Ariadne’s Notes: The World Poetry Cafe radio show CFRO 100.5 FM on September 26 continued the Peaceathon with readings of the peace poets from around the world and other events. This year has been the best ever with so many peace events and so much wonderful work to create a wave of loving peace to circle the world and help it to balance itself.
Poets and Peace Promoters. On Thursday, September 26, at 1:10 pm PST, the World Poetry Peaceathon continued with poems from Carolyn Mary Kleefeld, Mahmood Jan, Lidia Chiarelli, Gloria Khe, Juanita Garcia Vera, and James Berkowitz. Also, time permitting the lovely long poem by Pj Johnson, Poet Laureate of the Yukon. Eighty of the shorter poems were given away with permission on Sunday at two events that we participated in.
Calling in with a brand new CD also at 1:30 pm PS with his brand new CD was Jason Yeager with New Songs of Resistance, which featured reimagined folk music from Argentina, Chile, and Brazil, as well as new compositions inspired by our current reality. It fit in and was blessed with the rest of the program so well. Also, in the midst of the poetry readings, we were honored by the wonderful musician Jason Yeager and his great new CD New Songs of Resistance. Jason is also giving part of the proceeds to Raices who help migrant families. Go to https://www.jasonyeager.com/ for more information and to buy a CD!
*Thanks to Braithwaite and Katz for another wonderful musician!
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.