cut n mix

CUT N’ MIX: Contemporary Collage On Display At El Museo Del Barrio

Cut N’ Mix explores the work of artists experimenting with collage and collage techniques in ways that expand the gestures of cutting paper and mixing various mediums together. It takes as its point of departure some of the concepts from Dick Hebdidge’s series of essays collectively titled Cut N Mix: Culture, Identity and Caribbean Music, published in 1980. In this text, Hebdidge explored the variations of Caribbean reggae and dancehall and other related styles of music as emblematic markers of Caribbean ideas of nationhood, belonging, and the making of culture. The artists included in the exhibition range from established artists who are veterans of collage to new generations of artists experimenting with this malleable medium.

Participating Artists: Elia Alba, Jesse Amado, Blanka Amezkua, Javier Barrera, Maria Berrio, Cecilia Biagini, Michael Paul Britto, José Camacho, Karlos Carcamo, Nat Castañeda, Gaby Collins-Fernandez, Matias Cuevas, Rafael Ferrer, Roger Gaitan, Carolina Gomez, Javier Ramirez/NADIE, Carlos Gutierrez Solana, Hector Madera, Glendalys Medina, Alex Nuñez, Catalina Parra, Carlos Rigau, Hernan Rivera Luque, Linda Vallejo, Rafael Vega and Eduardo Velázquez.

Cut N’ Mix:  Contemporary Collage will be on display from July 22, 2015 – October 17, 2015.  For more information check out http://www.elmuseo.org/cut-n-mix/.

STRANGE FRUIT REDUX ART for FAME

STRANGE FRUIT REDUX Premieres At MRT’s 10th Anniversary Event

No one truly knows what the day holds as they prepare to step out their front door.  Burgeoning Bed-Stuy artist Nathan Strange is poised to be the next sensation of the New York City art scene, but a common trend plaguing our society may prevent him from doing that.

Written by Afrika Brown, STRANGE FRUIT REDUX is a series of poem monologues mixed with music and socio-political pop culture sound bites that reflect the fears and frustration of the modern black man and stars Bryant L. Lewis.  STRANGE FRUIT REDUX is making its premiere at Manhattan Repertory Theatre‘s 10th Anniversary Event.

Manhattan Repertory Theatre was created in 2005 by Jennifer Pierro and Ken Wolf.  Manhattan Repertory Theatre produces full-length plays, One Act Play competitions, and monthly short play events.  Since 2005, Manhattan Rep has produced over 1000 full length plays and over 500 short plays.  Manhattan Rep is committed to the artist, to creating a context of creativity and support a clean and professional environment.  Manhattan Rep celebrates unbridled creativity, not judgement, and believes that a script is not a play, just the map for a creative team to bring it to life.

Playwright, poet, author and journalist, Afrika Brown is known for writing riveting lifestyle and entertainment features. In 2006, Brown published Sepia Sapphire, a collection of poetry. In 2007, Brown’s weekly chapter series Diary of a Break Up was featured by Universitychic.com. In 2009, she founded F.A.M.E. NYC Magazine. In 2014 Brown’s one act play, THE OUTING, was featured in Open Hydrant’ Urban Waves Festival, Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s Summer Short Play Festival and The Strawberry Festival.

Manhattan Repertory Theatre‘s 10th Anniversary Event runs from July 15th to 16th at 9 p.m.  Ticket reservations can be made at mrtreserve@gmail.com.   Manhattan Repertory Theatre is located at 303 West 42nd Street #3.

Kendrick-Scott-Oracle--Conviction

Jazz Standard Beats Out Winter with Kendrick Scott Oracle

With the final days of winter creeping to a close, Jazz Standard ushers in spring with sounds of Kendrick Scott Oracle.  The quintet is comprised of Mike Moreno on guitar, John Ellis on sax,  Matt Penman on bass, Taylor Eigsti on piano and Kendrick Scott on drums.  The two sets featured selections his 2013 CD titled Conviction, released on his World Culture Music label.  The first set was extremely melodic providing soothing, danceable grooves that one might hear at Club Shelter on Sunday in the early afternoon.  The second set was up-tempo, lively and was propelled by Scott’s driving percussion.  Although some of the music performed was composed by other members in Oracle, all of it showcased the superb backbeat of master drummer Kendrick Scott.  Ancients looked to oracles to predict the future, music in so many ways show where we are and where we are heading.  With Kendrick Scott Oracle the prediction is passionate playing equals good music.

quiet_pride_500

Rufus Reid and His Big Band Sounds Swing at Jazz Standard

Quiet Pride: The Elizabeth Catlett Project, released in 2014, is the latest offering by premiere bassist Rufus Reid, but there was nothing quiet about The Big Band Sound of Rufus Reid as they played selections from this Grammy nominated work.  Quiet Pride is an homage to the work of Black graphic artist, sculptor and activist Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012).  The titles of the six piece suite are all titles of works created by Catlett and Reid’s compositions and arrangements serve to be beautiful accompaniments to what are already visually stunning pieces of art.

At Jazz Standard Rufus Reid’s big band spilled off the stage and into audience. Along with Reid the band included Steve Allee tickling the piano, Vic Juris strumming the guitar, Chris Beck’s pounding the drums, Charenee Wade’ vocal styling and a reed and horn section that included 15 musicians.  Conductor Dennis Mackrel stood in front of the performers to make sure that each of them was on point.  And “on point” would be a feeble colloquialism to describe the robust, wall of sound that echoed from The Big Band Sound of Rufus Reid.

They started their set with Recognition, followed by Mother and Child, Tapestry in the Sky, Singing Head and Glory. The music was so plush, so luxurious in texture, so rapturous in harmony.  Reid’s aural reimagining of Catlett’s work is as soulful and magnificent as the work itself.  I was particularly impressed with Charenee Wade; her haunting voice held its own with band and proved that voice is indeed its own instrument.  Chris Beck hit the drums like he was midway through a possession.  His drum solo was ferocious and had me clapping my hands and stomping my feet.

Artists often inspire other artists.  Quiet Pride is sure to spark many imaginations.  I thought The Big Band Sound of Rufus Reid was a beautiful ending to February and Black History Month at Jazz Standard.  One legend recognizing another with the timeless language of music – doesn’t get any better than that.

Photo: rufusreid.com

Ravi Coltrane

A Legacy Supreme, Ravi Coltrane at Jazz Standard

Few jazz artists have the legacy of Ravi Coltrane.  To say jazz is in his blood is an understatement; he is jazz royalty.  His father, John Coltrane, created the quintessential jazz opus with Love Supreme and is actually a saint.  His mother, Alice Coltrane, was a jazz pianist, composer, harpist and organist who led her own band and accompanied her husband.

Extending the legacy given to him by his parents, Ravi is an accomplished post-bop saxophonist.  Since 1998 he has released six albums as a band leader, the last being Spirit Fiction in 2012 on Blue Note along with dozens of appearances as a sideman on various artists’ albums ranging from Steve Coleman to Flying Lotus.  He is also the co-owner of RKM Music.

Although this winter has been one of the harshest in recent history, Coltrane’s appearance at Jazz Standard got February started on a smooth, sublime note.    The Ravi Coltrane Quintet, comprised of Coltrane on tenor sax, Ralph Alessi on trumpet, Aaron Parks on piano, Bob Hurst on bass and Jeff “Train” Watts on drums, were featured at Jazz Standard from February 3-8.  The set included five numbers; the first was Ornette Coleman’s Bird Food.  The second was Word Order from Coltrane’s 2000 album From the Round Box.  The third was a piece titled Between Lines.  The set concluded with For Turiya a piece written for Alice Coltrane and Thelonious Monk’s Brilliant Corners with arrangements by Jeff Watts.   The Ravi Coltrane Quintet played the role of shamen.  They enchanted us with soothing, intricate layers of melody.  Hearing Coltrane live with the accompaniment of Parks, Hurst, Alessi and Watts was magical.  Overall it was like a hot toddy on a frosty night – warm, soothing with just the right dose of kick courtesy of Watts’ arrangement of Brilliant Corners.  It swung with a bit of a hip hop beat and would make a perfect sample.  As for Coltrane, he has successfully carried the legacy of his family all while carving a lane for himself.  He has truly earned the moniker “renaissance man.”

Most clubs don’t live up to the illustrious names that their owners bequeath to them.  Jazz Standard is the exception, it is the prototype of what jazz spot should be – intimate, comfortable and filled with melody.  Located at 116 East 27th Street, any jazz buff can walk down a flight of stairs and treat themselves to a plate of barbeque and night of legendary talent and the best new artisans of jazz.

 

Recovery paintings flyer

A History Lesson – Kaminski Style

Since the beginning of mankind, humans have kept records of events.  These narratives shape our civilization.  People turn to the history books to learn about the past, understand the present and possibly predict the future.  But visual art can sometimes render words unnecessary. Such is the case of Ken Kaminski and his paintings that chronicle the events of 911, the recovery period that continues to unfold and indeed the period before September 11, 2001.  Through hues of purple, yellow, red, blue, black, white, and through the style of Abstract Expressionism, Ken Kaminski retells a story that is permanently etched in the minds of everyone in this nation.

BaghdadLast August Kaminski’s 9/11 Paintings were featured at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Edward Williams Gallery.   This exhibit offered viewers a pictorial on canvas spanning from the airplanes slicing through perfect blue skies, to the chaos and destruction of the twin towers and ultimately their demise.  And like history, the lessons of the past can and sometimes do repeat themselves.  With Kaminski the story of his 9/11 work has come back around again and although the plot is slightly altered, the impact is just as potent. On January 31, Kaminski’s Recovery Paintings exhibit opened at Walter Wickiser Gallery.  The exhibit is comprised of seven paintings: Baghdad (1991), Wounded Towers (2002), Collapse (2011), Intersection (2011), Intersection 2 (2011) and Ghost Towers (2011). On the crisp white walls of this Chelsea gallery, Kaminski’s paintings and the story they convey take on new life.

The tale begins with Baghdad.  Geometric shapes burst from a tawny plain. Waves of red and black anchor the bottom to the painting.  In a way these impressions look like oil and blood that has been shed for that oil.  Dead center is a bull’s eye.  If a history buff was inclined to trace back the events that led to 9/11 one would have to make a stop at Baghdad, in fact, some might argue it was the first ground zero.

Wounded Towers_KaminskiWounded Towers goes straight to the center of that horrible day.  As the towers bend, slowly yielding to their fate, bold colors of red, white, blue, yellow, green and black entangle the surface.  Between the brushstrokes and paint Kaminski smeared with his fingers, the agony of the fuming towers is consciously and unconsciously evident.  While I viewed this painting last year, this time I was able to see a under case “p” resting in the middle.  When I saw it I was gobsmacked.  Why haven’t I seen it before? P…pain, and why haven’t I ever used that word to describe that day?

Collapse_KaminskiCollapse is an overwhelmingly tumultuous piece. You can see the tower being taken asunder in copious shades of blue and black and streaks of yellow and orange and a splash of red. As with Wounded Towers a “p” appears in the center of the painting. It’s dark and sweeps over you like a tidal wave.

Intersection_KaminskiIntersection and Intersection 2 return once again, and more directly, to the geometric shapes that are present in Baghdad only these shapes are surrounded by thicker, darker hues.  The dense globules of paint reminded me of the soot that covered the surrounding area of Ground Zero or the heavy plumes of smoke that hovered over the smoldering remnants for days. Like its title these works act as a conduit linking what was to what is and the possibly of what might be.

Ghost Towers_KaminskiGhost Towers is a piece with spiritual dimensions.  In this work Kaminski pays homage to lives lost on 9/11.   In total, all of these works tell a distinct story about history from a very distinct point of view.  But chronicling modern events using paint and canvas is only one of the narratives this exhibit tells.  The other signifies the title of the exhibit itself, Recovery Paintings.  Although Kaminski has fused sociopolitical themes into his work previously, the paintings that were influenced by the events of 9/11 were his therapy – a way to reconcile the horror and enormity of a moment in time that continues to affect us.  Indeed his recovery has become our recovery and as we continue to look back on 9/11 while trying to navigate our present and future, Kaminski gives a starting point that can be used in our healing as we continue to record and create history.

 

 

john-coltrane-a-love-supreme

Fifty Years of a Masterpiece – Azar Lawrence Quartet Pays Homage to A Love Supreme At Jazz Standard

“No matter what…it is with God.  He is gracious and merciful.  His way is in love, through which we all are.  It is truly – a love supreme.” – John Coltrane.  On December 9, 1964 the John Coltrane Quartet, consisting of John Coltrane on tenor sax, McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums visited the Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs to record one of the most influential, brilliant concept albums ever recorded.  That album was A Love Supreme.

A Love Supreme was recorded in a single session and is considered Coltrane’s most seminal work.  It is poetic, a sermon and a testimony translated into a magnificent aural feast that inspires the most rapturous emotions about God, spirituality and enlightenment.   To listen to A Love Supreme can be inspiring and life changing; it’s the type of work most artists strive to achieve, not matter the medium, but are lucky if they get remotely close to.  Coltrane died almost three years after this recording at the age of 40.  He never got to witness how this opus impacted the music world, but I feel safe in saying that Coltrane’s autobiography and legacy was summed up in this piece.  For me it was the musical equivalent to the “Big Bang Theory” – a melodic explosion that created an alternate universe where I was able to explore and gain a deeper understanding of the world in which our bodies reside. In other words, A Love Supreme was an introduction to the metaphysical plane here on Earth.

Jazz StandardIt has been 50 years since Coltrane and company recorded A Love Supreme in Englewood, New Jersey, and its relevance is just as potent today as it was back in the 1960s.  In recognition of this important contribution to jazz and American music, Jazz Standard enlisted saxophone virtuoso Azar Lawrence to celebrate the creation and recording of this masterpiece.  The Azar Lawrence Quartet includes Benito Gonzalez on piano, Billy Hart on drums and Reggie Workman, who worked with Coltrane, on bass. The celebration was over two nights, December 9 and 10, and was a fitting tribute to this piece.  Coltrane once said, “God breathes through us so completely…so gently we hardly feel it… yet, it is our everything.”  It’s evident that the most high was present during the recording of A Love Supreme and the spirit of Coltrane was at Jazz Standard when the Azar Lawrence Quartet performed selections from this work.  These men breathed passion into a work that is already filled with emotion.  They were awe-inspiring.  I fell deeper in love with this work, if it’s possible to do so.  They played the house down and it was one of the best tributes I have been privileged to witness with my own eyes.  The vibrations could be felt in every corner of the room.  I believe we all left feeling connected.  Thank you John Coltrane for creating a work that will last as long as human history exists.  And thank you to Jazz Standard and the Azar Lawrence Quartet for allowing us to rejoice in a work and an artist that used his abilities to uplift humankind.

 

SAMO

Written by Afrika Brown, F.A.M.E NYC Editor and Founder

Tears etch scars down my cheeks

Fresh blood, new death each week

Black bodies and Blue justice gone viral

New day but its HIStory we rival

We scream no justice, no peace

We create footsteps in the streets

Covering the prints of elders before

But what really lies at the core

Is it my melanin?

The place I live in

The coiled roots of my dome

Or the fact that this land was never my home

We contribute to the prosperity of red, white and blue

But Uncle Sam don’t give a damn ‘bout folks with my hue

Occupy Wall Street, Hands Up –Don’t Shoot

And while we “die-in” stores, corporations still get loot

Weren’t we sick and tired with Fannie Lou Hamer

Technologies advance with frozen minds, it don’t get no stranger

Are we the problem or the solution?

The cure or the pollution

Maybe we are everything you see

Cause this land made for you and me

Is a whore born out of hypocrisy

A blind lady holding up scales

The bitch is deaf too and dead men tell no tales

Seventeen watching Rodney King

Twenty –two years, new video, same sting

Can you see the ring I’m trying to paint?

Full circle of blood smeared and stained

With the crimson of Mike Brown, Sean Bell, Trayvon

Amadou, Anthony Baez… do I have to go on?

No, I don’t need to go any farther

Cause the tombstones go past Eric Garner

Unarmed man blasted in a project stairwell

And still you don’t think Jim Crow ain’t alive and well

Dead black men just pictures on your TV

Not too different from black men swinging on trees

They called them strange fruit

KKK, zealous pigs, identical boot

Bearing down our larynx

Shouting NEXT GENERATION…NEXT

So I can’t trust the boys in blue

Or the boys in blue

And red bandannas who

Fit the criminal profile

But wait…we all fit the profile

Of being descendants of the three-fifths lifestyle

Cause when these laws were being made

My great-grandparents were slaves

For a country made for you and me

It’s been slow in spreading equality

And while the twentieth century is written about in books

The new millennium carries the shadow of a familiar look

And while CNN tries to discover who really is the foe

I say it’s just the ghost of SAMO

 

SSG_eFlyer_V4

Sejong Soloists Hits Two High Notes with One Event

This year Sejong Soloists had two very important milestones to celebrate, 2014 marked their 20th anniversary and the 70th birthday for artistic director Hyo Kang.  On October 28, Sejong Soloists took the stage of Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center for their annual benefit concert. Emmy award-winning journalist Paula Zahn returned for her 12th season as host for the event and joined the string orchestra on stage playing cello as they performed, “Serenade Humoristique a l’ espangnole.”

The Sejong Soloists is the brainchild of Kang conceiving the idea of a conductor-less string orchestra.  In 1994, Kang invited 11 young, gifted musicians from across the globe, all of whom were attending Julliard School, in order to develop and mentor the newly formed ensemble.  Kang himself was a violin faculty member at Julliard at the time and through his mentorship, the young string players and many others, who have taken part in the ensemble during the past two decades, have been able to forge relationships with composers, become rising stars themselves and have entertained hundreds with their sublime musicality and bowing showmanship.

During the gala concert Sejong Soloists performed works from Bach, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, as well as J. Hyun, Carlos Franzetti, Hal Leonard and Pablo de Sarasate. On stage Sejong Soloists were joined by violin virtuosos Gil Shaham, Adele Anthony, Yura Lee, David Chan, Catherine Cho and Chee-Yun to perform various solos throughout the concert, each adding another wonderful layer of depth and fullness to the overall performance.   Those who were in attendance witnessed a spectacular that was as stunning to the eyes as it was to the ears.  The physicality of the performers truly demonstrated the passion that was coming through their instruments.  If this was an Olympic competition, Sejong Soloists would receive nothing but 10s across the board.  Technically they exhibited a tonality that was rich with various levels of sound.  It was amazing to hear how the sound completely filled the stage and the hall itself.  At no point did the music seem sparse; it flowed from the stage in waves and felt larger than the ensemble that had gathered on stage.  The achievement of Sejong Soloists’ big sound can only be attributed to the guidance of Hang as well as their enormous talent.  This string orchestra is certainly one of the most enjoyable musical experiences I’ve had in a while.

Sejong Soloists is a 501(c) (3) tax-exempt organization.  The annual gala concert provides an opportunity for lovers and neophytes of classical music to experience the next luminaries of this genre as well as to honor the tireless effort of those who assist in growing this exceptional artistic organization.   To learn more about Sejong Soloists or to make a donation, please visit, http://www.sejongsoloists.org/.