Mostly Other People Do The Killing

Deconstructing jazz standards and original compositions, weaving in and out of styles erratically and often humorously, Mostly Other People Do the Killing (MOPDtK) is led by bassist and composer Moppa Elliot and features Peter Evans, trumpet, Jon Iragabon, saxophone and Kevin Shea, drums. “Bolstered by a youthful visceral intensity,” writes All About Jazz, “the mercurial quartet has a historically aware yet stylistically irreverent take on the jazz tradition.”
Mostly Other People Do the Killing formed in the fall of 2003 in New York City. Moppa Elliott met Peter Evans in 1998 at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where both studied. Upon relocating to New York, Elliott met Jon Irabagon and Kevin Shea. Mostly Other People Do the Killing recorded its first eponymous album during the summer of 2004 and released it on Elliott’s Hot Cup label.
“There’s a bustling, ostentatious impiety in the music of Mostly Other People Do the Killing,” writes The New York Times.  “It’s a jazz quartet with a diligent grasp of history but an anarchic take on convention.”

Their most recent release, Forty Fort (Hot Cup), is their fourth. By 2009, they had been voted the winners of the DownBeat Critics’ Poll in the Rising Star Ensemble category, and Evans, Irabagon, and Elliott had been mentioned in their respective categories   Jon Irabagon won the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone competition in 2008, while Peter Evans released his second solo trumpet album on Evan Parker’s psi label. The quartet made its first trip to Europe in May 2009 participating in the Moers Festival, Jazzores and Enjoy Jazz Festivals.
“While the music is thoroughly modern,” writes Cadence, “it references the heyday of New Orleans-style barn burners and several other eras. Evans and Irabagon…thread free passages cleverly into the traditional sounds of the earlier genres. Elliott adds the glue to keep the songs – all his compositions – in tight confinement. He lays down vibrant rhythms around which the horns jostle and cajole taking the pieces to riotous levels while maintaining reference points to earlier periods to depict the illustrious evolution of Jazz.”

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Red Baraat

Led by the omnivorous drummer Sunny Jain, Red Baraat is a fun, infectious Brooklyn-based band that deftly blends North Indian bhangra rhythms, rowdy brass-band energy, and konokol singing to create an explosive sound that’s “fun as hell” (Chicago Reader).The music is grounded by heavy-duty sousaphone basslines, abundant percussion, and potent free improvising from trombone, saxophones, trumpet and bass trumpet.

This program is sponsored by the Pioneer Valley Hotel Group. More Information

Viva Mexico!

The Grammy Award-winning Mariachi Los Camperos – under the direction of Nati Cano – have shared the tradition of Mexican mariachi music with audiences throughout the world. This special tour represents the 50th anniversary of the group and the 200th anniversary of Mexican independence. They are beloved by audiences everywhere for their spirited music and high-energy performances. Recommended for all ages. Running time: 60 minutes.

Curriculum Connections: Mariachi music, Mexican independence, Cultural awareness, Culturally authentic music.

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Mariachi los Camperos de Nati Cano

The Grammy Award-Winning Mariachi los Camperos-under the direction of Nati Cano and comprising the finest musicians from Mexico-takes the Fine Arts Center stage for a lively sensational evening of traditional music and dance from the Mexican state of Jalisco. They are beloved by audiences everywhere for their spirited music and high-energy performances.

“The unusual mix gives mariachi bands its distinct, often joyous sound. In Mariachi Los Camperos’ case, the musicians’ virtuosity gives the Grammy-winning ensemble a more polished, professional sound” (The Capital Times). More Information

Amir ElSaffar’s Two Rivers Ensemble

In 2006, upon receiving commissions from the Painted Bride Arts Center in Philadelphia and from the Festival of New Trumpet Music (FONT), ElSaffar composed Two Rivers, a suite that invokes Iraqi musical traditions and frames them in a modern jazz setting. His 2007 Pi Recordings release, Two Rivers, featuring jazz (Rudresh Mahanthappa, Nasheet Waits, Carlo DeRosa, Amir ElSaffar) and traditional Iraqi musicians (Tareq Abboushi, Zaafer Tawil), was described by All About Jazz as, “a stirring example of the creative possibilities of international jazz in the 21st century.” The disc landed on many Top 10 of the year lists. “Two Rivers is a staggering accomplishment,” writes The Chicago Reader.

After winning the 2001 Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet competition, Amir ElSaffar traveled to his father’s homeland to immerse himself in the Iraqi maqam, pursuing masters who could impart this centuries-old oral tradition. “This is new turf,” writes The Philadelphia Inquirer, “and it’s likely to be a lot for either culture to digest. Yet the feeling and eloquence that emanate from this sextet make the experiment worthwhile.”

ElSaffar also leads a collaborative quartet with tenor saxophonist Hafez Modirzadeh, featuring Mark Dresser, bass and Alex Cline, drums. Their recent release, Radif Suite (Pi Recordings), has already received considerable acclaim. Time Out Chicago calls it “a stunning album…a surprisingly inviting amalgam of influences, merging both Iraqi and Persian modal systems into a continuous whole. The quartet adds a new chapter to the jazz tradition’s ever-evolving history.”

ElSaffar has received commissions from the Jazz Gallery and Jerome Foundation for the creation of a new work, Within Between, which premiered in February, and from Chamber Music America for a new work for Two Rivers. ElSaffar has also composed for theater projects, including the Wilma Theater’s productions of Heather Raffo’s Nine Parts of Desire and Wajdi Mouawad’s Scorched. He has composed, improvised, and performed on several film soundtracks, and appeared in Jonathan Demme’s Oscar-nominated film, Rachel Getting Married.

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We Four: A Tribute to John Coltrane

Legends and young lions come together for a concert that lovingly pays tribute to John Coltrane and the music of his time. Coltrane created some of the most innovative and expressive music in Jazz history. Having worked with countless jazz musicians over the years, drummer Jimmy Cobb is probably most renowned for his contribution on Miles Davis’ recording of Kind of Blue. The evening’s program will include the music of Coltrane plus original material from the ensemble.

“There’s a moment on Miles Davis’ ‘stella by Starlight” in 1958 that crystallizes drummer
Jimmy Cobb’s brilliance. Jimmy’s seamless
change from wispy brushes behind Miles to solid wood rim shots to support Coltrane completely
changes the mood and energy level of the standard” (Jazz Wax). More Information

Divahn: Jewish Songs of the Middle East

An edgy all-female powerhouse ensemble infuses traditional and original Middle Eastern Jewish songs with sophisticated harmonies, entrancing improvisations, and funky arrangements. Lead singer Galeet Dardashti follows a family tradition of distinguished musicianship dating back to 19th-century Persia. But it was down in Austin, Texas, where Divahn’s bold all-woman Mizrahi/Sephardi ensemble began dazzling audiences with its Middle Eastern grooves. Infusing traditional and original Jewish songs with sophisticated harmonies, entrancing improvisations, and funky arrangements, today Divahn has engendered an international following performing in venues ranging from top concert halls in Poland to the most prestigious clubs in NYC. More Information

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra

The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra is recognized internationally as an ensemble of the highest caliber. Maestro David Robertson captures the audience’s attention whenever he stands at the podium. Energetic and vital, few conductors are as riveting, or make the concert experience so much fun. The Amherst program includes Vaughn-Williams” “Variations on a Theme of Thomas Tallis,” John Adams” “Dr. Atomic Symphony,” and Tchaikovsky’s ‘symphony No. 6.”

‘st. Louis Symphony Orchestra music director David Robertson wants to change what is customary. The conductor of this proud 129-year-old orchestra prefers his concerts tightly connected, even if it means presenting a new-music program without the neutralizer of a tired war horse. How many major or mid-major orchestras ever do that?” (Chicago Sun-Times) More Information

Acoustic Africa

Join an exhilarating musical journey that focuses on the richness of the African guitar tradition. The concert includes Habib Koité, the Malian superstar whose exciting concerts have endeared him to audiences worldwide; Oliver Mtukudzi, the best-selling artist in his home country of Zimbabwe; and Afel Bocoum, a guitarist, singer, and composer from Mali whose songs evoke the evolution of traditional Malian society.

As the spokesperson for Acoustic Africa puts it, “our vision is intra-African arts collaboration. This tour is a lovely expression of the finest African singer-songwriters from different traditions undertaking an extraordinary musical journey – the concert comes home to Africa, bringing together these wondrous musicians and audiences from many African traditions. It’s a great feeling to belong” (Artslink). More Information

Celestial Septet: Rova Sax Quartet + Nels Cline Singers

"The Celestial Septet is a vehicle for time and space travel through dense, narrow thickets and airy, wide expanses of boundary-blurred extrapolations of jazz, rock, late-20th-century European modernism and American minimalism, and 21st-century postmodern fusions," writes Derk Richardson in the liner notes of the Septet’s recent New World Records release. "The trip is challenging, but the open-minded listener/traveler cannot help but come through the experience with new perspectives on sound and music."
Since forming in 1977, the Berkley-based ROVA Saxophone Quartet has become an important leader of genre-bending music. The Penguin Guide to Jazz calls its music "a teeming cosmos of saxophone sounds" created by "deliberately eschewing conventional notions about swing [and] prodding at the boundaries of sound and space…" Inspired by a broad spectrum of musical influences – from Charles Ives, Edgard Varese and Olivier Messiaen, to John Coltrane, Steve Lacy and Sun Ra – Rova began, in 1978, writing new material, touring, and recording, including adventurous collaborations with guitarists Henry Kaiser and Fred Frith, saxophonist John Zorn, and Italian percussionist Andrea Centazzo. In 1985, the Rova Saxophone Quartet incorporated as the not-for-profit organization Rova:Arts. Founding member Andrew Voigt left Rova in August 1988 and was replaced by Steve Adams. Otherwise, the personnel (Larry Ochs, Jon Raskin and Bruce Ackley) is unchanged.
The Nels Cline Singers are a ten-year old, all instrumental trio featuring guitarist Nels Cline, Devin Hoff, bass and Scott Amendola, drums. Born in Los Angeles in 1956, Nels Cline is known for his improvisational work in a wide variety of musical projects, as well as his use of effects pedals and looping devices which give his music a distinct sound. David Carr describes Cline as "one of the best guitarists in any genre." He has played with Charlie Haden, Wadada Leo Smith, Vinny Golia and the late Eric Von Essen, and has also worked with Willie Nelson, Thurston Moore and the jazz/punk/improv band Banyan. He frequently performs with his twin brother, drummer Alex Cline. He is currently the lead guitarist of the alternative rock band, Wilco.

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