This looked like a special rare event with 2 artists I tend to see every chance I get. I'm not Jewish, but I don't think it mattered. The evening was really about art, it just happened to be presented by a Jewish paper. It was phenomenal.
It started with a Jessica Lurie mini solo set. The first piece was called "Patience" and was played on alto sax. The next piece was for flute. Then came 2 awesome baritone pieces. There was one in particular that really rocked. She sounded like she had some effects, but she didn't. The last piece was from 1939. She said they tuned up differently back then.
She also used that interesting thing that looks like a cup that she holds up to her mouth and does vocals with. We learned later it is a toy megaphone that they don't make anymore. It has some fun built in sounds that can be used in conjunction with the voice.
Next she invited Ribot up to join her. He brought out his acoustic and didn't use a mic or amp. They did 3 or 4 awesome pieces, ending with a great Blues piece. Jessica started with the baritone and then moved to the alto.
Next was a Ribot acoustic mini set. First Albert Ayler's "Holy, Holy, Holy". Then he did a standard. During the Q&A, he said when he does standards he's really doing an exegesis on the melody. Something like that.
After that was some poetry and prose readings. While I'm not really interested in the content, war and all that, I loved how rhythmic it was. He's got a great voice for reading. During the Q&A Jessica asked him about it. He said the rhythm just comes from the text. It's impossible not to read it that way. I also gathered the rhythm somehow emerged during the creative process.
After this, there was a short intermission - I guess about 15 min or so. Then came a collaborative piece with all 3 of them. It looks like they composed or at least sketched something because Marc and Jessica both had sheet music in front of them and it looked like they were reading. Ammiel was reading from one of his books. At least one line of text mentioned Albert Ayler. It came out during the Q&A that Ammiel wrote a book that Ribot read. Ribot asked him after reading it if it was about (inspired by?) Albert Ayler. It was. Apparently Ribot is the only one the poet knew of who actually got it.
After the collaboration was a "Talk". I wanted to bolt before the talk, I expected it to be about war or other subjects that bring me down. Luckily, it was awkward to slip out so I surrendered. I was rewarded with a phenomenal Q&A about music, creative process, etc. There was nothing depressing about that talk, only fascination.
The Jewish Daily Forward presents the third installment in a new series of innovative arts programming. “Jewish Art for the New Millennium” showcases cutting-edge Jewish artists and thinkers who represent their identity in the most original, innovative ways.
Legendary avant-garde guitarist Marc Ribot, multi-instrumentalist Jessica Lurie and writer and poet Ammiel Alcalay team up for an evening of intellectually provocative words and music as each performs separately and then join forces for a collaborative session and conversation with the audience.
Marc Ribot’s recording credits include a stellar list of performers — Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Laurie Anderson, Medeski Martin & Wood, Allen Ginsberg, Norah Jones, The Black Keys, Jakob Dylan and many others. Ribot regularly works with composer John Zorn and has released a number of albums on Zorn’s “Radical Jewish Music” label, Tzadik. He also frequently collaborates with producer T Bone Burnett, most notably on Alison Krauss and Robert Plant’s Grammy Award-winning “Raising Sand.” Click here for more info.
Ammiel Alcalay is a poet, writer, critic, translator as well as a professor at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is widely known for exploring the junctions between poetry and politics, especially those pertaining to the Middle East, as well as having a distinctly unique, radical approach to writing that melds together various genres into a single discourse. A world-renowned scholar of Middle-Eastern and Sephardic literatures, Alcalay’s collection of poetry and photography, “Neither Wit Nor Gold” was published by Ugly Duckling Press earlier this year. He also directs “Lost & Found,” the CUNY Poetics Document Initiative, which features correspondence, journals, critical prose and transcripts of talks by influential American poets. Alcalay’s work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, Time magazine, The New Republic, Village Voice, Jerusalem Post, Parnassus, and many other publications. Click here for more info.
Jessica Lurie is a virtuoso saxophonist, accordionist and vocalist, as well as a composer, widely known for her “flair suggestive of a Balkan John Coltrane or klezmerized Sonny Rollins” (JamBase). She’s worked with a diverse base of performers including Bill Frisell and The Indigo Girls, Mark Ribot and Sleater Kinney, among many others. In 2000, she started her own label, Zipa! Music. In 2006, Jessica was awarded a Sundance Music Institute Fellowship for film composition. Click here for more info.
About the Forward:
The Forward is a legendary name in American journalism and a revered institution in American Jewish life. Launched as a Yiddish-language daily newspaper on April 22, 1897, the Forward entered the din of New York’s immigrant press as a defender of trade unionism and moderate, democratic socialism. The Jewish Daily Forward quickly rose above the crowd, however; under the leadership of its founding editor, the crustily independent Abraham Cahan, the Forward came to be known as the voice of the Jewish immigrant and the conscience of the ghetto. It fought for social justice, helped generations of immigrants to enter American life, broke some of the most significant news stories of the century, and was among the nation’s most eloquent defenders of democracy and Jewish rights.
The Forward family of newspapers continues to carry on the founding vision of Abraham Cahan, serving together as the voice of the American Jew and the conscience of the community.