Brittany Nugent and Matt Arnett, it features cameo appearances by gospel singer and pianist Theotis Taylor and The Edeliegba Senior Dance Ensemble. The film accompaniment of Holley’s song of the same name from his 2018 album MITH was shot around his hometown in Atlanta, Georgia. lonnieholley.ffm.to
Henry Threadgill’s band Zooid accompanied by a six-piece chamber ensemble premiered his new piece Pathways at Cleveland Museum of Art on 11 January. That performance marked the launch of the museum’s Creative Fusion: Composers Series of six new commissions to be performed over the next two years. Under Director of Performing Arts Tom Welsh, the series invites composers to visit the space and the city and draw inspiration from the museum’s collection. The other composers in the series are Luciano Chessa, Cenk Ergün, Aya Nishina, Sophie Nzayisenga and Aleksandra Vrebalov. clevelandart.org
Artists based in Finland have been been invited to submit works for a multichannel sound system – 12 channels plus subwoofer – at Bobst Library in New York. They can be any length and “should explore forms and ways of listening that are specific to multichannel sounds,”, states the call made on behalf of Artists’ Associaton MUU, Bobst Library and multiarchiverse. The works chosen will be exhibited in Bobst Library’s Immersion Room, curated by New York based composer and sound artist Michael J Schumacher. Applications should be in English – no word as yet if residents based elsewhere can apply. Deadline is 15 February. muu.fi
Mississippi Records is taking to the road to deliver A Cosmic And Earthly History Of Recorded Music According To Mississippi Records – a lecture, film and slideshow event attempting to tell the story of recorded music in just 90 minutes. Previously featured at The Wire’s Off The Page festival in Bristol in 2014, it’s presented by the label’s founder Eric Isaacson, and includes unseen film clips from the imprint’s archives, DJ sets by Golden Wilson of Olvido Records, and a Mississippi Records merch table selling more than 30 titles (while stocks last). mississippirecords.net
Peter Strickland’s surreal 2012 thriller Berberian Sound Studio has been adapted for the stage by Joel Horwood and Director Tom Scutt. Based on the original screenplay, a sound engineer swaps the Foley table in his garden shed for the Berberian Sound Studio, making sound effects for an Italian giallo film. Among the actors is vocalist Loré Lixenberg. It will run between 8 February–30 March at Donmar Warehouse in Central London. donmarwarehouse.com
David Mossman, an East London taxi driver who became a key figure in the capital’s jazz scene, died on 8 December 2018. With his business partner Irving Kinnersley, Mossman founded The Vortex venue in 1984 as an art gallery in Stoke Newington in North East London. A bookshop and cafe hosting occasional gigs also opened, but in the late 80s Kinnersley moved on to pastures new, leaving Mossman to turn the venue into a fulltime jazz hangout. It also hosted Pirate Jenny, a weekly night of opera, cabaret and song. Rent rises forced the venue to move to its current location in Dalston, where it continues to run a regular programme featuring the greatest players jazz and improvisation has to offer. Mossman later relocated to Margate, where he ran The Margate Jazz Festival until 2013.
US free jazz clarinettist Perry Robinson has died, aged 80. Born in New York in 1938, Robinson was the son of composer
Earl Robinson. During his childhood, regular house guests included Lead Belly, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and Leonard Bernstein. By the late 1950s, he was studying at the Lenox School of Jazz in Massachusetts. In the early part of his career he worked with pianist Tete Montoliu, and went on to play with the likes of Henry Grimes, Bill Dixon, Carla Bley, Archie Shepp, Charlie Haden, Gunter Hampel, Badal Roy, John Carter, Anthony Braxton, Pete Seeger, George Clinton and many others. He was part of Burton Greene’s Klezmokum and Lou Grassi’s Po Band, and was also a member of Clarinet Contrast, with Theo Jörgensmann and Bernd Konrad. His debut album Funk Dumpling was released in 1962, featuring Kenny Barron, Grimes and Paul Motian. In 1967 he appeared on Archie Shepp’s Impulse! set Mama Too Tight, and it was around that time that he recorded as The Uni Trio with David Izenzon on double bass and Randy Kaye on drums. His Raga Roni trio with Badal Roy and Ed Schuller released their self-titled debut LP in 2002 on Geetika Records, a year that also saw him appear with William Parker’s clarinet trio on Bob’s Pink Cadillac, and publish his autobiography The Traveler, co-authored by Florence F Wetzel.
Mathematician and minimalist composer Dennis Johnson died on 20 December 2018. Born in Los Angeles on 19 November 1938, he studied music at UCLA alongside La Monte Young and Terry Jennings. It was there that Johnson composed November, the piece that Young credited as the inspiration for his The Well-Tuned Piano, written five years later in 1964. Although quite possibly the first record of a minimalist composition, Johnson’s November was not transcribed until more than three decades later. The piece, Johnson recalled in an interview with Clive Bell for The Wire website, was the fruit of a practice session on Jennings’s piano: “I would just sit down
Dennis Johnson at the piano and diddle, and listen, and it would slowly grow, like out of a seed,” he said. For years November only existed in the form of a 100 minute cassette that was noisy, warped and featured a barking family dog. Kyle Gann produced a finished score from the original recording in 1992, with the help of a partial score that Johnson wrote in the 1980s. The outcome, performed in 2013 by pianist R Andrew Lee, requires several pages of improvisation.
In 1966 he left composition for his other major passion, geometry. Johnson went on to work at the NASA-affiliated Caltech research university in Pasadena, and contributed engineering for robots in a space probe to Mars. Eric Pinoit, who is in the process of writing a documentary about Johnson and the beginnings of minimalism in music, called The Mystery Of All The Unknown Rivers, tells of his “love affair with the rivers”, with a passion for rock climbing and kayaking. Johnson continued to play piano and improvise during the 1980s and 90s. In his later years he lived alone in Kensington, California, and died at a nursing home in Morgan Hill.
Unofficial Channels Jazz In The Armed Forces
When James Reese Europe took his Harlem Hellfighters – the predominantly black 369th Infantry Regiment of the New York Army National Guard, with a band he directed as a lieutenant – to France in February 1918 to fight in the First World War, he did more than introduce ragtime syncopation and jazz versions of songs such as “St Louis Blues” to the continent. Europe, recording with his orchestra for the French Pathé label, initiated an enduring practice of US military ensembles performing popular repertoire, ostensibly to raise the morale of troops and sustain their connection to the folks back home.
Irving Berlin had already been prescient about the new music’s affect, having written in lyrics to “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” (1911) of a bugle call that was “so natural that you want to go to war”. When drafted to officially contribute to the war effort, Berlin wrote an entire revue, Yip Yip Yaphank, some of which he reprised for his Second World War show This Is The Army in 1942, which on Broadway and national tours raised two million dollars for the Army Emergency Relief Fund (and occasioned the first integration of white and black US servicemen).
When it comes to genuine jazz, the Musicians Union was on strike from 1942–44, preventing major labels from recording, and the US War Department stepped in to launch its own V-Disc record label, which produced and distributed 78s by major artists including Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, Art
Tatum, Louis Jordan, The Billy Eckstine Orchestra and more from 1943–49. Captain Glenn Miller introduced one V-Disc as “speaking for the Army Air Force’s Training Command Orchestra”, and tried to establish a network of service forces prior to bringing his 50 piece Army Air Force Band to England for a major series of performances in the summer of 1944, and his death in an airplane crash the following December. Everyone loved those V-Disks, but when the programme was ended in 1949 their metal parts were destroyed, inventory was dumped and some personal copies confiscated, so they wouldn’t compete with commercial releases.
The military’s relationship to jazz didn’t end there. John Coltrane had made his first recording as a Navy man in a Hawaiian base orchestra in 1946, and the tradition of African-Americans learning or plying their skills continued for decades. Recordings by Coltrane can be heard on YouTube, although those of other notable jazz servicemen such as Albert Ayler and Joe McPhee are yet to surface. One of its notable results is Vietnam: The Aftermath, violinist and former Sergeant Billy Bang’s reflections on his experience as a tunnel rat, recorded with fellow veterans Butch Morris, Frank Lowe, Ted Daniel, Michael Carvin and Ron Brown in 2001. They’d all mustered out by then, but the military was not done with music. In 1990 The United States Air Force Band launched its Jazz Heritage Series of recordings distributed to radio stations (not for sale, but maybe obtainable from the USAF Band Marketing & Outreach Office). Mainstream stars such as Cyrus Chestnut were ringers with The Airmen, making music with precision and a dollop of pacifying jazz soul. Howard Mandel
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