CULTURAL WORKINGS

Welcome to THE CULTURAL WORKER, a blog dedicated to arts of the people, from the radical avant garde and free jazz to dissident folk forms, punk and popular arts . The Cultural Worker celebrates revolutionary creativity and features a variety of essays, reviews, fiction, reportage, poetry and musings through the internet pen of this creative writer, journalist, musician and cultural organizer. Scroll straight down and you'll also find an extensive historical Photo Exhibit of cultural workers in action, followed by a series of Radical Arts Links. The features herein will be unabashedly partisan---make no mistake about that. The concept of the cultural worker as a force of fearless creativity, of social change, indeed as an artistic arm of radicalism, has always been left-wing when applied with any degree of honesty at all. No revolutionary act can be truly complete in the absence of art, no progressive campaign can retain its message sans the daring drumbeat of invention, no act of dissent can stand so strong as that which counts the writers, musicians, painters, dancers, actors, photographers, film and performance artists within its ranks. Here's to the history and legacy of cultural work in the throes of the good fight...
john pietaro

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Performance Review: William Hooker, the Great Migration, Roulette, Apr 5, 2018


Published in "The NYC Jazz Record", May 2018

NY@Night: WILLIAM HOOKER 
“The Great Migration”, Apr 5, 2018
Roulette, Brooklyn NY

by John Pietaro

The vision of master drummer William Hooker artfully extends beyond the fourth wall, through time and space, conjuring jazz’s socio-political foundation. With the multi-media piece “The Great Migration”, he traces the northward path of African Americans and through pre-recorded interviews, the lives of elders Nannie Lampkin and Alton Brooks, both pridefully present in the audience. Still, most of the action took place onstage.
The stories were intertwined with powerful music, mostly live but also through early recordings of spirituals and a haunting chain-gang song. Hooker’s ensemble of Ras Moshe (tenor saxophone), Eriq Robinson (electronics), Mara Rosenbloom (piano), William Parker (bass), David Soldier (violin, banjo) and Ava Mendoza (guitar) shook the sturdy house with searing improvisations that painted an aural manifesto of the Black experience; the band’s free jazz, the living embodiment of liberation. Moshe, as always, played with compelling passion, Mendoza’s features were downright gripping and the electronics of Robinson tore up the soundscape.
The leader’s composed melodies guided the action, particularly a blues hook so prominent in Parker’s bass, often varied fluidly by the others. The music, emotively directed by Hooker, recalled the rural south sans any trace of parody (Soldier’s fiddle was exceptional here but his banjo needed stronger amplification), while other sections were ethereal and expansive (Rosenbloom, yes!). Dancer Goussy Celestin’s majestic segments flanked the production and she, Jeremy Grosvenor and Hooker also acted as narrators. So vital is this epic work, right now, that a lack of future productions would simply be criminal.

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