Thursday Night Live: Coast Jazz Orchestra
Thursday Night Live

Coast Jazz Orchestra

with Bill Lowe's Signifyin' Natives
November 11, 2021

This event occurred as part of the 21/22 Hop Original season. This is an archived view.

A double dose of live music as the legendary trombonist/composer Bill Lowe brings his latest project to campus and the student ensemble performs creative improvisations.

21/22 Hop Original

Bass trombonist and tubaist Bill Lowe has been a major force in the music world for close to 50 years as a performer, composer, producer and educator. He has worked with most of the masters of African-American creative music, across all genres and musical cliques, from musical legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Eartha Kitt and Clark Terry, to the leaders of the avant-garde like Muhal Richard Abrams, Henry Threadgill and Cecil Taylor, to under-heralded greats like George Russell, James Jabbo Ware and Bill Barron. As an educator, Lowe has taught at several major universities, lectured throughout the world from Cuba to Paris, and mentored countless young musicians.

Signifyin' Natives is an ongoing project of rotating personnel under Lowe's leadership. The band has performed in several interdisciplinary productions, including Ed Bullins' Street Sounds and Lowe's own adaptation of Jean Toomer's Harlem Renaissance masterpiece, CANE. This iteration of the ensemble, which would tour and record in celebration of Bill's 75th birthday, brings together new and old collaborators from Lowe's long and distinguished career. While there are many decades of history and collaboration between many of the individual musicians, this is the first tour of the full ensemble.

Joining Bill in the horn section are two former students, now close friends and long-time collaborators who've gone on to renown in the creative music world. Saxophonist Hafez Modirzadeh has pioneered his "chromodal" concept, a cross-cultural musical approach developed from American jazz and Iranian dastgah heritages as heard on several critically acclaimed albums on Pi Records, including Facets, featuring pianists Kris Davis, Craig Taborn, and Tyshawn Sorey. He now teaches at San Francisco State University. Taylor Ho Bynum's expressionistic playing on cornet and expansive vision as composer have garnered him critical attention on over twenty recordings as a bandleader and dozens more as a collaborator with Anthony Braxton, Bill Dixon, Tomas Fujiwara and Mary Halvorson, among others. He currently teaches at Dartmouth College.

NYC-based bassist Ken Filiano has collaborated with leading artists in multiple genres, fusing the rich traditions of the double bass with his own seemingly limitless inventiveness—from West Coast legends like Bobby Bradford and Vinny Golia to NYC mainstays like Connie Crothers, Fay Victor and Jason Kao Hwang. Pianist Kevin Harris plays a distinctive combination of traditional and contemporary music that seeks to celebrate the musical influences of Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis intersecting with J.S. Bach, Scott Joplin and the folkloric African rhythms of the Caribbean. Harris's notable collaborations include Greg Osby, Jason Palmer and Terri Lyne Carrington, and he is on the faculty at Berklee College of Music. One of Boston's most in-demand musicians, drummer Luther Gray has worked in a diversity of styles, from Cecil Payne and Butch Warren to George Garzone and Joe Morris. The youngest member of the band is the South African vocalist Naledi Masilo, now based in Boston after completing her degree at New England Conservatory. Masilo is quickly emerging as a leading figure in the Boston arts scene, and dedicated mentor to young women in the arts.

This season, Thursday Night Lives are only open to Dartmouth students. They are free and unticketed, however, a valid Dartmouth student ID is needed for entry.

Bill Lowe's Signifyin' Natives tour is made possible with the support of Jazz Road, a national initiative of South Arts, which is funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with additional support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Photo: Ben DeFlorio

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