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General Semantics and All That Jazz

  • 02 Dec 2020
  • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Zoom


Registration is closed

The recent release of an album entitled General Semantics by the jazz trio Geof Bradfield, Ben Goldberg, and Dana Hall, is cause for celebration, and for our next New York Society for General Semantics program. The recordings were made available for digital download this past September, and on CD and vinyl this past October, produced by Delmark Records. Here is their description of the album:

The collaborative trio of Ben Goldberg (clarinet, contra alto clarinet), Geof Bradfield (soprano and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet), and Dana Hall (percussion) explores new directions on General Semantics. Their Delmark Records debut features original music by the trio as well as unique interpretations of Duke Ellington, Cecil Taylor, and Hermeto Pascoal. The unusual instrumentation⎯especially the lack of a bassistenables the musicians to transcend traditional instrument roles of accompaniment, improvisation, and interaction and create music that embraces form and harmony alongside freedom and spontaneous improvisation.

Bradfield, Goldberg, and Hall will be joining us for a discussion about their album, and about general semantics and all that jazz. Here is some more information about the trio:

Clarinetist and composer Ben Goldberg currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. He studied under, and was heavily influenced by, the eminent soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy. Ben’s career has been one of constant curiosity and experimentation across many genres and styles, and the New York Times has noted that Ben’s music “conveys a feeling of joyous research into the basics of polyphony and collective improvising, the constant usefulness of musicians intuitively coming together and pulling apart.” Downbeat Magazine has twice named him Rising Star Clarinetist. Ben has released over 30 records of his own compositions, and his many groups include Invisible Guy, Tin Hat, Orphic Machine, and Unfold Ordinary Mind. He is a member of the music faculty at the University of California, Berkeley, and he is widely known in the Bay Area for his groundbreaking work with his New Klezmer Trio, which has garnered a large following for their radical experiments with Ashkenazi roots music. The New York Times has noted that Ben’s music “conveys a feeling of joyous research into the basics of polyphony and collective improvising, the constant usefulness of musicians intuitively coming together and pulling apart.”

Chicago-based saxophonist and composer Geof Bradfield has shared stages throughout North America, Europe, Russia, Asia, Africa and the Middle East with a variety of jazz luminaries. His work is featured on 50+ CDs, including seven albums as a leader that have garnered critical accolades from the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Downbeat, the Chicago Tribune and NPR. Bradfield has been recognized in Downbeat Critics Polls as a Rising Star Tenor Saxophonist and Arranger. Birdhoused, recorded live at Chicago’s legendary Green Mill jazz club and released on Vancouver label Cellar Live in 2017, garnered 4 ½ stars from Downbeat. His most recent large scale work Yes, and… Music for Nine Improvisers (Delmark Records 2018) was commissioned by Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works program with the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and features a nonet of top-flight Chicago and New York artists. Bradfield has garnered two Grammy nominations in his career, and has won the prestigious award once. A committed educator, Bradfield is Professor of Jazz Studies at Northern Illinois University and has given master classes and lectures at the Brubeck Institute, the Manhattan School of Music, the Jazz Education Network conference, and numerous other national and international venues.

Dana Hall, jazz drummer, percussionist, composer, bandleader, and ethnomusicologist, grew up in Brooklyn, but relocated with his family to his mother's hometown of Philadelphia. There, Hall was exposed to jazz and soul music at an early age thanks to his family's interest in creative music, and their “open door” policy toward Philadelphia jazz musicians of the era sparked Hall's curiosity, passion and ultimately a career in music. After completing his education in aerospace engineering at Iowa State University, Hall received his Bachelor of Music degree from William Paterson College and his master's degree in Composition and Arranging from DePaul University. He is presently a distinguished Special Trustees Fellow pursuing his Doctorate in Ethnomusicology at the University of Chicago. As a jazz drummer, Hall is primarily influenced by the work of Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, ‘Philly’ Joe Jones, Max Roach, and Roy Haynes. As an ethnomusicologist, Hall is principally interested in issues of ethnicity, identity, and temporality; popular musics of the world; music as protest and resistance; and musics of both the African continent and the African Diaspora. His dissertation is a historical ethnography of Philly Soul during the Black Power Movement. The list of artists that Hall has performed, toured, and/or recorded with reflects the diverse, varied approaches of his music-making in the fields of jazz and popular music and include Branford Marsalis, Ray Charles, Roy Hargrove, Joshua Redman, Horace Silver, Michael Brecker, Benny Green, Betty Carter, Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson, Diana Krall, Clark Terry, the Mingus Big Band, Steve Lacy, Muhal Richard Abrams, Slide Hampton, Sonny Fortune, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Bud Shank, Phil Woods, Kenny Barron, Jackie McLean, the Woody Herman Orchestra, Joe Henderson, Curtis Fuller, and a host of other music luminaries. Additionally, Hall is both a member of the Terell Stafford Quintet and the Music Director of the Chicago Jazz Ensemble. He is also a former regular member of the prestigious Grammy-nominated Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, and has served as an extra in the percussion sections of the Des Moines and the Cedar Rapids Symphonies. In 2012, Hall joined the faculty of the DePaul University School of Music where he is the Director of Jazz Studies.

Our panel discussion will also be joined by a local luminary Anne Phillips. Singer, composer, arranger, conductor, producer. Ms. Phillips’ career has covered almost every area of the music business. In addition to recording several solo albums, from the classic Born To Be Blue, to her recent release, Ballet Time on which she sings with such old friends as Dave Brubeck and Marian McPartland, she has worked as a singer and choral arranger/conductor with many of the music world's leading artists and is widely known in the industry as the writer/arranger/producer of many national commercials. Her children’s musical, The Great Grey Ghost of Old Spook Lane, is published by Samuel French; her environmental piece, What Are We Doing To Our World? was produced in the Chapel at Duke University in 2018; her art songs have had many performances; and her short operas, most recently That Certain Age performed by Chelsea Opera, have been produced by opera companies in many cities. Her jazz opera, Bending Towards the Light … A Jazz Nativity, has been described as, “a most extraordinary and powerful blending of opera and jazz … absolutely truthful to both genres.” 

The panel will be moderated by Thom Gencarelli, Professor of Communication at Manhattan College, a Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics, editor of ETC, and a member of the board of the New York Society for General Semantics, and a good friend of the NYSGS from the west coast, Ed Tywoniak, Professor of Communication Emeritus at Saint Mary's College of California,a former Trustee of the Institute of General Semantics, and former editor of ETC.

Come join us for a program that is sure to to be kinetic and ebullient!

7 PM to 9 PM online via Zoom.

Registration is free, but all attendees must be registered in order to gain admittance to the Zoom session. All registrants will receive the link and password via email.

Please note that the program will be recorded and uploaded on our NYSGS YouTube channel. By registering for the program, you agree to be a part of the video, should the recording pick up any video or audio from you.

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The New York Society for General Semantics is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization established September 9, 1946.

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