Bang on a Can comes to Brooklyn with its annual incomparable super-mix of boundary-busting music from around the corner and around the world! The 2017 Bang on a Can Marathon will feature 8 hours of rare performances by some of the most innovative musicians of our time side-by-side with some of today’s most pioneering young artists.
2017 BANG ON A CAN MARATHON SCHEDULE (subject to change):
For at least the past fifty years, the most important and exciting site of new fusions of music has been in Jazz. Perhaps this is owing to its roots in collective improvisation and musical play, or in Jazz’s consistent pursuit of innovative timbres, rhythms, and forms. Fusions with Latin music go back at least to Charles Mingus (Haitian Fight Song) and the innovations of Miles Davis in fusing Jazz with Rock (See his Bitches Brew) seem to have opened up the possibility of many others. In the past few years, a new fusion with rap and hip-hop has been showing us ways in which two African-American musical innovations can come together in a sort of musical dialogue.
The group “Sélébéyone” takes its name from a Wolof word, meaning “intersection” or a place between the borders where two entities may meet and transform into something entirely new. That is exactly what happens in their music where the border of hip hop (rap) meets at the edges of jazz. They performed numbers from their recent self-titled album as part of the Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Hall on March 27.
Bandimic raps in Wolof, the indigenous language of Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritiana. Wolof, interestingly, is not a tonal language, which means that pitch difference does not convey meaning (unlike, say, Mandarin) thus the rhythmic rush of the language and Bandimic’s rapping may come naturally from the language itself. HPrizm, by contrast, offered slower, more resonating lines, often taking advantage of his two-microphone set up, in which one was set to a high reverb, extending his words in a long echoing resonance.
Drummer Damion Reid is perhaps best known for his work with the Robert Glasper Trio, the inventive trio that won a Grammy for best R&B album with just such a collaboration between Jazz and Hip Hop. His is a cymbal-centered style, that relies less on big resonating toms or typical snares and more on the variety of metals in his kit. This makes some sense in the context of Sélébéyone for the group tends to rely on robust synthesized sounds for its lower register, laying down big electronic textures to fill out those sub-audible ranges. Reid’s cymbals float above this this bass, producing an astonishing variety of timbres and resonances.
The saxophones created thick constellations of sounds, with long arpeggiated gestures that defy harmonic analysis. Lasserre, on soprano, created sonic depth with swirling motions that moved his horn closer to and further from his microphone. The reverb applied to the instrument gave it even more warmth. Lehman’s alto sax playing is virtuosic and defies easy description. The harmonic density of his solos is breathtaking.
The overall effect of this group is electrifying. On the one hand, the music is mesmerizing, with its thick electronic foundation and eddies of saxophones above it all, with shimmering cymbals and brittle piano above it all. On the other hand, their songs are formal structures with breaks for rappers in two languages. The electronics often use recordings of people, not in English, as a starting point, and it would be interesting to know if the rappers were engaging in ideas presented in hat recorded material. To a non-African listener, the effect is one of general African evocation.
HPrizm, Gaston Bandimic, and Maciek Lasserre all practice Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam which, in Senegal, has coalesced in the Mouride Brotherhood, founded in 1883 by Amadou Bomba, to whose memory the group’s last song was dedicated.
The group has uploaded the first song, “Laamb” on Youtube :
Philip Glass and Foday Musa Suso famously collaborated on the album The Screens composed as music for a production of the play by Jean Genet, the score for the film Powaqqatsi, and on the concert work Orion. As part of a celebration of Philip Glass’ 80th birthday year, the two artists will come together again for an intimate and collaborative performance.
Humayun Khan and Douglas J. Cuomo have formed Turquoise Lake, an eight-piece ensemble of musicians from a variety of improvisational traditions to create music that blends the raga tradition of North India and Afghanistan, Farsi poetry of the great Sufi masters, and Afghan folk melodies and ghazals, with western jazz and rock styles. At the heart of Turquoise Lake is the idea that a band led by a Muslim and and American Buddhist that includes members who are Hindu, Jewish, African-American Christian, and Catholic can, in it’s small way, show the possibility of what the world could be; what it already is if only you have a chance to experience it that way.
About the Artists
Humayun Khan, a widely-hailed Afghan singer and composer, is known for his brilliant performances as a virtuosic vocalist and harmonium player who has developed a unique style blending Farsi poetry with Indian classical Ragas. He has performed on many recordings and soundtracks, and in venues throughout the world, including the Gnaoua and Asilah International festivals in Morocco, The Kennedy Center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Composer and guitarist Douglas J. Cuomo has written music for the concert and opera stages as well as film, television and theatre and for performers including Denyce Graves, Christine Brewer, The Romero Guitar Quartet, Maya Beiser, Evelyn Glennie, Jeffrey Zeigler, Ashley Bathgate, Kathleen Supové, Chanticleer, The Young People’s Chorus of NYC, and others. Among his work film and television work is the theme for Sex & The City, and many others. Both Khan and Cuomo are strong advocates of cultural understanding through music.