Dartmouth’s Barbary Coast Improvises with Acclaimed Jazz Luminaries, Nov 2

Rebecca Bailey

The Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble, Dartmouth’s resident creative music big band, is joined by three acclaimed guest artists: tuba legend Joseph Daley, who’s played with Taj Mahal, Charlie Haden, Stevie Wonder and others while also leading his own celebrated projects; pianist Kris Davis, 2018 DownBeat “rising star” pianist who’s burning up international  jazz circles as a bandleader and side player; and Bill Cole, former Dartmouth music faculty and renowned innovator on non-Western wind instruments. 

The concert takes place Friday, November 2, 8 pm, in Spaulding Auditorium of the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College. Made up of talented Dartmouth students, the band is led by jazz innovator Taylor Ho Bynum, an internationally known instrumentalist, composer and band leader whose active professional life beyond Dartmouth nets a brilliant line-up of guest artists and mentors for his student group.

The program focuses on compositions by Davis and Daley – including one Daley wrote for Cole, which Cole will play on as soloist – and by jazz legend Randy Weston, who died recently at age 92 after a storied and immensely influential career.  “The music we’re playing will be all over the place in a beautiful way,” said Bynum, “from new music and improvisation to classic post-bop to world music.”

The concert brings together musicians spanning generations. Born in 1949 in New York’s Harlem, Daley has worked since the 1970s as a composer, arranger and performer, with a diverse set of music luminaries that has included his current collaborators, Bill Cole and Taylor Ho Bynum. He has been a member of ensembles large and small including GRAVITY and Liberation Music Orchestra, and he currently tours and records with Hazmat Modine and the improvisational Tuba Trio. From 1972 to 2005, he also was an award-winning secondary school music teacher and bandleader, primarily in Englewood, NJ.

Although born in Vancouver in 1980, Davis too has been based in New York City for the past dozen or so years. Classically trained since childhood and steeped in jazz since her teens, she’s known for a versatility that allows her to play with a highly musically diverse set of projects. A 2012 New York Times article cited her as one of jazz’s top up-and-comers, adding, “One method for deciding where to hear jazz on a given night has been to track down the pianist Kris Davis.” Recipient of a 2015 Doris Duke Impact award in 2015 and multiple high-profile commissions, she currently teaches at Princeton and the New School in NYC.

Cole is a jazz musician, composer, author and educator who taught at Dartmouth from 1974 to 1990 and is now retired from the faculty of Syracuse University. An admired innovator, Cole successfully combines jazz and the sounds of “untempered” instruments – based on other than the customary 12-tone scale of Western music. He specializes in non-Western wind instruments, especially double reed horns: including Chinese sonas, Korean hojok and piri; Indian nagaswarm and shenai and Tibetan trumpet; as well as the Australian digeridoo and Ghanaian flute. He is the leader of the Untempered Ensemble, a group he founded in 1992, and also has performed with such well known artists Sam Rivers, Julius Hemphill and Ornette Coleman.

The Barbary Coast is dedicated to the idea that a large group of people improvising together can make for a transformative experience. The incorporation of these acclaimed performers in the ensemble promises exciting innovations and inspired sounds.

Watch this short film following Friday’s  Bynum’s journey along the west coast of North America, playing concerts and collaborating with musicians throughout:

“The music we’re playing will be all over the place in a beautiful way.” Taylor Ho Bynum