Jason Moran And Theaster Gates to Premiere LOOKS OF A LOT at Symphony Center, 5/30
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 on Friday, 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.
As a young artist in New York, Moran studied at the Manhattan School of Music and forward thinking pianists such as Jaki Byard, Muhal Richard Abrams and Andrew Hill, before making his professional debut with saxophonist Greg Osby for a 1997 European tour.
Moran also made his recording debut on Osby's 1997 Blue Note CD, Further Ado, which led to his own record deal with the legendary jazz label. Moran joined forces with Osby, drummer Eric Harland, vibraphonist Stefon Harris and bassist Lonnie Paxico for his own debut recording as a leader, Soundtrack to Human Motion, which was released in 1999 to great critical praise (Ben Ratliff of The New York Times named it the best album of the year).
From there Moran has been active in the recording studio with his trio recording Facing Left, Black Stars, adding avant-garde icon Sam Rivers, the solo disc Modernistic and the groundbreaking 2003 release The Bandwagon which earned the team of pianist Moran with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits the title as "best new rhythm section in jazz" from The New York Times. Other recordings include the blues-inspired Same Mother with guitarist Marvin Sewell and his widely acclaimed 2010 release TEN, which celebrated the 10th anniversary of The Bandwagon.
Beyond recording, Moran has performed as a sideman with some of the biggest names in jazz including Cassandra Wilson, Joe Lovano, Von Freeman, Ravi Coltrane, and Stefon Harris. He is also active as an educator having led classes and workshops at his alma maters (Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and the Manhattan School of Music as well as the Banff Center for The Arts and The New School among others.
Moran is also sought after as a composer of new work having completed commissions for Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Dia Art Foundation as well as the 2007 multi-media project In My Mind: Monk at Town Hall, 1959, a celebration pianist and composer Thelonius Monk in honor of his 90th Birthday, commissioned by Duke Performances, Washington Performing Arts Society, SF Jazz and Chicago's Symphony Center Presents Jazz series.
In 2010, Moran was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship and in 2011 was named the Kennedy Center's Artistic Advisor for Jazz, a role that allows him to develop programming and curate artists for one of the largest jazz programs in the United States.
About Theaster Gates
Artist and innovator in the field of social practice, Theaster Gates combines strategies of urban planning, object making and performance. Gates is internationally recognized for his work on the South Side of Chicago, including Dorchester Projects, Black Cinema House, and the upcoming Stony Island Arts Bank and Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative. Founder of the non-profit Rebuild Foundation, Gates' work both in museums and in communities responds creatively to the challenges of space.
In 2013, Gates opened the Arts Incubator in Washington Park, a vision he developed as Director of Arts + Public Life at the University of Chicago. The renovated building is now home to artist residencies, a design apprenticeship program, exhibitions, performances and talks. The Arts Incubator has received awards including the Urban Land Institute Chicago Vision Award for Programming, Chicago Community Trust Outstanding Community Strategy of the Year Award, and the Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago Community Impact Award.
Gates has exhibited and performed at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Punta della Dogana, Venice; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Santa Barbara Museum of Art; and Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany; among others.
Gates has received awards and grants from Skowhegan, Creative Time, the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, United States Artists, Creative Capital, the Joyce Foundation, Graham Foundation, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, and Artadia.
About the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (cso.org)
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is consistently hailed as one of the greatest orchestras in the world. Its music director since 2010 is Riccardo Muti, one of the preeminent conductors of our day. The venerable Pierre Boulez is the CSO's Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus; celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma is the CSO's Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant. Composers Mason Bates and Anna Clyne are the CSO's Mead Composers-in-Residence.
The renowned musicians of the CSO annually perform more than 150 concerts, most at Symphony Center in downtown Chicago and, in the summer, at the suburban Ravinia Festival. The CSO also appears in other U.S. cities, and frequently tours internationally. Since its founding in 1891, the Orchestra has made 57 international tours, visiting 28 countries on five continents. At home and on tour, tickets are always in high demand and frequently sold out; occasional performances and rehearsals are free.
People around the globe enjoy the extraordinary sounds of the Orchestra and the Chorus through CSO Radio broadcasts and webcasts worldwide and through CSO Resound, a best-selling record label. Recordings by the CSO have won 62 Grammy Awards®. Through its Institute for Learning, Access, and Training, the CSO offers a variety of youth, community and education programs, all of which are based on the concept of Citizen Musicianship, using and promoting the power of music to contribute to our culture, our communities, and the lives of others.
The parent organization for the CSO is the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association (CSOA). It also includes the acclaimed Chicago Symphony Chorus, conducted by Duain Wolfe, and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, a training ensemble conducted by Cliff Colnot. Under the banner of a series entitled Symphony Center Presents, the CSOA also presents prestigious guest artists and ensembles from a variety of musical genres-classical, jazz, pop, world, and contemporary. Deborah F. Rutter, a highly regarded arts executive, is president of the CSOA.