With Observations by Catalina Maria Johnson, Neva Wartell, Brice Rosenbloom
In these convulsive times, we affirm
that the performing arts are a force, and that as a field, we can and will
navigate and drive change together. – Mario Garcia Durham, APAP President & CEO
Despite the current, troubled, and uncertain times in the United States, the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) served to rally and infuse thousands of its members and attendees with measures of inspiring and positive energies during its 62nd annual conference at the Hilton in New York City (January 4-8).
The world music and jazz conferences and showcase offerings in particular continue to be bellwethers of change and developing trends for all the performing arts in the country. Their combined focus was social justice.
Part I: Observations, Reflections
20 years ago, when I first started to attend APAP’s world music themed
preconferences just before September 11th, 2001, the gathering or room of
attendees held little racial or ethnic diversity. Slowly but surely this has changed and
continues to change. Increasing numbers
of “people of color” and from various ethnic origins, notably from younger
generations – including agents, presenters, producers, artists, and newer world
music industry thinkers and leaders – are starting to populate the by now
branded Wavelengths preconference as participants or audience members.
a one-stop newsletter about
Wavelengths that summarizes the whole event, including links to all the panel discussions.
“What Happens at Wavelengths: Takeaways from 2019’s World Music
keeping with this year’s Wavelengths theme, “Acknowledgement of Land”, the
Canadian-based First Nation Anishinaabe singer and activist, ShoShona Kish
delivered a compelling keynote address about the Indigenous peoples of North
America. The impact of her talk
resonated throughout all the APAP showcase events I attended. Her words underscored more than the
torturous, disenfranchised past and present of the Indigenous peoples of North
America. They also held hope and beauty
through her call for global social activism in the coming years for future
generations. Listen to her speech here, starting at 18 minutes into the video
most challenging and painful issues of Indigenous peoples have recently
dominated the media due to a horrible incident of incendiary racial
confrontations in America. Anti-immigration rhetoric is getting louder. At the same time, the first Latin American
Indigenous actress has been nominated for this year’s best actress Oscar in
Hollywood. This is the UN International
Year of Indigenous Languages. The United States has just left UNESCO, the world’s
great and indispensable organization, promoting peace and hope through
culture. What could all this mean?
Leadership in the arts is key.
media colleagues offer their interrelated thoughts:
Catalina Maria Johnson: Land
In this century, as we gather in
countries such as Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the U.S. it is becoming
more customary to open events and gatherings by acknowledging the traditional
inhabitants of the land.
It is the impact of this small verbal
gesture that we discussed as part of our Wavelengths “Impact and Integrity” panel, which
was focused on developing best practices for our world music community. On the
one hand, to say a few words that over time can become stale and perfunctory
may be perceived as an insignificant effort in the light of the enormous harm
done to traditional societies across hundreds of years of colonial/settler
imperialism; we barely understand the depth of those wounds and are very far
from comprehending what needs to be done to heal them and move forward
Yet, to come together as communities
to create and experience art is one way in which we celebrate and share our
common values. In the current political climate, words of hate have vomited
forth in public gatherings, rallying and emboldening dark forces. As the
philosopher/linguist Wittgenstein said, “The limits of my language, are the
limits of my world.” Today, more than ever, words matter. We can wield words as
instruments capable of creating and shaping different ways of moving through
our lives; we can advocate traditions that honor truth.
Additionally, as we reflected upon in
our panel, a simple land acknowledgement is a seed of possibilities that can
blossom into concrete actions. The words can serve to raise our awareness of a
respectful relationship to the land, honor those that came before us, and
become a an organic part of fostering a vision of protecting the earth that
ties into concrete actions that can be undertaken as a world music
community—-such as efforts like the Earth
Muse Collective to eliminate single-use plastic water
bottles at our concerts and festivals.
Yet, let us not be fooled into
thinking that the acknowledgment in and of itself will be enough and lead us to
reconciliation and some kind of utopia. It is important to understand the
long-standing history that has brought each of us to reside on the land, and to
understand what our role is within that history. Land acknowledgment should be
approached as one way to consider our own place in the story of colonization
and of undoing its legacy—-because as has been pointed out, there is no
point in repeating words to atone for a crime that we are still committing.
And so, let me conclude by
acknowledging that I live on the ancestral lands of the Peoria, Potawatomi and
the Miami. And you? Take a moment to research and
acknowledge the original peoples of your place of residence, then make a
commitment to act and honor the vision those words represent.
Maria Johnson is a tropical being living in Polar-Vortex-loving Chicago who
stays warm by listening to hot, hot music and sharing these grooves through her
radio show and podcast, Beat Latino,
as well as writing for NPR Music, Billboard, Downbeat and others.
Neva E. Wartell: Whose World Is It,
An ethnomusicologist and cultural
activist since the 1970s, by now I’m a senior member of the global music
community that gathers every January at the Wavelengths: APAP World Music
Pre-Conference in NYC. The two days of panels, workshops and presentations never
fail to provide inspiration and food for thought, along with the opportunity to
reunite with colleagues, and to encounter new musical discoveries. Having
attended every year since the first, some dozen years ago, I found the 2019
edition to be the most engaging and thought-provoking yet. I also found myself
infused with a powerful sense of optimism for the future of the world.
Why? Because clearly the world is in
For me, one of this year’s most
important markers was the generational shift in attendance and participation –
and even more significantly, what such a shift represents: a changing social
landscape, which by its nature creates a changing consciousness, which in turn
This shift was reflected in both the
topics of discussion at Wavelengths and the artists chosen to perform at
globalFEST 2019. It’s no surprise that conversations and performances shared
themes such as respect for the land, acknowledgment of cultural roots,
assertion of identities, and demand for respect as human beings on this shared
and suffering planet. Addressing these subjects is necessary and overdue – a
very positive indication that a new generation is preparing to take the lead.
What kind of world have we left for
them? The generation before mine created a music industry built on assumptions
of white supremacy and male privilege. My generation took those power dynamics
to the next level, inventing genres and marketing strategies, exploitative
practices, and an insider/outsider mentality that gave birth to an amorphous,
culturally myopic category called “Other”, which became the convenient home of
The new generation stepping forward
represents all things labeled “Other” – the lovechild of “World Music” mated
with “No Known Genre” equals every genre in the musical universe – both the
cause and the effect of our changing social landscape.
They have every right, and so many
reasons, to reject our constructs. Young musicians I meet these days are
urgently aware of climate issues, economic issues, race, ethnicity, gender and
other identity issues. They know the power of music as a vehicle for achieving
social justice. And growing up in a digital environment and an increasingly
do-it-yourself music industry, more and more artists are adept at handling
their own business.
Many are from families who migrated
from elsewhere, wanting only to assimilate into the dominant culture. But this
generation is utilizing the dominant culture to express their “otherness” –
celebrating the same cultural roots their parents left behind while making it
relevant to their own context, creating a whole new cultural reality in their
As award-winning musician and
composer Rhiannon Giddens said in a recent interview with The Root: “I’m not interested in
trying to do a hip-hop track to try to ‘reach across the aisle.’ I’m like,
‘This is our aisle.’”
The next generation is here, and they
are unapologetically reclaiming the world. ‘Nuff’ respect.
Neva” E. Wartell is an ethnomusicologist, producer and cultural activist.
Formerly with WBAI-FM and Radio Soleil in NYC, she currently works for WGXC community radio in NY’s Hudson
Valley region, where she lives with two cats, a dog, a turtle, the turtle’s pet
fish, and Pepe the Pig. She was the DJ for the very first globalFEST
Globalfest 2019 Awards
was the second year Globalfest presented awards
“that celebrate those that excel in the
small but crucial global music field in the USA, too often with little
recognition…. The annual awards will be presented to artists and members of the
field who have been instrumental in making significant, longstanding
contributions to the performing arts landscape in the USA through risk taking,
addressing cultural diversity and diplomacy, cultural activism, helping to
keep, transmit, and extend the world’s ancient traditions, commitment to
working with local communities and making a difference to the greater American
performing arts landscape as well as other areas.”
note about the honoree Leigh Ann Hahn,
programming director of Grand
Performances in Los Angeles. Marco Werman, host and producer with PRI’s
The World, presented her with the Impact Award. She used her moment in the spotlight during
the awards ceremony to draw attention to the ongoing, terrible genocide of the
Uighurs in China. She urged activism on
their behalf. The entire situation concerning the Uighurs is an unfolding
New York Times recently reported, “According to the
United States State Department, between 800,000 and two million people, or up
to 15 percent of Xinjiang’s Muslim population, have been incarcerated in a
growing network of more than 1,000 concentration camps.”
has been systematic targeting over the past few years by the Chinese government
to detain influential Uighur musicians, writers and critics, and cultural
activists in those concentration camps.
One of the greatest Uighur artists, Sanubar Tursun, Leigh Ann presented
at Grand Performances in 2016, has been detained. It will take massive efforts by governments,
human rights organizations, and all interested in the world’s Indigenous
populations to mount campaigns to oppose and counter this genocide.
GF Impact Award Honoree: Leigh Ann
Leigh Ann Hahn, who started at Grand
Performances in 1992, is an endlessly creative and innovative programmer. She is a leading figure in the world music
performing arts field who has done a remarkable job producing free programs
that pay homage to her beloved LA and its diverse communities with global
breadth, depth and power. Her programs
are uniquely multidisciplinary and frequently shine a musical light on
significant historical, political and social events.
GF Trouble Worldwide Award Honoree:
Matthew Covey and Tamizdat
Tamizdat, founded in 1998 by Matthew
Covey and a group of musicians, has become a critical organization in the
performing arts and cultural exchange fields.
Tamizdat’s work facilitates cultural exchange by easing the burden of
the visa process for artists entering the U.S through their programs: legal
visa assistance, outreach, the Artist Mobility Forum, The White Paper Project
and other activities. Their mission is
motivated by the conviction that the international mobility of culture is
fundamental to a healthy and progressive global civil society and their work
has enabled thousands of artists to perform on stages across the country.
GF Pioneer Award Honoree: Lee
Lee Williams has worked
professionally as a venue booking agent, promoter, and non-profit arts leader
since 1982, playing a defining role not only in the music culture and community
identity of Bloomington, Indiana, but also as a champion of world music in
North America. A co-founder of the Lotus
World Music & Arts Festival and founder of the non-profit Lotus Education and
Arts Foundation, Lee served as Director of Lotus from 1995 to 2013 and as
Artistic Director from 2014 through his retirement in 2017. He also co-led the creation of the Midwest
Consortium, a professional block-booking network for world-music presenters that
now includes peers from across the US and Canada.
GF Artist Award Honoree: Mighty
83 year-old Slinger Francisco, better
known as Mighty Sparrow and affectionately dubbed The Birdie, is the unrivaled
Calypso King of the World. With a career
that spans over 60 years and counting The Sparrow is one of the most important
living exponents of one of Caribbean music’s most important traditions, known
for a combination of politics, daily life, humor, innuendo and dance music.
Sparrow continues to translate his witty island authenticity to the world, in a
one-man demonstration ot the role that culture plays in uniting humankind.
Part II: APAP World Showcase Notes
conference is the best occasion of the year to sample favorites of promoters
and agents from all over North America and beyond. There are so many superb acts going on
simultaneously, you literally need to be in several packed venues at once on
any given night. These were some of my favorites.
Africa Yetu & Mateo Productions presented one of the best
programming feats in this new year known as “The Soukous/Champeta Project” at S.O.B.’s nightclub. They co-billed the classic soukous group,
Zaiko Langa Langa from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and one of the most
popular champeta groups, the Bazurto All Stars from Colombia. Musical cousins, Zaiko Langa Langa celebrates
its 50th anniversary while the Bazurto All Stars was formed just 10 years
ago. Their generational and historically
related genre contrasts – reaching as far back as the early 70s – were
revelatory. The dance energies were
contagious and at maximum levels of audience enjoyment. However, the club’s poor sound engineering
marred the overall quality of their performances.
Mundial Montréal, North America’sWorld
Music Summit, held their annual 7th edition “Mundial
On the Road” APAP showcase in partnership with the DROM nightclub. Theirs is
one of the most popular and “thoughtfully curated” showcase evenings during the
conference. And always cram-packed.
Drawing from Canada’s vast cultural diversities including their
Indigenous First Nations, and stand out international artists, Mundial
Montreal’s annual 9th edition summit will take place in Montreal, November
19-22, this year.
year the Mundial + DROM roster featured 5 Canadian groups with Afro-Cuban,
Colombian, Mexican, and Balkan roots.
Two others were from southern Italy and Haiti/New York. I caught the last two acts: Lemon Bucket
Orkestra from Canada and Malou Beauvoir from New York.
Lemon Bucket Orkestra is a Balkan brass band uniting Ukrainian, Russian, Macedonian, Serbian, Romanian, and English languages in performance. Their songs covered many subjects with thrilling, high-energy paced rhythms with deep folk soul. A walk down a village street arm in arm with a girlfriend; wishing the audience a good night; sibling rivalry; love and loss.
stunning musical moment was Marichka Marczyk’s solo “Zajdy, Zajdy” – “My heart stopped as in a dream”. She sang with such sorrowful passion, the
club room seemed to fall into a swoon of silence. A well-known Macedonian song beloved all over the Balkans, a woman sings
at twilight to a tree: “Let’s cry together, you for your falling leaves and me
for my lost years. Your leaves will grow
back, but my years will never return…”
In their triumphant, rousing finale, the band trooped off the stage into
the audience playing their strings, brass, and thumping percussion in gleeful
The Haitian-American singer Malou Beauvoir known for her international jazz career, surprised with entirely new music from her recent album “Spiritwalker” – where she explores her Haitian roots. Her buoyant performance celebrated and conjured the healing Vaudou spirits of her heritage. She professed her faith in their power to awaken and bless humanity. To protect us. To guide us all to peace and harmony. Paul Beaubrun from Boukman Eksperyans lineage and her partner in the recording, appeared with her superb band from Haiti, New York, Japan, and Cuba. The whole night reached an ecstatic musical moment when Paul and Malou sang their pop hit version of one of Haiti’s deep Vaudou songs by Toto Bissainthe, “Rasanblemen”, or the “rassemblement” of spirits – to honor and comfort victims of oppression and slavery. It was also a prayer and plea for world unity.
in all, Winter Jazzfest continues to grow and expand phenomenally. This year, its 15th anniversary, the festival
extended well beyond APAP’s official dates over 9 days. Within the thematic framework of social
justice, the focus was gender equity with over 140 groups, 12 venues, and close
to 750 participating musicians.
(Disclosure: Much as I intended to see many more showcases following
APAP, I was hit by the flu.)
look forward to Winter Jazzfest each year for many reasons, especially the
Despite the feat of producing multiple differing jazz genre showcases
all over lower Manhattan venues, the sound engineering is almost always
perfect, as you sprint from stage to stage. I’m not forced to pull out earplugs
to deaden overly aggressive or amateurish engineering. I find it impossible to
review good shows when the sound levels are deafening or imbalanced. (Lighting
is another issue…) Brice Rosenbloom, the founder-producer, and his team deserve
highest kudos for the foremost crucial aspect of live music: excellent sound
always a well-organized and invaluable program booklet that gives you all the
basic festival information with venue maps, artist personnel and
instrumentation, and good thematic introductory notes: In his tough-minded essay-manifesto,“Why Have
We Been So Ass Backwards?”, Brice reflects upon last year’s Winter Jazzfest
conversation at The New School on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “Jazz and Gender: Challenging Inequality and
Forging a New Legacy”. Here are some
Terri Lyne Carrington moderated the
panel featuring activist and professor Angela Davis, bassist Esperanza Spalding, journalist Lara
Pellegrinelli, trumpet player Arnetta Johnson, and pianist Vijay Iyer.
Terri Lyne Carrington started by
asking the panel, “Considering the role jazz and jazz musicians have played in
social justice movements why have we been so ass backward in this one with
regards to women?
Angela Davis reminded the 600-person
audience that we are witnessing the beginning of the era of women; “There was
the amazing women’s march, millions of women all over the world rose up against
the Trump administration and the message was when women rise up, the whole
world rises up with us.” Davis then reiterated Carrington’s quandary, “It’s
kind of bizarre that in the jazz community that has been so responsible over
the decades for major contributions to social justice for doing civil rights
work before the civil rights movement was born;
it’s kind of amazing that the jazz community isn’t leading the rest of
us with respect to issues of patriarchy.”
Journalist Lara Pellegrinelli echoed
these concerns when witnessing the #metoo and #timesup movements: “I was
watching this movement gain momentum, women in the media, and women in
Hollywood, and all these women in other spheres of labor stepping forward and
outing their oppressors. And I was
watching and asking myself when it it going to happen [in jazz]?”….
Today, with individual actions and
music as the spark, it still takes the whole community – including men – to
bring about change. Vijay Iyer challenged that “men can have feminist thoughts
but what are they doing about it?” Carrington shared a quote from Jack
DeJohnette: “Artistry is artistry no matter what the gender is. It’s time for women to take their rightful
place as equals in our predominantly patriarchal society. Now more than ever is a time for my gender to
stop being part of the problem and embrace being part of the solution.”
As many musicians echo strong
messages in their music and offer a soundtrack to the movement, we have seen
real ripples of change over the past year towards progress in the jazz
community. This progress is absolutely
vital to countering the bitter reality of blatant sexism pervading the jazz
community (and overarching music industry)….
Winter Jazzfest is proudly among the
first wave of adoptees of We Have Voice; and their Code of Conduct was
distributed to all 140+ performing groups and to all participating venues to be
posted in artist dressing rooms. Winter
Jazzfest is also a proud member of Keychange.
Last year Vanessa Reed proposed that we become of the first U.S. based
festivals to sign the Keychange pledge of gender balance in programming by
2022. We are proud to have achieved that
mark with both our 2018 and 2019 festival lineups.
There is still much more we can do
and intend to do moving forward. While
we reached Keychange’s gender representation goal, we are far from being fully
gender balanced. With nearly 750
musicians performing at this year’s Winter Jazzfest, 129 are women. While we have taken steps towards gender
equality in programming the next step is for bandleaders to also commit to more
gender inclusivity in their groups.
In solidarity, we are committed to
supporting progress and we hope to further inspire our colleagues, audiences,
and artists to feel these ripples of change and to take the individual action
necessary to forge a true movement of inclusivity in our jazz community. –
I am delighted that the Era of Women is happening. I believe Brice’s gender equity activism is one of the most notable and influential developments in the entertainment industry. Mainstream media is beginning to reflect this. Women journalists and radio hosts have cause to rejoice.
Ndegeocello, this year’s Winter Jazzfest’s artist-in-residence, with her
ensemble, delivered a fire and brimstone version of her tribute to James
Baldwin, entitled “No More Water, The Fire Next Time, Auditory Portion”. The
set began with a live recording of James Baldwin’s talk, “The Artist’s Struggle
for Integrity”, given in 1963 at New
York City’s Community Church.
It seems to me that the artist’s
struggle for his integrity must be considered as a kind of metaphor for the
struggle, which is universal and daily, of all human beings on the face of this
globe to get to become human beings. It is not your fault, it is not my fault,
that I write. And I never would come before you in the position of a
complainant for doing something that I must do… The poets (by which I mean all
artists) are finally the only people who know the truth about us. Soldiers
don’t. Statesmen don’t. Priests don’t. Union leaders don’t. Only poets…. (partial quote).
hovered at Le Poisson Rouge’s rear stage supplying a fierce bass undertow to
the band’s smooth R&B jazz grooves and choir-like gospel harmonies. Her ensemble unleashed a celebratory
testimonial to civil rights’ call to action and consciousness-raising for all
the marginalized in song and spoken word.
Staceyann Chin, the performance poet, condemned white supremacy’s
exploitation and hatred of black people.
Her righteous fervor intensified as she voiced the pain and anger of the
black woman’s centuries-long bondage and victimization. Redemption lay in her cathartic fury.
proclamation, “No More Water, The Fire Next Time!” Baldwin’s rallying cry
against injustice, carries even more power today after 56 years – through
Meshell Ndegeocello’s extraordinary summoning of his spirit.
Inspired by Paco de Lucia, Richard Bona, Cameroonian bass player and singer, has been performing his newer flamenco project “Bona De La Frontera” in Europe over the past few years. Le Poisson Rouge was a Winter Jazzfest American debut. Leaving aside his past Afro-Cuban explorations, he has plunged into flamenco’s passion. Judging from the wild elation of the crowds, a recording seems imminent. In unison with Antonio Rey on flamenco guitar, Mara Rey cantaora, Paco Vega on percussions, Richard Bona’s rippling bass lines were a love serenade to southern Spain’s deep soul tradition.
Flamenco’s laments and sorrows progressed in heart-skipping, clapped and tapped rhythms by the musicians as Bona called out the untitled songs, “Rumba Uno”, Rumba Dos”… The dramatic tension built slowly and erupted in finale when the “bailaora de flamenco” Pedro Cordoba took center stage during the last two songs. Showmanship was at a zenith, as Cordoba whirled and stomped at dizzying pace. The whistling, cheering crowds were enthralled. No one wanted to leave.
memorable highpoint of all the APAP showcases I attended was Winter Jazzfest’s
“Duologue” concert – title of the current Quincy Jones produced release– by
Cuban jazz stars, pianist Alfredo Rodriguez and percussionist Pedrito Martinez. Their live performance together at SubCulture
surpassed their recording in improvisational brilliance. Most of the evening’s repertoire, drawn from
the album, was a thrilling opportunity to experience superlative musicianship.
head constantly bobbed in counterpoint as his fingers sped over the piano keys,
skimming spidery delicate passages or pouncing with muscular syncopation. His ability to produce liquescent, bell-like
tonalities, complex trilling ostinatos involving arpeggio-like chromatic
scales, and flourished phrasings was sheer listening pleasure.
Martinez was the perfect balance in their conversation, a unified rhythmic
totality, as he switched between Cuban percussion and his drum set with
precision and elan – spelling out the project’s Cuban Santeria spiritual
foundations. Rodriguez in spontaneous
surprise, invited the flamenco star Antonio Lizana onstage. Lizana’s vocals
wailed and implored for a few moments, recalling Spain with nostalgia. The duologue ending riffed on a timba rhythm
with echoes of an Andalusian melody.
Still can’t get over that showcase, it was so good.
promotes outstanding examples of the world’s cultural diversities. 2019 was its 16th edition. We don’t have a bona fide world music
festival in New York City like Chicago’s city-wide World Music Festival, for
example – although there are several excellent world music promoters here. Globalfest’s attraction lies not only in its
international scope, but its consistent levels of quality. (Although there seemed to be a few new-venue
sound issues this year.)
a tough job for the producers to represent and showcase “the world” so
successfully each year in a compressed format – 11 or 12 acts over 5 hours.
Increasingly difficult visa challenges included. The producers are mission-driven. Shanta Thake, one of the co-producers, also
served this year as an APAP Conference Co-Chair. During the APAP opening plenary introductions
she paraphrased Martin Luther King Jr.: “We are bending the arc of history for
justice.” That could just as well be the
motto of Globalfest.
year’s showcase of 11 acts was a glorious mix of rhythms and melodies from
India, Palestine, South Africa, Mozambique-Ghana-Senegal, Ukraine, Canada’s
First Nation Tobique, Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Tennessee and New Orleans. It took place at the Copacabana nightclub
over 3 floors.
were several examples of today’s “freedom voices”. Cha Wa from New Orleans started off the
evening with a rousing blast of 2nd line brass-driven Mardi-Gras parade music,
a few of its band members dressed in Native American feather headdress
regalia. With their strutting, funk
rhythms, they celebrate and honor the early Native Americans who took in and
protected captive Africans during the days of slavery. South African B.C.U.C. (Bantu Continua Uhuru
Consciousness) seems almost beguilingly cool and hip in their recordings,
drawing on South Africa’s danceable ethnic rhythms. But their performance was an explosion of
righteous protest and fierce resistance.
The room was boiling with their forceful lyrics and pounding beats.
47 Soul played one of the most popular dance grooves over the evening. The group’s Arabic techno-dabke with its syncopated, sinuous
step-dance rhythms electrified the jumping crowds. Their lyrics called for
unity, equality, freedom. By contrast,
in classic Latin dance mode, Cuban Orquesta Akokan held sway with signature
Afro-Caribbean mambos and son cubanos harking back to the 40s and 50s and salsa
dura from the 70s – while thoroughly captivating in their contemporary big band
brightness. Theirs holds a vast history
of cultural pride, triumph over social struggles, and the sacred rhythms of
from Johnson City, Tennessee, and steeped in the great traditions of African
American spirituals and blues, Amythyst Kiah’s deep, tempered vocals with her
melismatic wails cast a neo-folk spell among all present. When she switched from her guitar to her
banjo, she noted that the instrument has its roots in West Africa’s fretless
ngoni lute. A rising star, she preserves
memories of the long, musical journeys from Africa to Appalachian traditions by
African Americans with effortless style, grace, and conviction not heard in a
Tobique First Nation’s Jeremy Dutcher’s recent album “Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa” won Canada’s 2018 Polaris Music Prize. A classically-trained tenor, composer, and musicologist, his determination to help preserve, dignify, and honor his rapidly disappearing Indigenous Wolastoq language is a worthy cause. There are fewer than 100 speakers of the language today. His set, sung in Wolastoq, was moving, emotional, solemn, as his operatic vocals dramatized his long research into the traditional music. He celebrated his culture with songs about honor, a chief’s installation, a wedding dance, canoeing, and water spirits. Bravo to Globalfest for its activism in being part of what may become an Indigenous linguistic and cultural renaissance in North America.
are passing through a dark period.
The precise role of the artist… is
to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we
will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to
make the world a more human dwelling place. – From James Baldwin’s 1962 essay,
“The Creative Process”
Prominent world music showcase globalFEST will take place from tomorrow, Sunday, January 6, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. and will run until Monday, January 7 at 2:30 a.m. EST. The venue is The Copacabana Times Square in New York City.
globalFEST 2019 Schedule
Studio (First Floor) 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Cha Wa
8:25 p.m. – 9:25 p.m. BCUC – Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness 9:50 p.m. – 10:50 p.m. Gato Preto
Noteworthy: APAP has changed the organization’s name to the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, while retaining the familiar acronym. From 1988 until this most recent name change in APAP’s 60-plus year history, it was known as the Association of Performing Arts Presenters. “Our name has changed once again to reflect no only growth, but also the range of experience and expression in our field, noted Mario Garcia Durham, president and CEO of APAP. “The new name more perfectly describes the full range of distinctive roles professionals play, from the creation to the presentation and dissemination of the performing arts.”
APAP jumpstarts the new year for the performing arts industry every January in New York City. The conference charges the city with dynamic energies through the presence of tens of thousands of arts leaders, artists, and enthusiasts from the U.S. and many countries who convene each year at this momentous event. This year’s APAP 61st annual member conference, APAP|NYC, January 12th – 16th, was filled with special moments and milestone markers especially for the world music community.
Thought-provoking plenaries, the vital pre-conference world music event, Wavelengths, and the two great showcase festivals, Winter Jazzfest and Globalfest held abundant promise that the coming year will be standout. Sheer quality in those APAP-incubated events bolstered the conference’s long-standing advocacy for cultural diversities and inclusiveness as key to well-being, growth, creativity, and peace, locally and globally.
This, despite the roiled politics in Washington infesting the news today, the harrowing violence in the country – against people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and women. Ignorance, bigotry, and hatred must be fought in the arts more than ever. For it is through the arts that human values survive and flourish.
To be sure and lest we forget, Mario Garcia Durham remarked with heartening perspective as he introduced the conference theme:
In the short span of a year, so much has happened. As the media and our human nature often focus on the tragic and negative, I urge you to remember much good takes place around you every day and much of it happens in the APAP community and at our conference.
The theme for APAP|NYC 2018 is trans.ACT, which evokes a wealth of meaning which we will explore throughout the conference. We will explore transformations taking place in our communities and society at large and our role engaging and leading the dialogue. We will explore the increasingly transdisciplinary (and transcendent) nature of the performing arts. We are consciously creating space for transgender artists and other transgender professionals in our field. We will gain an understanding for how the arts can be a place for ACTivism and a force for good in these polarized and divisive times.
Plenary Power: Roberta Uno and Bassem Youssef
To underscore the theme, the opening and closing plenaries topped conference presentations. Robert Uno, director of Arts in a Changing America, as opening keynote speaker, brilliantly addressed the subject “What is the Role and Responsibility of the Performing Arts in Our World Today?”
Ms. Uno drew upon her personal narrative, the story of her Asian-American family’s cruel internment during World War II, in parallel contrast to the continuing challenges of lack of diversity in American institutions and particularly, the arts today. Her grandfather as an artist, was considered ‘dangerous.’ It is said that he was possibly the longest held internee during the war, despite having urged his 3 sons to join the U.S. military and defend the country.
She noted that according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s projection by 2042, people of color will eclipse white majority here. The vision of a pluralistic America is possible, she maintained. Early actions including the Civil Rights Era and the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act brought progress and promise.
However, there are hard realities and issues to be addressed.
While our nation is changing, our institutions are lagging far behind. We all know that the majority of arts funding still goes to large budget institutions, which are predominantly Caucasian led and serving, while less than 10% goes to diverse institutions. This is not just a problem in the arts but across institutions.
Ms. Uno screened a New York Times 2016 infographic showing the results of a racial profile survey of 503 powerful leaders and decision makers in American business, culture, and government. Entitled “The Faces of American Power, Nearly as White as the Oscar Nominees” – www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/02/26/us/race-of-american-power.html – the statistical imagery in 2016 showed only 44 individuals of color. Very little has changed in those numbers over the past two years in the general demographics.
Yet she pointed out that population demographics are rapidly changing with grass roots advocacy. “From the ground up, diverse cultural organizations are anchoring communities in very innovative ways.” She screened a 1970 photo of a Russian Orthodox church in Flushing, Queens. Today on the same street we can visit the largest Ganesha Hindu temple in North America. It sponsors an annual festival attended by thousands, and holds a school, an educational center, a restaurant, and the only state-of-the-art performing arts theater in the heavily populated area. It is open to the general public. What is most impressive, she said, “is that all the capital development and programming have been sustained by the 22,000 members.” They don’t benefit from the usual grants and ticketing model.
“What do we have to do to remap ourselves?” she asked. She brought up the necessity of re-thinking our language: the outmoded reference usage such as ‘minority’, the oxymoronic ‘majority-minority’… the inaccuracy of ‘underrepresented’ or ‘mainstream.’
What happens when ‘mainstream’ is just one of many rivers? How do we acknowledge that there are parallel universes that are existing as a result of the de facto segregation that has occured? And the ways that cities are re-gentrifying and resegregating? And how can we subvert the narrative of scarcity and competition? Can we operate from values of a shared future?
“We are living in a volatile, terrifying, and I actually think one of the most exciting times – because it’s one of those times when we matter. When my family was sent to internment camps, my mother said, “Not that many people said anything about it…. So, this is a chance for us to connect in ways we have never imagined.”
It’s an urgent time for analysis, reflection, planning, and action with purpose. For voices of activism to be heard.
Bassem Youssef, the Egyptian political satirist, commentator, and physician, and in exile in America, closed the conference. His story of survival from government harassment and censorship was a moving defense of satire, humor, sarcasm and art as effective means to challenge and check oppressors and dictators. Here are excerpts from his talk.
History teaches us that painters, actors, singers comedians, poets, writers have all been the targets of oppressors. It is not just satire, it is the mere act of liberating your mind through art, performance and creativity that really pisses them off. A creative mind is a liberated mind, and a liberated mind is the oppressor’s biggest enemy. It is imaginative, it is unpredictable, and it is a problem…. Art in its free, liberated form is uncomfortable, destructive and unpredictable. These are all qualities that authorities don’t like. These are traits that oppressors will fight.These are dangers that dictators will always seek to destroy.
I come from a region in the world that is going through a very tough time right now. Many would look at this region and think of giving up. Many think the Arab Spring was a disaster. But if you look beyond the destruction and disappointment, you can see a silver lining. You can see millions of young people practicing something that their parents were deprived of. Questioning. They question everything now, the military, religion, and even society’s norms and traditions, and they do that through celebrating their creativity, their innovation, and through their own discovery of art, humor, and love for performance. Questioning is the prequel of a revolution.
So maybe we haven’t seen the end of it yet, maybe we’re just warming up. So I invite you all to live in discomfort, to make art that is annoying, destructive and unconventional. Celebrate art, humor and love of performance, and know that if you are making certain people angry, furious and uncomfortable, then probably you are doing something right.
The Wavelengths annual pre-conference sessions, January 10 and 11, is a must-attend for all interested in the world music industry. Its importance cannot be underestimated. Rock Paper Scissors, leading world music publicity firm, under the deft leadership of Dmitri Vietze, CEO, co-presents with globalFEST the largest North American “mini-conference” for world music professionals. The variety of topics is a mix of inspiration and practicality along with brief cameo pitches by artists eager for recognition.
Keynotes speakers this year were Emel Mathlouthi, the artist, and Michael Orlove, the NEA’s director of Artist Communities and Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works for the National Endowment for the Arts. Michael Orlove gave his speech time to Dessa Darling who spoke about the brain and music.
Timely topics included:
Maximizing Your Social Impact (with Ani Cordero, Kaumakaiwa Kanaka’ole, Natalia Linares, Kim Chan, Xiomara Henry; moderated by Tanya Selvaratnam)
Part I – Money Talks: Understanding Contracts, Rights, and Business Taxes for Artists Working Globally (with Jon Bahr / VP, Publishing at CD Baby, Bob Donnelly music lawyer, and tax adviser Dunia Best Sinnreich; moderated by Tristra Newyear Yeager)
Part II – Money Talks: Touring and Live Events (with artist Ravish Momin, tour manager Theresa Teague, artist manager Cynthia Karaha; moderated by Juan Souki); Culturally Appropriate
Navigating Allyship vs. Appropriation, an Open Round Table (with Clay Ross, Falu Shah, José Corbelo, Melody Capote)
Around the world: Global News, Markets and Ideas (Olivier Conan, Ishmael Sayyad, Elodie Da Silva, Mickey Davis, and Hyo Han; moderated by Sam Lee)
You can find video tapes of the entire sessions here. Well-worth reviewing, there is a wealth of invaluable information for newcomers as well as seasoned pros: www.facebook.com/globalFEST/videos/
globalFEST enlarges the cosmopolitan nature and scope of the presenting arts by its flagship one-night showcase festival. The conference was a banner moment for the co-founding producers, Bill Bragin, Isabel Soffer, and Shanta Thake. APAP awarded the global music platform trio with the prestigious William Dawson Award for Programmatic Excellence and Sustained Achievement. This is fine validation for 15 years of dedicated work.
In addition, the organization has created its self-titled first annual globalFEST Awards “for artists and members of the field who have been instrumental in making significant, longstanding contributions to the performing arts landscape in the USA through risk taking, addressing cultural diversity and diplomacy, cultural activism, helping to keep, transmit and extend the world’s ancient traditions, commitment to working with local communities and making a difference to the greater American performing arts landscape as well as other areas.”
The 2018 award recipients are:
Impact Award Honoree: Michael Orlove A beloved figure in the world music community, Mike has had a huge impact on the field. A native of Chicago, Orlove spent 19 years as senior program director for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. His tenure with the department led to nearly two decades of innovation, creativity, and passion for public service with the City of Chicago transforming the Chicago Cultural Center into a prime downtown performing arts venue, launching the city’s SummerDance and World Music Festival, and programming Millennium Park. Since 2012, Mike has headed the National Endowment for the Arts’ Artist Communities and Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works program and has responsibility over the NEA’s International programs.
Artist Award Honoree: Thomas Mapfumo The Lion of Zimbabwe is one of Africa’s greatest and most important composers and bandleaders and an immensely popular musician who is currently living in exile in the US. Known for merging ancient African traditions with modern styles, Mapfumo’s courageous, politically charged music called chimurenga has changed the landscape of African music forever. By 1978, he and his band The Blacks Unlimited had morphed into a symbol for the struggle against injustice. His music alongside a fierce and proud independence continues to inspire around the world.
Trouble Worldwide Honoree: Posthumously awarded to Alexandra Nova (nee Casazza), for whom the award was named. The radical Brazil-born Casazza started her career as an intern at Warner Music Brazil and worked her way up to managing PR and marketing for Sony and BMG. After working over 10 years in the music industry in Rio de Janeiro, she moved to San Francisco in 1998. There, she lent her talents to Six Degrees Records as a booking agent and began planting the seeds for her own independent agency. Trouble Worldwide was launched in 2006 with a commitment to representing fearless creativity and global citizenship by bringing remarkable artists to worldwide audiences. Most recently, following the birth of her daughter, she began her latest endeavor Future Present – an agency focused on female artists. Her passion and spirit are missed terribly by many.
Preceding the globalFEST performances, the award ceremony was moving and emotional, especially in remembrance of Alex Nova.
The new globalFEST awards hold significance for the world music community in the U.S. There is shared symbolic value for everyone involved with world music – the achievements, the struggles, the sacrifices, the dedication and hard work.
This is Chicago-based music journalist and radio host/producer Catalina Maria Johnson’s introduction for Michael Orlove. Her words reflect the gratitude and admiration so many in America feel towards him.
Thank you! It is an honor to present the inaugural Globalfest Impact Award which celebrates outstanding commitment to our field to Michael Orlove, director of Artist Communities and Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works for the National Endowment for the Arts.
As a fellow Chicagoan, I’d like to share some of the happy consequences of the impact of his commitment to the field.
During his tenure at the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Michael founded our World Music Festival which is 20 years old this year. That festival has made Chicago a transnational cultural hub, and if many of us Chicagoans are participating here and at other international gatherings, it is in no small part thanks to the fact that he blazed trails for us to follow.
And I found out just last night that Winter Jazzfest’s creator, Brice Rosenbloom, who went to Northwestern University in Chicago, considers Michael his primary mentor. So you can thank Chicago and Michael for Winter Jazzfest too.
This is all part of one of Michael’s great talents – We know him as the great connector, he has connected and thereby impacted countless individuals, movers and shakers, communities, organizations in too many ways to detail here … although I could speak for hours about this, but I only have two minutes.
But apart from being the great connector and a true master at cultural diplomacy, he is known to all of us as someone you can approach no matter who you are. No matter whether or not you’re high on the totem pole or hierarchy or not, Michael will always be generous with his time and knowledge. And for that alone, the kindness and respect that he affords everyone, he should be celebrated.
There is truly no one I think more deserving of being honored by this inaugural Globalfest impact award than from a Chicagoans point of view, our man in Washington, Michael Orlove.
15th Anniversary globalFEST Notes
The big news is that globalFEST has moved to larger venues on Broadway: B.B. King, Lucille’s, and just across 42nd Street, the Liberty Theater. Apart from the excellent technical values headed up by Danny Kapilian, production director, there is greater spaciousness for moving around. But the event is still as packed as ever with capacity crowds.
There were enough diverse acts from all over the globe bound to please, whether your taste runs to the traditional, avant-garde, or pepped-up dance floor fun.
There were musical references to American idioms, rock, blues, jazz, and hip-hop. A festival programming attribute, the western influence on world music genres, can yield stylistic familiarity and surprising innovation at once. Musical languages and mixes are infinite. Then there were the semi-traditional and traditional acts.
The showcase evening of 12 acts opened with the Persian star and revolutionary, Mohsen Namjoo. Living in exile from his country, he was sentenced in absentia to prison in 2009 for setting passages of the Qur’an to music. Above all, he is a musical icon of freedom of expression for all Iranians in exile. His set blended traditional Persian rhythms with rock and blues. The repertoire was drawn from his new album, “Axis of Solitude.” His searing vocals, howled, mourned, and declaimed with dramatic conviction.
The evening’s huge surprise for me was the Delgres Band. Nothing could have prepared me for this fabulous concoction of Guadalupe’s biguine folk swing, New Orleans brass band, and Mississippi Delta blues. The concept was born from Pascal Danae’s ancestral family history, originally from Guadeloupe.
During Napoleon’s reinstatement of slavery in 1802, many from the island fled to New Orleans. Louis Delgres, a mulatto freedom fighter led the resistance movement and died heroically and so valiantly. As Danae summoned Delgres’ spirit in patois in the arresting tribute song, “Mo Jodi” (Die Today), the roar of incantatory rhythms filled Lucille’s. Danae’s rock slide guitar rang with funk blues twang, the sousaphone player growled with ominous bass lines, and the drummer made sure the room was stomping. The spell was cast.
Brazilian singer and songwriter Ava Rocha’s showcase moved from avant garde flirtatiousness to political radicalism. One of the evening’s highpoints was watching her sing and perform “Transeunte Coração.” She’s fascinating to watch. With idiosyncratic performance art movements she danced and writhed in slow motion, as her seductive, deep voice spoke the same language of dark romance in French chanson – with a samba beat. Later, urgency gripped her voice. She rapped classic Tropicalia protest in “Auto das Bacantes.” “Disrupt the state, the police, the NSA, Wonder Woman, and cause a geopolitical stir,” run the jarring lyrics in translation. Trippy jazz electronica, funk samba, and distorted rock guitar lines intensified her presence. She’s one of Brazil’s most interesting artists and increasingly part of the Latin American women’s narrative against oppression and injustice.
American blues had a shining moment through Detroit’s Queen of Blues, Thornetta Davis. There was piano honky-tonk punctuating and embellishing her R&B songs. The light-hearted cheerfulness of her band and chorus ensured that the crowds were captivated in a positive way by the “Honest Woman.” The show was in the B.B. King main room. The ambiance was perfect for Ms. Davis’ gospel power embedded in that big blues voice.
I wondered if the audience knew that behind the exhilarating Jupiter Okwess performance the song held trenchant lyrics, featuring Congolese proverbial wisdom, condemnation of corruption, or advocacy of women? The band is dominated by heavy percussions, electric bass and guitars. The group’s Congolese various rock rumba stylings, mostly at soukous tempo speed, were relentlessly driven with carnival raucousness, pumping rhythms, and frenzied dancing. Circular rhythmic phrasings, call and response chorals, that phalanx of musicians moving forward and back in line formation, Jupiter Okwess is a hard charging male vibe.
Two hip-hop spliced acts had foundations in Cuba and India. Cuba’s La Dame Blanche proclaimed at her start, “Hip Hop Urbano Cubano!” Her appearance was a wild combination of trilling chants in Spanish and piping on classical silver flute. While bolstered by two other musicians, one on keys, dealing out reggae dubs and reverb effects, and another on clarinet and drums. She was a sassy presence in a white mini-skirt outfit and white and silver platform boots, flowers pasted to her calves, singing Ave Maria, strutting and undulating as she played and sang. Her style has a lot to do with Jamaican toasting and she clearly loves being a free spirit.
Grand Tapestry was another genre crossing collaboration bridging hip-hop and Indian classical music. L.A. based MC Eligh has teamed up with Alam Khan, the son of the late master Ali Akbar Khan, on the 25-stringed fretless sarod and Salar Nader, disciple of Zakir Hussain, on tabla to produce a contemporary ancient sound. The unusual combination of Indian high instrumental contemplativeness and Eligh’s introspective rapping poetry yields a mesmerizing and transcendent flow. celebrating love and life’s trials and triumphs.
There was a whole array of the traditional from Europe and Latin America, reviving and preserving some of the world’s unforgettable music.
Jarlath Henderson is one of the heroes of the new Celtic folk scene, from County Tyrone, Ireland. He was the youngest winner of the BBC Young Folk Award in 2003 During globalFEST, he sang traditional songs – even one 450 years old – with gusto and nuanced tenderness. From song to song, he accompanied himself on the uilleann pipes and guitar, while his band brought in hints of modern jazz with rock-tinges. His Irish lilt and cadence were charming, while his band took the folk beautiful to the abstract.
Singer Eva Salina and accordionist Peter Stan recreate some of the best Balkan Romani music in America. Together they opened up the heart’s intimacies of old world charm and reminiscence. California-raised, Eva’s soul was immersed in Balkan music from childhood. Her musical partner’s heritage is Serbian Romanian.
Eva’s beautiful melismatic vocals, effortlessly gliding over songs of Romani despair, sorrow, and love’s yearning, immortalized songs by two of Serbia’s greats, Šaban Bajramović (1936-2008) and Vida Pavlović (1945-2005). They are revered by the Balkan diaspora as king and queen of the Balkan Romani. Peter Stan played melody and rhythm at once on his accordion, swooping and racing across chordal harmonies, in complex counterpoint to Eva Salina’s vocals.
Two American Latin groups brought refreshing dimensions to bolero and mariachi traditions. While Puerto Rico is forever known as the land of salsa, Miramar ensured newer knowledge of her bolero history. Chilean American Marlyse Simmons on keyboards and organ, Puerto Rican singer Rei Alvarez, and Tennessee-born singer Laura Ann Singh with a love of bossa nova, delivered a lovely tribute to the late Sylvia Rexach’s bolero repertoire. Bolero’s languorous candle-lit passion swirled with string quartet romance and guitar serenades.
Flor de Toloache, the all women’s mariachi group, demolished the idea that mariachi is strictly male domain. Dressed in identical black charro uniforms embellished with silver accents on their leggings, short jackets, and a blooming red rose on the ear, the musicians played their guitars, violins, horns and flute with rousing flair. They’re a crowd-pleaser with jaunty cumbia and polka rhythms, grito yelps, and sweet vocal harmonies.
Out of all the groups, the Georgian men’s spectacular polyphonic choir from Tbilisi, Iberi, stayed closest to centuries’ old tradition without any contemporary reference. The six singers wore the black chokha coat dating back to the ninth century and symbolic of national pride. With bandoliers over the chest and silver daggers at the hip, the chokha carries the country’s history and recalls armed resistance against the country’s occupation.
With modulated, ringing two and three part harmonies, Iberi’s repertoire was a concert of ancient folk songs for different occasions from Georgia’s diverse regions. They sang sprightly dancing and harvest tunes, a shepherd’s ballad, and even a joking song – representative of the western and eastern regions of the country. Instruments included the fretted long neck lutes, panduri and chongui, and duduk reed woodwinds played as a pair.
The evening following globalFEST, Juliana Voloz, Iberi’s European manager, held a special Iberi “supra” showcase event at the delightful Oda House restaurant in lower Manhattan, odahouse.com. If you’ve never tasted Georgian cuisine, this is the place to go. Maia Acquaviva, the owner, prepared a masterful and memorable supra menu with elegant herb and ground walnut appetizers, scrumptious cheese and bean pastries, salads, a phenomenal lamb tarragon stew, chicken napped with a rich blackberry sauce, and irresistible cake desserts.
The supra is the backbone of Georgian social culture: an extravagant feast filled with delicious foods and especially – lots of wine toasting with gladdening songs. Iberi did the musical honors. Never turn down an invitation for a Georgian supra at Oda House.
Winter Jazzfest Notes
Coming up right alongside globalFEST’s longevity, Winter Jazzfest celebrated its14th year. Every year during APAP I marvel over its invaluable, entrepreneurial role in expanding knowledge about and pushing the growth of jazz for larger and more diverse audiences. Producer and founder Brice Rosenbloom with his team of publicists and tech producers pull off one of the best annual events in New York City.
The festival showcase has taken over just about every major venue in lower Manhattan from Tribeca to Greenwich Village and the East Village. All told, the 8 day long festival featured over 130 groups and 600+ domestic and international musicians. Apart from typically packed showcase concerts, there were special events, and talks.
The festival programming addressed this country’s current social and political ills directly and head-on. It exemplified APAP’s activist theme with impressive force. The mission was clear in their social justice engagement manifesto:
The 2018 Winter Jazzfest explicitly supports social and racial justice, gender equality, and immigrant rights by presenting courageous socially engaged artists who have urgent and beautiful musical messages to share. Directly addressing the sense of crisis confronting our nation, we stand firmly with #blacklivesmatter, #metoo, and #wehaveavoice, and seek to address discrimination, sexism, immigration injustice and other issues deeply threatening our inclusive music community and beyond.
Artists have always been at the heart of movement-building and social solidarity. Protest and resistance are central to jazz’s existence from its beginnings as the music of marginalized black Americans. Jazz’s vitality and effectiveness in voicing truths about life in America has not changed. As wide-ranging as music can be in style, format and message, so is the manner in which it reflects the politics and social issues of today. We hope the message and music further inspires audiences, musicians, and fellow presenters to uphold the dignity of our culture.
Take a look at the Winter Jazzfest panel discussions content and the line-up of notable speakers. It’s another snapshot of the critical challenges facing America with inputs by key activist voices:
Jazz on the Border: International Musicians and U.S. Visas
with Antonio Sanchez, Alexis Cuadrado, Lucia Cadotsch and moderated by Matthew Covey
This panel, featuring musicians, agents, and legal professionals, will discuss ways that U.S. immigration law impacts the U.S. jazz scene. We will discuss strategies for avoiding problems, and we’ll be doing a deep dive into some of the unique challenges jazz artists frequently encounter. Special attention will be paid to the changes under the new administration.
Jazz and Gender: Challenging Inequality and Forging a New Legacy
with Angela Davis, Lara Pellegrinelli, Arnetta Johnson, and Vijay Iyer, moderated by Terri Lyne Carrington
Jazz has been a transformational, spiritual, and social movement on the global stage – creating an enduring legacy. Also embedded in its legacy are sexism and other forms of alienation. We are experiencing a watershed moment and the jazz community cannot deny our obligation to imagine and give shape to the future. We must critically challenge the prevailing code that has historically repressed and continues to render invisible many of the art form’s creative contributors.
The Long March: A Conversation on Jazz and Protest Through the Generations with featured guest Archie Shepp, Steve Colson, Nicole Mitchell, and Samora Pinderhughes, moderated by Ras Moshe Burnett
Jazz is inherently a music of social commentary and protest. Today we’re experiencing a true movement of contemporary jazz musicians expressing messages of justice, equality, and freedom. We’re pleased to engage three talented artists from three generations who each naturally embody the socially conceptual aspect of jazz performance. The focus will be on the chronological history of jazz as a functional component in political consciousness and engagement.
There were several special concert events including a British showcase hosted by DJ Gilles Peterson, a Jose James debut project inspired by Bill Withers, a Buika concert, Ravi Coltrane’s tribute to his mother, Alice Coltrane, a benefit tribute for the late Geri Allen, a performance by Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble, and a collaboration between Deerhoof and Wadada Leo Smith. This year, there were four separate performances by the artist-in-residence, Nicole Mitchell, flutist, composer, and bandleader from Chicago.
The centerpiece of Winter Jazzfest continued to be the weekend marathon nights, January 12 and 13. It’s by now a smash hit. There were about 9000 attendees trekking through 11 venues to take in 100 sets.
One of the best listening spaces in the city is the Tishman auditorium at the New School. On Friday night, I stayed for the continuum of just about 3 complete sets. Stepping into Stefon Harris & Blackout’s set halfway through was instant pleasure. A relatively young musician known for his mastery of the vibraphone, he also plays the marimba.
The “vibes” are not often heard as a lead instrument. Harris’ playing embraced its luminosity with his group on guitar, piano, bass, and drums, featuring Casey Benjamin on alto sax and vocoder. His arrangements for the band and his playing were filled with constant mercurial inventiveness. From dreamy R&B melodiousness to straight-ahead jazz with bracing funk phrasings, the group was on their toes. Before he launched into the group’s version of Horace Silver’s “The Cape Verdean Blues,” their finale, he spoke about the immigrant crisis and the vital necessity of defending them.
I want to say something about immigrants who come from this country, who made this country. We are all immigrants here, whether voluntarily and involuntarily. And it’s not just about the concept of diversity. Many times people talk about diversity to pull people together of different races in the room, but they don’t really understand the concept of inclusion. Just because you have people of color sprinkled among you doesn’t mean those people feel included….
You see, when we think about the immigrant populations who come to this country they come here with a hunger and a drive to better their lives, to better the lives of their children and their grandchildren. They believe in the ideals that have established this country…. It’s to our benefit on a spiritual level to be gracious with one another…. When we’re going through changes as a nation, apathy does have an effect, it goes to the people who are winning the battle. So if we’re going through a phase of hatred, of bigotry, and we sit around and do nothing we’re actually contributing to it. So let’s come together as a community of artists, as a community of people who understand the power of art and compassion, to stand up and do something. Create an act of love in whatever way you need to do, so we take control of this battle. It’s real out there.
Next up, Marc Ribot’s “Songs of Resistance” project was a tough continuation of Stefon Harris’ advocacy for immigrants. His set was a political condemnation of the current administration’s degradations and injustices. He sang and chanted fiercely brutal songs inspired by the civil rights era and others from European and Latin American resistance movements.
After he commented on a recent ICE arrest of a “major activist,” Mr. Ribot’s lyrics wove in references to Woody Guthrie (“This Land is Your Land”) and refugee advocate Emma Lazarus’ poem (“Give me your tired, your poor”) inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. James Brandon Lewis’s sax shrieked in dissonant outrage and Domenica Fossati added urgency with her back-up vocals. Ribot’s renditions and English translations of the famous 40s Italian partisan resistance song against fascism, “Ciao Bella,” and Paquita la del Barrio’s diatribe against Mexican male sexism, “Rata de Dos Patas,” minced no words.
NIcole Mitchell’s celebratory “Art and Anthem for Gwendolyn Brooks” with Jason Moran on piano topped off Friday night at the Tishman. A liberation narrative performance with poetry by Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000), the composition pays homage to one of Ms. Mitchell’s main influences. Ms. Brooks was the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1950 and the first African American woman inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1976. Her works are historical testimonials to the social inequities and conditions of black people – with a distinct blues feel.
As Ms. Mitchell and Mr. Moran gave emotional muscle to her thoughts and ideas, Erica Hunt recited and Shana Tucker sang her poetry as if they were intimate diary entries or symbolic historical documentation. The final concert poem was “To The Diaspora,” with dancer Rashida Bumbray bobbing and shaking across the stage, adding polyrhythmic texture with her ankle rattles. Mitchell/Moran with Shirazette Tinnin on drums and Brad Jones on bass, caught the meters and riffed on the poetic cadences with such brightness. A wondrous moment of group triumph.
Saturday night was a race around festival venues. It was frigid outside but the rooms were warm. For me there were three more standout shows. This was the opportunity to hear the much-touted Mexican drummer, composer, and bandleader Antonio Sánchez with his quintet Migration. I caught about half of his electro-acoustic set. Progressive and contemporary, the ensemble was balanced, graceful – drums, bass, sax and electronic wood instrument, piano and keyboards, and vocals. Mr. Sánchez’s exhilarating power of his gear combined with his polyrhythmic style (he uses both hands and feet) was the draw. He scattered textured patterns around the other musicians or sometimes pounced suddenly with ricocheting volleys, asserting his presence and lead.
SOB’s hosted the live experience of New Orleans’ exceptional trumpet player Nicholas Payton’s “Afro-Caribbean Mixtape,” his latest recording project. It was as much a tribute to the multitude of cultural influences that have flowed through New Orleans as the African Diaspora throughout the Caribbean. Laid-back introspective grooves with social commentary about forms of black spiritualism as means of survival shifted to vibrant instrumental intensities. The group included original recording members – Mr. Payton on trumpet and keys, Vicente Archer, bass, Joe Dyson, drums, and Daniel Sadownick, percussion. They delved into jazz funk and Caribbean sacred rhythms with turntable scratching by DJ Lady Fingaz. It was a vast ocean of sounds from the Americas in one sitting.
Sun Ra Arkestra’s live performance of the score for Sun Ra’s 1972 film, “Space is the Place” tied up the final marathon night with retrospective elan. The late composer, bandleader, futurist piano and keyboard/synthesizer player, and “cosmic philosopher’s” epic film, matched the festival’s consciousness-raising ethos. The film’s allegorical counter narrative against oppression served to remind that racism is still rampant today.
The concert with the film screening also represented Sun Ra’s tantalizing belief that his music is the path to salvation for the human race. His musical collective, The Arkestra, lives on. There were 14 musicians dressed in sequined technicolor robes including early eminent Arkestra sax members, Marshall Allen, Knoel Scott, and James Spaulding. To transform and heal itself, humanity needs tunings to higher outer planetary forces. No doubt.
Winter Jazzfest served justice so well this year. Through the listenings, we were fortified by strength, hope, and inspiration for the months ahead. The festival has by now gained through its programming with a cause – a leadership reputation for presenting outstanding voices in defense of human rights.
globalFEST, the world music showcase held annually in New York City, has announced the creation of a series of awards that acknowledge leaders of professional and artistic excellence in the small but crucial global music field, who too often receive little recognition.
The Trouble Worldwide Award will be given in its first year posthumously to Alexandra Nova, for whom it was named. In future years, it will be part of the open nomination process to an industry professional. Nominees will exemplify Alex’s “generous spirit, which was artist centered, innovative, and risk-taking,” said the press release.
The Artist Award for sustained achievement will be given to an artist or group who has made an indelible mark with their music.
The Impact Award will go to an artist/group or professional/organization for their outstanding commitment to the field.
This year, in addition to launching the awards, for its 15th anniversary, globalFEST’s showcase night is moving to the heart of Manhattan, to Times Square. The venues include BB King’s Blues Club, its sister venue Lucille’s and the historic Liberty Theater.
World music festival globalFEST announced the lineup of showcase artists scheduled to perform on January 8, 2017 at Webster Hall in New York City.
The artists include Congolese rumba band L’Orchestre Afrisa (D.R. Congo/USA); Afro-Venezuelan artist Betsayda Machado; Washington DC’s go-go band Rare Essence; Ranky Tanky’s Gullah Sea Island music; Cuba’s legendary Septeto Santiaguero; the electro-Angolan roots sound of Batida; Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition; Korea’s SsingSsing; African nu-soul singer Jojo Abot; and the mesmerizing Estonian avant-folk violinist and singer Maarja Nuut.
Additional artists will be announced at a later time.
New York, USA – Returning for a third year after two consecutive sold-out concerts, globalFEST—New York’s world music festival—announces the line-up for what has expanded to a two-night event.
The festival takes place Saturday, January 21 and Sunday, January 22, 2006 at The Public Theater, with the same 13 acts performing each night.The Public Theater is located at 425 Lafayette: Joe’s Pub/Anspacher Theater/Martinson Hall.
Since its 2004 launch, globalFEST has served as a beacon for international musicians hoping to boost their presence in North America. The festival seeks to showcase artists for fans and impresarios alike. Scheduled to coincide with the annual Arts Presenters conference—a performing arts event where most North American performing arts centers and festivals book their coming seasons—globalFEST identifies artists on the cusp of success here and gives them a springboard for further accomplishment on the touring circuit.
Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music including folk, roots and various types of global fusion