Luigi Onori, the Jazz that breaks the chains

Four meetings with Luigi Onori to reread African American history in music: from the representation of slavery to “African centrality.”

Each meeting-Sunday mornings from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Jazz House-includes the showing of films, listening to musical pieces and is conducted in the form of an open lecture. The formula is one of high dissemination, aimed both at an audience of jazz connoisseurs and an audience interested in the interaction between history and music.

Open to all Saint Louis students.

Oct. 13 Max Roach and the “Freedom Now Suite”

The 1960 masterpiece record is analyzed in its musical, historical and political implications. Thus, the forms used by the drummer-composer in the album’s original songs and their orchestration in an often polyrhythmic dimension will be discussed. References to the African peoples of origin of black slaves (“All Africa”) and the inhumane conditions of slavery (“Driva Man”) will be framed. There will also be space for songs composed by Max Roach and poet Oscar Brown Jr. dedicated to the struggle against apartheid. The “Freedom Now Suite“-one of the most significant pages of 1960s jazz-was banned from South Africa until the 1980s.

Oct. 27 John Carter’s “Castles of Ghana”

This is the second episode of a five-album polyptych composed by the Texas clarinetist and titled “Roots and Folklore: Episodes in the Development of American Folk Music.” “Castles of Ghana” (1986) is a suite that is analyzed in its historical dimension-“castles” were transformed from fortified areas, symbols of the power of African states, into places of detention for slaves sold to European slavers-and in its sonic dimension. The Carter-led octet projects into music, through a complex and cross-cutting sonic language, “those strong emotions that must have gripped all those who were involved in this drama.”

Nov. 10 Wynton Marsalis and his oratorio: “Blood on the Fields”

In 1994 the celebrated trumpeter, a native of New Orleans, composed an oratorio in twenty-one episodes to narrate slavery. He did so-and this will be the subject of the meeting-using three characters/voices that embodied two deportees to the Americas (the African prince Jesse and the commoner Leona) and a “resistant” slave (Juba), who had an individual-collective function representing choral memory. One will therefore discover the narrative, instrumental, and vocal mechanisms that Marsalis (in collaboration with David Barger) used to flesh out “Blood on the Fields,” drawing yes from jazz but also backwards to work-songs, spirituals, blues, gospel…

Nov. 24 Randy Weston, the Spirit of our Ancestors

A portrait in music of the New York-based pianist-composer (who passed away in 2018) will be the subject of the meeting. Weston was the jazz musician who most consistently combined African sound roots and African-American musical language, as well as the only one to have lived for several years in Africa. In addition to this, the pianist has matured over time a conception that brings the events of the Dark Continent back to the center, following the studies of Senegalese historian Cheikh Anta Diop and working on a personal vision, far from Euro-American materialism and close to African spiritualism. This is evidenced by numerous recordings and the autobiography African Rhythms.

House of Jazz viale di Porta Ardeatina, 55, h 11:00-12:30

Luigi-Onori
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