“Free Jazz from the Sanctuary” is a co-production of NY Media Alliance and the Arts Department at Rensselaer, made possible in part with support from the NYS Council on the Arts and the NYS Music Fund, established by the NYS Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisers.
In 2007 we received a grant of $100,000 from the NY State Music Fund to produce a thirteen-part television series featuring artists prominent in the NYC jazz scene who are little-known outside. The shows were taped before a live audience and post-produced into hour-long shows for DVD distribution and individual pieces for the Internet. The most successful of these in terms of metrics is Amiri Baraka and Rob Brown performing “Somebody Blew Up America”which has accumulated hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube so far, in addition to cablecasts on television stations around the country and DVD sales from stage and via the Downtown Music Gallery in NYC and other specialty retailers.
These productions are part of “Free Jazz at the Sanctuary,” a 13-part series of jazz performance videos featuring some of the world’s most talented improvisers performing a wide spectrum of music in the genre broadly known as free jazz.
Amiri Baraka and Rob Brown “Somebody Blew Up America”
The late poetic icon and revolutionary political activist Amiri Baraka performs with Rob Brown, an eloquent and versatile saxophonist with a deep knowledge of jazz, in a reading from his book Somebody Blew Up America & Other Poems. The recital of the provocative poem Somebody Blew Up America engaged the poet warrior in a battle royal with the governor of New Jersey, who demanded his resignation as the states Poet Laureate. With influences on Barakas work ranging from musical orishas such as Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, and Sun Ra to the Cuban Revolution, Malcolm X and world revolutionary movements, he is renowned as the founder of the Black Arts Movement in Harlem in the 1960s that became, though short-lived, the virtual blueprint for a new American theater aesthetic.
“For Amilcar” by The Ras Ensemble with Ras Moshe (saxophone), David Miller (drums), Tor Yochai Snyder (guitar) and Clif Jackson (bass), recorded live on November 22, 2008 at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, NY.
The Ras Ensemble is uniquely positioned to bring the lineage of free jazz into the present day. With a family history rich in the jazz tradition, saxophonist Ras Moshe is on the forefront of musicians keeping avant garde music urgent and vital. Well versed in jazz’s past, he uses his knowledge to envision a future: the positive effect music will have on social and personal change.
This production is part of a 13-part series of performance videos featuring some of the world’s most talented improvisers, supported by the NY State Music Fund. Executive producer was Steve Pierce.