Columbia University sponsored by the Center for Jazz Studies and a new series of after hours sets starting at midnight at Nublu.

WBAI Radio returns as a media sponsor of this year’s Vision Fest.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl is scheduled to be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on Sunday May 28. 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. Find him on Twitter @streetgriot

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 guests–pianist/multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore, bassist William Parker, and Vision Festival organizer Patricia Nicholson Parker–are at Vision Festival’s opening night at Judson Memorial Church on May 29 and the festival runs through June 3. Scroll down for details and our annual preview is coming soon.

Before we get to this week’s listings, a reminder that WBAI Radio’s starting its Spring Fund Drive and needs your support to stay on the air and keep our show on the air. There are 3 ways to give. You can call 516-620-3602 (preferably while we’re on the air), pledge online, or just send a text message to 41444 and enter WBAI as the message. You can pledge as little as $5 or consider becoming a sustaining member with a monthly pledge. Of course, we’re grateful for any help you can give.

WBGO Radio has a visual art exhibit featuring works produced by musicians. It’s on view at their studio in downtown Newark NJ and features the work of Will Calhoun, Mino Cinelu, Dick Griffin, Oliver Lake, Carmen Lundy and others.

It’s the last call for director John Scheinfeld’s John Coltrane documentary film Chasing ‘Trane It’s been extended at the IFC Center in Manhattan through May 16. If you still haven’t caught it yet, best not to delay any longer. See our review of the film for a preview.

Pianist Harold Mabern leads a trio at Smalls on May 17.

Suga’ in My Bowl host and percussionist Joyce Jones is at the Harlem State Office Building on May 19 for a Malcolm X tribute by the December 12th Movement.

Pianist Onaje Allen Gumbs is at Sista’s Place in Brooklyn on May 20.

Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and harpist Brandee Younger are at The Knockdown Center in Queens on the 21 for an Alice Coltrane tribute as part of the Red Bull Music Festival. Ravi is also at Birdland from May 30-June 3.

Looking further ahead, drummer and percussionist Bobby Sanabria is at the Blue Note from May 25-28 with Larry Harlow’s Latin Legends.

Poet Carl Hancock Rux is at the Jazz Gallery as part of Joel Ross’ “Being a Young Black Man” on May 26-27.

Saxophonist Oliver Lake leads an organ quartet at Smalls on May 27. He’ll also be at the Vision Fest on May 30 and June 3.

Bassist Alex Blake is at The Blue Note with vocalist Julie E on May 29.

Saxophonist Gary Bartz is at The Blue Note on May 30-31 with pianist McCoy Tyner.

The big event on the horizon is this year’s Vision Fest. It starts on the May 28 at Anthology film archives and moves to Judson Memorial Church from the 29-June 3 with nightly performances of jazz, dance, poetry, and visual art. In addition to William Parker and Cooper-Moore, you can see drummer Hamid Drake, poets Carl Hancock Rux and Jesus Papoleto Melendez, TRIO 3 with Reggie Workman, Andrew Cyrille and Oliver Lake; and saxophonists Charles Gayle and David Murray. There’s also a conference on June 1 at Columbia University sponsored by the Center for Jazz Studies and a new series of after hours sets starting at midnight at Nublu.

WBAI Radio returns as a media sponsor of this year’s Vision Fest.

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl is scheduled to be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on Sunday May 28. 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. Find him on Twitter @streetgriot

DSC_0721
Words by Hank Williams | Photos by Joyce Jones. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND. Main Photo: Michele Rosewoman
 
I’ve been covering the 2016 Vision Festival daily so far as part of Suga’ in My Bowl Radio’s on air coverage. If you missed it, check out the festival preview or the installments on the opening night highlighting bassist/violinist/poet Henry Grimes, day two’s report on the Sun Ra Arkestra’s set, or day 3’s report. Suga’ host and executive producer Joyce Jones has been on the scene as well, and it’s largely her photos you see in these posts.
 
Friday night’s closing set belonged to pianist Michele Rosewoman, who returned to Vision, this time with an 11-member version of her New YorUba ensemble in tow and playing both old pieces and a new work receiving its first public performance at Vision.
 
The set started with “Old Calabar” from the Abakuá tradition, a version of which appears on her New YorUba release. New YorUba melds jazz improvisation with Afro-Cuban rhythms, drawing heavily on sacred music. The inclusion in this year’s Vision broadens the scope of the festival and what one might think of as jazz avant garde.
 
DSC_0739
 
Appropriately enough, Rosewoman introduced the second piece, “Oru De Oro”, composed with the help of a Chamber Music America New Jazz Works grant and receiving it’s public premiere, explaining that “although this is not of the free jazz tradition, it grows out of that tradition”. Drums–especially African percussion–were at the center of the piece.
 
The piece evolved organically around the expansive rhythm section, buoyed by an impressive brass lineup including Stacy Dillard and Roman Filiu on saxes, Chris Wasahburne on trombone, and Alex Norris on trumpet. A sacred sequence of rhythms (called the Oru Igbodu) played on bata drums set the tone for the piece along with Cuban folklorist Roman Diaz’s expressive vocals.
 


 
“Reza a Ochun (Prayer for Ochun)” closed the set. Amma McKen returned to the stage to sing lead vocals and her deep, soaring voice formed the centerpiece of the song. In this song, the big band took a turn in an incredibly funky direction, showing that they can swing as hard as anyone. Rosewoman played off McKen’s vocals in an almost call-and-response pattern in a song that seemed to end way too soon.
 
Vocalist Amma Mcken

Vocalist Amma Mcken


 
The ensemble showed yet another way of approaching the idea of a big band. Instead of leaning on the sheer power of an expansive brass section, New YorUba drew out the subtlety and complexity of the music, which, at times, sounded pleasantly sparse, concealing the incredible difficulty of the exchange.
 
While we’re now seeing renewed interest in what’s called Spiritual Jazz (thanks, in part, to the breakout success of saxophonist Kamasi Washington) New YorUba reveals a basic element of spirituality and jazz: one that many musicians would argue is at the core of their work. In this case, it’s a return to the very roots of the musical tradition.
 
Earlier sets included drummer William Hooker’s ensemble, accompanied by dancer Goussy Celestin; vocalist Fay Victor’s Sound Noise Quartet; poet Bob Holman and bassist Todd Nicholson’s collaboration in memory of late violinist Billy Bang; and multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore’s ensemble with percussionist Michael Wimberly.
 

 
See the full schedule at Vision’s site for info on Sunday night’s sets and tell friends: Vision’s largely a grassroots effort.
 
We’ll be reporting from Vision throughout the festival and I’ll have a wrap-up when it’s all done. If you haven’t caught it already, you can hear our Vision Fest preview show with Marc Ribot, Geri Allen, Lisa Sokolov, and Andrew Cyrille discussing Grimes’s influence and festival organizer Patricia Nicholson Parker talking festival logistics. And, tune in to our next Suga’ in My Bowl show with drummer Andrew Cyrille this Sunday at 11 PM EST on WBAI.
 
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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.
 
Joyce Jones is the executive producer and host of Suga’ in My Bowl. She is a graphic designer and her photos have been published in Black Renaissance Noir.

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