Records from a Vanishing City is a tone poem based on my own recollection of the music that surrounded me growing up on Manhattan's Lower East Side in the 80s and 90s. Artists, truth seekers and cultures of all kinds defined our vibrant community. The embracing diversity burst out with an effortless everydayness in block parties, festivals and shin-digs of every sort. Partly because my parents were artists, but also because I just couldn't help it, I soaked up what surrounded me: Latin jazz, alternative rock, Western classical, avant-garde jazz, poetry and Caribbean dance music, to name a few.
A year before completing this work, a very dear family friend passed away and it was decided that I would be the one to inherit a large portion of his eclectic record collection. James Rose was one of the many suns in the Lower East Side cosmos who often hosted parties and generous gatherings for our extended artist family. His record collection was a treasure trove of the great jazz recordings of the 50s, 60s and beyond—he was mad for John Coltrane, but also Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and-and-and—as well as traditional folk artists from Africa, Asia and South America. In the process of imagining the music for tonight's concert, a specific track on a record of music from Angola caught my ear: a traditional lullaby which is sung in call and response by a women's chorus. This lullaby rang with an uncanny familiarity in me. An adaptation of this lullaby and the rhythmic chant that follows it appears in each of the three main sections of Records. This piece is dedicated to the memory of James Rose.
— © Jessie Montgomery
Jessie Montgomery ©2017
About This Program
Abel Selaocoe’s expansive imagination knows no barriers — our newest Artistic Partner embraces singing, dancing, composition and improvisation equally in joyful and powerful music-making. His recent cello concerto, Four Spirits, is drawn from his South African roots and seeks to create a communal experience with the audience. Selaocoe weaves together many traditions on a program that also features music by composers Julia Perry and Jessie Montgomery.