I’m in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the moment; during the past 3 weeks or so I was in Burkina Faso to work with my group Burkina Electric, and we played a concert at the Rêemdoogo in Ouagadougou. As my colleagues from the band spent lots of time in NYC during the past few years, I hadn’t been in Ouaga in a pretty long while, and it really felt like coming home. I also was able to spend a few days in Accra, Ghana, to do some research. Today, I played with Burkina Electric at the Goethe Institute in Addis Ababa, and from here we continue to Tanzania to play at the Goethe Institute in Dar es Salaam and at the Sauti za Busara festival in Zanzibar – one of the best music festivals in Africa. As anyone who knows me is aware, I love this continent; I’m very excited to make my first visits to Ethiopia and Tanzania and to contribute with Burkina Electric to the dialogue between West and East Africa, regions that don’t communicate with each other as much as they should.
I am in Durban, South Africa, for the Unyazi Electronic Music Festival; tonight I will play a solo set on the marimba lumina and a trio improvisation with Jill Richards and João Orecchia, and tomorrow I’ll give a talk entitled “Towards a Pan-African Experimental Music”. It feels like coming full circle: back in 2005, I was invited to the first edition of Unyazi, then in Johannesburg, and while it wasn’t my first visit to South Africa (that was all the way back in 1997 as the final leg of a project I’d been involved with in Zimbabwe), it was not only a fantastic experience but also the one that set off the sequence of events leading to my close connections with and many friendships in SA, and to now spending a coupe of months a year in Joburg. I have come to love SA and find it one of the most inspiring places, so it feels great to play in Durban for the first time!
It has been a while since I’ve posted here: the past few months have been a hectic season of constant traveling! Highlights were a solo tour in India, which took me, aside from several of the largest cities, to Nagaland in the extreme northeast of the country; solos at the KRAAK festival in Aalst, Belgium and the Stadtgarten in Cologne, Germany; participating in Tarek Atoui’s “(Re)visiting Tarab” in Sharjah, UAE; a 9-city tour of Denmark with Burkina Electric; and a research trip doing field recordings at soccer games in Uruguay and Brazil, in preparation for a sound installation commissioned by the Goethe Institute. In between, I got to spend some quality time in South Africa, which is becoming my home away from home. But now, as summer attacks NYC, I’m back and ready for a flurry of concerts at the Stone, the Gershwin Hotel, Bowery Poetry Club, and another Benefit of Clergy run at the Ange Noir Café, formerly the Café Orwell. Stay tuned!
My short concert series, Benefit of Clergy, is currently running Wednesday nights at Café Orwell in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It’s a very friendly cafe with good sandwiches, and the music has been a blast: Jonah Rosenberg, Blaise Siwula, the No Net Trio, Jack Wright, Evan Lipson, David Linton, Claire Barratt, Lex Samu, and Tom Zlabinger have already come through. The next 3 Wednesdays will feature:
11/30: James Ilgenfritz/Damon Holzborn and Andy Akiho/Lisa Dowling/LL
12/7: Jeff Shurdut/Gene Janas/Brian Osborne and Terrence McManus/LL
12/14: Hypercolor – Eyal Maoz/James Ilgenfritz/LL
In addition, on Dec. 9th, my newly-formed band, Notebook, will perform at the 1st Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn Heights. If you’re in NYC, please come on by!
At very short notice, I find myself in Beirut, Lebanon to do research for “Visiting Tarab”, a project curated by Tarek Atoui with concerts in November in NYC at the Performa Festival and next March in Sharjah, UAE. It’s my first time to Lebanon, and my first time to the Middle East since doing a project with musicians in Cairo way back in 1999. Beirut is beautiful, a strange mixture of extremely relaxed and tense: definitely worth seeing…and my hosts here, Tarek, Kamal Kassar, and the Irtijal association led by Sharif Sehnaoui, are a joy to spend time with. Aside from listening to tarab music at Kamal’s extensive archive, I played a most enjoyable concert the day before yesterday with Tarek and Sherif, 6 other great improvisors from Lebanon (Mazen Kerbaj, Charbel Haber, Tony Elieh, Cynthia Zaven, Raed Yassin, and Omar Dewachi – actually from Iraq), Uriel Barthélémi from France, and Lichens and DJ Spooky from NYC. Tonight, a trio with Elliott Sharp and Tarek at the Freikeh Silk Factory!
I’m currently on a short tour of the southeastern U.S., playing solo concerts on the marimba lumina. I’ve already played in Louisville and St. Louis, which included many interesting discoveries such as St. Louis percussionist Rich O’Donnell (who hosted my show) and his seesaw drumming technique, a totally original and innovative concept. Today (May 1st) I play in New Orleans; then I continue to Tuscaloosa, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill. I’m especially excited about the show in Tuscaloosa, which is NOT canceled, despite the recent catastrophic tornado. Playing a concert (I will play solo and with Andrew Raffo Dewar) under such unusual circumstances is both highly emotional and highly gratifying. Please check the upcoming concerts page for details…I hope to see you out there!
In the next few days, several of my compositions will be played by some more-than-cool musicians. I’m in Montréal at the moment…a really lovely place. A few days ago, I had the pleasure of playing a concert with Jean Derome and Vergil Sharkya, which was most enjoyable, and tonight I will play with the Sixtrum percussion ensemble, doing some joint improvisations after they play several of my percussion ensemble pieces. They’re a fantastic group! Then, on Thursday, the unbelievable duo of Håkan Hardenberger (trumpet) and Colin Currie (percussion) will premiere my piece “Tangle”, written for them; the concert will take place in Hannover and will be repeated a few days later in Seoul. Alas, I won’t be able to attend these events, but I will be at Symphony Space in NYC on April 22nd, when the Iktus Percussion Quartet plays my “Pattern Transformation”. If you’re in any of these places, please come on by!
On April 1 and 2, I will perform at two different and excellent festivals in Downtown Manhattan: The Disklavier Festival at the White Box in Chinatown and the Music with a View Festival at the Flea Theater in Tribeca. On the 1st, I’ll premiere “The Same But Not The Same”, a new piece for computerized piano and drum set, and on the 2nd, I will play solo on the marimba lumina. Please see the upcoming concerts page for more info. Thanks to the curators, Elliott Sharp and Kathleen Supové, for inviting me!
At the moment, I’m in one of my favorite cities: Johannesburg. And in the next few days, I have two appearances in the area of the Arts on Main development, a beautiful emerging “arts district” in the urban jungle of Jo’burg’s downtown: on March 13th, a noon DJ set at Arts on Main, and on the 15th, a concert of improvised music with some great local colleagues at the development’s new branch, Main Street Life. Please see the Upcoming Concerts page for details. Hope to see you there…it’s summer here!
From Jan. 31st until Feb. 4th, I will be in residence at the California Institute of the Arts, as a consequence of having won the CalArts Herb Alpert Award in Music in 2010.
On Feb. 4th, I will play a solo concert on marimba lumina (electronic percussion) at Roy O. Disney Hall at CalArts.
For information about the Alpert Award, see http://www.alpertawards.org/music.html.