Percussionist Murray, along with Quinn Mason (tenor sax, keys), Kris Gruda (guitar), and Dan Carey Bailey (electric bass) will craft everything from trip hop and ambient sounds to jazz, Delta blues grooves, and dub beats.
Free. Music is live from 7-10 p.m. 1036 White St. SW (on the Westside BeltLine).
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On Thursday, December 10, at 7 p.m., Music In The Park celebrates 10 years of music and service to the community by highlighting Atlanta public school students and community youth as well as other local and international artists. This year, MITP brings its ever-evolving combination of artistic innovation and stellar performances—from a safe distance. To keep the community safe amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, MITP is hosting a virtual festival.
Each year, MITP’s goal is to enlighten young performers and inspire vibrancy in communities through music and performing arts by encouraging young Atlanta-area musicians to pursue musical performance, composition, and production as a career. The festival also provides opportunities for professional musicians to be a part of the vital process of nurturing emerging talent while also providing a venue for musicians to collaborate with each other and connect with their audiences.
This year, MITP has expanded its program to Berlin and Germany, and created Cuban exchange programs for young musicians. The organization has also partnered with Atlanta’s Food Banks for food giveaway programs for those in need.
Music In The Park’s virtual festival lineup features: — Toma Fit Youth Hip-Hop Athletes — North Atlanta String Ensemble — Tierra Adentro Youth Flamenco (New Mexico) Ensemble w/ Westlake High School Drumline — Gallery 992 Sunday Jazz House Band — Saunders Sermons — Eli Maliki-(East Africa/Berlin) — Batila -(Congo/Berlin) — DJ Stan Zeff — Marlon Patton — Kebbi Williams More artists will be announced soon. Check out the Music In The Park Facebook event page for details on how to tune in to the live stream.
Tax-deductible donations to Music In The Park support the virtual festival and other ongoing programs. Check out www.musicintheparkatl.org for more information.
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At the core of both releases stands the duo of cello player and Past Now Tomorrow label owner Ben Shirley and mandolin player Majid Araim. Together, they’ve fleshed out a singular musical voice while employing an arsenal of instruments—cello, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, recorder, piano, reed organ, Korg MS-20, percussion, walkie talkies, tapes, and radio—to explore a haunted and wildly shifting terrain of musical timbres and colors.
“We did a crazy experiment with a process of overdubbing,” Shirley says of the Whispers Of Night release. “We improvised the initial pieces, then we started overdubbing. But only one of us wore headphones: One of us was listening to and playing along with what was already in the can. The other was responding to what was happening in the room. We traded back and forth, and a submerged musical composition rose up out of the ether as we went along,” he adds.
They recorded the sessions for The Dead Blessing using both a 4-Track and a computer. When finished, they spent weeks mixing it all together before Ben Price at Studilaroche put the final mastering touches on the five cavernous pieces presented here.
For voice resolve [sic.], Araim and Shirley teamed up with Philadelphia-based percussionist Leo Suarez to record a stripped-down early morning improv session—Shirley stuck with his cello, and Majid with a mandolin, violin, and his voice. Press play on the opening number, “Morning Of A Georgia Faun,” and the session sputters to life. The opening number’s title alone calls to mind Shirley’s former band—Faun And A Pan Flute—and Georgia native and saxophonist Marion Brown’s pastoral 1970 album Afternoon Of A Georgia Faun (ECM). Both provide heady context, and the song serves as an excellent entrypoint for the album’s lush and quietly calamitous survey of Georgia’s avant-garde landscape. The music is beautiful, abstract, and reflexive as songs such as “Let The Fish Gossip,” and “Grass So Soft” draw out tension in a subtle cacophony of sounds summoned from the depths of the subconscious minds of three players who all have their antennae dialed into the same frequencies.
Prior to this session, Suarez, Araim, and Shirley had jammed together sporadically while Whispers Of Night was on the road playing shows around the country. In June of 2019, after Suarez played a show at the Magic Lantern, the three reconvened at 8 a.m. to roll tape. Ofir Klemperer recorded the session as they all locked in with their instruments. Aside from one small, imperceptible cut, the session went down as is.
“We consciously chose to make the trio not Leo + Whispers, as we conceived of it as each individual bringing their own independent voice to the group, rather than any sort of specific sound,” Shirley says.
Both the Whispers Of Night and Suarez + Araim + Shirley releases live on Past Now Tomorrow’s Bandcamp page. A limited edition of 50 copies of The Dead Blessing and voice resolve on CD can be found on the Bandcamp page as well—not for long, though. The sturdy, cardboard sleeves and hand-assembled cover art brings a tactile element to music that often eludes conventional terms. “I wanted to have a unifying aesthetic for this set of releases,” Shirley says. “I’m trying to still produce physical things, even though not many people buy them. This way I can make them at a low cost and keep the charge down. I use the least amount of plastic possible, and still have sturdy packaging with a spine on the side—working at WREK, I know that your CD is way more likely to get pulled off the shelf if it has a spine that looks interesting. That’s at least part of the idea.”
Composer and trumpet player Russell Gunn leads the Afro-futuristic jazz big band the Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra, featuring Dionne Farris, for a live-streaming performance at the Rialto Center for the Arts on Saturday, July 25. Music starts at 10 p.m.
For the time being, every Sunday evening from 6-10 p.m., the weekly jam has moved just a few doors down to the lot near the corner of Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. and Peeples Street, where there’s plenty of space to get spaced out. Under the direction of alto saxophone player Quinn Mason and percussionist Dallas Dawson, an assemblage of the city’s finest players lock into each other for a massive and seemingly telepathic group improv blast before opening up the stage. They’ll play for as long as the law allows—the noise ordinance kicks in at 10 p.m.
In this new, temporary outdoor setting, the weekly jam has taken on a whole new vibe, summoning a rejuvenated sense of community spirit in the West End. These performances are about catharsis, purgation, and finding mental and spiritual balance in the shadow of a world in turmoil.
Witnessing so much energy, and engaging with live music on such visceral and cerebral levels, after so many months spent in lock down is a powerful and emotionally riveting experience that’s not to be taken lightly—you need it more than you know.
Bring a lawn chair—it’s outside, but wearing a mask and maintaining that six-feet of social distance makes everyone feel a safer, and little more comfortable.
W8ing4UFOs are still playing their scheduled shows at the Pilot Light. Stay tuned for more information.
As Knoxville, Tennessee prepares for the Big Ears Festival‘s annual pilgrimage of deep listeners descending upon the Marble City’s music venues March 26-29, more pieces are falling into place every day. Festivities for the 2020 gathering include an ever-growing film series and panel discussions, in addition to a lineup of bold musical innovators celebrating their singularly nuanced sounds. A rich lineup of heavy-hitters is on the calendar for this year, including German free jazz luminary, saxophone and clarinet player Peter Brötzmann, Tortoise guitar player Jeff Parkerand the New Breed, rock ‘n’ roll poet Patti Smith, Tuareg psych rocker Mdou Moctar, drone music architect Phil Niblock, British free jazz and Afrofuturist provocateur Shabaka Hutchings & the Ancestors, and more.
Amid the flurry of artists and activities on this year’s schedule, Atlanta boasts a particularly strong showing:
Mute Sphere, a group featuring former Faun and A Pan Flute guitarist David Gray, cello and fiddle player Ben Shirley, drummer John Gregg, and percussionist and synth player Chris Childs team up with vocalist Monique Osorio, crafting a blend of composed and improvised rock and modern classical sounds. Mute Sphere takes the Pilot Light stage on Thursday, March 26. 8 p.m. It’s free to anyone who can fit through the door, even if you don’t have a Big Ears pass.
The Rev. Fred Lane is currently setting the South ablaze with the arrival of Icepick To the Moon, his first album over 30 years. The album finds the Auburn, Alabama auteur backed by a group known as the Disheveled Monkey Biters, aka the Edgewood Saxophone Trio (Jeff Crompton, Ben Davis, and Bill Nittler). Rev. Fred Lane and the Disheveled Monkey Biters play The Standard on Friday, March 27. 9 p.m.
Coded deeply within W8ing4UFOs’ DNA is a dense and secret history of Atlanta music. Singer and guitarist Bill Taft, cellist Brian Halloran, and percussionist Will Fratesi’s time together reaches all the back to Cabbagetown in the early ‘90s, sharing stages with Southern firebrand Benjamin in the band Smoke. Producer, songwriter, and keyboard player Billy Fields is like the angel Virgil of Atlanta music, leading the way out of darkness into the light. His resume boasts a lifetime spent playing music with a variety of acts such as Follow For Now, Seek, Upstream, Lust, Arrested Development, Dionne Farris, and H.R. of Bad Brains’ Human Rights outfit. Alongside guitar player Sean Dunn of Athens’ indie rock outfit Five-Eight and viola player and Radon Recordings co-owner Katie Butler, the group creates a mighty sound steeped in the kind of steel-stringed anti-gospel defiance that can only be forged in the forgotten underbelly of the Southern Piedmont. W8ing4UFOs plays two shows at The Pilot Light — Friday, March 27 at 9 p.m., and Saturday, March 28 at 3 p.m.
Dust-To-Digital co-owner Lance Ledbetter joins Nathan Salsburg, curator of the Alan Lomax Archive, for a listening session and discussion of selected artists, repertoires, and site-specific musical communities, including archival recordings from Ledbetter’s nonprofit organization Music Memory. At Boyd’s Jig & Reel. Sunday, March 29. 2-3 p.m.
Rasheeda “Ra Flautista” Ali hosts the weekly Tuesday Night Musicians Jam Session at Elliott Street Deli & Pub. Each week, Ali leads an ever-changing cast of Atlanta’s finest players in a serpentine set that channels musical inflections from the furthest regions of the cosmos, all in the name of ecstatic communal revelry — no two nights are ever the same. Donations at the door. 9 p.m. EveryTuesday night at Elliott Street Deli & Pub. | More info.