Myra Melford: Language of Dreams
Fri-Sat, Nov 8-9, 8 PM
$30 in Advance / $35 at the Door
$25 Student, Senior, Teacher In Advance / $30 Student, Senior, Teacher at the Door
$25 YBCA Members; FREE for YBCA:You
Fri, Nov 8: Post-show Q&A moderated by Andrew Gilbert
“Myra Melford…makes jazz feel fresh again.” —Will Layman, PopMatters.com
From the intrepid musical adventurer Myra Melford comes the world premiere of the powerful, multi-sensory experience, Language of Dreams. Incorporating music, movement, and video imagery, Melford invokes reflection and provokes dialogue about our collective histories and our path forward as “Americans” in the broadest sense, recognizing our diverse cultures and landscapes as well as the tensions and harmonies that define us.
This newest work draws its inspiration from the composer’s deep fascination with Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano's Memory of Fire trilogy, which strings together seemingly disjointed bits of text to form a deeply textured picture of life in the Americas in the era before and during European colonization.
Myra Melford emerged in the early '90s as one of the most highly acclaimed young jazz pianists of the day. Her career has been defined by a restless curiosity and openness to collaborative creativity that is reflected in her highly personal, idiosyncratic style which incorporates such wide ranging influences as the Chicago blues, Zen Buddhism and the “organic philosophy” of Frank Lloyd Wright. Melford was the recipient of the prestigious Alpert Award in the Arts for Music in 2012 and a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Doris Duke Performing Artists Award in 2013, and is currently an artist-in-residence at YBCA leading an initiative to increase appreciation of jazz, particularly among women and youth, and to strengthen the Bay Area jazz ecology.
Language of Dreams was commissioned by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and includes artistic collaborators Ron Miles (cornet), Liberty Ellman (acoustic guitar), Stomu Takeishi (acoustic bass guitar), Jeff Davis (percussion), dancer/choreographer Oguri, video artist David Szlasa, and Galeano’s text spoken by vocalist Sofia Rei.
Master Class: Oguri/Body Weather Laboratory TrainingNov 9, 2013 11:00am – 1:00pm
YBCA Forum$10 / YBCA Members: $8 / YBCA:You FREE
Oguri will lead movement explorations designed to sharpen focus and develop the scope of expression through the body. The work encompasses sensitivity training and discovery of movement from images in an engaging interactive process. No prior dance experience needed.
Pianist, composer, and Guggenheim Fellow Myra Melford has always combined the personal and the poetic. Raised in a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house, Melford grew up literally surrounded by art, and has since crafted a singular sound world that harmonizes the intricate and the expressive, the meditative and the assertive, the cerebral and the playful. She draws inspiration from a vast spectrum of cultural and spiritual traditions and artistic disciplines, from the writings of Persian poet Rumi and the Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano to the wisdom of Zen Buddhism and the Huichol Indians of Mexico, to the music of mentors like Jaki Byard, Don Pullen, and Henry Threadgill.
Language of Dreams, her most ambitious project to date, combines narration, dance, and video with music for her latest working group, Snowy Egret (cornetist Ron Miles, guitarist Liberty Ellman, bassist Stomu Takeishi, and drummer Tyshawn Sorey.) Melford is also one-third of the collective Trio M with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Matt Wilson, and performs in the duo ::Dialogue:: with clarinetist Ben Goldberg. She’ll release her first solo album in October 2013, a collection of work inspired by the paintings of the late visual artist Don Reich.
Melford’s wide-ranging palette expands from the piano to the harmonium and electronic keyboards or to amplifying barely audible sounds in the piano’s interior. Her playing can build from the blissful and lyrical to the intense and angular.
In 2013, Melford was named a Guggenheim Fellow and received both the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Performing Artist Award and a Doris Duke Residency to Build Demand for the Arts at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. She was also the winner of the 2012 Alpert Award in the Arts for Music and has been honored numerous times in DownBeat’s Critics Poll since 1991.
Andrew Gilbert is a writer based in the Berkeley area, and covers jazz, roots, and world music for several outlets, including the San Jose Mercury News, San Diego Union-Tribune, Boston Globe, JazzTimes, and KQED's California Report.
David Szlasa is a video artist, curator, and producer. He is the recipient of the Gerbode Award, Future Aesthetics Artist Award, and Lighting Artists in Dance Award for innovative use of video in performance. In his solo work and projects in collaboration, Szlasa creates investigative art to deconstruct and reconstruct popular narrative. Collaborators include Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Joanna Haigood, Rennie Harris, Hope Mohr, Deb Margolin, Bill Shannon, Michael John Garcés, Sara Shelton Mann, and others. His work has been exhibited in theaters and galleries worldwide including Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Walker Art Center, MCA Chicago, the de Young Museum, the Humana Festival, Sydney Opera House, Oakland Art Gallery, Harare International Festival of the Arts, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Tsekh Moscow.
Oguri is a native of Japan. In 1985, he joined the Mai-Juku dance group founded by the internationally noted dancer/choreographer Min Tanaka. For the following five years, Oguri toured internationally and was a founding member of Body Weather Farm, where the group lived and hosted annual international arts/dance festivals. Described by Victoria Looseleaf of the Los Angeles Times as a “treasure,” Oguri has lived in Southern California for the past 20 years and is a recognized force in the community. He has been producing and creating dance with his partner Roxanne Steinberg who founded Body Weather Laboratory in Los Angeles. He has danced extensively in California, nationally, and internationally in Europe, South Africa, Australia, the Middle East, and Japan. Oguri maintains relationships with the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, Grand Performances, Highways Performance Space, REDCAT, Metabolic Studio, and dancers, artists, and musicians including Min Tanaka, Anna Halprin, Hirokazu Kosaka, Paul Chavez, Yuval Ron, Adam Rudolph, Wadada Leo Smith, Joseph Jerman, James Newton, Myra Melford, Nels Cline, Alex Cline, G.E Stinson, and many more.
Sofia Rei, a groundbreaking world/jazz artist, is considered one of the most passionate, charismatic, and inventive vocalists on the current New York music scene. Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, her music explores connections between the various traditions of South American folklore, jazz, and electronic sounds. Rei's voice brings more than the depth and fullness of a riveting voice, tying together diverse influences in a program full of rhythmic complexity, and a melodic purity that haunts even as it uplifts. Rei has collaborated with artists such as Maria Schneider, Bobby McFerrin, Frank London, and John Zorn (currently with Mycale and the Song Project). Her debut album Ojala has received great critical acclaim and has been chosen a top 10 album of 2006 by the Jazz Journalists Association. She has also received the Best Latin Jazz Vocalist of 2009 Award by the Latin Jazz Corner. Sube Azul, her second album as a leader was released in the U.S. and Europe by the World Village (Harmonia Mundi) label, and received an Independent Music Award in the World Beat Category. Her collaboration with Geoffrey Keezer in Aurea got a Grammy nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album in 2009. And her third release as a leader, De Tierra y Oro, has recently been awarded two Independent Music Awards. Rei is currently a faculty member of Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory. She has toured Europe and North and South America singing at renowned venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and the Village Vanguard. She has performed at festivals including the Festival Internacional del Cajon, the Festival Iberoamericano de las Artes, Cite de la Musique, the Festival de Jazz de Barcelona, Festival Grec, North Sea Jazz Festival, Gent Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, the Lapataia Jazz and World Music Festival, and the Buenos Aires International Jazz Festival.
Ron Miles, a Denver-based trumpeter, is much sought-after for his unique sound and artistry by performers as diverse as Bill Frisell, Ginger Baker, Madeleine Peyroux, Don Byron, the Ellington Orchestra, Wayne Horvitz, and Fred Hess's Boulder Creative Music Ensemble, among others. In addition to playing festivals and venues around the world, Miles is a staple of the Denver jazz scene as a player, bandleader, and as a music professor at the local Metropolitan State College. Born in Indianapolis and a resident of Denver since the age of 11, he began playing the trumpet seriously in junior high school and studied music at the University of Denver and the Manhattan School of Music. Miles says that living in Denver has given him an appreciation for a broad array of musical styles that he might not have acquired elsewhere. During the ’90s, Ron Miles released a series of well-received albums on the Gramavision (My Cruel Heart, Woman’s Day) and Capri (Witness, Ron Miles Trio) labels. His longstanding relationship with guitarist Bill Frisell began in 1996 and has resulted in countless collaborations, including Heaven, an intimate recording of duets, released in 2002 (Sterling Circle Records). The album showcases the chemistry of two brilliant improvisers in a variety of song settings, from originals to Jelly Roll Morton, Hank Williams, and Bob Dylan. Heaven was followed by the quartet record Laughing Barrel (2003) and the double album Stone/Blossom (2006), featuring some of Denver’s finest musicians. In addition to Miles originals, Blossom features covers of “I Woke Up In Love This Morning” by the Partridge Family and “I'll Be There” by The Jackson Five. Ron Miles and Bill Frisell’s fruitful collaboration is highlighted again and most impressively on Quiver, Ron’s newest recording as a leader that features the trumpeter and guitarist in a trio setting with master drummer Brian Blade. Comprising mostly original compositions by Miles, the record was released in October 2012 on Enja Records. For Language of Dreams, he will be playing cornet.
Liberty Ellman’s improvisational and interpretive flexibility as a guitarist, along with his unique rhythmic touch, has allowed him to contribute to the creative jazz ensembles of Henry Threadgill, Wadada Leo Smith, Myra Melford, Greg Osby, Butch Morris, Vijay Iyer, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Steve Lehman, and Stephan Crump. Ellman has also accompanied stand-out vocal artists like Ledisi, Somi, and Jen Chapin. As a composer and bandleader, Ellman has produced three critically acclaimed CDs: Orthodoxy (Red Giant Records), Tactiles (Pi Recordings), and Ophiuchus Butterfly (Pi Recordings). His compositional style has been described by Gary Giddins as "At once highly controlled and recklessly inventive," and "quite original and subtle." And Ben Ratliff of The New York Times wrote: "Mr. Ellman's ballads are special, exotic things: their melodies are memorable." Ellman has also been active in the studio, mixing and mastering recordings for a wide variety of artists including Steve Coleman, Henry Threadgill, Sam Rivers, Steve Lehman, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Vijay Iyer and Mike Ladd, Gregory Porter (Grammy Nominated), Wadada Leo Smith, Amir Elsaffar, Ralph Alessi, Joel Harrison, Tyshawn Sorey, and many others.
Stomu Takeishi is a Japanese jazz bass player. He generally plays fretless five-string electric bass guitar, as well as a Klein five-string acoustic bass guitar. He often uses looping or other electronic techniques to enhance the sound of his instrument. Takeishi began as a koto player. He came to the United States in 1983 to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. After completing his degree in 1986, he moved to Manhattan to continue his studies at The New School. He has lived in New York City ever since. In the 1990s he began to achieve prominence as an innovative New York jazz bass player, and critics have noted both his adventurous playing and sensitivity to sound and timbre. He has played in many international jazz festivals and often performs at major venues in New York, the United States, and Europe. He has performed and/or recorded with Don Cherry, Henry Threadgill, Butch Morris, Dave Liebman, Randy Brecker, Wynton Marsalis, Paul Motian, Myra Melford, Cuong Vu, Badal Roy, David Tronzo, Erik Friedlander, Satoko Fujii, and Andy Laster. In DownBeat's 57th Critics Poll in 2009, Takeishi was the poll winner for the category of Electric Bass, Rising Star.
Jeff Davis is a drummer/composer who is known as the “propulsive force behind a host of New York mainstays” (Matthew Miller, All About Jazz), including Kirk Knuffke, Robin Verheyen, Jesse Stacken, Landon Knoblock, and Michael Bates. On his most recent trio album, Leaf House, Jeff Davis showcases his command of a deeply focused and distinctly improvisational style. Troy Collins (All About Jazz) says that “like many of his generation, his writing encompasses a number of genres, yet Davis understands the importance of creating a context for such diversity. Sequencing individual tunes into a suite-like program, the set unfolds episodically, seamlessly blending divergent moods.” And Bruce Lee Gallanter, of the Downtown Music Gallery, described Jeff Davis’s first disc as a leader as “a powerful debut from one of Downtown’s best drummers.” Davis has performed with such artists as Tony Malaby, Chris Speed, Ralph Alessi, Ben Monder, Marc Ducret, Mark Helias, and Cameron Brown. Jeff Davis has performed at several prominent jazz festivals, including the North Sea Jazz Festival, Oslo Jazz Festival, the Gent Jazz Festival, the Vancouver Jazz Festival, and the Ear Shot Jazz Festival. Davis leads several ensembles, including the Jeff Davis Trio (featuring Russ Lossing and Eivind Opsvik), Tone Collector (Tony Malaby and Eivind Opsvik), and the Jeff Davis Band (featuring Kirk Knuffke, Oscar Noriega, Russ Lossing, and Eivind Opsvik) with a soon-to-be-released live album on Fresh Sound New Talent Records.
Hans Wendl is a music producer and artist manager based in Berkeley. He began his career in the mid-1970s with ECM Records in his hometown of Munich and was associated with the renowned German label for more than a dozen years before moving to the U.S. Wendl’s record productions with artists such as Charlie Haden, Don Byron, Bill Frisell, Ravi Shankar, Peter Apfelbaum, Medeski Martin & Wood, and Tin Hat Trio have received numerous international prizes, including six Grammy nominations and a Grammy Award for Ravi Shankar's Full Circle: Carnegie Hall 2000. His association with Myra Melford began in 1996 when he was label director for Gramavision Records and released her album The Same River, Twice.
This project is funded in part by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, a University of California, Berkeley, Faculty Research Grant, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
YBCA's programs are made possible in part by:
National Endowment for the Arts
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is grateful to the City of San Francisco for its ongoing support.
YBCA Performance 13-14 is made possible in part by:
Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Additional Funding for YBCA Performance 13-14:
Zellerbach Family Foundation
Panta Rhea Foundation
New England Foundation for the Arts
and Members of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts