Saturday, November 25, 2017

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Spotlight on Douglas Ewart

Today, let's take a look at some videos featuring multi-instrumentalist Douglas Ewart, who's coming to St. Louis to perform with the STL Free Jazz Collective in a free concert next Saturday, December 2 at the 14th Street Artists Community.

Ewart, who's 71 years old, plays various saxophones and woodwind instruments, hand drums, and instruments of his own design. Born in Jamaica, he moved to Chicago as a teenager, and first gained wide attention as an early member of that city's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, later serving as the AACM's president from 1979 to 1986.

He has led his own bands in a variety of instrumental configurations and multi-disciplinary performances, and has recorded as a leader and collaborator with many of the well-known musicians associated with the AACM, as well as with Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor, and various other creative improvisors and composers.

Given that Ewart and his St. Louis collaborators will be improvising most, if not all, of next Saturday's performance, there's no way to "preview" the show in terms of specific musical content. That said, today's collection of videos, drawn from various Ewart performances in the last eight years, should provide at least some idea of his sound and general approach to making music.

First up is an excerpt from Ewing's set at an observance of John Coltrane's 90th birthday in September 2016 at the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia, in which he plays solo with two dancers, Jay Jao and Taiga Ultan.

After the jump, you can see a couple of excerpts from the set performed by Ewart and his band Inventions in September 2015 at the Chicago Jazz Festival in Millennium Park. Along with Ewart, the group includes Mankwe Ndosi (voice, poetry, percussion), Maggie Brown (voice, percussion), Duriel Harris (poetry, percussion), Dee Alexander (voice, percussion), Mwata Bowden (winds, percussion), Edward Wilkerson (winds, percussion), Jeff Parker (guitar), Dushun Mosley (drums), Darius Savage (bass), Kidd Jordan (saxophone), and Willie Pickens (piano).

The fourth clip is a piece called "Manalapho," written in 2013 in tribute to Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager killed in a 2012 shooting that sparked outrage across the country.

That's followed by Ewart and another iteration of Inventions, as recorded in 2009 at the Vision Festival in NYC. This version of the group features Ewart, the Art Ensemble of Chicago's Joseph Jarman and St. Louis' own J.D. Parran on various woodwinds, along with pianist Donald Smith, percussionist Thurman Barker, and poet Amiri Baraka.

The final video is an interview with Ewart, recorded in 2011 on the occasion of the release of his album Songs of Sunlife on innova Recordings, in which he discusses the album, his life, and influences.

For more about Douglas Ewart, check out the interview with him published in 2015 on the website of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, where Ewart now lives; and his interview from that same year with the NY Jazz Record.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

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