Jason Moran and Theaster Gates Premiere LOOKS OF A LOT at Symphony Center Tonight
Jazz pianist and MacArthur "Genius" award recipient Jason Moran and internationally acclaimed, Chicago-based visual artist Theaster Gates premiere their new work, Looks of a Lot, in a Symphony Center Presents Jazz series concert tonight, May 30 at 8 p.m. Influenced by Chicago stories from various eras, the project represents the second commission by Symphony Center Presents Jazz series and is also a part of the CSO's Truth to Power Festival, offering an exploration of transformative music composed during some of the most challenging chapters of history.
Looks of a Lot is envisioned as a series of new blues compositions by Moran presented in the context of reimagined stage elements designed by Gates, who also participates as a vocalist in the performance. Moran's regular musical partners, the Bandwagon Tarus Mateen (bass) and Nasheet Waits (drums), also join the performance as well as Chicago jazz icon Ken Vandermark (saxophone) and Katie Ernst (bass, vocals). A highlight of the new work is the participation of young jazz musicians from Kenwood Academy Jazz Band, an ensemble based at the innovative public school in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood that is working directly with Moran to prepare for the premiere.
"Inviting Jason Moran back to Symphony Center to realize this new work is a great moment for our audiences," notes Jim Fahey, director of programming for Symphony Center Presents at the CSOA. "It was his vision to partner with Theaster Gates for this commission and I look forward to seeing and hearing how the stories of Chicago have inspired their work together."
Moran, who has performed five times at Symphony Center since 2002, was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 2010 and currently serves as the Kennedy Center's Artistic Advisor for Jazz. Gates, who is internationally recognized for his work on the South Side of Chicago with the Dorchester Projects and the upcoming Stony Island Arts Bank, is also the Director of Arts + Public Life at the University of Chicago. He has exhibited and performed at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art and London's Whitechapel Gallery among others.
"How do we, as creative musicians, digest the societies we engage with?" asks Moran. "How do we make art to help us make sense of what perplexes us? Looks of a Lot is a gathering and a series of pieces shot through the prism of my Chicago collaborators, shedding light on our flaws and our virtues. Theaster and I have been circling each other for a while, and this is a grand way to begin our relationship. We both think about our relationship to "form" and this spectacle is an outgrowth of our discussions. How do we get from A to B with the power of truthful expression?"
"This performance is a tribute to the real value of collaboration and deep listening," adds Gates. "Over the last two years, we've been in conversation about the relationship between varying modes of art production. It is a real honor to have the opportunity to work with Jason, whose friendship, ability and generosity is not only infectious, it's transformative. The real excitement in this project was in thinking about the idea of performance, the idea of stage and audience, the potential of unveiling, transparency and the importance of speaking truth to power."
The premiere of Looks of a Lot by Jason Moran and Theaster Gates on the Symphony Center Presents jazz series is part of the CSO's larger Truth to Power Festival (May 13-June 8). Festival programming is shaped by the phrase "speaking truth to power," part of a 1955 Quaker treatise that outlined alternatives to violence and served as a cornerstone for the pacifist movement. The Truth to Power Festival highlights the works of composers Shostakovich, Britten and Prokofiev, who believed in music's ability to connect people and thus harness the power of shared experience, and embraces this new work as part of a powerful musical legacy.
Program and Ticket Details
Tickets for all CSOA concerts can be purchased by phone at 800?223?7114 or 312-294?3000; online at cso.org, or at the Symphony Center box office: 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60604.
POST, the CSO's new after-concert lounge in the fourth floor arcade, will be open after the May 30 performance ofLooks of a Lot. POST, which is free and open to all ticketholders, features $5 cocktail specials and entertainment by illmeasures Chicago. Specially-priced $35 concert tickets for the May 30 concert, which includes access to POST, are also available using promotional code POST at cso.org. Offer valid for main floor, upper balcony and gallery seating. Offer based on availability.
Discounted student tickets for select concerts can be purchased, subject to availability, online in advance or at the box office on the day of the concert. For group rates, please call 312-294-3040.
Artists, programs and prices are subject to change.
Symphony Center Presents
Looks of a Lot
Jason Moran and Theaster Gates
Theaster Gates, designer and vocals
Jason Moran and the Bandwagon
Jason Moran, piano
Tarus Mateen, bass
Nasheet Waits, drums
Ken Vandermark, saxophone
Katie Ernst, bass and vocals
Kenwood Academy Jazz Band
Gerald Powell, director
Bethany Pickens, assistant director
About Jason Moran
A native of Houston, Texas, pianist Jason Moran was first inspired by the sounds of jazz legend Thelonious Monk, an experience that renewed his interest in music and established an early role model in his creative development. Moran went on to attend Houston's prestigious High School for the Performing and Visual Arts where he became an active member of the jazz program, playing in the big band and leading a jazz quartet.