Posts Tagged ‘Firehouse Gallery’

discover jazz – day 5

June 8, 2010

Headlines only for now, it’s late – more coming later. For now:

– Tonight, 6:30pm at the Firehouse Gallery: Saxophone Colossos, a 1986 documentary (dir. by Robert Mugge). Many insights in here, including the thoughts that Rollins is a structured, non-self-indulgent, “Aristotelian” kind of player, and that his playing is “visual”. I’ll go deeper with this in the next update. Good stuff.

– Later, 8:30pm at the FlynnSpace: The Gerald Clayton Trio (Gerald Clayton, piano; Joe Sanders, bass; Justin Brown, drums). How to go from atmpospherically delicate to hard swingin’ and hard core and back again in the matter of a few bars. The balance of instruments was really good, and – those drums!

That’s it from Festival Overload central, g’night and we’ll talk again tomorrow.

discover jazz – day 3

June 7, 2010


Sunday, rainy and cool and just right for a few of the indoor-oriented happenings at the Festival.

JazzLab opened today, Discover Jazz’s annual mini-festival of educational sessions, creative exploration, and improvisation. JazzLab offers artists the opportunity to develop their art in the (very) public forum of the Firehouse Gallery on Church Street, while being streamed live on the air at Burlington’s community radio station, The Radiator. It’s quite a setup, and often provides some of the event’s most interesting and adventurous programming.

I  stopped by the Firehouse this afternoon looking forward to the scheduled “how to” demonstration with the iconic hip-hop producer and innovative DJ, 88 Keys. The write-up said he’d be sharing some of his moves and talking about his life as the producer of folks like Mos Def, and Kanye West. I arrived a little late for the session, and never did see him. Had he been there earlier? Was the person actually leading the demo someone who was introduced as a sub during the first part I missed? I didn’t find out the answers to either question.

What I did learn (from the unnamed DJ leading the talk) was how the standard “paradiddle” drumming figure translates into a comparable rhythm with the scratching technique used in turntable DJ’ing.

I found out what effects with names like “2-click flairs” (aka: “orbits”); “crabscratches”; and “stutter crabs” sound like in the context of a serious groove in progress. I’ve heard these effects before, of course, as has most anyone whose even moderately familiar with the popular music of the last 20 years or so. (Remember DJ Jazzy Jeff, and the Fresh Prince? Me too. And that was just the beginning.) But it never occurred to me the sounds I was hearing were stock patterns and moves, with commonly known names among those in the business. Turns out these artists have developed their own musical language, parallel to the conventional one we all know with common tempo and dynamic lexicon like “allegro” and “forte”, and standardized notation. But the terms and lingo for this kind of music-making is specific to the tools and moves they use. Unlike standardized musical terminology, “crabscratching” and “crossfade hits” don’t apply universally to music made with a diversity of instruments. Turntable DJ’ing is very much its own thing, with its own specific language. Who knew it was such a refined (and defined) art? Did you know there are schools to teach folks the ins and outs of  how to be an ace “scratch DJ”? All true.

Great afternoon with JazzLab learning about this world which, until today, I’d only experienced from the outside listening in.

From there it was on to a short walk around Church Street, a visit to the new Big Joe Burrell statue (its animated bronze sax gleaming with moisture in the afternoon rain), and a stop at Leunig’s to catch the first couple of sets with the Queen City Hot Club (guitarists Jim Stout and Jared Volpe), a group that debuted at last year’s Discover Jazz Festival. They kept the packed streetside tent swinging through favorite standards like All of Me and Daphne, and Swing Gitane.  The insistent splatter of rain on the outdoor patio tiles was right on cue when the duet launched into Django’s nostalgic classic, Nuages (“clouds”). It just wouldn’t have sounded right to hear that song on a bright, sunny day.

Mose Allison also held two shows tonight at Flynn Space, but I didn’t make it to either of them. I’m not a big fan, honestly. It’s not personal, I know Mose is a great songwriter and pianist. It’s that half-singing, half-talking patter style that doesn’t do much for me. (Though I do recall enjoying his performance years ago when he came to the University of Northern Colorado Jazz Festival, where I was a student at the time. Has it really been 25 years???) And really, by the time the Flynn Space shows were starting this evening I’d already had a full day and didn’t need anything else to make it better.

Tomorrow evening: 7pm at the Firehouse, Alison Segar’s new film about local trombonist, drummer and composer James Harvey; and then at the Flynn Space  a late-starting show (8:30) with two acts; mandolinist Jamie Masefield and clarinetist Brad Terry followed by gutarist Stephane Wrembel & The Django Experiment celebrating the life and music of the late Django Reinhardt in his centennial birthday year.

medicine & mortality

October 31, 2009
artist Linda Jones

artist Linda E. Jones, describing a "catscan of a lacerated liver from a Lacrosse injury"

Opening reception for the new Firehouse Gallery exhibit last night, just in time for Halloween (no coincidence). Medicine & Mortality is up and running and ready to unsettle the imagination.

Curator Chris Thompson described the three-artist show as a response to “a society simultaneously obsessed with health care and health intervention, and yet uneasy about it.” With materials including used stitches (the remains of a real injury), x-rays, medical tools, and ‘excised flesh in encaustic wax’, the art in Medicine & Mortality actually may do more to further the unease than alleviate it.

The exhibit is constructed equally around the physical objects of routine medicine (real and fantastic) and the psychological effects of it. Who hasn’t had stitches, seen an x-ray of their own insides, or gazed with some apprehension at the gleaming row of mysterious tools on a dental tray? Revisiting them in an artistic context can be uncomfortable.

Linda E. Jones described a time in her artistic process when she found herself actively accumulating medical detritus. She wasn’t sure why at the time, but she allowed herself to pursue the collection and eventually determined the results would become part of a “transformation of object” project. Her art, she said, attempts to go beyond physical boundaries to measure the unseen, “everyone’s that much stronger for the things they’ve gone through.”

Over on the other side of the gallery, sculptors Nathaniel Price and Sasanqua Price share a room filled with large amorphous beeswax forms, suspended in shiny silver fittings and brackets reminiscent of medical clamps, braces, and prosthetics. It definitely has a clinical feel, as if the pieces are a preserved display of the miniature models of body parts physicians use for illustrating diagnoses. I didn’t really comprehend Sasanqua’s involved explanation of her art as an extension (or expression?) of ancient reliquaries, except to understand that may be one of the inspirations behind her works.

Nathaniel Price’s pieces weren’t accessible because the gallery was so congested. I’ll have to get back there soon since it wasn’t possible to see a lot of the artwork, or spend much time with the works. But what I did see was enough to assure I’ll return soon…call it morbid curiosity.

Medicine & Mortality is on exhibit through December 12th at Burlington’s Firehouse Gallery on Church Street.

human = landscape, closing ceremony tomorrow

October 23, 2009


The Firehouse Gallery’s Human = Landscape exhibit ends tomorrow with a whole afternoon of events. Activists, community members, and artists will be gathering in Burlington’s City Hall Park and in the Gallery for a closing reception featuring speakers, performance, and discussions on  environmental action:

2pm: Artists and activists gather at various locations and begin walk to Firehouse Center and City Hall Park

3pm: Tower bells at Ira Allen Chapel, The Firehouse Center and other locations are rung 350 times to bring awareness to and its mission promoting awareness of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and its relationship to global warming.

3pm – 6pm: Closing reception at the Firehouse Center

3pm: Speakers in the Firehouse Gallery:

  • Ethan Bond-Watts, Human = Landscape artist
  • Rebecca Schwarz, Human = Landscape artist
  • Amy Seidl, Ecologist, activist and Middlebury College research scholar
  • Nancy Dwyer, Human = Landscape artist

4pm: Speakers on the Firehouse Plaza in City Hall Park:

  • Orin Langelle, Global Justice Ecology Project
  • Elizabeth Sawin, Program Director, Sustainability Institute
  • Jeff Wolfe, CEO, groSola

4:30pm: Panel Discussion in the Firehouse Center, Art and Environmental Intervention, featuring artists Cameron Davis, John Anderson, Patrick Marold and Firehouse Gallery Curator Christopher Thompson.

well versed

October 17, 2009
Dan Fogel with Jean-Pierre Roy's painting

Dan Fogel with Jean-Pierre Roy's painting

The current Firehouse Gallery exhibit “human = landscape” is one manifestation of  The Energy Project, a collaborative effort to explores the relationship between people and the world we live in: the natural world, and the landscape we’ve created to sustain and support ourselves.

So, what does that really mean.  

It means futuristic paintings of nature reclaiming the world, water and vines thriving in humanity’s ruined structures in the wake of some unnamed calamity (very “Logan’s Run” in their look and feel). It means discussions, installations, photographic essays and partnerships with other regional organizations to engage the community simultaneously on scientific and artistic levels.

This past Thursday night it also meant poetry.

Seven local and regional poets were invited to the second floor of the Firehouse to read their own work and share the verse of other poets on themes of natural phenomena, and human intervention in the natural world. The gathering was the inspiration of UVM President Dan Fogel, a poet, English literature scholar, and the husband of Firehouse board member Rachel Kahn-Fogel. His introduction to the event drew an elegant parallel between the Industrial Revolution and the writings of Romantic poets Keats, Shelley, Byron, Wordsworth and Coleridge. Later in the evening against the backdrop of a large dystopian Jean-Pierre Roy landscape, Fogel concluded his reading with Percy Shelley’s evocative Ode to the West Wind.

Other readings came from Irish poet Angela Patten; Antonello Borra (UVM Italian professor); Daniel Lusk; Isaac Cates (who began with an inspired reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73…see below); and UVM Spanish professor Tina Escaja in a dual presentation with translator Helen Wagg.

This isn’t the kind of event that’s conceived to present solutions or a thorough scientific examination of the topic at hand. But, as always with the artist’s special charge in the world to observe and interpret life’s offerings, the words and thoughts carefully shaped and shared in the human = landscape poetry reading provided something equally intellectual and certainly as meaningful as any technical discourse: perspective.

(The Human = Landscape exhibit is open through October 24th at Burlington’s Firehouse Gallery.)

~ ~ ~

Sonnet 73

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed, whereon it must expire,
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.

BDJ Festival, day 7: concert, what concert?

June 13, 2009
Artful Art Brooks

Artful Art Brooks

Thursday (6/11), 3pm, on the sun-flooded second floor of Burlington’s Firehouse Gallery: the start of JAZZLAB, three days of mind-expanding adventures at the intersection of music and dance and ultimate artistic interactivity. It’s multimedia in its approach, and multidimensional in its capacity to engage many senses simultaneously (and unexpectedly!)

This is the second year for JAZZLAB, a cooperative project between Burlington City Arts and the Discover Jazz Festival. And this year the’ve called in a real innovator to guide the projects; trumpeter and visionary Arthur Brooks. His Ensemble V features locals Michael Chorney (guitar), cellists Polly Vanderputten and Nelson Caldwell, Anthony Santor (double bass), and percussionist P.J. Davidian.

Even the footwear is avant-garde

Even the footwear is avant-garde

Three interpretive dancers (and their houseplants, telephones, and other props) from The Architects troupe joined in the experience, which unfolded in both rooms at either end of the Gallery’s second floor, and in the hardwood hallway that joins them. Ensemble V was augmented by members of the Trio Braam DeJoode Vatcher, who also performed at the FlynnSpace in their own show later that evening. What a warmup!

Somehow this photo sums up the experience. I have no idea how I took this pic.

Somehow this really sums up the experience. (I have no idea how I took this picture.)

The happening lasted around two hours, with the eight musicians and three dancers moving slowly, rhythmically, freely between the two rooms, performing and openly challenging the conventional “concert” experience the entire time.

The success of the challenge might have been best realized, interestingly, NOT by the performers, but rather in the behaviour of the ‘audience members. They acted like audience members, standing (a few) and seated (almost everyone) around the periphery of the two rooms, silent and nearly immobile for the duration of the show. Since the performance was a moving target it seemed to encourage the same in the onlookers, and yet that didn’t really happen.

Hello? (hello, hello) there anybody - OUT there?

Hello? (hello, hello) there anybody - OUT there?

So who IS the odd man out here?

The musicians and dancers playing and gesturing in unexpected, non-linear, untraditional ways, or the audience members whose years of training to sit and be still don’t allow them to relax and respond in the more natural way the performance encourages?

This is why we love JAZZLAB.

(JAZZLAB continues on Friday and Saturday as part of the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, look for more updates coming here…)

BDJ Festival, day 2: rock, paper, scissors

June 8, 2009
a Firehouse floor socket, only one in the whole place that was empty!

a Firehouse floor socket, only one in the whole place that was empty!

Yesterday evening’s performance at Burlington’s Firehouse Gallery was just the kind of thing I usually try to seek out at the Discover Jazz festival: the unusual performances that define the edges of the art, as much as the headliners aim squarely for the populist center. A complete festival needs (and attracts) both kinds of experiences.

A few days ago I found out banjo legend Paul Metzger was coming to town. While not technically an event sponsored by the Discover Jazz Festival, his appearance in Burlington was timed perfectly to offer that alternative musical performance perspective. He’s touring with with Elaine Evans (amplified violin and pocket trumpet), Amen Dunes (guitar/vocals), the Paper Hats (self-described “experimentalists”) and Eric Carbonara, who plays fine flamenco-style acoustic guitar and an unusual guitar/sitar hybrid called a “Chaturangui”.  They each played an individual set, and the order of performances was decided in the back of the room just before the music started. It was a very involved process: a heated bout of rock/paper/scissors. (Those crazy experimental musicians!)

Paul doesn’t have the high profile of other banjo greats – folks like Bela Fleck and Earl Scruggs – though it’s a safe bet they sure know who he is. He doesn’t seem to be too bothered with all of that. I talked with him a little before the show and I got the feeling that the mainstream isn’t where an artist like him can operate, and still have the latitude they need to to develop their vision. Paul’s career has been defined by breaking every banjo rule and rediscovering the instrument from the ground up, including how it’s played, and expectations of how it “should” sound.

Paul tuning his modified banjo

Paul tuning his modified banjo

While Paul is reinventing an established instrument, guitarist Eric Carbonara is exploring new realms with a recently invented one. He helped design the instrument with his teacher, Indian slide guitar master Debashish Bhattacharya. The “Chaturangui” fuses an acoustic guitar and a sitar onto a single body and sounds like an entire metallic orchestra of guitars and sitars all playing simultaneously. The sound is big, and impressive. On the way home last night I listened to one of Eric’s CDs I had picked up at the show. It contains two tracks: each is over 10 min. long, unfolding and developing patiently, building in complexity, much like ragas in their form and feel. Loved it.

Eric and the Chaturangui

Eric and the Chaturanguia

The concert reminded me of something I read recently in Kyle Gann’s excellent collection of essays on contemporary music, Music Downtown: “Music is a language to the extent that it has syntax, rules that govern its continuation, a level of predictability with which events happen. But that’s the formulaic, ‘yang’ side of music. Rules don’t govern everything, and some passages take even the composer by surprise. In the hullaballoo about language, music’s less describable side – image – has suffered neglect, in both composition and discourse.”

Last night’s show was all about that side: music’s capacity to evoke images, expressed vividly through the unique language of experimentalism.

Earlier in the day, for some non-jazz festival music, I had stopped by the Fleming Museum to hear organist David Neiweem’s recital on UVM’s 4-stop portative organ in the Museum’s interior Marble Courtyard. It’s a 2001 model, by Dutch builder Henk Klop. The performance was part of the Museum’s new exhibit “A Beckoning Country“, a celebration of art from the Champlain Valley to coincide with the region’s Quadricentennial celebrations this year.

David’s program featured music from the time of Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer who arrived in the area from Québec City and mapped the Lake region in 1609. Who was writing music around that time? Girolamo Frescobaldi and John Blow were. So were Samuel Scheidt, Michele Corrette, and, J.S. Bach. What an interesting idea for a program.

David Neiweem at the Fleming

David Neiweem at the Fleming

Scheidt’s partita on Martin Luther’s Easter chorale Christ lag in Todesbanden was especially lovely, as the light voice of the portative spoke in airy contrast to the weightiness of the chorale.

What a great day of diverse music!

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