Ariadne’s Notes: A fascinating interview with Lafayette Gilchrist calling into the World Poetry Cafe radio show on August 22 at 1:30 pm PST to discuss his new album Dark Matter. Two things really stood out to me, one was the discussion about dark matter ” “Dark matter is the thing that keeps everything from drifting apart,” says Gilchrist, whose intellectual curiosity seems as far-reaching and unquenchable as his musical tastes. Dark matter permeates everything. It’s difficult to get one’s head around, but the aspect of it that fascinated me was it being this invisible force that holds the universe together. ” I had been reading a book on Einstein that spoke about dark matter in a similar manner which I thought was an interesting coincidence. The other really interesting aspect was the Go-go music on the CD. Great to dance to! Below are a couple of quotes about it:
“Go-go is a popular music s associated with funk originating in the Washington, D.C., area during the mid-60s to late-70s which remains popular in the Washington metropolitan area as a uniquely regional music style. “Some early bands credited with having developed the style are the Young Senators, Black Heat, and singer-guitarist… Wikipedia.
2018 Baker Artist Award winner Lafayette Gilchrist leads the genre-defying ensembles the New Volcanoes and the Sonic Trip Masters All Stars. Along with bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Eric Kennedy, he’s a member of the adventurous collective trio Inside Out. In 2017, Gilchrist was named a Local Legend by Baltimore Magazine, while Baltimore City Paper named Lafayette Gilchrist and the New Volcanoes as “Best Band.” While steadily leading his Baltimore-based ensembles with a progressive stream of new music, Gilchrist toured with David Murray in his octet and quartets for 13 years. He has performed with such notable artists as Cassandra Wilson, Macy Gray, Oliver Lake, Andrew Cyrille, Orrin Evans, Paul Dunmall, Hamid Drake, William Parker, and many more. His compositions have graced the soundtracks of David Simon’s acclaimed series The Wire, The Deuce, and Treme. To contact Lafayette, please click below.
David Murray’s longtime pianist draws on the span of jazz history from stride to free improvisation, along with inspiration from hip-hop, funk, and Washington D.C.’s unique go-go sound
“Lafayette Gilchrist has dug deep into [jazz piano] history… he’s tapping into jazz’s spiritual, historical and cultural roots. He’s an old soul at ease in the modern world.” – Kevin Whitehead, NPR
“Gilchrist’s writing weaves together old-school funk rhythms with hip-hop cadences and raw street beats… his melodic sensibility embraces the esoteric angularity of Andrew Hill and Sun Ra as much as the emotional directness of the blues.” – Troy Collins, All About Jazz
On his second solo recording, Dark Matter, Baltimore-based pianist Lafayette Gilchrist muses on the elusive and mysterious matter that ties the universe together. It’s not hard to imagine why the subject might hold such fascination for Gilchrist, whose work thrives on making surprising connections between styles and influences, boldly veering from piledriver funk to piquant stride, vigorous swing to hip-hop swagger, contemplative abstraction to deep-bottom grooves drawn from the boisterous go-go scene in nearby Washington D.C.
Due out July 19, 2019 via Creative Differences/Lafayette Gilchrist Music, Dark Matter was recorded live in front of a rapt, intimate crowd at the University of Baltimore’s Wright Theater by acclaimed hip-hop producer Wendel Patrick (also known as classical and jazz pianist Kevin Gift). Over the course of the set’s eleven original tunes, Gilchrist cycles through a wide range of moods and ideas, from deeply personal meditations to socially conscious outcries. Like dark matter itself, the connective tissue is sensed more than seen, tied together by the pianist’s singular voice and restless imagination.
“Dark matter is the thing that keeps everything from drifting apart,” says Gilchrist, whose intellectual curiosity seems as far-reaching and unquenchable as his musical tastes. “Dark matter permeates everything. It’s difficult to get one’s head around, but the aspect of it that fascinated me was it being this invisible force that holds the universe together. That came to mind because the tunes on the album are so different one from the other that I felt the title suggested a binding of a kind – a desire for the listener to hear it all as one sound.”
That fusion of inspirations is something that Gilchrist has done throughout his career. Perhaps it was the fact that he’d grown up listening to music long before he ever touched an instrument. It wasn’t until the summer before college, when he wandered into an empty recital hall and sat down at the keys on a whim, that he ever touched a piano. “It sounds like a fairy tale,” he recalls, “but it’s the truth: I wandered into the recital hall and saw this 9-foot Steinway grand piano on the stage. Nobody was around and it wasn’t locked up, so I stepped on the sustain pedal and started playing sounds. When I came off the pedal the sounds disappeared, and that’s how it started.”
Much has been made of the hip-hop influences in Gilchrist’s music, especially in the broad-shouldered swing of his horn-heavy ensemble New Volcanoes, but the references are far from intentional. Again calling to mind the pervasiveness of dark matter, the music’s sound was simply something he absorbed during his formative years in Baltimore. More crucial to his characteristic approach is the vibrant sound of go-go, the distinctive blend of funk, R&B, jazz and old school hip-hop that is unique to Baltimore-D.C. area stages, though Gilchrist didn’t realize how uncommon that experience was until he’d left home.
“I never remember having a conversation with anybody about go-go being our hometown music,” he says. “That music was so omnipresent in our upbringing, that I almost took it for granted. It was always just, ‘Did you check out Trouble Funk or Rare Essence or Little Benny and the Masters at the Coliseum or the Kaywood?’ It didn’t occur to me until later that we were one of the last places in the country where you’d dance to popular contemporary music played by live instruments.”
While he didn’t realize it at the time, jazz crept into Gilchrist’s consciousness via the go-go scene, albeit combined with go-go’s distinctive rhythmic feel. Chuck Brown, one of the genre’s founding fathers, would reimagine jazz standards like “Harlem Nocturne” or “It Don’t Mean a Thing” with the muscular go-go beat. “That go-go thing was so ingrained in me that when I heard the original Earl Bostic version of ‘Harlem Nocturne,’ it discombobulated me. I came to understand it later, but that internal pocket never left me. It informed me before I learned music and it still informs me.”
It’s there from the outset of Dark Matter, whose opening tune, “For the Go-Go,” pays explicit homage to the music. But it’s also there underlying the tender nostalgia of “Child’s Play,” a wistful remembrance of growing up surrounded by towering adults and nothing but time on your hands to have fun and most likely get into some sort of trouble. The pianist’s sense of wonder at the universe is evident in the title track, which gleefully plays on evolving variations of its main theme. Scientific curiosity also lies at the heart of “Old Whale Bones,” a vivid pastoral inspired by archaeological digs.
While most of the pieces on Dark Matter are newly composed for the date, “Spontaneous Combustion” reprises an older tune that remains unfortunately, stubbornly relevant. It ponders the small incidents that can set off social change, bearing echoes of protest music past. “The thing that always fascinates me about history is that you never know what will set it off,” Gilchrist says. “The issue may be big, but the spark for an uprising, a revolt, or a revolution could be something small and petty.” Hope for just such an instigating incident rings out in “Blues for Our Marches to End,” which was written following the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri in reaction to the police shooting of Michael Brown.
Between the two comes “And You Know This,” a song that merges the ska sound of bands like The Skatalites with the funky New Orleans blues of piano men like Professor Longhair and Allen Toussaint. Gilchrist fell in love with the Crescent City’s musical soul during a fundraiser at the legendary Tipitina’s produced by The Wire writer David Simon, an outspoken Baltimorean who has used Gilchrist’s music in his shows, including Treme and The Deuce. Another life-changing experience came via Gilchrist’s mother, a now-retired employee of the Federal Aviation Administration. Through her, he had the opportunity to perform for veteran members of the Tuskegee Airmen, the heroic African-American WWII fighter pilots. The profound experience inspired Gilchrist to compose “Black Flight.”
Turning from the vast outward to the deep inward, “The Love Bind” spins a tale of heartbreak that feels soaked in tears but also a caustic humor. That same sardonic wit runs through “Happy Birthday Sucker,” a sly, self-deprecatory celebration written after a brief plunge into self-pity. “Greetings” ironically closes the album with an elliptical send-off.
The World Poetry Cafe radio show, CFRO 100.5 FM July 1:30 pm PST welcomed the talented Claire Ritter celebrating the debut of the new CD Eclipse Orange with legendary Ran Blake. It was a delight to talk to her and hear her describe her work and experiences. It was also fun to hear her accent since some of my ancestors came from the Carolinas and I had not heard it for a long time.
It includes a tribute at 1:10 PM PST for World Poetry Ambassador to Japan, poet and composer Yoshifumi Sakura. Also, beautiful poems from the Greek poet ILIAS FOUKIS.
American jazz master, composer/pianist/educator Claire Ritter, is a multiple award recipient, and “among the most successful Thirdstream synthesis of jazz & classical musics” author Ed Hazel/ Wikipedia encyclopedia. In 2014 Ritter was the recipient of an artist grant awarded by the NC Arts & Science Council, her third, as well as a previous NC Arts Council Jazz Composer Fellowship. AllAboutJazz describes Ritter as “an under sung jazz master, with each engaging melody buffed up like a little jewel”. JazzTimes notes the music as “painterly, exquisite & poetic”. Beginning with the great Mary Lou Williams at Duke University in the 1970s, Ritter has studied, worked, performed & recorded with the best, which includes over a decade with MacArthur Grant Genius recipient Ran Blake at New England Conservatory of Boston, where she taught her contemporary songwriting class in the Contemporary Improvisation department during the 1990s. The economic song-like quality & harmonic sophistication of her tunes are hallmarks of Ritter’s style, described by Owen Cordle, writer for JazzTimes/News & Observer as “direct, succinct & skillful – like the NC born pianist/composer, Thelonious Monk’s style.
Claire Ritter is the author of over 200 compositions, most of which have been published and recorded; and performed in festivals, concert halls, and museums in the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Her work has been the subject of numerous publications & radio interviews on WGBH Boston, WHRB Harvard University, WBUR Boston, & WFAE Charlotte, and has been recorded on European labels Soul Note, HatArt, and the independent label Zoning Recordings, founded in Boston in honor of a major work by Mary Lou Williams. Ritter’s compositions have been recorded by internationally acclaimed Jazz artists including Steve Swallow, Dave Holland, Ran Blake, Dominique Eade, Stan Strickland, Christine Correa, Ricky Ford, Jon Metzger, and Franz Koglmann, as well as performed in concert halls including Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Festival at NEC, American Women Composers Boston, Ottawa Jazz Festival, Brandeis University Jazz Band, New England Conservatory Jazz-Thirdstream Festival, Josef Matthias Haur Konservatorium, Osterreichischen Museum in Europe, Multicultural Arts Center in Boston, Queens University, 2014 Charlotte New Music Festival, and Central Piedmont Community College 21st Century Music Series & Tate Hall Music Series in Charlotte, NC, to name a few.
Ritter’s discography includes 12 CD/DVD recordings on Zoning Recordings: In Between (Ran Blake, Dave Holland, Dominique Eade/1988); Ain’t Life a Circus (Christine Correa, Stan Strickland/1991); Mistral (by Eleni Odoni, with Ran Blake/1991); At One (Taki Masuko/1994); True (Taki Masuko, Kaku Sato/ 1998); Castles in the Air (Steve Swallow/2001); River of Joy (Steve Swallow, Ran Blake/2001); Greener Than Blue (Stan Strickland, Bob Weiner/2004); Waltzing the Splendor (Jon Metzger, Jane Hart Brendle, Ashima Scripp/2007); Stream of Pearls Project (Taki Masuko, Ashima Scripp, Toni Naples/2011); Claire Ritter & Friends at Multicultural Arts Center in Boston (Dominique Eade, Stan Strickland, Taki Masuko/2013); Soho Solo (2015). Recorded by others: Ran Blake (“Short Life of Barbara Monk”/Soul Note/1988); Franz Koglman (“Orte Der Geometrie” with Ran Blake/HatArt/1989); Documentary “Streaming” New England Conservatory; Southern Arts Federation “Jazz South # 3”); Film collaboration, Queens University & Charlotte New Music Festival with photographer JoAnn Sieburg-Baker “Mirrors Project/Six Jazz Variations.”
Other compositional performances/workshops include:
* 2014 Charlotte New Music Festival
* Central Piedmont Community College Tate Hall New Music Series
* Ottawa Jazz Festival
* New England Conservatory Jazz-Third Stream Festival
* Josef Matthias Haur Konservatorium
* Osterreichischen Museum
* Brandeis University
* University of North Carolina
* Queens University
* Festival of Women Improvisers, Boston
* Multicultural Arts Center, Boston
* Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance
* Stockbridge Music Series, Massachusetts
* Berkley School of Music
* Longy School of Music
* American Women Composers
* Club Passim, Cambridge
Claire Ritter is the recipient of a 2014, 2006 Arts and Science Regional Artist Grant; 2001 ‘Composers Charlotte’ Grassroots Grant as Artist Director/Queens University, 2000 NC Arts Council Jazz Composers Fellowship, and 2000 Arts and Science Regional Artist Grant.
Another great guest from Braitewaite and Katz.
Additional grants/awards include the Massachusetts Arts Lottery in Boston, and the Southern Arts Federation in Atlanta, Georgia. Claire Ritter is also the founder of the Ziggy Hurwitz Jazz Scholarship at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC.
Claire Ritter teaches and composes in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she is the Artistic Director Composers Concert at Queens University.
Ariadne’s Notes: The World Poetry Cafe Radio Show, CFRO 100.5 FM was honoured to welcome the talented musician and composer Wayne Wallace to celebrate his new CD the The Rhythm of Invention with the Latin Jazz Quintet. It was a delightful interview with the award winning composer who also answered a question from a young man in Africa! We found out that he had just been writing an article for a Jazz magazine on the same topic and that some of his ancestors had come from the Masai tribe. It is this kind of magic that makes the radio show so interesting.
Wayne Wallace blends chamber orchestra, jazz horns, spoken word, and his acclaimed Latin Jazz Quintet on The Rhythm of Invention. http://waynewallacelatinjazzquintet.com/
Trombonist and Afro-Caribbean scholar upends tradition to honor jazz greats and mentors
On his previous album, the critically adored Canto América, Wayne Wallace broke with his own tradition to co-lead a chamber orchestra featuring horns, winds, a double string quartet, and an array of vocalists. On The Rhythm of Invention – slated for release by Patois Records on June 7, 2019 – Wallace set an equally ambitious goal: to combine these added resources with his Latin Jazz Quintet, whose albums have garnered three of Wallace’s four previous GRAMMY nominations.
“I wanted to come up with a way of coherently mixing the quintet with the brass and strings from Canto,” explains the esteemed trombonist, innovative arranger, and notable educator. That desire now finds voice in a dazzling set of new compositions and classic jazz standards (and even one impressive mashup) on which Wallace uses the expanded sonic palette of an orchestra to highlight the strengths of his core conjunto. Under-girding it all is an effortlessly instructive survey of Latin rhythms, from the familiar to the arcane, that reflect Wallace’s lifelong study of these sounds.
“I wanted to retain the energy of Canto without repeating it,” he explains. To do so, he chose to redirect the music’s focus onto the quintet, while retaining the almost tangible richness of brass chorales and the elegance of string ensemble writing; peppering the proceedings are solos from such luminaries as Mary Fettig (flute) and Melecio Magdaluyo (baritone saxophone). Wallace also features rapper and spoken-word artist Akida Thomas on the title track, where he contributes a spontaneously composed ode to this music – and to the spirit of all music – that also utilizes an interview with Wallace’s colleague and mentor, the late Dr. David Baker.
To tie all this together, Wallace came up with a three-layered approach, built upon the foundational expertise of his longtime musical co-conspirator, percussion master Michael Spiro. “The concept was to have Michael play four congas” – the usual conga setup has three at most – “and to have him play as melodically as possible.” As a result, “A good way to hear the record is to listen all the way through and focus on Michael, and then to drummer Colin Douglas’s cymbal work – and then put it together. It’s like a history of Latin music.” From there, Wallace created a second layer by highlighting the other members of the Latin Jazz Quintet’s rhythm section, pianist Murray Low and bassist David Belove, and leaving space for his own forceful yet lyrical trombone solos. Only then did he add the composed material; the vital frosting to this multi-tiered concoction, it draws its flavors from the previous ingredients.
As its title suggests, the album doesn’t lack for inventiveness. One case in point is Wallace’s arrangement of the durable Paul Desmond composition “Take Five,” which famously contains five beats in each measure (instead of the usual four). After some research, Wallace realized that no one had previously recorded this song with a clave rhythm, the heartbeat of Latin music – despite the fact that the calve itself comprises five notes (within four beats). The finished product marries these two views of musical time; add in a Santeria-derived coro section sung by the quintet, and you have a memorable new take on a 60-year-old jazz hit.
Another example comes on “So Softly,” in which the ancient pop standard “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise” – from the 1928 operetta The New Moon – slides seamlessly into Miles Davis’s “So What,” written three decades later. The idea to combine them arose from one of the Latin Jazz Quintet’s earliest experiments, in which the band presented these two songs as a medley; but, says Wallace, “After time I pleasantly found that the two melodies worked conversationally without detracting from each other. This inspired the idea of re-imagining them as a mashup” – an idea that, he points out, “stretches back to the beginnings of recorded music.”
Less complex (but no less inventive) are several homages, including Wallace’s slightly shrouded cover of “Vamanos Pa’l Monte” one of Eddie Palmieri’s biggest hits. Although this version mimics the blend of trombone and flute that characterized Palmieri’s famous band La Perfecta, “The melody is really an extrapolation of what Eddie wrote,” says Wallace. (But anyone who knows the original will recognize it as the framework of this arrangement.) Meanwhile, the completely unexpected inclusion of “In a Mist” – an impressionistic piano composition by the legendary early-jazz cornetist Bix Beiderbecke – represents a sort of personal triumph for Wallace. “It took me eight years to figure out how to arrange it, because it’s just so idiosyncratic and challenging,” he admits. “The original piece was a kind of collision between ragtime and danzon rhythm; I tried to combine the danzon with calve to get a Cuban feel. And I thought that a string quartet was applicable because it would bring out the sororities in a modern way” – not to mention hinting at the classical roots of Beiderbecke’s small masterpiece.
The album highlight is the title track, which brings together funk, bata, and traditional Cuban rhythms and encompasses three generations of musical wisdom. On one end is Dr. David Baker, “the father of jazz education,” with whom Wallace worked closely as a professor at Indiana University before Baker’s death in 2016, and whose resonant voice is heard, midway through the track, discussing the essence of jazz rhythm. On the other end is Wallace’s son-in-law, Akida Thomas, channeling the music to speak of The pulse gyrating through the system . . . Boom-clacks all rolled into one, stay connected through the soul of the drum. “There’s this crazy counterpoint between the strings and the horns,” Wallace says; “it’s some of the most textually adventurous writing I’ve done. Akida just listened to the track and started writing.” The invention took on a rhythm of its own.
But The Rhythm of Invention refers to something altogether different from the riot of Afro-Latin beats and layered percussion that characterize the album. For Wallace, the rhythm of invention is the pace that allows him to be open to creativity: the tempo “that allows a space for the muse to be available to me,” as he puts it. It is the rhythm of a gentle river, slowed but not stilled: the “flow” that banishes mere busy-ness in favor of reflection and, yes, invention. “That’s when I get the best ideas,” he says; in fact, the “Take Five” arrangement “literally came to me when I was pulling weeds out of my garden.”
When you slow the rhythm enough, you can better see the speed of thought.
About Wayne Wallace
In a career that spans four decades, San Francisco native Wayne Wallace has collaborated with artists ranging from Count Basie to Stevie Wonder, Sonny Rollins to Carlos Santana, Tito Puente to Lena Horne and Aretha Franklin, lending his talents as sideman, composer, arranger, and producer. His debut album as a leader, 2000’s Three In One (Spirit Nectar), showcased his writing skills and his encyclopedic knowledge of Afro-Cuban rhythms, which he developed in the close-knit Bay Area jazz community – most notably in his role as music director of John Santos’s Machete Ensemble, where he spent 20 years as music director. Wallace’s out sized role in Bay Area jazz includes his creation of Patois Records, with a catalog that includes not only his own albums but also recordings by vocalists Kat Parra and Alexa Weber Morales as well as two highly regarded anthologies of Bay-Area salsa and Latin jazz. A gifted educator, Wallace now spends the academic year as professor of jazz trombone and practice in jazz studies at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, having previous taught at San Jose State University and Stanford University.
Source: our esteemed partners: Braitwaite and Katz!