Cleveland Watkiss 60th Birthday celebration
24th Nov 2019
LONDON Southbank Centre / Purcell Room
Elaine Mitchener turns to the black avant-garde and to the overflow of experiment that occurred within improvised music, often springing directly from lived experiences of racial injustice.
The repertoire consists of a number of seminal African-American works drawn from the 1960/70s which combine vocals and text with experimental jazz forms and illuminate an occluded moment in American cultural history, when the avant-garde aesthetics of new jazz doubled as a metaphor for the imminent politics of civil rights.
Composed in very specific response to the perilous condition of black people in America, the works’ synthesis of experimental sensibilities, radical political sentiment, and gutbucket expression cuts across boundaries of time and space to resonate universally in the here and now.
The line-up consists of a group of leading UK jazz musicians brought together by Elaine Mitchener: saxophonist and MD Jason Yarde, trumpeter Byron Wallen, pianist Alexander Hawkins, bassist Neil Charles, drummer Mark Sanders, and poet Dante Micheaux, who will be re-interpreting music by Eric Dolphy, Archie Shepp, Joseph Jarman, and Jeanne Lee, amongst others.
‘ A potent, provocative event that underlines the blues as a foundation for progressive black culture ’
‘ Musically and spiritually, the ensemble have equipped themselves well with the means of resistance to the transatlantic legacy of racism passed down since the days of slavery ’