Ariadne’s Notes: On January 10, at 1:30 PM PST the World Poetry Café Radio Show CFRO 100.5 FM welcomed the talented drummer-Composer Devin Gray celebrating the second album, Dirigo Rataplan II, with performances in Belgium, the UK and Switzerland. Featuring his all-star quartet Dirigo Rataplan with Ellery Eskelin, Michael Formanek and Dave Ballou. for more info: http://devingraymusic.com/ Also, a gentleman frim Switzerland wrote in to tell us that he attended their European concert and he really enjoyed it and was excited about Devin coming on the show! This was really exciting!
It was a fascinating show, delving into the intricacies of composing and the personal attention to detail and the need to put mind, body and soul into each composition. Also discussed was the difficulty of making a career out of it at this time when it is so hard to make a living creating and playing Jazz. This show is a MUST Hear for composers , musicians and creators.
There are times when music lovers can just feel a talent coming into his or her own, when that artist is someone to catch onstage or on record at every opportunity. Drummer-composer Gray has arrived at such a moment. The Brooklyn-based artist made his leader debut in 2012 with the Skirl Records release Dirigo Rataplan, which featured him fronting the eponymous band with Eskelin, Formanek and Ballou, each a master improviser renowned far and wide among fans of creative music. Cadence magazine declared that initial disc to be “fantastic,” while JazzTimes said that Gray’s debut represented “the work of a young artist who knows who he is.”
Now, after six years of intensive experience as a leader and sideman on both sides of the Atlantic, Gray has reconvened this all-star group for Dirigo Rataplan II, released on CD, vinyl, digitally and for streaming via Rataplan Records on Sept. 21, 2018. Time Out New York has praised Gray’s compositions for balancing “formal elasticity with a meticulous sense of pacing.” The new album brims with more earworm melody, richly implied harmony and a loose-limbed sense of rhythm as something physical and flowing – as blood, as breath. Fans of jazz from Ornette Coleman and Henry Threadgill to Dave Holland and Craig Taborn will dig this organic mix of composition and improvisation, structure and freedom, atmosphere and dynamism.
About the evolution of Dirigo Rataplan and his writing for the band, Gray says: “I’ve become more at ease with following my natural artistic impulses. The experiences I’ve had over the past six years have been so inspiring – in the intense, ultra-energized New York jazz scene, of course, but also in Europe, where players in improvised music are so open to different genres and have this holistic approach to art and creativity. With Dirigo Rataplan II, there is more free improvisation in the music, but I also think the melodic fluidity between the composition and the improvisation is more seamless, with one flowing into the other in a way that I really like. This music is personal for me, but I want Mike, Ellery and Dave to do what it is they do, to maximize the pieces in the way that I know they can.”
About working with Gray, Formanek says: “Devin has grown as a composer since that first quartet recording session in 2011, but most important, he has a much more evolved sense of who he is as a musician, and also of who we are in the band as improvisers. These instincts take time to develop, and it has been great to see that process unfold in both his playing and his composing. This music is free and open with a lot of room for improvisation, but the tunes also have an intrinsic rhythmic and melodic character to them, a color and energy. With the quartet having played together more now, the sessions for the new album felt even better.”
For Gray, what is most vital about Formanek “is not just that his tone and sense of time are so incredible. It’s also that he cares so much about doing whatever he can to ensure the quality of the music in front of him. He’s a composer’s improviser, in that way. I feel this total, unspoken trust with him.” About Eskelin, Gray says: “Ellery sets the bar so high for improvisation. The fluidity of his solos, the intense forward motion – that’s what New York musicians have more than anyone else.” Regarding Ballou, the drummer adds: “I’ve known Dave’s playing intimately since I was a kid. I don’t think he has ever sounded better, with that beautiful tone and wide palette of expression. He brings a strong interpretive sense to my music in that he anticipates what I’m looking for, yet via his own sensibility. Working with cats like this, you don’t have to worry about individualism – it’s in everything they do. They bring what are just notes on a page to real life.”
Reflecting further on Dirigo Rataplan II, Gray concludes: “I don’t set out to make jazz records, per se. I set out to make music, period – to capture the moment, the contemporary feel of the music, hoping that it can reflect in some small way how we live now and what we all have to deal with as human beings in the world.”
In addition to Dirigo Rataplan, Devin Gray leads the quartet Relative Resonance, featuring Chris Speed, Kris Davis and Chris Tordini. Reviewing that band’s eponymous Skirl Records album, All About Jazz said: “The vitality of Relative Resonance can’t be denied… the music here literally sparkles with wit and resourcefulness.” On record, Gray has also led his Cloudsounds trio (with Ingrid Laubrock and Corey Smythe) and his quartet Fashionable Pop Music (with Tordini, Jonathan Goldberger and Ryan Ferreira). He recently released a hard-grooving digital single fronting his quartet Meta Cache with Jeremy Viner, Elias Stemeseder and Kim Cass.
As a sideman, Gray has recorded recent albums as part of Nate Wooley’s Argonautica sextet, trumpeter Daniel Levine’s trio Knuckleball (with Marc Hannaford) and a trio led by pianist Santiago Leibson (with Drew Gress). Of late, the drummer has played with Dave Liebman and Tony Malaby, along with touring Europe at the head of a trio with Speed and Gress. Gray’s recent collaborators also include Gerald Cleaver, Uri Caine, Andrea Parkins, Satoko Fuji, Richard Bonnet, Daniel Guggenheim, Marc Ducret, Frank Gratkowski, Jacob Anderskov, Eve Risser and Susana Santos Silva.
All About Jazz gave the recording four stars and called it “a high-flying, breathtaking slice of up-to-the-minute jazz from four musicians at the top of their games.”
*From 2017, still reading over 700 Peace Poems on the radio show!
Ariadne’s Notes: January 18, 1:30 pm, CFRO, 100.5 FM, PST. Also, a wonderful interview with Janet Russ from Arizona on her life and the impactful films that they are working on. Our World Poetry Café Team: Ariadne Sawyer, MA, producer and host, Dr. Diego Bastianutti, guest host and Sharon Rowe, special volunteer. Music by Opoku Mensah and a song by Luciano Pavarotti. English and Italian. Included was a fascinating e-peace poem by the well known poetess Huguette Bertrand, entitled GOLDEN PEACE and read by Victor Swartzman.
Janet Russ is working on getting production companies to make the following exciting films. If you are interested in being part of these great films, contact Osiris Munir at: firstname.lastname@example.org 15 minutes Media.
*** THE BLACK SWALLOW is Eugene Jacques Bullard, one of the greatest American flying aces of WWI, who never flew for the USA. All of his medals and military awards are from France. As a black youth in GA (circa 1900), his childhood dream was to live in France, because he’d been told no matter the color of your skin, All blood runs red. Running away from home at 7, he was a carnival worker, a stowaway on a ship to Europe, a prize fighter in London, and a song & dance man, A French WWI Flying Ace with more kills than the Red Baron (US ARMY rejected him because he was black), a nightclub owner, a spy for the Underground during WWII, returning to menial jobs in NY after the war. Years ago David Gerber tried to get this film made but the climate wasn’t right. I have all of the research and am seeking an Experienced producer/production company who can handle a film that spans 60 years and covers 3 continents.
***IN SELF DEFENSE – In 1956 the song “Long Tall Sally” was a hit for Pat Boone; NO, you say, Little Richard! Welcome to the music industry’s dirty little secret of Crossover Music. WHITE musicians performed for white audiences; BLACK artists ditto for black audiences. That’s the way it was until DJ Alan Freed starting having ALL teenagers at his dance parties and being arrested for doing it. In our script, our teen idol Frankie Avalon clone risks his career to integrate the world of Rock & Roll. I have the script, budget & research materials. Excellent chance to return to Philadelphia where it all began, re-record some of the songs for a hit soundtrack and retrace a piece of music history. Would like to team up with producer/production company with a knack for the 50’s and the means to make it happen. Want someone like the “La La Land” or “Pitch Perfect” team to help me recreate this period of music history.
*** JUST TWO OF A KIND – Its’ an Old Fashion John Wayne style buddy western. Bob Shelton was the founder of Old Tucson Studios and produced some of the most beloved Western films in his 40 years of operation, McClintock, Outlaw & Josie Wales, Young Guns I & II, and many more. On his 95th birthday he made us promised to get this film done. As he said, “If the Duke, Mitchum and Martin were alive, we’d be filming it”. As a legacy to the Old Time Cowboy movies, we (Carolyn Shelton, wife; Candi Shelton, daughter; Wendy Wolverton, producer and myself, producer), formed JTOAK,LLC, teamed up with Caravan West studio and are determined to make this film. What I need to get it into completion is additional funding of $1.3 million dollars.
Janet says: “In the current Industry climate there is a drive to get women up the ladder in Hollywood. I look forward to some of these folks reaching out to us to get these films made. THANK YOU”.
Earlier Biography Of Janet Russ:
Shebegan her financial career at the age of 14 by doing tax returns. She added the Entertainment aspect when, at the University of Az, she developed, wrote and co-hosted a Consumer Help TV show for Educational Television. Summer vacations were spent doing melodrams where she worked all aspect of theater and film from – writing, tech, wardrobe, PR and choreography. Janet also composed and performed musical scores, and produced Children’s Theater.
A chance meeting during a L.A. traffic jam, led to a show biz assignment. She joined Gymjazz Corporation as a financial troubleshooter for their video series. Never one to be idle she created an Entertainment tax class and taught it to various groups in Southern California.
Janet is active in numerous industry related organization, one being The Corporation for the Disabled in Telecommunication, where she served as a co-producer on the Emmy winning documentary “Breaking Ground” and produced the film festival “Superfest”.
She executive produced the western “Decoy” for an AZ film group. Janet developed the film arm of Perimeter Bicycling Association, and was executive producer of their documentary, “El Tour de Tucson”. These efforts garnered her two Telly awards for production excellence. She is the CFO of the Los Angeles Childrens Theatre and in this capacity has worked on several film projects for Gerald Gordon Enterprises.
After developing and instituting accounting procedures for numerous companies and individuals, Janet began her management company, HR, LTD. She continues to run the gamut of work from in-house money management, on location assignments, to troubleshooting tax & financial problems for productions.
Ariadne’s Notes: The World Poetry Cafe radio show had exceptional guests today! January 11, 1-2 PM . First up was Kevin Morris, a blind poet who was launching his new audio book and reading poems from London, England. Then, we had the dynamic duo of Digs Lewis and Paul Bolotin , film music composers from LA who spoke about their work and gave tips for young music film composers just starting out. We also had a brand new Big Bessie story from Sharon Rowe and a proclamation from Alaha Ahrar, back by popular request and a e-peace poem from Egypt from the talented Mahinour Tawfik. also by popular request. Music by Andy Vine and Kendra Shank.
Much of Kevin’s poetry is inspired by the environment. He lives close to an historic park in the Upper Norwood/Crystal Palace area (a suburb of London).Upper Norwood derives it’s name from the Great North Wood and remains one of the greenest parts of greater London.
Being visually impaired Kevin uses Job Access with Speech or JAWS software which converts text into speech and braille enabling him to use a standard Windows computer or laptop.