New Frequencies Fest: Jazz@YBCA is a radical exploration of jazz's future through the lense of its pioneering spirit. The entire program is dedicated to jazz in the present tense while paying homage to the legacy of visionary artists of the 1960s and 70s through their impact on contemporary jazz and improvisational music. The past, current, and future San Francisco jazz scene and New York downtown music scene will be celebrated at this year’s festival as they are hotbeds for creative experimentalism and have nurtured many of this year’s artists. An adventurous underground music festival, New Frequencies Fest: Jazz@YBCA will present exclusive performances and one-time-only events from trans-generational and revolutionary artists, composers and trailblazer musicians whose work blends a variety of influences, genres, traditions, and styles.
New Frequencies Fest: Jazz@YBCA is part of a two year artist’s residency with award- winning pianist, composer, Guggenheim Fellow and 2013 Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Performing Artist Award winner, Myra Melford, which explores four key areas of investigation that make up the Jazz@YBCA program: Mentoring Listeners; Nurturing the Jazz Legacy; Women in Jazz; and Curatorial Experimentations. YBCA embraces Melford's artistic vision and programming direction for this year's festival, and will prominently feature her in various bands.
Isabel Yrigoyen, Associate Director of Performing Arts said, “It is a bountiful and joyful moment for us at YBCA as we celebrate the diversity of this art form as the Bay Area is again re-emerging as one of the reigning epicenters of improvised music in this country. We are so fortunate to have this opportunity to shine a light on Myra and some of the most compelling artists of our time.”
“I'm enormously excited to have this opportunity to present some of the most innovative, cutting-edge jazz and improvisational music happening in the world today,” said Melford, also an Associate Professor of Improvisational Practices and Jazz in the Music Department at the University of California at Berkeley. “These artists, coming from near and far, represent the great lineage of boundary-crossing and risk-taking musicians that have inspired me. Many of my mentors, peers and collaborators, as well as the younger generation coming up today, are all continuing to evolve the art form while representing a wide diversity of styles and approaches.”
Celebrating women in music today, multiple Grammy-winner and nominee Angelique Kidjo will perform in the intimate YBCA Theater and present songs from her latest recording Eve which debuted at #1 on the Billboard World Music Chart. The new album features songs in several languages and rhythms of many origins. The power of Kidjo's unflappable voice, the range of her emotional expression, the stellar, genre-bending musicians who back her and the infectious, activist energy that courses through her songs all transcend any native tongue. A UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2002, Kidjo earlier this year released Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music, chronicling her inspiring life of music and activism, and raises a passionate call for freedom, dignity, and the rights of people everywhere.
New Frequencies Fest: Jazz@YBCA will also honor Guggenheim Fellow Henry Threadgill, one of the musicians who came out of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Music, and who is still active and considered to be one of the most original jazz composers of his generation. His music transcends styles and genres, and embraces the world of music in its entirety, from ragtime to circus marches to classical to bop, free jazz and beyond. He appears with his large Henry Threadgill’s Ensemble Double-Up made up by stellar musicians from New York's current jazz scene, which include renowned pianists - David Virelles and MacArthur Fellow Jason Moran, pays tribute to another significant pioneer in the world of contemporary improvisational music - Lawrence Butch" Morris, who passed away in January 2014, at the age of 65. Mr. Morris was responsible for developing the revolutionary system of conducting ensembles of improvisers he called “Conduction.”
Other highlights of the festival include Ben Goldberg's Orphic Machine featuring some of the most important improvisers in American music on the international stage, local favorite bassist and composer Lisa Mezzacappa's world premiere of her avant-NOIR project, to alto saxophonist and interdisciplinary artist Matana Roberts' innovative work which she calls “Panoramic Sound Quilting” (PSQ), an ode to her ancestral history presenting one of the chapters of her piece Coin Coin, the odyssey is that of her extended family’s ascent in North America, from Transatlantic servitude through the Jim Crow South and onto her present role as one of the most exciting new spirits in contemporary music, and this year’s recipient of the prestigious Alpert Award in the Arts in Music.
There will be an entire day of activities on Saturday, February 7, as New Frequencies: Jazz@YBCA takes over the building with a variety of offerings, from dance classes with live bands, including John Calloway's Latin Youth Orchestra, at the 50 Cent Tabernacle. Renowned violinist Jenny Scheinman will perform solo in the galleries and an evening concert with Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and activist Angélique Kidjo. Yrigoyen adds, We are thrilled that Angélique Kidjo will be a part of the festival. Angélique is a formidable vocalist and musician who is also a true humanitarian who does so much to empower African girls and to create human connections. She has an incredible gift because she has the ability to change people’s lives through her art, and YBCA is very interested in artists who are socially conscious and who inspire transformation."
In addition, Jazz@YBCA has engaged a wonderful group of community partners, organizations that all contribute to the growth and vitality of Jazz in the Bay Area. They are the California Jazz Conservatory, Center for New Music, Oakland Public Conservatory of Music, and Jazz in the Neighborhood.
New Frequencies Fest: Jazz@YBCA Programming Tickets go on sale Tuesday, September 2, 2014.
To prepare audiences for the New Frequencies Jazz Festival, students and faculty from UC Berkeley will offer a series of free workshops at YBCA on Saturday September 13, Saturday, October 4, and Saturday, November 1. Workshops will include short performances by festival artists, live discussion and Q&A with artists, and participatory activities. Audiences will also have a chance to learn about improvising practices from the inside, through guided listening and performance exercises. Together we’ll explore what improvisation offers as a model for community making, how improvising artists teach us ways of being with ourselves and each other, and discover ways to connect what happens on the Festival stage to our own lives.