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 Post subject: JazzXchange
PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2002 6:48 am 
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Sheron Wray and JazzXchange will be dancing with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra on Monday 27, January at the Barbican for the music of Art Blakey and Wynton Marsalis.

(Wynton Marsalis is a member of the celebrated musical family from New Orleans.

For their third Barbican residency, the classic big-band line-up of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s brilliant ensemble explores the essence of the jazz tradition with unmatched style and panache. Many of the key figures in today’s music - including Orchestra Musical Director Wynton Marsalis - spent essential time in the entourage of Art Blakey. Drummer, bandleader, and the undisputed father of hard bop, Blakey remains an inspiration to generations of musicians. Drawing from a rich tradition of big band orchestration, Wynton creates a fresh and evocative soundscape from the language of the jazz heritage.

It is prestigious for a company of dancers to perform on stage with such incredible musicians. It marks the beginning of a collaboration between JazzXchange and Jazz at Lincoln Center. The company will be performing in New York in 2004.

Book on line at: http://www.barbican.org.uk. Tickets are selling fast.

<small>[ 17 April 2003, 07:19 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: JazzXchange
PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2003 2:50 am 
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Blowing up a storm

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Born into America's 'first family of jazz', Wynton Marsalis has achieved global success in both traditional and contemporary music as a trumpeter, composer and artistic director. But his purist line and trenchant views on what has been described as 'black classical music' have provoked controversy. Maya Jaggi reports in The Guardian

At New York's Columbus Circle the world's first purpose-built jazz complex is taking shape. When the $128m Frederick P Rose Hall opens in autumn 2004, one glass-walled concert space will have the Manhattan skyline over Central Park for a backdrop. Yet the soundtrack to construction of this temple to jazz is the rock and rap from builders' radios.
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 Post subject: Re: JazzXchange
PostPosted: Wed Jan 29, 2003 3:36 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Wynton Marsalis
By John Fordham for The Guardian


Kofi Annan gave Wynton Marsalis the title of United Nations Messenger of Peace a couple of years ago. Perhaps that is why the trumpeter's tireless globetrotting with his Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra seems to have ratcheted up another notch recently. This week in London alone, the band delivers three different repertoires, a contemporary dance collaboration and late-night public jams with local musicians. Marsalis asked the audience's permission to play sitting down at this gig, complaining of dizziness. Just reading his itinerary has that effect on most mortals.
Although the Lincoln Center orchestra recaptures the smoothly oiled engineering and fine tuning of the classic swing bands of the past, it is rare for any of its dexterous soloists to put an ecstatic or terrified shiver up your spine. But when the band is not in solemn, cultural-heritage mode (as it was at the Proms last summer), it can certainly capture the joyous, playful and unaffected humanity of jazz, and it did that in bursts during the first of its three Barbican shows.

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 Post subject: Re: JazzXchange
PostPosted: Wed Jan 29, 2003 3:38 am 
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Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra
By Clive Davis for The Times


The most impressive moments came in a collaboration with members of Sheron Wray’s dance troupe JazzXchange. It could have turned into an exercise in interdisciplinary worthiness. But the handclapping and loping bass line in Sunflowers — from Marsalis’s suite inspired by the magnificent annual festival in the French village of Marciac — formed a durable motif. I should not have been surprised to see how well it worked: after all, Marsalis scored a triumph a decade ago with Citi Movement, written for the choreographer Garth Fagan.

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 Post subject: Re: JazzXchange
PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2003 1:54 am 
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Spirited salute to a giant of jazz

Martin Gayford reviews Wynton Marsalis at the Barbican

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I had some hard words to say about Wynton Marsalis's latest recording the other day, so I'll begin this review on a positive note. The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, under Marsalis's direction, is - for my money - the finest big band in the world today. All its virtues, as well as some of its faults, were on show in the first of three London concerts.
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Wynton Marsalis & the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Barbican, London
The king's crown sits precariously
By Sholto Byrnes of The Independent


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In the old days, the days so beloved of Wynton Marsalis, trumpeters used to be kings. It was "King" Buddy Bolden. There's no need even to add parentheses to King Oliver, for the royal denominator clings to his given name as tightly as the skin on a snare drum. Wynton Marsalis has not been awarded the title, but, whether he chose it or not, he does sit on the jazz world's throne. And it's time for him to step down.
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 Post subject: Re: JazzXchange
PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2003 3:51 pm 
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Wynton Marsalis said some very encouraging words about the status of dance against the music. He said that he considered Sheron and her company to be equal to his music - part of the Jazz brotherhood. He said that when he had been at rehearsal with the company the day before and seen lots of people milling about and children running around, he realised that the dance mirrored the inclusive nature of the music and he was proud to be a part of it. Great praise indeed.


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 Post subject: Re: JazzXchange
PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2003 5:20 am 
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JazzXchange
By Donald Hutera for The Times


IN CELEBRATING the tenth anniversary of her company JazzXchange, the tenacious British dancer-choreographer Sheron Wray seems to want it both ways. Was the concert of music, dance and film at The Place on Tuesday night a performance or a party? Wray packed a lot into this fitfully entertaining programme, but it was both too much and not enough. The net effect was of a proud, ambitious undertaking insufficiently thought-out.

It began sensationally well thanks to Wray’s superb rendition of the late Jane Dudley’s 1938 solo Harmonica Breakdown. This short, succinct dance to Sonny Terry’s music has become a signature piece. Wray is the epitome of troubled stamina, punctuating a balance of determination and despair with bursts of rhythm.

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<small>[ 17 April 2003, 07:21 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: JazzXchange
PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2003 1:20 am 
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Review from the Guardian.

Quote:
Jazz is the most visible of western dance forms, and its long history (ranging from the Charleston and the Lindy Hop to the slick and slutty choreography of Bob Fosse) dominates the commercial stage. But when Sheron Wray founded her ensemble JazzXchange 11 years ago, it was not to build a feeder troupe for West End musicals. It was to dig deeper into the history of jazz music and develop dancers who could respond to its techniques of improvisation and collaboration.
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 Post subject: Re: JazzXchange
PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2003 3:33 pm 
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THEA NERISSA BARNES posted this in another topic and I have consolidated the two here. Many thanks for this detailed review Thea:

*******************************************

JazzXchange Music and Dance Company 10th anniversary celebration took place in the Robin Howard Dance Theatre, 15 and 16 April 2003. The performance presented live dance interspersed by video footage that visualised high points in this company’s past. Vignettes of singers and dancers linked the major dance numbers and video presentations. There was also a large ensemble of musicians. Pianist, bass guitar, assorted saxophones, percussionist, trap drums, trombone and trumpet that made the whole show a music concert as much as it was an evening of dance.

Visual-ographies of choreographic expressions, the videos illustrated the art practice of Wray and her dancers and Wray’s quest to firmly place improvisation back in jazz dance. Red (2002) is Dennis Morrison’s clips strung together highlighting inspired episodes of the live performance of Red that premiered at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, June 2001. These clips captured moments in this jazz dance work that did not use conventional jazz dance vocabularies. There is a blend of Black Africa and Islam cultural sensibilities that resulted in altered textures for music and gesture. The dancer’s embodied knowledge seemed predominately contemporary dance but these sensibilities were fractured; not this or that conventional lexicon. What made this presentation jazz? Jazz is recognised through the work’s altered approach to expressing life experience through movement. These altered attitudes toward art practice fractured the use of rhythm and gesture that combined with improvisation encouraged individualistic expression. The synthesis of familiar materials initiated new hybridisations of contemporary and jazz dance expressions.

Special Request (1997) is about transformations. Reaching back to move forward this video is an elaborate voyage of movement expressions illustrating the diversity of Wray’s embodied knowledge. Caribbean moves to New York hip hop groves to walking tall and standing on her shoulders Wray’s performance for the camera demonstrated the transformation of agility in movement skill plus competence in the Africanist aesthetic in dance. There were other video presentations but these served to reinforce what Red and Special Request had already illustrated. Even the short video testimony of Wynton Marsalis reinforces Wray’s proclamations of JazzXchange and her vision of jazz dance. Wray stood in as interlocutor of the show and gave a running commentary reiterating significant highlights in JazzXchange’s past and hopes for the future. Choosing her moments well, Wray gave thanks to those individuals who have supported JazzXchange in the past in whatever capacity.

Are There Any Volunteers?(2003) conjured Caribbean festivals and summer nights. It was a bit rough on the edges and at times the dancers lost their way spiritually. Irrespective of this, the dancers fed off the live music of 9 musicians that was a feat in it self. With rhythmic arms and pulsating torsos and the coordination of exits and entrances the dancers began with single steps that built like the music culminating in movement the dancers restructured before your eyes. When the music was let loose the dancers followed suit. In one instance, Galia Delgado asked the musicians to repeat the rhythm she designed.

Julian Joseph at piano and Cleveland Watkiss sang an inspired rendition of Many Rivers to Cross and Come Sunday Morning. Ife Piankhi performed her own composition The Solar System that started with musicians circling her metaphorically illustrating the power of voice and music to transfix inspiration. This was usurped by dance, epitomised by Shantala Pepe, who circled and thus engulfed Piankhi.

Harmonica Breakdown choreographed by Jane Dudley in 1938 was made in a context when African Americans, Native Americans, and poor immigrants of various ethnic origins could not without contention illustrate their own lived experiences. Americans, who empathised with the estrangement endured within these people’s lives, appropriated diverse art practice and portrayed biographical studies of these identities and their associated life experiences. These modern dance practitioners disrupted their individual embodied knowledge, restructured bodily narrative and synthesised an art practice that redefined cultural sensibilities to illustrate heartfelt social and political agendas. Danced by Wray in 2003, Harmonica Breakdown (1938) comes down through the ages to a space to speak of triumph striding on the spirit of fortitude. The dance is a metaphor for perseverance and with the harmonica playing of Sonny Terry Wray’s dancing signified the tenacity in sprit of downtrodden people everywhere.

In Are There Any Volunteer? (2003) Wray refers to herself as the Architect with the dancers: Dance Masons, and the musicians as Special Guests. Improvisation brings musician and dancer in a dialogue of energy; a self-revitalised circle in which shared experience and agreed cultural significations within the structures of jazz music construct the relationship of sound to movement. The sound dictates the mood and dynamic inferences and it is these characteristics the dancer sorts, transforming auditory nuance into bodily narrative. The choice of music colours the evocative and perhaps emotive powers of the dancers. The challenge is to balance physicality and spirituality. The improvisatory reveals itself through the physical manifestations of movement skill and movement style of the person. If music is the inspiration, the improvisatory act is the result of how the dancer apprehends the music given directions and inner inklings. The resultant dancing body reveals the extent of movement experience and perhaps a portal to the insight, outlook, and enlightenment gained through jazz dance and music practice.

Lucky For Some (2003) premiered at the Barbican this past January appearing with Wynton Marsalis and his Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra. As collaboration between jazz music and cotemporary dance Lucky For Some is a testimony to the fraternisation of jazz sensibilities. These sensibilities are not so much African as they are the culmination of years of appropriation and synthesis on both sides of the Atlantic, across several art practices, through several cultural sensibilities. What is known is transliterated in sound and in movement. The arms of the dancers illustrated the point of collaboration, move and music expressing the same dynamic, the same rhythm in their own form. The vibrancy in the dancer’s costumes by Shirley Williams reinforced the texture of the sound and the spirit of the dancers, which in this work soared. The dancers, Yvette Perry Campbell, Galia Delgado, Celia Grannum, Dena Lague, Helen Williams, Shantala Pepe, and Sheron Wray, made their entrances and exits in their individualistic ways of moving. The stage space used in ring shout fashion, the musicians began in the centre and the dancers made use of every available inch around them. The rendition of a New Orleans funeral band emphasised the connection JazzXchange has to the jazz tradition. The musicians moving in processional fashion were followed in similar fashion by the dancers but the dancers congregation stage left took me back to the church and the importance of this space where communities shared anguish and sorrow, joy and exaltation. Trembling and confronting the bereaved, music and movement became a unified dynamic expression of an agreed idea, a shared perspective. This was a creative amalgamation of this known history, this often used icon of jazz memorabilia.

Jazz is a strategy for making art, a particular aesthetic approach to art practice whether movement or music that is in response to or inspired by lived experience. When using this strategy, the improvisatory act becomes a tool, the outward manifestation of inspiration. The improvisatory act becomes the visual articulation of embodied knowledge that reveals individualistic expressions. As the dancers’ moves accelerated to meet the music’s drive and textures Lucky For Some seemed the most ambitious stab at Wray’s vision so far. Wray is looking for “jazz” in the dance that she knows instead of bodily narratives that exemplify the use of conventional jazz dance vocabularies. One has to start somewhere though and for dance one can only start with self; embodied knowledge the dancer already knows to her or his bones. Charlie Parker’s credo “if you don’t live it, it won’t come out your horn” offers a perspective. Starting with self, dance creates its own social and political space and its own relationships and practices, its own culture. The person choosing alternative expression be it with arm or saxophone has to know the science of the practice, its history and the context she or he lives in. From what is known and experienced comes a creative choice that indicates deliberate exclusions and altered inclusions. This makes for innovative dance making indeed.

--------------------
THEA NERISSA BARNES

<small>[ 04 May 2003, 05:34 PM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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