Reminder! Within Our Gates: Jazzmobile Premiers Original Score by Wycliffe Gordon, 8/26
(Published: August 26, 2011)
Jazzmobile Presents Wycliffe Gordon's New Original Score
To Oscar Micheaux's Silent Film Within Our Gates
Friday, August 26, 8:00 pm at Miller Theater
NEW YORK, NY - Jazzmobile, Inc., the Harlem-based organization that pioneered the concept of bringing jazz into the community and creating new audiences with mobile jazz performances, commissioned acclaimed jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon to create a 78-minute original score to Oscar Micheaux's 1920 silent film, Within Our Gates. Hear how Gordon masterfully captures the essence, culture, and historical significance of the film in stunning composition at the premier of Within Our Gates, screened and performed live with an 18-piece orchestra and two guest vocalists, on Friday, August 26, at 8:00 pm at Miller Theater at Columbia University School of the Arts, 2960 Broadway at 116th Street, in New York City.
The film will be followed by a conversation and Q. & A. session with the composer. Admission to the screening and performance is free; however, reservations are recommended by calling (212) 866-4900, extension 307.
Oscar Micheaux is regarded as one of the most prolific African American filmmakers of the early 20th Century. Daring to depict stark realities of the African American condition on film, Micheaux created Within Our Gates in response to D.W. Griffith's 1915 silent film, "Birth of A Nation, " which extolled the Ku Klux Klan.
Wycliffe Gordon acknowledges that many of the core issues addressed in this film are still relevant today and says he "believes in the transformative power of music to elevate consciousness and provoke the kind of dialogue that leads to cross-cultural understanding."
Throughout our history, artists in the U.S. have utilized their skills as a vehicle to illuminate the human condition, contribute to the vitality of the broader aesthetic landscape, as well as to promote social change and democratic dialogue. Micheaux was no exception. With this project, Gordon literally picks up the baton, seeking to interpret the past, define the present and imagine the future. Gordon investigates the impact these issues play on a changing society, a society energized by the prospect of a new agenda and sheds light on the lost art of live silent film accompaniment with the creation of a new 21st Century music score. This project takes the bold leap of re-visioning and reinterpreting aspects of a pivotal work while at the same time, contributing to the expansion of the musical canon.
Starting with traditional big band instrumentation, Gordon allowed what was happening on the film to guide his composition and arrangement. He musically digested the startling issues conveyed throughout the film from an early 20th Century historical perspective to determine the sounds that aptly complemented Micheaux's intent. Specific themes and motifs determined whether an ominous bass line, jazz waltz, percussions, vocals, claps or even silence should be used. The composition accesses Gordon's musical depth in classical jazz training, gospel, blues, calypso, lullabies, bebop, vocals and work songs.
"Supporting Jazz artists is one of Jazzmobile's guiding principles, " said Robin Bell-Stevens, President & CEO, Jazzmobile, Inc. "We firmly believe in Wycliffe's talents and are extremely happy to be able to support him in this major project."
"We are proud to have been able to facilitate this process for Wycliffe, one of our most brilliant creators, " added Linda Walton, Jazzmobile's Vice President of Programming.
The orchestra features Tia Fuller, Patience Higgins, Yosvany Terry, Carl Maraghi, saxophones; Lynn Gruenwald, saxophone/flute; Jumaane Smith, Phillip Dizack, Joseph Boga, Bria Skonberg, trumpets; Michael Dease, Robert Stringer, Matt Mussellman, trombone; Max Siegal, bass trombone/tuba; Tim Brumfield, piano; Lewis Porter, synthesizer; Corcoran Holt, bass; Marion Felder, drums; Bobby Cash, percussion; Sachel Vasandani and Nancy Harms, vocals.
The Wycliffe Gordon commission is the first Jazzmobile commission since 1980, when the organization commissioned Frank Foster to create the Lake Placid Suite for the Winter Olympics. Within Our Gates is Gordon's sophomore composition to an Oscar Micheaux silent film. The first, Body and Soul, was commissioned by Jazz at Lincoln Center and presented as part of the 38th annual New York Film Festival.
With several compositions to his credit, Gordon's body of work demonstrates the full breadth and scope of his creative powers which were honed as a member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and as leader of his own ensembles and big bands. He has received numerous commissions including the vibrant, new score for the 1925 classic silent film Body and Soul (notable as the screen debut of Paul Robeson) which premiered at the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra's 2000-2001 season opening night performance at Avery Fisher Hall. His I Saw the Light, a musical tribute to Muhammed Ali, was commissioned and premiered by The Brass Band of Battle Creek in March 2004. He is a persuasive and committed music educator, and currently serves on the faculty of the Jazz Arts Program at Manhattan School of Music. His work with young musicians and audiences from elementary schools to universities all over the world is extensive, and includes master classes, clinics, workshops, children's concerts and lectures - powerful evidence of his unique ability to relate musically to people of all ages.
Jazzmobile, known for its presentation of free jazz concerts in New York City parks and neighborhoods, has presented Wycliffe Gordon annually on its summer festival schedule for the past several years and as a partner in the Composer's Now Festival this past February. Jazzmobile also presented Gordon in a special concert of duets with noted Jazz pianist Eric Reed at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Jazzmobile's mission is to present, promote, propagate, and preserve jazz. The organization has been nurturing communities and jazz artists for 47 years and has presented over 10, 000 jazz artists through summer jazz festivals, free performances, concerts, lecture demonstrations, jazz vocal competitions and master workshops.
Commissioning and presentation support are provided by The MAP Fund, Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation in collaboration with Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts and the Maysles Cinema. Jazzmobile received additional support from Chase, NY Department of Cultural Affairs, NYSCA, Steinway & Sons, City of New York Parks & Recreation and the Billy Taylor Foundation. Summerfest marketing partners are The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, 2011 Harlem Week, Harlem Arts Alliance and WBGO/Jazz 88.3 FM.
For more information, contact Jazzmobile at (212) 866-4900 or visit www.jazzmobile.org
# # #
More Information: http://www.jazzmobile.org
Carolyn McClair Public Relations