NOW LIVE: Composer Performances & Interviews:
Elio Villafranca (Artist-in-Residence) – Cuban New York-based Pianist
Leyanis Valdés Reyes – Cuban Pianist
Nduduzo Makhathini – South African Pianist, Scholar & Healer
J.D. Allen – American Jazz Tenor Saxophonist
Luis Carlos Peréz – Panamanian Saxophonist
Bokani Dyer – South African Pianist & Producer
Elaine Mitchener – London-based Vocalist & Movement Artist
Siya Makuzeni – South African Trombonist, Vocalist, Lyricist & Songwriter
Sarathy Korwar – US-born, Indian-raised, London-based Drummer
Corey Mwamba – Derby-based Musician, Arts Advocate & Researcher
Thandi Ntuli – South African Pianist & Vocalist
The Long Form: Jazz Musicians Jason Moran & Elio Villafranca with The Showroom Director Elvira Dyangani Ose and IN·FLO·RES·CENCE Commissioner Reece Ewing
Interdisciplinary Transcendence of Sound: Artists Andrew Pierre Hart & Charmaine Watkiss and Pianist Composer Nduduzo Makhathini with IN·FLO·RES·CENCE co-curator Katherine Finerty
A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke: Jazz Musician Vijay Iyer and Art Historians Andrea Giunta and Brinda Kumar with Journalist Kevin LeGendre
Experimental Vocals & Social Transformation: Artist Elaine Mitchener, Filmmaker Theorist Kodwo Eshun and Art historian Curator Dr. Temi Odumosu with Elvira Dyangani Ose
Ritual & Communion: Artists Phoebe Boswell & Laura Lima and Pianist Nduduzo Makhathini with Elvira Dyangani Ose
A Rejection of Sonic Femininity: Musician Scholar Dr. Tammy Kernodle with Artist Elaine Mitchener, Trombonist Siya Makuzeni & Pianist Thandi Ntuli
Sonic Cultures: Curator and critic Christine Eyene , multimedia artist Evan Ifekoya, and IN·FLO·RES·CENCE composer, vibraphonist and researcher Corey Mwabma with Elvira Dyangani Ose
IN·FLO·RES·CENCE, 2020. Video: Reece Ewing. Courtesy of the artists and The Showroom, London
Artforum – Dr Yvette Mutumba's Top Ten Highlights of 2020
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The Showroom, London and Filmmaker Producer Reece Ewing are honoured to host IN·FLO·RES·CENCE – a new interdisciplinary platform for audiences to encounter compositions and conversations where sound and art can cross-pollinate and regenerate. Championing the power of jazz, this project fosters freedom, experimentation, improvisation, rhythm, polyrhythm, collaboration, dialogue, and sophistication – hard work fuelled by epiphanies, a call and response. Social power.
In its introductory digital stage, IN·FLO·RES·CENCE exists as an unfolding social media platform across Instagram, Vimeo, and The Showroom website whereby audiences can discover music compositions, interdisciplinary conversations, listening sessions, and behind-the-scenes creative inspirations. In order to create opportunities to commission music, share personal experiences, and foster collective conversations, IN·FLO·RES·CENCE brings together 10 Composers, 1 Solo Pianist, a diverse mix of music and art professionals, and an ever-growing global audience. Each of the participating composing musicians (J.D. Allen, Bokani Dyer, Sarathy Korwar, Nduduzo Makhathini, Siya Makuzeni, Elaine Mitchener, Corey Mwamba, Thandi Ntuli, Luis Carlos Pérez, and Leyanis Valdés Reyes) were invited to create a piece for solo piano around 1 minute in length responding to the changes to daily life during the global coronavirus outbreak. These individual pieces will all be interpreted and performed by the project’s first Artist-in-Residence, Cuban New York-based Pianist, Composer, and Band Leader Elio Villafranca, throughout the duration of the project.
These musical offerings will be activated by the commissioned musicians through recorded conversations between each other, Journalist Kevin Le Gendre (Broadcaster and Writer of Don't Stop the Carnival: Black British Music, 2019), and a group of creative professionals whose practices are deeply informed by sound, including The Showroom Director and Curator Elvira Dyangani Ose; Jazz Musician Jason Moran; Composer Pianist Vijay Iyer; Theorist and Filmmaker Kodwo Eshun; Sound Artist Peter Adjaye; Curators Christine Eyene, Katherine Finerty, Andrea Giunta, Brinda Kumar, and Temi Odumosu; multimedia Artists including Phoebe Boswell, Andrew Pierre Hart, Evan Ifekoya, Laura Lima and Charmaine Watkiss; and more. The community created will flower into multiple, growing conversations serving as a living archive for expanding jazz within personal, collective, and creative contexts.
The structure of multiple voices at the core of this project is inspired by an inflorescence: a cluster of flowers arranged on a stem, comprising a complicated arrangement of branches, further referencing the budding of blossoms – the process of flowering, a moment of unfolding, the stage of development full of possibility and production. This anatomical concept is also eponymous with the 1989 avant-garde album by American Pianist and Poet Cecil Taylor (1929–2018), whose practice has fused sound and art since the 1950s free jazz and New York loft scene through till this decade with his Open Plan exhibition at The Whitney Museum in 2016. As reflected in the meaning of this word, Taylor’s experimental ethos, and the political agency of jazz, this project aims to activate the global history of creative cross-pollination between musical and visual art communities through a gathering of voices reflecting upon the conditions of this unique historical moment. Through these participatory and expansive modes of connection, IN·FLO·RES·CENCE will create a constellation – an inflorescent cluster – filled with multiple voices, active listening, a poetic source of knowledge, and a resonant echo of call and response. A space to breathe, listen, create, and connect.
This project is conceived by Reece Ewing and curated with Curator Katherine Finerty, in collaboration with The Showroom, London, directed by Elvira Dyangani Ose.
Image: IN·FLO·RES·CENCE, 2020. Design: Sungtae Will Kim. Courtesy of the artists, Reece Ewing and The Showroom, London
About Reece Ewing
Reece Ewing’s work as a Producer responds to large-scale production, whereas his filmmaking is a studio practice focused on working in isolation and one-on-one collaborations. He has been greatly informed by his music studies, and his continued practice of listening to jazz consists of challenging himself to expand what he is listening to and how he listens. His decision-making, problem-solving, and activism are all defined by how he thinks musically.
About Elio Villafranca
Steinway Artist, Pianist, and Composer Elio Villafranca, born in the province of Pinar del Río, Cuba, is a two-time Grammy nominee, winner of the 2018 Downbeat Critics Poll Rising Stars (Keyboard), and a recipient of the first Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC) Millennium Swing Award in 2014. Villafranca was classically trained in piano, percussion, and composition at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba and since his arrival to the U.S. in 1995 he’s been at the forefront of today’s pianists and composers, fusing classical and jazz with music from the African diaspora. Based in New York City, Villafranca is a jazz faculty member at The Juilliard School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, New York University, and Temple University in Philadelphia.
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Filmmaker and Producer Reece Ewing initially imagined IN·FLO·RES·CENCE as an art initiative whereby jazz could be shared and discovered in a context focusing on gathering, communion, critical discussion, provocation, and joy. ‘I want to invite composers and musicians into an important discussion around culture and identity and representation – to discuss their individual practices and how they interact with the local and global creative and non-creative communities. Music is very much an epicentre of all of the world’s cultures. Moreover, this project explores music as a way to communicate ideas. It covers music as inspiration. Music as ritual. Music as communication, codes. Music as cultural connection and exchange. Music as healing. Music as activism. Music as I see you.’ Moreover, it is essential to Ewing that this project be centred in an interdisciplinary art context, rather than an exclusively auditory or performative one: 'The art space is a space for gathering, communion, sharing, critical discussion, scholarly discourse, joy, provocation, and the love of art,' he shares, 'all ideas which music makers and storytellers have always been at the core of.'
The inspiration for this project is a call and response to the Alone / Together performances that American violinist Jennifer Koh has commissioned for her Instagram page @jenniferkohmusic – now further extended to a global diaspora of jazz composition, collaboration, and communication using solo piano as a jumping off point. Through the different cultures, DNAs, rituals, and articulations of each participating composer and the diverse group of creative professionals in conversation, IN·FLO·RES·CENCE seeks to provide a space where family histories, collective memories, and contemporary storytellings may gather. It functions as an echo across the globe – a healing expression of activism across Transatlantic histories. And finally, through the voice of a piano solo – rich in its own modern jazz tradition intersecting every music crossroad: a percussion instrument capable of creating a triad of rhythm, melody, and harmony that defies definition and represents freedom – it dreams of giving these musical offerings the opportunity to find resonance in an arts context, take new shape in performances, and create an endless possibility of new connections.
Upon looking back to the New York City loft jazz scene activated by pianist Cecil Taylor and his peers in the 1950s to early 80s, we find a rich history of music collaboration and experimentation in both domestic and arts spaces. In this current moment of self-isolation and social distancing, how can we continue to collaborate, voice our fears, express our joys, ask hard questions, and create solace – together? The COVID-19 pandemic and anti-racist movement have further exposed many pre-existing struggles that freelance musicians and arts professionals suffer from. With an additional threat to opportunities for support, work spaces, commissions, and collaborations, how can we continue to provide resources to not just survive, but thrive? And moreover, how may we embrace this moment as a chance to open up ideas about how certain creative fields are defined, challenging the languages, identifications, and agencies of contemporary musicians not just in performance contexts, but also personal, collective, and creative ones? This project seeks to address these questions, and bring together an inflorescence of voices asking many more.
The curatorial team behind IN·FLO·RES·CENCE includes Filmmaker and Producer Reece Ewing and Katherine Finerty, Independent Curator and Curator / Communications Manager at The Showroom, London. In collaboration with The Showroom directed by Elvira Dyangani Ose, IN·FLO·RES·CENCE brings together jazz composers, music theorists, multimedia artists, and more to activate the power of music and sound in interdisciplinary digital contexts.