Kwami Coleman is a Ph.D. student in musicology at Stanford, with a concentration in jazz history. He was formerly an artist's liaison with Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Articles by this Author
What does it mean to be an American? This question — provoked by the Oakland East Bay Symphony’s concert Friday — people have been asking in this country from jump, and we have in our collective memory a wide array of answers. Of course, to qualify the question we must understand what an American is in the first place, and here’s where things always become tricky. We all seem to know that to be an American is to expect just as much difference as similarity from your fellow citizen in lived experience and personal outlook.
Imani Winds, a wind quintet whose stylish grace and charm match the high quality of sound produced from their instruments, hold a substantial pedigree among fellow artists, audiences, and critics alike. These are musicians for whom artistic risks are to be taken cautiously and, once taken, followed through with abandon. At the very least, this type of conviction garners respect, but being in top form while you do it is special stuff.
Messiaen and remix don't seem like two words that should go together. Genre hang-ups aside, the phrase remixing Messiaen seems tantamount to rewriting Zola or, even more ghastly, reabstracting Mondrian. After all, remixing that which has already been expertly mixed does what, exactly, to the original product? And, then, what of that which we're left with at the end of the process? If the original work is a masterpiece, does remixing remaster the masterpiece?
Two groups with like-minded ideals visited Stanford University last week. Imani Winds and Miami String Quartet compelled their modest-sized audience in Dinkelspiel Auditorium to join them on a spirited and inspired, if unfamiliar, musical journey. From the first to the last sounding notes both ensembles played brilliantly, with vigor, dedication, and flair. The caliber of musicianship was only part of the remarkable artistic parcel on display Wednesday night.
Before an attentive and animated audience on Sunday afternoon, Artistic and Executive Director of Stanford Lively Arts Jenny Bilfield concluded her opening remarks on what we should expect from this, the presenter's 39th season opener, by restating part of its mission: “We bring artists that don’t fall neatly into artistic guidelines and categories.”
Sunday's crowd understood that they were going to get something unusual simply by the unusual conjunction of jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis as headliner with the Philharmonia Brasiliera in a presentation titled "Marsalis Brasilianos." Tr
The California Theater looked sparkling and effervescent both inside and out on the opening night of Symphony Silicon Valley's 2008-2009 season. The program, "Dances at an Opening," featured three multimovement dance-inspired and dance-related works by Alberto Ginastera, Duke Ellington, and Sergei Prokofiev. The theater, with its Gothic facade and Jazz Age marquee and decor, provided a charmed contrast from the gray concrete of downtown San Jose.
The glamour and accolades that go along with being royalty are apparently difficult to enjoy when your throne is being directly challenged. That is made enjoyably clear in Oakland Opera Theater's production of Duke Ellington's comic opera Queenie Pie (playing through May 25), in which Harlem's preeminent beauty queen faces formidable competition for her title, for her romantic interest, and, perhaps most important, for the patronage of her enticing assortment of beauty products.
The audience quickly found itself in the dark last Wednesday at Stanford’s Memorial Auditorium. Percussionist Evelyn Glennie and guitarist Fred Frith walked on stage moments after the house descended into pitch-black, leaving only the sharp geometry of Glennie’s percussion instruments — which took up two thirds of the stage — and Frith’s two guitars and amplifiers to dance motionlessly against the effervescence of the backdrop. The music began without a word from either performer, despite the assurance in the program that everything would be announced from the stage.
One word best sums up Friday's collaborative performance of Chanticleer and the Shanghai Quartet at Berkeley's First Congregational Church: work. Everything from the choice of works in the program to the enthusiastic work put in by the performers onstage simply "worked" well.