A Few Choice Words: Pat Wictor Newsletter, August 9, 2007
======= A Few Choice Words August 9, 2007===========
By Pat Wictor Subscribe: http://www.patwictor.com
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Ears and Eyes: What I'm listening to and reading
-Wilderness Plots, Bukka White, and more
Upcoming Gigs & appearances
full calendar: http://www.patwictor.com
I recently found out that a musician I know and respect had passed away. I saw an article mentioning a composition performed at the Vision Festival called "50 Violins for Leroy Jenkins." The title sounded like an elegy, and I went on a hurried internet search. With my heart sinking, I found a slew of obituaries.
Leroy Jenkins was a violinist who expanded the boundaries of the instrument, a bold musical improviser, composer, and teacher who mentored many younger musicians. I'd seen photos of him since I was a kid, in a treasured book called "Jazz: A Photo History," in the section on "free jazz." (Leroy didn't like this term, nor the label "avant-garde.")
I first met Leroy in a yoga class, where we'd share the occasional groan, a "whew" that the lesson was over, and sometimes talk about music afterwards. He was much older and more accomplished than me, but he was gracious, down-to-earth, and radiated quiet intensity. Though we played very different kinds of music, I felt that folk music and the kind of improvised music Leroy played are related. I felt a kinship with him, musically and personally.
I came to know Leroy Jenkins' music, through his CDs and live performances, and I came to love his fearlessness, his spontaneity, his endless search to play something not played before, and to play it always from the heart. I don't love everything that he played. But I respect and admire the integrity and sincerity of it, and the willingness to use everything he knew, from all areas of life, in his music. Having arrived at folk music after exploring other genres, I wanted to preserve all that I'd learned from "free jazz" in my own music: spontaneity and improvisation, love of collaboration, focus and intensity (even quiet intensity), and the occasional incendiary instrumental passage. :-)
Leroy was also an acclaimed composer who invited musicians to stretch beyond what they know. The pianist Denman Maroney describes a written score Leroy gave him: "It read in part: 'To Believe: Pure Motion, quarter note = zero.' Ever since, whenever I think of Leroy, I think quarter note equals zero."
In the last few years, I saw Leroy perform a few times in New York City. He would play with his eyes closed, feet close together, bobbing and weaving from the waist, immersed in the music. Then when he'd stop, he'd open his eyes and look around like he'd just returned from an out-of-body experience.
The last time I heard Leroy's voice was sometime in the fall of '06. I was driving off to do my own show, and tuned in to WKCR (89.1fm). They had him as a guest, spinning selections from his discography. Great to hear his voice--gentle, with backbone. He was modest about his accomplishments, but with the quiet confidence of someone who knows the worth of his own work.
Leroy Jenkins never became a household name, but he made a 40 year career playing exactly the music he wanted to play. He was a hero to me, and I'll miss him, so I wanted to share him with you. His music might not be (or, it might be!) your cup of tea. But perhaps you can appreciate him, and the impact this musical "not-so-distant-cousin" had on me.
Youtube clip of Leroy Jenkins playing solo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VK31wAJ3mRY
Youtube of "50 violins for Leroy Jenkins" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5herU1zR0hc
Leroy Jenkins bio: http://www.lovely.com/bios/jenkins.html
Interview with Leroy: http://www.meetthecomposer.org/spotlightjenkins.html
An affectionate obit / apprecation: http://www.newmusicbox.org/article.nmbx?id=4985
Amazon links to buy his CDs: http://tinyurl.com/3cbmf7
Leroy Jenkins, "Live!" CD: http://www.omnitone.com/store/120122.htm
Joachim-Ernst Berendt, "Jazz: A Photo History" http://tinyurl.com/286zs8
Ears and Eyes: What Im Listening to and Reading:
Krista Detor, Tim Grimm, Carrie Newcomer, Tom Roznowski, Michael White, "Wilderness Plots. Buy the CD: http://www.myspace.com/wildernessplots
"The Complete Bukka White." Buy the CD: http://tinyurl.com/2k4ssk
Scott R. Sanders, Wilderness Plots: Tales About the Settlement of the American Land. Buy the book: http://tinyurl.com/2x2eg4
Elizabeth Longford, ed. "The Oxford Book of Royal Anecdotes." Buy the book: http://tinyurl.com/28dbkg
Upcoming Pat Wictor gigs and appearances.
Full calendar and links: http://www.patwictor.com **percussionist Cheryl Prashker accompanies
August 11 Madison Square Park, New York, NY w/ Diana Jones
August 18 & 19 Philadelphia Folk Festival, Schwenksville, PA
August 25 Soup and Song House Concert, Laurel, MD
September 6 Connecticut Folk Festival, New Haven, CT w/ Natalia Zukerman, Lindsay Mac, and Chuck E. Costa
September 8 Colorscape Chenango Arts Festival, Norwich, NY **
September 9 Harvest Moon Music Festival, Warwick Valley Winery, Warwick, NY **
September 15 Joe Davies Folk Festival, Middleborough, MA
September 18 Reston-Herndon Folk Club, Herndon, VA w/ Laura Baron
September 21 Peekskill Coffeehouse, Peekskill, NY w/ Jud Caswell
September 22 House Concert, Centre Hall, PA **
September 23 Friendship House Concert, Pittsburgh, PA **
September 26 Brokerage Pub, Bellmore, NY w/ Toby Walker
September 28 The Linda (WAMC), Albany, NY w/ Jonathan Edwards, Toby Walker, Debra Cowan
September 30 Franklin House Concert, Franklin, MA **
October 4 Heartland House Concert, Rochester, NY w/ Joe Crookston
October 5 Six on the Square, Oxford, NY w/ Joe Crookston
October 6 Oswego Music Hall, Oswego, NY w/ Joe Crookston
October 7 Cot and Crackers House Concert, Schuyler Lake, NY w/ Joe Crookston
October 19 Two Way Street Coffeehouse, Downers Grove, IL
October 21 Bean Blossom Concert Series, Bean Blossom, IN
October 25 Lansdowne Folk Club, Lansdowne, PA
November 2 Me and Thee Coffeehouse, Marblehead, MA w/ Joe Crookston
November 3 Godfrey Daniels, Bethlehem, PA w/ Jud Caswell
November 15 Uptown Concerts, Sykesville, MD
November 16 Minstrel Coffeehouse, Morristown, NJ Phil Ochs Song Night
November 17 Godfrey Daniels, Bethlehem, PA Phil Ochs Song Night
November 18 Focus Inn, Alexandria, VA Phil Ochs Song Night
November 24 The Songbox, Seaford, NY w/ Danny Bakan
More dates added all the time!
Until next time: many thanks, and warm regards,
Pat Wictor firstname.lastname@example.org
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