Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Improvisers Come to Town

Bassist-composer Joe Fonda, former Middletown resident, has organized the 6th Annual Composers & Improvisers Festival taking place this Saturday September 27 from 7 - 11 p.m. in Oddfellows Playhouse, 128 Washington Street.

Fonda, in his inimitable fashion, has dubbed this concert the "6th Annual" but he skipped a year or 2 when funding was low. Thanks to a grant from the Middletown Commission on the Arts, this year is a "go."

He's assembled quite a variety of entertainers. The show begins at 7 with the duo of Ilse Pfeifer (dancer) and George Schuller (percussion.) At 8 p.m., the duo of Napoleon Maddox (rapper, beatbox) and Claire Daly (baritone saxophone) will create some fascinating sound and patter patterns. They call themselves "The Honourable Hustlers." Next up, at 9 p.m., is bassist-composer Mark Helias and he'll play a solo set. Don't be put off by the idea of a solo bass performance because Helias, a graduate of Yale who has worked with Wesleyan Professor Anthony Braxton is one of the most melodic players in creative music.

The final set of the evening (10 p.m) belongs to the cooperative music quartet known as Conference Call. Fonda and Schuller join Gebhard Ullmann (reeds) and Michael Jefry Stevens (piano) to create music moves from genre to genre, soft to loud, cacophonous to melodic, often within the same piece. Together a decade (a long time for most ensembles nowadays), their work has been described by Stef at the blog FreeJazz thusly: "It just illustrates that these four musicians know what music is about - powerful emotional expressiveness combined with musical inventiveness and group interplay."

Suggested donation is $10.00. For more information, call 860-347-6143

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