NEW ORLEANS PIANO LEGEND HENRY BUTLER AND PANAMANIAN DANILO PÉREZ LEAD ALL-STAR JAZZ PIANO SUMMIT AT 14TH ANNUAL DEER ISLE JAZZ FESTIVAL
Festival includes an exclusive preview screening of “Arrows Into Infinity,” a documentary about NEA Jazz Master and Deer Isle festival alum saxophonist Charles Lloyd; opening acts include the award-winning 7-Up Jazz Combo of Blue Hill’s George Stevens Academy and the genre-bending vocalist Emilia Dahlin; the event continues a long-running collaboration with Haystack Mountain School of Crafts
Opera House Arts (OHA) celebrates the 14th edition of its annual Deer Isle Jazz Festival at the Stonington Opera House, overlooking Maine’s busiest commercial lobster port, July 31-August 2, 2014. The 14th annual festival deepens lasting community ties with world-class jazz musicians and extends its presentation of the most innovative jazz on the national scene. This year’s event amounts to a jazz-piano summit, featuring two astounding pianists, New Orleans’ HENRY BUTLER and Panamanian DANILO PÉREZ, each of whose artistry owes to an environment shaped, like Stonington’s, by a relationship with surrounding waters, with their trios.
Festival headliner HENRY BUTLER (Saturday, August 2, 7 p.m.) extends a long line of distinctive piano virtuosos born and raised in New Orleans that includes Jelly Roll Morton; as such, his artistry speaks of the mighty Mississippi River and the port that, a century ago, lent jazz what Morton famously called “the Spanish tinge.” DANILO PÉREZ (Friday, August 1, 7 p.m.) hails from Panama, home to a storied canal that links two worlds. His most recent recording, the brilliant “Panama 500,” honors the moment in 1513 when the Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa, having crossed the isthmus that is now Panama, is said to have first glimpsed the Pacific Ocean.
Beyond their obvious accomplishments, Butler and Pérez share an approach to music that is studious and serious (each is a celebrated educator) yet equally directed toward mischievous joy. Each has helped define modern-day jazz while also blurring the lines between genres and styles.
Butler has made music on his own terms throughout his life. New Orleans, where he was born and raised, claims him within its lineage of distinctive piano virtuosos. This frame fits his impressive technical skills and innate sense of rhythm but fails to acknowledge his range. His 1986 debut recording featured stellar modern-jazz players: bassist Charlie Haden, drummer Billy Higgins and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. On his 1990 album “Orleans Inspiration,” he led hometown funk heroes, including guitarist Leo Nocentelli. By the late '90s, he was immersed in Delta blues, notably in collaboration with guitarist and singer Corey Harris. His most recent CD, “Viper’s Drag,” showcases the Hot 9 band he co-leads with trumpeter Steven Bernstein, which often updates music that is nearly a century old. But recordings hardly tell the story. These days, in performance, segueing from an Allen Toussaint hit to a Thelonious Monk composition, Butler makes categories simply fall away.
Danilo Pérez is a founding member of the current quartet led by the legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter, which is among the most celebrated groups working today in jazz. Yet his own work as a composer and bandleader has earned Grammy Award nominations and elevated the sound and course of modern jazz. His 1996 album, "PanaMonk," which set Thelonious Monk's music to various Afro-Latin beats, is an enduring classic. His most recent recording extends a personal arc that began 20 years ago with "The Journey," an album on which a multicultural cast explored African cultural influence throughout the Americas.
On Thursday, July 31, the festival will open with a presentation of an exclusive screening of “Arrows Into Infinity,” a film by Dorothy Darr and Jeffery Morse about saxophonist Charles Lloyd’s life and art. When Lloyd appeared at the 2011 Deer Isle Jazz Festival in a rare duet format with pianist Jason Moran, the performance formed an emotional and musical higlight of the event’s history to date. Deer Isle made a lasting impact on Lloyd, who was recently named among the 2015 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters, and Darr, his wife, who is a photographer and artist. The film chronicles the arc of an improviser’s still-unfolding life, moving through time with memories as related by intimate interviews, rare archival footage and lots of music. It tells a deeply personal story that spans much of modern jazz’s eras, intersects with everything from rural blues to Jimi Hendrix, and resonates with social and political upheavals including the Civil Rights Movement and the Cold War. It is a story of a challenging life, trascendent art and spiritual uplift.
In addition to bringing national stars to Deer Isle, the festival has established deep community ties, involving ongoing collaborations with local schools and arts organizations. Each year, one musician serves as visiting musician for a two-week residency at the island’s renowned Haystack Mountain School of Crafts; bassist Ben Street, who has played in Danilo Perez’s trio for more than a decade and is among the msot sought-after bassists in New York City, fills that role this year.
As is the festival’s tradition, Maine musicians and student groups will be showcased as well. Opening for Danilo Pérez on Friday night is the Emilia Dahlin Quartet. Dahlin has been called “Portland, Maine’s songstress.” Saturday night’s opening act, preceding Henry Butler, are local heroes in their own right: the 7-Up Jazz Combo of George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill, Maine, under the direction of Steve Orlofsky, stocked with award-winning players at the annual Maine State Jazz Festival and continuing a longstanding festival collaboration with the academy.
Programs sell out and advance ticket purchases are strongly recommended.
About the Deer Isle Jazz Festival:
The Deer Isle Jazz Festival, curated in a collaboration between Opera House Arts and award-winning jazz journalist Larry Blumenfeld, has been breaking new boundaries and enriching the state's cultural life since its inception in 2001. The event has drawn fans from throughout the New England region to a 250-seat former vaudeville house with charmed acoustics to hear, among others, NEA Jazz Master pianists Kenny Barron and Randy Weston, saxophonists Charles Lloyd and Dewey Redman, singers Luciana Souza and Andy Bey; French horn player Vincent Chauncey; free-jazz heroes bassist William Parker and pianist Matthew Shipp; and Latin jazz innovator Arturo O'Farrill. “Stonington is a perfectly natural setting for jazz,” Alicia Anstead wrote in the Bangor Daily News when the festival launched. “Far out on the town dock, the music coming from the Opera House slipped and slid through the air.”
More on Henry Butler:
Born in Panama City in 1965, Danilo Pérez grew up in a household filled with music. Both his parents were teachers. He started his musical studies at three years old with his father, who is a well-known singer in Panama. By age 10, he was studying the European classical piano repertoire at the National Conservatory in Panama. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in electronics in Panama, he studied jazz composition at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. While still a student, he performed with jazz standard-bearers including singer Jon Hendricks, trumpeter Terence Blanchard, and trombonist Slide Hampton. Early on, he toured and recorded with artists including drummer Jack DeJohnette, saxophonist Lee Konitz, bassist Charlie Haden, and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. He gained formative experience in the open-minded borderless approach to jazz that would define his career as pianist in trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nation Orchestra from 1989-1992. In 2000, Pérez joined saxophonist Wayne Shorter, to form Shorter's brilliant current quartet with John Patitucci and Brian Blade. Since 2003, he has also toured and recorded with his own trio featuring Ben Street and Adam Cruz.
Pérez’s recordings have earned Grammy and Latin Grammy nominations. As a composer, Pérez has been commissioned by Lincoln Center, Chicago Jazz Festival and Imani Winds Quintet, among others. Last year, Carnegie Hall commissioned him to write an octet for members of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. In May 2014 he was commissioned by Canada’s Banff Centre to write a piano quintet for the Cecilia String Quartet titled “Camino de Cruces,” and he also composed the music for the opening of the Museum of Biodiversity in Panama, which was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.
Pérez's authoritative presence and his perspective on transcultural connections have had powerful impact aside from his music. In 2003, he founded the Panama Jazz Festival, which has invited leading U.S. players and has drawn fans and musicians from throughout Latin America. Two years later, he started a foundation that has distributed some $3 million toward music education for underprivileged Panamanian children. In 2009, he signed on as inaugural artistic director of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute at his alma mater, Boston's Berklee College of Music, to develop his idea of jazz as "a cultural passport." He recently returned to Panama for the opening of a jazz club in his name within Panama City's American Trade Hotel—"another necessary piece of infrastructure," he said. Pérez has also served as Cultural Ambassador to the Republic of Panama and as Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF.
Opera House Arts (OHA), celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2014, is a nonprofit organization formed in 1999 to restore the 1912 Stonington Opera House, on the National Register of Historic Places, to its central role as a vital community and professional performing arts venue on Stonington’s Main Street working waterfront. OHA offers a year round program of first run movies, live professional and community theater, concerts, workshops, and community events at the Opera House, the Burnt Cove Church, the island schools, and many other locations.
CELEBRATING FAMILY THROUGH POETRYS
Annual evening of poetry brings Maine poet Gibson Fay-Leblanc together with local community members to celebrate family life
Opera House Arts’ (OHA) is proud to present, on Tuesday, August 5 at 7 pm, Maine poet Gibson Fay-Leblanc, Deer Isle writer Deborah Cummins, and local guest readers in an evening of poetry celebrating family. A Celebration of Family features community readers Jim Cust and his 12-year-old son, Ian; Dana Douglass; Pam Getto and her sister, Becky Siebert; and Marissa Hutchinson. The evening, which has been curated by Cummins, former chairperson of the Poetry Foundation, begins with Fay-Leblanc and in its second half offers poems selected by each of the community readers, along with brief explanations of what their selections mean to them.
“Family, in its many permutations, is a cornerstone of our communities,” said Opera House director Linda Nelson. “Tonight’s poems in particular illustrate the power poetry has to connect us to our lives and to each other.”
Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is a writer and teacher living with his family in Portland, Maine. A founder of the acclaimed The Telling Room writing project, he was named in 2011 one of Maine’s “emerging leaders” by the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. His first collection of poems, Death of a Ventriloquist, won the Vassar Miller Prize and published by the University of North Texas Press in 2012. His poems have appeared in magazines including Blackbird, Maine Magazine, Prairie Schooner, Tin House, and The New Republic, and in the anthologies Satellite Convulsions: Poems from Tin House and From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great. His articles and reviews have appeared in Boston Review, Guernica, Pleiades, Publishers Weekly, and Time Out New York. He has received awards for his poems from the Bellevue Literary Review and UC Berkeley. With graduate degrees from UC Berkeley and Columbia University, he has taught writing and literature in public and private middle schools, high schools, and colleges in California, Vermont, New York, and Maine.
Deborah Cummins is the author most recently of an essay collection, Here and Away: Discovering Home on an Island in Maine, as well as two collections of poetry, Counting the Waves and Beyond the Reach. The recipient of various fellowships and awards, Cummins was most recently the winner of the 2013 and 2012 Maine Literary Award in Short Works of Non-Fiction, awards given for her essays “Edges” and “Ebb and Flow,” both of which appear as chapters in Here and Away. Her other numerous recognitions include James A. Michener and Donald Barthelme fellowships, the Washington Prize in Fiction, the Headwaters Literary Prize, and multiple awards and fellowships from the Illinois Art Council. She has taught and led workshops as a poet-in-residence in junior and senior high schools, as well as at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Chicago Museum of Modern Art, Menil Collection in Houston, Texas, and Chicago’s Terra Museum of American Art and Newberry Library. From 2001 to 2005, she was first Chair of the Board of the Poetry Foundation. She resides with her husband in Chicago, Illinois and Deer Isle, Maine.
Admission to A Celebration of Family is on a sliding scale basis, with $8 suggested (Island Students, including Sedgwick and Brooklin schools, Free). Tickets are available at the door the evening of the performance, online by clicking HERE, or by calling the Stonington Opera House, 207-367-2788
The Cello Monologue Project in Chamber at the Church in Stonington July 29
Washington, D.C.-based cellist VASILY POPOV and his Cello Monologue Project is featured Tuesday, July 29 at 7 p.m. in the next concert in Opera House Arts' Chamber at the Church Series at their Burnt Cove Church facility at 17 Airport Road. Popov is a faculty artist at the prestigious Levine School of Music, where he is also the artistic director and conductor of the Levine Chamber Orchestra.
The program will include music from the last four centuries for unaccompanied cello: the Sixth Suite by J.S. Bach, Caprices by David Popper and Auguste Franchomme, Trois Strophes Sur Le Nom De Sacher by Henri Dutilleux and Suite by Vasily Popov. The program will conclude with improvisations on melodies, rock and jazz standards selected by the audience.
Cellist Vasily Popov keeps an active concert schedule, having performed both as a soloist and a member of chamber ensembles in the world's finest concert halls in Europe, Japan and the United States. Mr. Popov has been awarded prizes and diplomas in a number of national and international competitions. Born in St-Petersburg, Russia into a musical family, Vasily started playing the cello at the age of seven. His teachers included Natalia Gutman, Anatoly Nikitin, Walter Nothas, Daniil Shafran and Elisso Virsaladze (chamber music). After performing in the St.-Petersburg Philharmonic orchestra under Maestro Yuri Temirkanov, he moved to Germany to complete his Artist Diploma in Munich. Currently living in Washington DC, Mr. Popov serves on the faculty of the Levine School of Music and is artistic director and conductor of the Levine Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Popov performs on a French cello made in 1870, presented to him by Stephen and Susan Low.
OPERA HOUSE ARTS ANNOUNCES 15TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON FEATURING ORIGINAL PRODUCTIONS ON THE THEME OF TRANSFORMATION AND CHANGE
Special season will also celebrate retirement of founding Artistic Director Judith Jerome
Opera House Arts (OHA) is pleased to announce major programs and dates for its 15th anniversary season, including two original theatrical productions in summer 2014. The upcoming season will also celebrate the work and honor the retirement of founding Artistic Director Judith Jerome on November 1, 2014. The theme of OHA’s 2014 season—which is also the 75th anniversary of the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge, connecting the Stonington Opera House’s home to the mainland—is Transformation and Change, reflecting both the large cultural change represented by the bridge opening, as well as the structural change of the Opera House in Jerome’s retirement.
The season will be anchored by two original theatrical productions. Beginning July 3, OHA will unveil a special Shakespeare in Stonington production featuring a new play by OHA affiliated artist Melody Bates. Titled R&J&Z (Romeo & Juliet & Zombies), the production was developed over two years of artist residencies in the community and school, in repertory with an original production of the Bard’s masterwork, Romeo and Juliet.
On August 14, OHA will premiere The Last Ferryman, directed by Jerome, a new “popera” commissioned by OHA from Grammy Award winner Paul Sullivan to tell the story of the creation and impact of the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge. Like R&J&Z, The Last Ferryman is the culmination of year-long school and community research and participation. The opening of the bridge, connecting Stonington and the extended community to the mainland, represented an enormous cultural change.
“These programs are fitting ways to celebrate Judith’s retirement,” said Richard Howe, chairman of the Opera House Arts’ Board of Directors. “They highlight the originality, creativity, and community engagement at the heart of OHA’s mission and the program she has helped to develop so strongly over 15 very busy years.”
The opening of the Deer Isle-Sedgwick Bridge 75 years ago, on June 19, 1939, was a moment of huge cultural change for Deer Isle and its primary economic center, Stonington. Dependent until then on the kindnesses of weather and ferry service, islanders access to the mainland, including to critical medical services, was often blocked by time (the ferry stopped running at 6 p.m.) or temperature (Eggemoggin Reach froze over several winters in the period just before the bridge opened, making crossing dangerous or impossible). Through its year long The Bridge Project/The Last Ferryman, a close collaboration with the schools both on the island and across the bridge in Sedgwick as well as with the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society, OHA seeks to give community members, participants, and audiences a chance to study, understand, and discuss major community change, and the ways communities deal with broad cultural shifts such as this.
Likewise, the development of Melody Bates’ original script, R&J&Z, which takes off from Act V of Romeo and Juliet and introduces the concept of traditional Haitian notions of zombie-ism to Shakespeare’s tragedy of star-crossed lovers, and is also deeply integrated with school and community while exploring a moment of significant cultural change. Romeo and Juliet are the new, young generation of Montagues and Capulets: and they don’t fit. Are they doomed to extinction, or does the metaphor, magic, and horror of R&J&Z open for us the possibility that their tale lives on in perpetuity, a gateway to a new world order? In collaboration with the Deer Isle-Stonington High School, both scripts are part of a year long “Shakespeare Immersion” program, sponsored by OHA, for students in grades 9-12, in which all island students are reading Romeo and Juliet and having multiple opportunities to see performances and films of it, as well as to participate in the development of R&J&Z.
OHA’s 15th anniversary season begins November 1, 2013, the start of its new fiscal year. In addition to the large original summer performances, it includes a very special Valentine’s Day concert by the Daponte String Quartet, Whirlwind Romance; in March, the premiere of a solo performance developed from Chapter 7 of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, also celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2014; in April the premiere of a one hour, educational cabaret version of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet’s Sweet Sixteen; and a concert version of West Side Story as OHA’s Annual Gala Benefit on July 7.
“I’m very proud of how much original programming we have in development this year,” said Jerome. “Commissioning and developing new performance relevant to our particular communities is at the heart of what we do, and we’ve more in the pipeline as we look toward 2015 and beyond.”
JUDITH JEROME is one of four founding members of Opera House Arts, founded in 1999 to restore the 1912 Stonington Opera House, on the National Register of Historic Places, to its central role as a community arts institution at the heart of Stonington’s Main Street and working waterfront. She shared Artistic Director duties with founding co-Artistic Director CAROL ESTEY through 2006. Jerome holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, for which she was awarded the Monroe Lippman Award for Distinguished Dissertation in 2007. She began her performance career in the bosom of her large storytelling Texas family, and then with the renowned Dallas Little Theater in 1956. She raised three daughters and performed in most of the theaters in Denver, CO in the two decades leading up to her move to New York in 1995, writing and performing much of her own material. She worked closely with the Colorado Council on the Arts, as a visiting artist in schools and communities, as a teaching artist with the Colorado Aesthetic Education Institute, and as a supervisor of artist’s residencies. In New York City she has performed at Dixon Place, HERE, Peculiar Works Projects, among others. She was managing editor of Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Studies from 1996-1999, and taught as an adjunct professor at NYU before helping to found Opera House Arts. At the Opera House, in addition to her role as Artistic Director, she is known for both her stage performances (Lace, a solo spoken word piece detailing island geneology; The Ferry Musicals: the Moose Boy; The Duck Variations) and direction (Women and the Sea; Last Gas).
While retiring from her administrative duties as Artistic Director, Jerome will continue with OHA as a member of its Board of Directors and on an annual consulting retainer to direct special projects. In response to Jerome’s retirement, OHA will restructure staffing along more traditional lines for a theater of its size, naming current Executive Director Linda Nelson as Producing Artistic Director and creating additional administrative staff lines reporting to Nelson for development, marketing, and artistic support.
Opera House Arts (OHA) is one of only a handful of year-round theaters in Maine to operate under an Actors Equity Small Professional Theater contract. OHA not only presents but commissions and produces new work from Maine artists. The Opera House, part of the Maine Performs network, has become a noted destination for performance in Maine. Showing movies nearly continuously since 1918, the Opera House converted to true digital cinema in March 2013 and is open 52 weeks a year with a full schedule of film and exciting original events unlike the schedule of any other theater in Maine.