Still Dizzy from Dizzy? Did you find yourself
itching to log on to iTunes to buy as much Gillespie as you could find? Did the
band's diverse backgrounds reach you through the music? What did you think of
the original compositions?
There is no universal language. No word has the same meaning
in every country. No book can be read by every nation. No sentence can by
understood by all. But in this barrier, lies a beauty...the ability to
communicate without words. Body Language.
I find the beauty of dance is that you do not need to speak
a certain language to understand, to feel, to be moved by what you see. Dance
is an innate tongue. Art is another. You are responsible for your own
understanding; you translate what you see. There is no right, there is no
By this, we are able to appreciate dance from different
countries, different heritages, different languages. Dance speaks to me, to
Uncle David, to our neighbor Sara, and to you.
And the language of dance is timeless. The art lives on, but
it cannot be adequately transcribed into speech. It can only be explained in
the emotions, the thoughts, and the fondness you felt as you were in a wordless
conversation with dance.
Ah, these conversations are mood changing and
night-altering, yet rare. They come and go, with few chances to partake. It is
therefore imperative that you take advantage of the discussions available to
Teshigawara, one of the great international artists working in dance today
will erase language and speak from his soul as he performs with unnatural
fluidity at the Walker Art Center April 22-24.
His visit to the U.S. is a rare one. And his dance, even
more rare. Teshigawara includes art exhibitions, films, and videos as well as
his set, lighting, and costume designs for all his performances. In his newest
solo, MIROKU, he explores space and
light, extremity and velocity, creating an eternity beyond time where
everything harmonizes with delicate yet powerful tension.
Want to know more? Ask him about it. I'm sure he will tell
you, without even saying a word.
are a few things you should know about our man, Danilo, before you see him April 10 at Ted Mann:
-Oh Danny, a Grammy? He got a shout-out
nomination for Best Instrumental Arrangement for Lazy
-Leading Latino Man: In October, 2009,
he was awarded the 2009 Legacy Award recognizing Panamanian achievement in the
arts, science, and humanities from the Smithsonian Latino Center.
-Jazz-up, folks: He founded the Panama
Jazz Festival, and is the artistic director, along with serving as artistic
director for the Kimmel Center's "Jazz Up Close" series.
-Super-alumni: He's also founder and
artistic director of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute in Boston, a new study area
at the well-known, jazz-zazzy college that was his alma mater. The program "foster[s]
creativity and musicianship through various musical disciplines"
- Can you say global citizen? Perez is
also a Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF - he's got our goodwill, too.
- Now taking questions... Got a
minute? Listen to this interview
with WBGO and Perez as he chats about the 2010 Panama Jazz Festival, the
Berklee Global Jazz initiative, and the Smithsonian Legacy Award.
Being a public radio fanatic, I stumbled upon this really
interview with upcoming Danilo
Perez's alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa. So here it is, with my
commentary, of course!
Mahanthappa grew up in Boulder, Colorado to South Indian
parents, and started playing saxophone in fourth grade in the jazz band at
school. His musical interest in jazz progressed organically, started with, as
he says, "more instrumental soul and R&B, like Grover Washington, Jr.,
David Sanborn, stuff that's unfortunately considered to be smooth jazz now, but
I think back then it [...] had more bite to it. [...] Then I heard Charlie Parker
when I was in sixth grade or seventh grade, and that, that was the end. I was
He went on to the Berklee College of Music to study
composition and alto saxophone.
But throughout all of the introductions to jazz, he never really
explored Indian music until his brother jokingly gave him a CD called
"Saxophone Indian Style," at one of his recitals in college. But Mahanthappa
didn't find it so funny - "The album blew me away, you know? I couldn't believe
that somebody was playing Indian music authentically on the saxophone." That
somebody was Kadri Gopalnath, who Mahanthappa later recorded with. Gopalnath
was the first Indian musician to pick up the saxophone and to play traditional
Indian music, and therefore had to forge his own path, despite the lack of support
in the larger Indian musical community at first.
Why was he the first? Well, as Mahanthappa talks throughout
the rest of the program, you'll hear just how complicated Indian music is. So
in order to make it easier to digest a lot of information quickly, I'll break
it down for you.
-Indian music is very mathematical, and follows different
standards than Western music.
-Indian scales aren't the same as the scales we think of
here, because "they often have an ascending form that's different from the
descending form, and the notes sometimes will come out of order. They won't go
straight up. It might go up a little bit and down, and then up a little bit
-Indian music also doesn't refer to measures like Western
music does, like 4/4 time, etc. Instead, in Indian music, it's all about the
number of beats in a cycle. As Mahanthappa explained it, "You might have
something that's a four-beat cycle or an eight-beat cycle, a seven-beat cycle.
One that you see often is a 21-beat cycle. It's three groups of seven."
-A huge element of Indian music is ornamentation, which is a
complex way to slide between notes by playing tones above or below the actual
note. Therefore, there are
hundreds of ways to ornament a single note. This is why Mahanthappa was so
intrigued by Gopalnath, because he found a way to do this with a saxophone,
that is, as Mahanthappa calls it, a "fixed-hole instrument."
And it's only natural that Mahanthappa was so compelled by
the precise, mathematical music of his ancestry - as he says, "I see music and
math and computation [...] as coming from a similar part of the brain and a
similar part of human existence."
When asked if he was surprised at the influence Indian music
has had on him since discovering it, Mahanthappa said "I think when I look back,
I'm surprised, but Indian music was something that I felt like I had to
discover on my own terms. [...]As a jazz musician, there's often this assumption
that you know about Indian music because you're Indian or because you have
brown skin or something like that. So I felt I had to discover that music
myself instead of pretending like I was an expert on it. And I feel like I came
into the music at the same time I was coming into understanding that I do have a hybrid background, that
I don't feel entirely Indian, that I don't feel entirely American."
According to Mahanthappa, for many second-generation
immigrants, this hybrid feeling sneaks up on them eventually. "Sometimes it's a
gradual thing. Sometimes it hits you like a hammer. I think for me, it hit like
And the complexity and breadth of knowledge that Mahanthappa has
immersed himself in with Indian music hit me like a hammer. There is so much
more depth to the interview than I could ever cram into one (long) blog post,
so PLEASE, check it out, listen to the sound clips, and hear for yourself what
this cultural and musical pioneer has to say.
I was cautioned at a young age that there are certain things
little girls just shouldn't say or do, like swear, sit with their legs apart,
or tell Grandma that she smells like banana-nut bread and old socks.
Thank god I didn't listen.
If I listened to everything I was told, I wouldn't have
played spin the bottle with my stinky neighbor Teddy, traded my PB&J's for
Pokémon cards, or watched television shows like Chelsea Latley; what a
depressing life that would be.
Through my rebellious existence of finger sucking, fence
hopping, and groin kicking, I learned where the excitement in life comes from.
It comes from those who don't play by
the rules. (See Chelsea Handler)
This fast-rising, female comedian from New Jersey is known for saying what may
be on your mind, but would never come out of your mouth. A true trailblazer, Chelsea has forged
her own path, (complete with a top-rated television show and three New York Times Best Selling books)
exposing her fearless humor and wit.
And lucky you, she is coming to Minneapolis on April 3rd.
If you already have plans, avoid them like the plague. Tell
your banana-nut grandmother you have to cancel and ditch your red-headed
sister. This show will indisputably be better than anything else you could cook
up on a Saturday night.