photo by Andrew Hurlbut
Great artists give free concerts at New England Conservatory—simply because they teach here.
Frank Carlberg—the pianist/composer who leads NEC's Jazz Composers' Workshop Orchestra—presents the premiere of his Word Circus, commissioned by Chamber Music America's New Jazz Works program.
Carlberg's music is set to contemporary poetry by Jim Gustafson, Ron Padgett, Ken Mikolowski, Anselm Hollo, Anselm Berrigan, and Joe Elliot.
Frank Carlberg, piano
Christine Correa '81, vocals
John O'Gallagher, alto saxophone
Pascal Niggenkemper, bass
Michael Sarin, drums
Carlberg says of this project:
I’ve used late 20th-century and early 21st-century poems that use colloquial language in observing and reacting to everyday things and everyday thoughts. There’s a dry humor to them, even a gallows humor that resonates with my Scandinavian roots and the way we like to laugh without laughing, if you know what I mean. Getting in touch with the text comes first for me and inspires my compositions, but another level to the music is the reaction of the players in the quintet to my music—their interpretation and improvisation. They always have such energy and such great ideas to shape the music, things that I’d never think of while composing.
Although she is very aware of the whole tradition of jazz singing, Christine grew up in India so she has some Indian inflections to her phrasing. John O’Gallagher is a brilliant musician and brings such a strong personal touch to everything he does. Mike Sarin played with me on my very first trio record in the early ’90s. I trust him completely and really value the energy he brings to the band—he’s such an alive player. Pascal is another really open musician, approaching everything with open ears and an open mind. I’m a big fan of all these musicians—they’re a special group.
Carlberg and his quintet conduct a masterclass at NEC the following day.
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