Even if you don’t like it…learn from it (March 11 – March 16, 2013)
Often times, a piece of art is indescribable in its power, only felt with that sixth sense of knowing we witnessed something special. But for me, one of the other immense pleasures of exploring art in this city is when I learn something new. Even if the piece is not to my liking, I love when something ultimately leads to my cultural education.
That happened yesterday when I saw the film, Right On! at MOMA. I had always heard about The Last Poets and how they, along with Gil Scott-Heron were the precursors to and forefathers of hip-hop…but I had never seen them. This movie, by Herbert Danska allowed me to do so.
Described as “a conspiracy of ritual, street theater, soul music, and cinema,” Right On! is a pioneering concert film, a record of radical Black sentiment in 1960s America, and a precursor of the hip-hop revolution in musical culture. Shot guerilla-style on the streets and rooftops of lower Manhattan, it features the original Last Poets performing 28 numbers adapted from their legendary Concept-East Poetry appearance at New York’s Paperback Theater in 1969. Opening almost simultaneously with Melvin Van Peebles’s Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, Right On! was described by its producer as “the first ‘totally black film,’” making “no concession in language and symbolism to white audiences.”
While I loved witnessing the East Village of the 1960s (with its rooftops, fire escapes and hazy panoramic views before high-rises were built) as well as the very nostalgic 1960s videography (only instagram captures those colors today), I didn’t love the film. It was too long and it was difficult to understand all of the words. However, it gave me a glimpse of The Last Poets and their power. Something I had only heard about in the past finally came to life. Intrigued by them, I’ve read quite a bit and have watched some of their videos on YouTube in the past 24 hours. Even though I didn’t enjoy what I saw entirely, I am more versed (albeit slightly) in what these guys mean in the history of music. And for that, I’m thankful. With art, there’s always lemonade.
The film has rarely screened over the past 30 years and MoMA restored it from the recently recovered 35mm negative. In case you’re interested, you have one last opportunity to see it today.
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If you refer a new subscriber to me (e-introduce us at email@example.com), I have free tickets for you. I handpick these events so I know they’re good. After the introduction, please specify which you are interested in. Here are the options:
Saturday, March 16: DJ/Rupture/Very Be Careful/Colin L Orchestra. I am a big Very Be Careful fan but I’m sure these other guys are great too – Littlefield has good stuff always. With a Carribean soul and a California Heart, Very Be Carefulrouses fans to boogie and shake to the sounds of a Colombian coastal beat. They do vallenato (ay, accordion and guacharaca, my weaknesses!) mixed with a contemporary funk feel. They’re good and fun. I spent a week at the Vallenato Festival in Valledupar when I was in Colombia last year. I never wanted to hear Vallenato again after that experience, but I’ve come around. Littlefield, 622 Degraw St., Brooklyn, 9:30. >>
Monday, March 25: New Classical: American Modern Ensemble presents “American Stories,” featuring five contemporary works by living American composers. AME has “consistently demonstrated a flair for inventive programming” (The New York Times) and has the reputation of championing new music from a wide array of Americans. This program has the New York premieres from Steven Mackey, house composer Robert Paterson, and Sean McClowry. Hsin-Yun Huang joins to perform Mackey’s Groundswell, a piece she commissioned in 2007 and recently recorded on her Bridge Records album, Viola, Viola. Paterson’s piece, Looney Tunes is his take on ACME with AME, each of the four movements inspired by a Warner Brothers cartoon character: Taz, Foghorn Leghorn, Twee ty Bird, and Road Runner. Mackey and Paterson conduct their own pieces, and McClowry (a bassist, producer, and singer-songwriter) solos on his Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra. Also on the program are pieces from David Ludwig and Alejandro Rutty, winner of AME’s seventh annual composition competition. DiMenna Center for Classical Music – Cary Hall, 450 W. 37th St., NYC, 8pm.>>
Aight, here’s what I got.
Monday, March 11
Dakar 2 NYC: Global Hip Hop Exchange. A panel discussion and concert linking hip hop artists and activists across the Atlantic. The panel will bring together artists, musicians, and scholars for a discussion of the role of hip hop as a tool for social change in the US and in Senegal. Following the panel and a brief reception, the concert will showcase Senegalese and US hip hop artists alongside a traditional Senegalese orchestra in an unprecedented fusion of African and African diasporic musical genres.
With M-1 (Dead Prez),
Foumalade and Les Batthaillons Blin-D
Thiat (Keur Gui), Baay Bia
Bryonn Bain (NYU)
, Rosalind Fredericks (NYU)
, Martha Diaz (NYU), Ben Herson (Nomadic Wax). The Jerry H. Labowitz Theatre for The Performing Arts, 1 Washington Place, NYC, 5:30-9:30.
Classical: In the absence of…Schubert. The series “In the Absence of…” creates a framework in which creative musicians conceptualize and perform a program focused on a particular canonic composer, however none of this composer’s music will be heard. I love the premise of this. Max Richter has been getting a lot of press for his reworking of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. It’s pretty cool to hear the original music in something so unique. Also, I love Schubert. Fact: I took piano lessons for 13 years. Fact #2: Schubert’s Op. 90, No. 1 was one of my favorite pieces to play by the time I stopped and went to college. I’m curious about this exploration. In an improvisational exploration of Franz Schubert’s music and sound world, Austrian reed player, improviser, and composer Christoph Pepe Auer tries to answer the question of how can we evoke presence in absence. He will be joined by accordionist Christian Bakanic and pianist Tigran Himayasan. RSVP here. Austrian Cultural Forum, 11 East 52nd St., NYC, 7:30
Tuesday, March 12
New Classical: Ensemble Signal (Courtney Orlando, violin; Lauren Radnofsky, cello; Doug Perkins, percussion; Bill Solomon, percussion) takes the audience on a mini exploration of the wildly different ways composers (Luciano Berio withSeqzuenza VII and Sequenza XIVa, Brian Ferneyhough with Bone Alphabet and Michael Gordon with XY) confront complexity and virtuosity in “IT’S COMPLICATED” This tour-de-force in Miller’s Pop-Up series is sure to keep listeners on the edge of their seats. Watch the video. They look cool! Ensemble Signal exists to promote repertoire for thecontemporary chamber ensemble through performance, education, commissioning, and recording. Miller’s informal Pop-Up Concerts allow the theater to test out new ideas and introduce new performers before they hit the Miller mainstage. Both admirable missions. Support them! Plus, free libations from Harlem Brewing Company! Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway (116th St.), NYC, 6pm.
Talk: Meet the Candidates: The 2013 City Elections and the Performing Arts. The League of Independent Theater holds a meeting of candidates of all kinds to hear their arts platforms. I went to something like this when I was in San Francisco last summer and it was fascinating to hear how the candidates plan to incorporate arts (e.g., creating space for non-profits, rehearsals, performances, low-cost housing and affordable healthcare for artists, etc.) into their plan for the city.Keynote address by current Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer. Candidates confirmed at press time include Tom Allon (Mayoral), Kevin Coenen Jr. (Mayoral), Robert Jackson (Manhattan Borough President), Julie Menin (Manhattan Borough President), Letitia James (Public Advocate), Jenifer Rajkumar (CC Manhattan 1), Corey Johnson (CC Manhattan 3), Yetta Kurland (CC Manhattan 3), Ben Kallos (CC Manhattan 5), Hill Krishnan (CC Manhattan 5), Marc Landis (CC Manhattan 6), Mel Wymore (CC Manhattan 6), Mark Levine (CC Manhattan 7), Cheryl Pahaham (CC Manhattan 7), Angel Molina (CC Manhattan/Bronx 8), William Russell Moore (CC Bronx 18), Matthew Silverstein (CC Queens 19), Jimmy Van Bramer (CC Queens 26), Laurie Cumbo (CC Brooklyn 35), and Kimberly Council (CC Brooklyn 37). RSVP here. The Players Club (a reason in and of itself to attend – it’s a beautiful space), 16 Gramercy Park South, NYC, 7pm. >>
Wednesday, March 13Art Opening: Forty-Seven Easy Poundcakes Like grandma Use To Make. Installation by Nyeema Morgan: rule-based digital drawings document artist’s pursuit of the most perfect and authentic recipe. The digital drawings comprising Forty-Seven Easy Poundcakes Like grandma Use To Make are amalgamations of 47 different “easy poundcake” recipes gathered from the results of Google Internet searches, as well as the recipe of the artist’s grandmother. Morgan used a rule-based process for each of the 47 drawings, sequentially editing the recipes into one another; redirecting words and eliminating superfluous text. The resulting drawings (8” x 5” each and printed on index cards), are each unique, despite identical procedures and recipes used in every drawing. In the pursuit for the perfect and most “authentic” recipe, Morgan calls attention to the ideas of authenticity, quality and truth in the digital age. Morgan will present a tasting of all 47 easy pound cakes used in creating the drawings, baked by volunteers. Sounds like an interesting process and exhibit. Plus BRIC does great things with the public; visit bricartsmedia.org during the exhibit to learn about free public programs associated with Forty-Seven Easy Poundcakes Like grandma Use to Make. BRIC Rotunda Gallery’s Project Room, 33 Clinton Street, Brooklyn, 7-9pm. >>
(and concurrently in the same place)
Art Opening: Cultural Fluency: Engagements with Contemporary Brooklyn. This show brings together six artists and examines the creative exchange between urbanism and art practice. Curated by Erin Gleason. Artists David Court, Aisha Cousins, Malesha Jessie, Hiroki Kobayashi, Martin McCormack, and Mark Reigelman all currently live or have recently lived in Brooklyn. Their work – which ranges from public art to photography to guerilla opera bombs – explores and portrays the borough and its diverse culture, while also impacting it. This is a practice that American conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth cited in his 1975 essay “The Artist as Anthropologist”: “For the artist, obtaining cultural fluency is a dialectical process which, simply put, consists of attempting to affect the culture while he is simultaneously learning from (and seeking acceptance of) the same culture which is affecting him.” Also sounds interesting. Go enjoy a night of art in Brooklyn! BRIC Rotunda Gallery, 33 Clinton Street, Brooklyn, 7-9pm. >>
Jazz: Jazz is Now! Hosted by Jonathan Batiste and the STAY HUMAN band. Did you know there’s a Jazz Museum in Harlem? And that Jonathan Batiste is the artistic director? I’ve never been but I heard it’s interactive with audience members “playing/singing/dancing/
Thursday, March 14
Folk: Buffy Sainte-Marie. You know the songs Up Where We Belong and Universal Soldier? These are hers. The artist is featured in a Native Sounds Downtown concert, which highlights old hits and new compositions focused on “the art of the protest song.” An amazing musician in her own right with her Native American background prevalent in her work, she’s an interesting woman and great musician. National Museum of the American Indian, Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, One Bowling Green, NYC, 6pm. >>
Jazz: Jack Walrath, Trumpet. Grammy-nominated trumpeter and arranger Jack Walrath has worked with some of the big guys like Charles Mingus, Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Quincey Jones, Elvis Costello. In addition to leading his own jazz groups, The Jack Walrath Group, Wholly Trinity, Hard Corps, The Masters of Suspense, and a quintet, he was also the leader of the Mingus Dynasty and The Charles Mingus Big Band. Jack continues to record as a sideman and leader and is currently writing a book on his experiences with Mingus, influential recordings, and the music business. Produced by the National Jazz Museum in Harlem but at Flushing Town Hall – both great organizations to support. Flushing Town Hall,137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing, Queens, 6:30 – 8:30pm.
Friday, March 15
Music: Jay Leonhart Family & Friends present It’s Been a Long, Long Time: Songs of Longing and Joy from World War II.Jay Leonhart, a world-renowned bassist and songwriter, has been performing professionally for more than 50 years. Throughout his illustrious career, he has performed with many of the legendary musicians of the 20th century, including Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Barbara Cook, among others. While I’m not familiar with his work, I do like the band Michael Leonhart & the Avramina 7; I’m assuming there’s a relationship there. Given his resume and the venue, I think this should be interesting and of high-quality. Tickets are distributed at 6pm. Robert H. Smith Auditorium, New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, NYC, 7pm. >>
Brazilian/Jazz: Rogerio Boccato Quarteto‘s After Bossa Nova Project. Brazilian percussionist Rogério Boccato’s After Bossa Nova Project breathes new life into music by great composers from the post–bossa-nova generation, such as Toninho Horta, Egberto Gismonti, Milton Nascimento, and Edu Lobo. With uncontainable, inventive performances grounded in fluid interaction between musicians, his quartet extracts motifs from lesser-known songs to use as a springboard for on-the-spot group compositions. Carnegie Hall has a great set of neighborhood concerts, all throughout the city. They often get more reservations than people who actually show up so get there early! The Performance Project @ University Settlement, 184 Eldridge Street (at Rivington Street), NYC, 7:30pm. >>
Saturday, March 16
Classical: Brooklyn Wind Symphony + Grand Street Community Band. The ensembles will perform modern wind symphony pieces by Maslanka, Tchesnokoff, Markowski, Persichetti and Meechan. Each ensemble has between 50-70 talented musicians who volunteer their time to produce beautiful music to perform for the NYC community. Grand Street High School, 850 Grand St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 2pm. >>
Colombian: Very Be Careful. See the introduction above in the “Free Tickets!” section. Repeat: with a Carribean soul and a California Heart, Very Be Careful rouses fans to boogie and shake to the sounds of a Colombian coastal beat. They dovallenato (ay, accordion and guacharaca, my weaknesses!) mixed with a contemporary funk feel. They’re good and fun.This concert is part of the great Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Series. Get there early! I spent a week at the VallenatoFestival in Valledupar when I was in Colombia. I never wanted to hear Vallenato again after that experience, but I’ve come around. I’d be there in a heartbeat if I could. El Museo del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Avenue (at 104th St.), NYC, 4pm. >>
Soul/Funk: Shelley Nicole’s blaKbüshe. Soul/funk outfit blaKbüshe is fronted by Shelley Nicole, who dominates their live shows with a fierce stage presence. Armed with empowering anthems and a raw rock immediacy—which Shelley Nicole describes as “Nona Hendryx meets Black Sabbath”—blaKbüshe brings a brash, four-on-the-floor energy. I’ve never seen them live before but I’m digging their Youtube clip. BAMcafé Live, BAM, 30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn, 9pm. >>
Aight, have a good week everyone!All good things,