To create a context for a living organism: Tyshawn Sorey

Tyshawn Sorey (*1980) is a composer, performer, educator, scholar, percussionist, trombonist, and pianist from Newark/USA. He currently lives and works in New York. He completed his doctoral studies at Columbia University this year and has taken up a professorship at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut in September, a position once held by his mentor, the composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton.
Sorey is a 2017 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship for “assimilating and transforming ideas from a broad spectrum of musical idioms and defying distinctions between genres, composition, and improvisation in a singular expression of contemporary music.” He has been Artist in Residence at this year’s Jazzfest Berlin. In the interview he talks about and being limited to a jazz drummer, his experiences in marching bands and the benefits of cookware.

Photos: Camille Blake

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Marte Röling on her record covers

Marte Röling (*1939) is a painter and sculptor from The Netherlands. She learned to draw from her father Gé Röling, who was also her teacher at the Rijksakademie (The Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam). From her mother, the painter Martine Antonie (Grolle), she learned in essence to look through things to the very core of the visible world.
Röling experienced success from a very young age. She was renowned for her fashion drawings for newspaper Het Parool, which have reached a number of over 1000 in 12 years. In the 1960s, Alan Bates, then representing the Dutch Label Fontana Records, commissioned Röling to design a series of album covers for avant-garde jazz releases.
In the interview, Marte Röling talks about her inspirations, a yellow ear and her surprise about her covers being exhibited in record stores.

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Johannes Ballestrem on his stay in New Orleans

Johannes von Ballestrem is a pianist and and currently on high demand in the jazz scene out and about in Berlin. He received funding from Berlin’s Senate Department for Culture and Europe to study piano styles in New Orleans, Louisiana last fall. Being there, he talked about his experience in the city, the musicians that he met, and how the music he studied will influence his future musical endeavors.

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Julie Sassoon on Julius Eastman

Julie Sassoon is a pianist working in the field of jazz and improvised music. For the opening of the Maerz Musik Festival in Berlin, she played three works of Julius Eastman (1940 –1990), of which two were German premieres. Sassoon’s piano colleagues for the concert were Christoph Grund, Ernst Surberg and Małgorzata Walentynowicz.

In the interview Sassoon explains why playing Eastman feels like running a marathon, she talks about warm and cold minimal music and denominates why she always had a strong connection with black culture.

Photo: David Beecroft

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International Women’s Day: Today’s female jazz and improv musicians

So you can’t name a handful female bass players from Germany – are you kidding? Or you can’t name female piano players from over 15 different countries – seriously?
Here’s a list of over 500 women in jazz and improvised music who are performing currently.
In 2015 I published a list with over 200 albums by women in jazz. This was a reaction to a radio broadcast that alleged that their music selection was solely based on artistic quality, distinction and how up to date the bands are.

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Mardi Gras: Interview with Charles Taylor

Charles Taylor is Big Chief of the White Cloud Hunters, a Mardi Gras Indian tribe in New Orleans. I’ve had the great honor to meet him in April 2016. He’ll be out on Mardi Gras Day, wearing his new costume. Charles Taylor is 62 years old and lives in the Musicians’ Village. He talks about the Mardi Gras Indian culture as it is today and how it used to be when he started masking Indian. He also tells what he’s been through since Hurricane Katrina and discusses the current daily struggles of living in New Orleans. The interview is only slightly edited, the written form is equivalent to the spoken language. You can also hear Charles Taylor and the White Cloud Hunters, recorded in the 1980s by Michael P. Smith.

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