Ariadne’s Notes: World Poetry Café Radio Show with hosts Ariadne Sawyer and Neall Ryon and operator Sarah Jo welcomed the amazing Jazz musician and composer, Richard Nelson who spoke about his latest CD Deep River. To hear this fascinating interview:
Photo by Joana Morrissey
Composer/guitarist Richard Nelson grew up in the East Bay suburbs of San Francisco. He studied music at Sonoma State and UC Berkeley, where he honed his improvisational chops in the UC Jazz Ensemble backing guest masters like Joe Henderson, John Handy, and George Duke. A few years after graduating from Cal in 1977 he headed east to study composition with Donald Erb at Indiana University (while also playing guitar in the IU Big Band directed by the great David Baker). The eastward trek continued when he made the move to New York City for doctoral work in composition at Columbia with Mario Davidovsky, while also studying with Bob Brookmeyer and Manny Albam in the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop.
Nelson made an impressive recording debut as a bandleader with the sterling 2001 trio session Figurations (Invisible Music) featuring fellow UMA colleagues Chris van Voorst van Beest on bass and Steve Grover on drums. He followed up with 2004’s Origin Story, which marked a major leap as a composer/arranger. An earthy and sophisticated quintet project focusing on his extended original compositions, the album features alto saxophonist Tim O’Dell and trumpet legend Don Stratton. He’s also distinguished himself in the world of concert music, composing both fully notated works and ones incorporating improvisation performed in concerts and at festivals across the country by such groups as Speculum Musicae, ALEA III, and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.
Running through his entire career since settling in New England in the late 1980s is his relationship with the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra. Founded in 1973 by trumpeter and music director Mark Harvey, the band is known for wide-ranging repertoire featuring original works by Harvey, music of Duke Ellington, and diverse concerts spanning jazz, folk, popular and classical traditions. The group appears on twelve CDs, including seven discs from Leo Records. Over the past quarter century Nelson has contributed several pieces to the band’s book, while performing on all of their albums. A core member of the ensemble, he’s maintained his affiliation with Aardvark since moving up to Maine and considers the band to be “a vital part of my creative pursuits.” Nelson is additionally a Professor of Music who teaches composition and jazz improvisation at the University of Maine at Augusta.
Ariadne’s notes: The World Poetry Cafe Radio Show with hosts Ariadne Sawyer and Jaz Gill, operator Sarah Jo, celebrated the talent of Kagan Goh in a special radio show last night, September 15th. I was honoured to read the Wedding Poem that I wrote for Kagan and Julia, based on my parent’s tradition of having a Weekaversary. They put aside the day to celebrate and renew their everlasting love. My parents would be so honoured to know that Kagan and Julia are continuing the tradition. As a young child, I could join in and share my poems and drawings and even hold a candle. Added to the show, wonderful poems by Jaz and Kagan plus a very moving short story. Click HERE For the show!
Kagan Goh was born in Singapore in 1969. After years of traveling, he emigrated with his family to Canada in 1986 and now resides in Vancouver. He is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, a spoken word poet, novelist, journalist and mental health activist. Kagan is an author who has been published in anthologies such as “Strike the Wok”: an Asian Canadian anthology of short fiction (TSAR Publications); “Henry Chow and Other Stories from the Asian Canadian Writer’s Workshop” (Tradewinds Books), SARE 50 (South East Asian Review of English, Issue 50), “Alive At the Center: an anthology of poems from the Pacific Northwest ” (Ooligan Press) and the Writer’s Studio 2010 and 2012 emerge (Simon Fraser University). In 2012, Select Books, Singapore, published his first book “Who Let In the Sky?”