We at Seed Artists give a big thank you to Rob Reddy, Meg Araneo, and the tech crew at BRIC for creating INTERRUPTION. It was a moving moment of poetic social commentary by Oliver Lake, large ensemble music - both composed and improvised- by Rob Reddy, complimenting a sermon of Rev. Dr. Samuel Barber; emissary of the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina. Barber's image was depicted in video near the stage, amid a room engulfed in exquisite lighting design.
Rob and Meg put forth this combined artistic expression in a Work in Progress that also raised a challenge to the audience. Especially those who are asking a familiar question today; "What to do now?" After the election of course, but also after feeling the cumbersome state of affairs within our nation. The audiences of both evenings were asked to comment on the work to help us refine its presentation. The first night someone actually did ask us what action should be taken as spur from our presentation.
One woman who identified herself as a jazz musician drifted into commenting on how there were not enough women in Jazz. Though I don't think Rob's music was trying to be Jazz in the same sense she meant, and certainly Lisa Parrot is not a token in the orchestra, she just happens to be a badass baritone sax player. That aside, the comment reminded me of some things that I personally believe. First, and foremost I suggest that women started Jazz! It is my calculation from regarding the time when Jazz the culture formed. Jazz the music, in reductionist theory has it starting New Orleans, and lauds several notable, and selected men as its author. Today people have grown to call Jazz America's only true classical art music, which rebuts the antiquated notion that Jazz proficiency was not much more than an elixir driven folk music, which was not as serious as the classical music of Europe - Asia. That is acceptable, but not enough of the back story for me. If Jazz did start on these shores it started on the plantation with hands agile enough to explore a bunch of white keys frightened by a few black ones. I am sure the Sally Hemmings of our world would be first in line to use the spiritual power hidden in the ivories. Everyone interested in this topic should hear Mary Lou Williams' depiction of the evolution of Jazz.
Secondly, and less significant in my view, there is Jazz the employment source, which has its own inequalities, over-qualifications, appropriations, and intersectional trends to complain about. In stark contrast to this, and the reason that I indulge and promote it, Jazz the culture is a healing force. This is impenetrable by hackers, not found in books or schools, and requires good old fashion mentoring, self - motivation, and countless inexplicable qualities of spiritual timing.
Rob and Meg have taken action and responded to the times in which we live by fusing activism in their work and engaging their public. It is not for the faint of heart, or for posers who want to be Jazz musicians, or artists because it is cool or alternative. Rob and Meg are following a long standing tradition of using their voice and efforts for the evolutionary benefit to humanity it brings. This is what Jazz the culture has done ever since it was a defining trope that upheld the crux of American ingenuity - even if it was as diabolical as; how to relieve the pain of the slave-masters whip and bring some joy to our soul process.
Now that the whip is visible again in a North American scramble for sanctity, sanity and good will, it will be the artists verité who leads these painful conversations, and reality checks. We will look to our history, and to the poor, and disadvantaged, not only for doing good deeds but to protect ourselves from becoming so.
As it was during several other periods of reconstruction; It's time for interruption!
p.s. Seed Artists is screening Femmes de Jazz by Gil Corre on April 27th at 6:00 pm
at Montclair Public Library Auditorium 50 S. Fullerton Ave. Montclair, NJ 07042 FREE
and James Brandon Lewis - Chad Taylor Duo April 30th at 3:00pm at The 73 See Gallery
73 Pine St. Montclair, NJ 07042