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Ars Nova Workshop Announces New Path Festival Philadelphia 2014

Ars Nova Workshop (ANW) will showcase some of the most consistently brilliant voices in jazz and experimental music in some of Philadelphia’s most iconic and unusual spaces at the New Paths Festival, running April 21 through May 30, 2014.

Ars Nova Workshop
Ars Nova Workshop
Ars Nova Workshop

The citywide festival conceptually connects artists as diverse as Free Jazz legend Milford Graves, “radical Jewish music” composer John Zorn, and SUNN0)))’s Stephen O’Malley to a variety of historic and unique Philadelphia sites. Philadelphia’s premier jazz and experimental music presenting organization, Ars Nova Workshop looks to the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson for New Paths’ inspiration: “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.”

“Philadelphia’s rich jazz legacy has produced talents such as Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, and Sun Ra, but the city continues to be under-recognized and nearly all of our jazz venues have closed,” ANW’s Executive Director Mark Christman told Examiner.com. “We’re resisting sameness, and doing our best to extend Philadelphia’s remarkable jazz legacy into the future by capitalizing on Philadelphia's distinctiveness.”

“In Philadelphia there are so many spaces with creative potential; so much inspiration all around us. For almost fifteen years, we’ve been tapping into that potential – primarily outside of center city – using dozens of spaces, and presenting art where art wasn’t previously. New Paths takes this a step further by creating new conversations around the sites, making it a festival that could only happen in Philadelphia.”

The musicians selected for these site-specific performances include recipients of the Albert Mangelsdorff Award, MacArthur Fellows, innovative leaders who have performed with the most notable figures of jazz and experimental music, prolific composers, and acclaimed conceptualists. The New Paths Festival gives audiences a rare opportunity to see these pioneers in a variety of iconic Philadelphia sites. Ken Vandermark will premiere a piece inspired by the Barnes Foundation collection, while John Zorn will take advantage of one of the largest pipe organs in Philadelphia in Girard College Chapel’s stunning acoustical and architectural environment, and Swedish saxophonist-composer Mats Gustaffson, who has worked with everyone from Sonic Youth to Neneh Cherry, will present the US debut his all-Swedish ensemble at the American Swedish Historical Museum.

“The work of these artists is inherently adventurous, but New Paths aims to deepen artists’ engagement with their performance spaces as well as with our city’s history, cultures and people, making these events uniquely Philadelphian,” Christman continues. “Having presented in dozens of spaces, neighborhoods and contexts throughout Philadelphia over the last 14 seasons, we’ve always understood ANW as a creative placemaker with a mission to create spaces that elevate the experience for jazz musicians and their audiences. New Paths allows us to dig deeper and tell coherent stories of our neighborhoods, our communities and today’s experimental music scene.”

Monday, April 21, 8 p.m. [7 p.m., pre-concert discussion*]: Ken Vandermark’s Made to Break
featuring Ken Vandermark, reeds; Jasper Stadhouders, el. bass; Tim Daisy, drums; and Christof Kurzmann, electronics [lloopp]: Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway ($25): MacArthur Fellow and Chicago jazz legend Ken Vandermark visits Philadelphia for the first time in over five years to premiere a piece inspired by the Barnes collection with his latest and most radical ensemble, Made to Break. Inspired by elements of Ethiopian music, Dutch group The Ex, the New Music concepts of John Cage and Morton Feldman, and jazz and improvised music history, Vandermark has devised a compositional framework that engages and complements Dr. Barnes’s peculiar personal curatorial philosophy.

*Before the show, ticketholders are invited to join Vandermark and Blake Bradford, the Barnes Foundation’s Bernard C. Watson Director of Education, for a discussion on Vandermark’s composing practices and how they relate to Dr. Barnes’s curatorial vision.

Saturday, April 26, 8 p.m.: Milford Graves featuring Milford Graves, drums + percussion: Bartram’s Garden, 5400 Lindbergh Boulevard ($40): Free Jazz legend, herbalist, acupuncturist, martial artist, professor, savant, and shaman Milford Graves (b. 1941) is best known for his work with Albert Ayler, the New York Art Quartet (featuring Roswell Rudd, Reggie Workman and John Tchicai) and John Zorn. Graves has spent decades connecting healing practices and herbology (he’s been co-director of George Washington Carver Botanical Garden in New York) to his personal improvising and composing approaches. For his first Philadelphia appearance in over four decades, Graves will present a very rare solo performance inside the oldest barn in Philadelphia County at Bartram’s Garden, the birthplace of American botany. Seating for this concert is extremely limited.

Saturday, May 10, 8 p.m.: John Zorn’s Hermetic Organ featuring John Zorn, organ: Girard College Chapel, 2101 South College Avenue ($10): Maverick American force of nature John Zorn visits Philadelphia for a rare solo organ performance at the non-sectarian Girard College Chapel, an acoustical and architectural environment of commanding grandeur. One of the largest pipe organs in Philadelphia, the Chapel’s organ is the last authoritative Ernest M. Skinner (of Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company) statement and stands as one of the most powerful pipe organs ever built in the United States. Often crediting Lon Chaney in the silent classic “Phantom of the Opera” as a primal influence, Zorn’s first instrument was the organ. It wasn't until 2011, however, during Thirdbird's BLINDSPOT Festival at Philadelphia's historic Christ Church that he made his first concert appearance on the instrument. Drawing upon traditions as varied as Messiaen, Xenakis, Bach, Ives, and Korla Pandit, Zorn’s organ improvisations are transcendent, inspiring, ecstatic experiences, offering a direct line to the workings of his rich compositional imagination.

Sunday, May 11, 8 p.m.: William Parker & Muhammad Ali + Odean Pope featuring William Parker, double-bass; and Muhammad Ali, drums + percussion; with Odean Pope, tenor saxophone

Monday, May 12, 8 p.m.: William Parker & Muhammad Ali Duo + Marshall Allen featuring William Parker, double-bass; and Muhammad Ali, drums + percussion; with Marshall Allen, saxophone

Tuesday, May 13, 8 p.m.: William Parker & Muhammad Ali Duo + Dave Burrell featuring William Parker, double-bass; and Muhammad Ali, drums + percussion; with Dave Burrell, piano

Wednesday, May 14, 8 p.m.: William Parker & Muhammad Ali Duo + Bobby Zankel featuring William Parker, double-bass; and Muhammad Ali, drums + percussion; with Bobby Zankel, alto saxophone

First Unitarian Church Side Chapel, 2125 Chestnut Street ($25 each): When Martin Luther King Jr. was a seminary student in nearby Chester, he attended a lecture at the First Unitarian Church on how Mohandas K. Gandhi integrated Henry David Thoreau's theory of non-violent civil disobedience that ultimately inspired King's non-violent protests for civil rights. William Parker and Muhammad Ali are two of the most important living Free Jazz musicians today, contributing to many seminal recordings by Albert Ayler, Noah Howard, Frank Wright, David S. Ware, and Cecil Taylor. Over four nights at the breathtaking Frank Furness designed First Unitarian Church Side Chapel, these musicians will perform music inspired by this story, inviting four Philadelphia heavyweights as guests: Dave Burrell, Sun Ra Arkestra’s Marshall Allen, Bobby Zankel and Odean Pope. Over these four nights Parker will reveal a new four-part suite, ‘Flower In Stained Glass Window’ (for creative music ensemble and improvising trio), featuring an all-Philadelphian chamber ensemble led by Keir Neuringer.

Saturday, May 17, 8 p.m.: Mats Gustafsson’s Swedish Azz featuring Mats Gustafsson, saxophones + electronics; Per-Åke Holmlander, tuba; Kjell Nordeson, vibraphone; dieb13, turntables + electronics; and Eric Carlsson, drums: American Swedish Historical Museum, 1900 Pattison Avenue ($25): The Golden Age of Swedish Jazz occurred in the mid-1950´s and was represented by very distinct and personal voices (such as Lars Gullin and Jan Johansson) that were taking inspiration from American West Coast Jazz as well as traditional Swedish Folk Music. Groundbreaking Swedish saxophonist-composer Mats Gustaffson – who has collaborated with everyone from Sonic Youth to Merzbow to Neneh Cherry - will lead this US debut of Swedish Azz, an all-Swedish ensemble that explores the intersection of these histories at the American Swedish Historical Museum, the oldest Swedish museum in the United States, built to commemorate the 1638 settlement of the New Sweden colony formed along the Delaware River.

Monday, May 19, 8 p.m.: St. Francis Duo featuring Steve Noble, drums; and Stephen O'Malley, el. guitar: St. Francis de Sales Auditorium, 4625 Springfield Avenue ($15): St. Francis was born to wealth, enjoyed it, and then renounced worldly goods and privilege in order to be closer to God. He was the first recorded stigmatic in Christian history. The ominous St. Francis Duo - featuring pioneering British jazz drummer Steve Noble (Derek Bailey, Wadada Leo Smith, The Bow Gamelan Ensemble) and experimental guitarist-composer Stephen O’Malley, best known for his work in Sunn0))) and Khanate - will perform at St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church in West Philadelphia in what will be their first North American performance.

Friday, May 30, 8 p.m.: Peter Brötzmann featuring Peter Brötzmann, reeds: German Society of Pennsylvania’s Horner Memorial Library, 611 Spring Garden Street ($25): Peter Brötzmann is one of the most important and uncompromising figures in free jazz and has been at the forefront of developing a unique, European take on free improvisation since the 1960s. Brötzmann will perform at the German Society of Pennsylvania’s Joseph P. Horner Memorial Library (named in honor of the Philadelphia Orchestra musician), an awe-inspiring space built in 1817 with the largest private collection of German books in the United States. This Volksbibliothek stands as a commitment to German heritage and has remained an authentic cultural outlet for Philadelphia Germans for centuries. This very rare solo performance from Brötzmann will provide a unique dialogue with this historic and impressive collection.

New Paths Festival has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage

About Ars Nova Workshop: Winner of the ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming and ‘Philadelphia Magazine’s “Best of Philly” award, ANW is an internationally recognized jazz presenter that “has made Philadelphia a welcome stop for premier avant-garde jazz" (‘Spin’). ANW has been the subject of numerous articles in the local and national press, including ‘The New York Times,’ ‘Wire,’ ‘The Philadelphia Inquirer,’ ‘Jazz Times’ and ‘The Wall Street Journal.’ In the last 13 years, ANW has programmed over 600 unique events throughout Philadelphia, often in partnership with leading cultural institutions, including International House Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Settlement Music School, and the Painted Bride Art Center. Performances have featured many of the most significant contributors to jazz and experimental music over the last 50 years, including Cecil Taylor, Bill Dixon, Henry Threadgill, Brad Mehldau, Pauline Oliveros, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Tony Conrad, Thurston Moore, David S. Ware, Reggie Workman, and MacArthur fellows Anthony Braxton, Ken Vandermark, Vijay Iyer, George Lewis, and John Zorn. In addition, ANW fosters performance opportunities and visibility for exceptional Philadelphia-based musicians such as Pew fellows Odean Pope, Dave Burrell, Charles Cohen, Bobby Zankel, Khan Jamal, and Dan Blacksberg, and scouts and presents emerging artists from around the world.