The Fisher Center and Catskill Jazz Present Jazz and the Birth of Hip-Hop Led by Keyon Harrold
First of three-concert winter jazz series starts February 9 with special guests Maimouna Youssef and DJ Raydar Ellis
Image Credit: Deneka Peniston
The Sound the Trumpet! jazz series continues in March and April:
Led by Etienne Charles, featuring Shenel Johns
Saturday, March 16
Trinidadian trumpeter Etienne Charles leads this concert featuring rising Jamaican vocalist Shenel Johns, rightfully described as “history in the making” by the Boston Globe. Exploring the styles of mento, ska, reggae, rocksteady, dub, and their various contemporary influences, Charles and Johns feel the flow of Jamaican influence on today’s global sound of blues, jazz, and pop.
The Vibes of Venezuela
Led by Etienne Charles, featuring Linda Briceño and Jorge Glem
Friday, April 19
Journey through the rhythms of 19th-century popular waltz, 1920s merengue, and the lively cantor of traditional joropo in this celebration of Venezuelan jazz. Vocalist and trumpeter Linda Briceño and cuatro virtuoso Jorge Glem join trumpeter Etienne Charles to examine African, Native South American, and European influences on the modern music of Venezuela.
About the Artists:
Keyon Harrold was born and raised in Ferguson, MO, the St. Louis suburb that tore into America’s national consciousness in 2014 with the police shooting of Michael Brown and the bitter protests and riots that followed. While Ferguson looms large in Harrold’s album The Mugician, it examines our troubled times through a far wider lens than any one tragedy. Sweeping and cinematic, the music draws on elements of jazz, classical, rock, blues, and hip-hop to create something uniquely modern, unmistakably American. Guests including Pharoahe Monch, Gary Clark Jr., Big K.R.I.T., Guy Torry, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and Robert Glasper add to the record’s eclectic nature, but it ultimately triumphs as a unified, cohesive whole both because of Harrold’s virtuosic skill as a trumpeter and songwriter and because of his relentlessly optimistic belief in brighter days to come.
Harrold grew up one of 16 children in a family that prioritized music and community across generations. His grandfather was a police officer who retired from the force to found a drum and bugle corps for local youth, both of his parents were pastors, and nearly all of his siblings sing and perform music today. Culture shock hit Harrold hard at 18, when he left Ferguson for New York City to enroll in The New School. In New York, he landed his first major gig with Common, an experience that he says broadened his musical horizons beyond jazz to include funk, Afrobeat, R&B, and hip-hop. Soon he was performing with stars like Snoop Dogg, Jay Z, Beyonce, Rihanna, Eminem, Maxwell, and Anthony Hamilton.
In 2009, he released his solo debut, Introducing Keyon Harrold, and then won wide acclaim for his trumpet performances in Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis biopic, Miles Ahead. The Mugician is a portmanteau of “musician” and “magician, a nod to a nickname Cheadle bestowed upon the young virtuoso, and it’s an apt descriptor for a record that pushes beyond the traditional boundaries of jazz trumpet. In fact, the album doesn’t even begin with trumpet, but rather with a track called “Voicemail,” which features an inspirational message from Harrold’s mother set to a stirring, orchestral soundscape. Entirely unedited, her words lay the groundwork for an album that celebrates the importance of family (10 of Keyon’s siblings appear on the record) and the absolute necessity of optimism in the face of darkness and doubt. These days, Harrold is a parent himself, and he pays tribute to his son with a pair of tracks on the album, “Lullaby” and “Bubba Rides Again.” Issues of identity and equality percolate throughout the record, sometimes subtly beneath the surface, sometimes more pointedly, as in “Circus Show.” However, the album’s most powerful moments come with the one-two punch of “MB Lament” and “When Will It Stop,” songs written in the wake of Michael Brown’s death and the senseless killings of so many others like him.
It’s a monumental task, one that calls for tremendous empathy and sensitivity. To give voice to the silenced requires more than just talent and ambition, it requires faith, imagination, strength, and determination. Above all, it requires perspective. Fortunately, that is what Keyon Harrold brings most of all.
About Catskill Jazz Factory
Based in the heart of the Catskills, the Catskill Jazz Factory is a “regional arts think-tank”and “formidable jazz incubator” (HV Almanac Weekly) founded in 2012 with an aim to support today’s best young jazz artists. Catskill Jazz Factory offers year-round school workshops, concerts, mountaintop residencies, lectures, and world-class performances in diverse spaces to a variety of regional audiences across the Hudson Valley, New York City, and beyond by partnering with educational facilities, arts organizations, and a variety of nonprofits and businesses. Venues range from mountaintop coffee and donut shops and local high schools to recent concert series collaborations with the New York Botanical Garden, the Bard SummerScape Spiegeltent, and the Uncharted Series at Greenwich House. Previous programs boast collaborations with a number of world-class musicians, including pianists Marcus Roberts and Dan Tepfer, trombonists Wycliffe Gordon and Chris Washburne, and vocalists Charenee Wade and Cecile McLorin Salvant. Recent residency leaders include Vince Giordano, Vuyo Sotashe, Brianna Thomas, Aaron Johnson, John Lumpkin, and Sam Reider.
The Catskill Jazz Factory is a program of 23Arts Initiative, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. For more information, go to catskilljazzfactory.org.
About Bard Fisher Center
Bard Fisher Center develops, produces, and presents performing arts across disciplines through new productions and context-rich programs. At once a premier professional performing arts center and a hub for research and education, Bard Fisher Center supports artists, students, and audiences in the development and examination of artistic ideas and perspectives from the past, present, and future.
The organization’s home is the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Frank Gehry and located on the campus of Bard College in New York’s Hudson Valley. Bard Fisher Center offers outstanding programs to many communities, including the students and faculty of Bard, and audiences in the Hudson Valley, New York City, across the country, and around the world. Productions developed by the Fisher Center have been presented at venues including Lincoln Center, BAM, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Walker Arts Center, and Barbican (London). fishercenter.bard.edu
The Fisher Center illustrates Bard’s commitment to the performing arts as a cultural and educational necessity. Building on a 150-year history as a competitive and innovative undergraduate institution, Bard is committed to enriching culture, public life, and democratic discourse by training tomorrow's thought leaders. bard.edu
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