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September 2007

August 2007

Waiting for Rock...

After a productive Saturday morning (for me, at least) I've been nursing my beer at Studio B's "After The Jump" fest for the better part of an hour. Rule No. 1: never show up at a show less than an hour after the stated start time (sigh). Eh, what do you want for free? Teenage Prayers are up first.

Don't Forget Your Radiation Pills

Kimjongil_01I've just caught wind of the news that the North Korean Minister of Culture has extended an invitation to the New York Philharmonic to perform in Pyongyang before the notably-eccentric Dear Leader, Kim Jong-Il. The invitation reportedly comes on the heels of a recent meeting between U.S. ambassador Christopher Hill and his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye-gwan, in which they discussed the possibility of cultural exchanges between the two countries in a bid to improve ties.

Of course, North Korea has been labeled part of the Bush Administration's "Axis of Evil," and has recently tested a number of nuclear weapons within its borders. However, diplomatic relations have generally improved since North Korea signed a disarmament agreement in February. 

Philharmonic PR man Eric Latzky says the Philharmonic board is currently considering the invitation, which would mark the Philharmonic's first trip to the Communist country. "We appreciate any invitation to the New York Philharmonic and will explore the possibility of this as we would any other invitation," he says. Who knows, maybe Kim will even contribute some May Day performers to add a bit of color to the proceedings.

Going Out With a Bang

MainheaderThe summer's quickly drawing to a close, but in terms of musical happenings, at least, the city will not be going gently into that good winter. Here's a quick rundown of this week's events:

Lincoln Center Out of Doors is hosting several killer ensembles this week, including Gamelan Son of Lion and percussionists from the Manhattan School of Music in a performance of Henry Brant's Dormant Craters tonight, Kristjan Järvi's Absolute Ensemble on Saturday, and the Mingus Big Band on Sunday with conductor Gunther Schuller(!) All shows are in the Lincoln Center South Plaza, behind the State Theatre, and are free.

Thursday night, the enchanting Marta Topferova performs at MoMA's weekly MoMA @ Nite series in the Sculpture Garden, free with museum admission ($20). Most of the musicians from this new series are regulars at Barbès - which should come as no surprise, seeing as Barbes proprietor Olivier Conan was invited to curate. Cocktails and light snacks will be served.

Friday night, I'll be getting my sea legs on the Rocks Off Cruise with none other than Reggae legend Lee "Scratch" Perry.  Assuming I don't miss the boat, this will be my first encounter with the inventor of dub, who I've just missed on at least two other occasions. Brooklyn-based collective Dub Is a Weapon opens. Tickets are $35; boat leaves from Pier 81 at 9pm.

Saturday brings the first-annual After the Jump Fest at Studio B in Greenpoint, presented by some two-dozen indie rock bloggers, and benefiting music education in the NYC public schools. There's both a free block party during the day and a very reasonably priced ($12) evening show. 

In between, there's Saturday's Warm Up in the courtyard at PS1 in Long Island City, which this week features UK DJ Felix Dickinson and a live performance by Escort. Free with museum admission ($10).

Finally, Sunday is the 15th annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in Tompkins Square Park, right across the street from Parker's old home on Ave. B between 9th and 10th. The top flight lineup includes vocalist Abbey Lincoln, drummer Chico Hamilton, and trumpeter Marurice Brown. The music - which is free - kicks off at 3pm.

Addendum: The Lee "Scratch" Perry show has been cancelled for tonight. As a means of explanation, ticketholders received the following email from Rocks Off Concert promoter Sancho:

"Unfortunately, it pains us to inform all of you that the Lee "Scratch" Perry show that we had planned for Friday 8/24 has been cancelled. There is, however, a perfectly logical explanation. It goes a little something like this:
Lee "Scratch" Perry was wandering down the street, minding his own dubbing business. Then, out of nowhere, he was confronted by a hysterical princess. Being a kind, caring, individual, Mr. Perry consoled the princess until she was able to tell him what was wrong. He discovered that her name was Princess Esmerelda. Her father's kingdom had been under constant siege for fifty years by an evil emperor named Badguy and his army of ninjas and dragons. Her father's army had just succumbed to the pressure of the siege and the king had been taken hostage. Princess Esmerelda gazed into Lee Perry's deep, benevolent eyes and begged him to help her. Lee Perry agreed under one condition: he had a show in New York on August 24th and the quest needed to be over and done with by then. The Princess said she understood. Lee Perry found the castle of the evil emperor Badguy. He easily disposed of the zombie lizard guards at the front gate. Next, he scaled the wall of the castle to the peak of the highest tower. There he encountered the evil emperor Badguy and his secret police force of ninjas. Perry cried out, "You better give back dat king, mon, and leave him alone from now on." Badguy laughed and hissed, "Never! You'll have to defeat my ninja police!" Perry immediately charged the ninjas. They battled for at least 45 minutes. In the heat of battle, one of the ninjas kicked out Lee's bottom row of teeth. They fell into the moat and were promptly eaten by a zombie alligator. This made him very angry. He proceeded to beat up all of the ninjas and make them cry. Once the ninjas were dealt with, Lee Perry grabbed the king and punched emperor Badguy in the genitals. He returned the king to Miss Esmerelda and departed company with his new fans to try and make the show in New York. Unforunately, when one rides a donkey (because that was the only mode of transportation in the kingdom), one cannot move very quickly. Mr. Perry called on a makeshift phone made of coconuts and chickenwire to tell us that although it pained him, he would be unable to make the gig in New York. We told him it was sad, but that a man has to do what a man has to do."

RIP Max Roach

Max_roach_01I only saw Roach once, but it was an experience I'll never forget: performing with his ensemble at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in 1999, in a jazz oratorio he composed in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., performed on what would have been Dr. King's 70th birthday. (Curious if anyone else happened to be there, and if they can remember the name of the composition.) Times obituary here.