Saturday, July 28, 2018

Dissident Arts Festival 2018 press release, art


Dissident Arts Festival benefits families of political prisoners, celebrates free expression

New York, NY/Brooklyn, NY (August 3, 2018) – The thirteenth annual Dissident Arts Festival, a showcase of revolutionary creativity, will occur on stages in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Manhattan’s East Village on September 8 and 15, respectively. The Festival will raise funds for three organizations relevant to the movement for social justice and feature markedly outspoken statements against repression in a reactionary time.

SEPTEMBER 8’s edition at 17 Frost Theatre and Gallery, a premiere performance space in Williamsburg, is dubbed Cabaret of Dissent. It will benefit the Rosenberg Fund for Children, a non-profit public foundation that aids children of targeted, progressive activists. The event inspired by Weimar Berlin, New York’s Café Society and downtown arts, includes speaker Jenn Meeropol, granddaughter of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and Director of the Rosenberg Fund, esteemed jazz singer Judi Silvano who adds voice to experimentalists the Beyond Group, pianist Chris Forbes presents “Harmolodic Weill”, liberation jazz and spoken word by the Red Microphone, celebrated bassist/poet Larry Roland debuts his new all-star band They Come With Gold, and noted poetry duo Raymond Nat Turner and Zigi Lowenberg. The closing act is rising star singer/songwriter Lindsey Wilson & the Human Hearts.

       On SEPTEMBER 15 the action moves to the 5C Café and Cultural Center, long-standing home of avant jazz and bold performance, where funds will be raised for the Alliance of Families for Justice and the NYC Jericho Movement. Both organizations advocate for the unjustly incarcerated and call for urgent prison reform. The evening opens with a solo performance by renowned drummer William Hooker, and includes 5C’s own pianist/composer Trudy Silver, Ras Moshe’s Music Now! and the Flames of Discontent duo of Festival director John Pietaro and Laurie Towers. The closing act is international songwriter Martina Fiserova.

Sept 8, 7pm-11pm, 17 Frost Theatre & Gallery, 17 Frost Street, Brooklyn NY - $15.

Sept 15, 7pm-11pm, 5C Cultural Center, E. 5 Street/ Ave C, New York NY - $15.

For more information and a complete Festival schedule see
Press Contact: New Masses Media    John Pietaro (646) 599-0060    

-Poetry, spoken word

Cheryl Pyle- C flute, alto flute
Michael Eaton- soprano saxophone
Larry Roland- bass
Judi Silvano- guest vocalist

SPEAKER: Jenn Meeropol, Director, Rosenberg Fund for Children

Larry Roland- bass, poetry, spoken word
Daniel Carter – reeds, brass
Michael Moss- reeds, winds
Steve Cohn- keyboard
Marvin Bugulu Smith- drums

John Pietaro- percussion, spoken word
Ras Moshe Burnett- saxophones, flute
Rocco John Iacovone- saxophones
Laurie Towers- electric bass

Chris Forbes- piano

Lindsey Wilson- vocals, guitar, spoken word
Reggie Sylvester- drums
Michael Trotman- electric bass

-solo drums

-vocals, guitar

SPEAKER: Soffiyah Elijah, Executive Director, Alliance of Families for Justice

-piano, voice

John Pietaro- spoken word, vocals, percussion, banjo,
Laurie Towers- electric bass
 with guest Rocco John Iacovone, alto saxophone

Ras Moshe- saxophones, flute
Jair-Rohm Parker Wells- bass
Leonid Galaganov- drums
John Pietaro- hand drums, percussion


Since its inception in 2006, the Dissident Arts Festival has been a powerful vehicle to bridge radical arts to progressive socio-political activism. Increasingly, the Festival has gained media attention over the course of its decade-long history as evidenced by press in TimeOut NY, the Indypendent, the Villager, the NYC Jazz Record, Downtown Express, Peoples World, Chronogram and others as well as an endorsement by noted jazz journalist Howard Mandel. Over the years the Dissident Arts Festival has been sponsored by the Rosenberg Fund for Children, the National Writers Union, the Len Ragozin Foundation, Local 802's Justice for Jazz Artists campaign, Occupy Musicians, the Howland Cultural Center and DooBeeDooBeeDoo music blog.

Originally based in the Hudson Valley and moving to New York City in 2010, the Festival’s performers and speakers over the years included folk music legend Pete Seeger, actor/raconteur Malachy McCourt, revolutionary poet Amina Baraka, late great trumpet player Roy Campbell, filmmaker Kevin Keating, spoken word artists Steve Dalachinsky and the late Louis Reyes Rivera, political satirist/activist Randy Credico, the late saxophonist/composer Will Connell, multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter, Chilean guitarist Luis ToTo Alvarez, protest song maven Bev Grant, hip hop ensemble ReadNex Poetry Squad, labor leader Henry Foner, Anti-Folk founder Lach and many more. Films screened include ‘Giuliani Time’, ‘Cultures of Resistance’, ‘Salt of the Earth’, ‘Battleship Potemkin’ and ‘Metropolis’. Other special features were tributes to Paul Robeson, Bertolt Brecht, Woody Guthrie, and Phil Ochs. The Dissident Arts Festival has also offered a voice to progressive political candidates, the Occupy movement and radical labor organizations.

Festival Producer/Host: John Pietaro


Thursday, July 5, 2018

Concert review: Songs for Connie, Greenwich House, June 2018

-Originally published inn”The NYC Jazz Record”, NY@Night section, July 2018-

SONGS FOR CONNIE: Vocalists Celebrate the Life of Connie Crothers
June 15, 2018, Greenwich House Music School, Renee WeilerConcert Hall, NYC
Concert review by John Pietaro

The audience at Greenwich House filled the space this June nightbristling with enthusiasm for the late Connie Crothers. The linger of the pianist’s essence held court as eight female vocalists took the stage with songs of significancefrom standards to free-reigning tone poemsCrothers mentored a legion of improvisers over years but vocalists had a special affection for her concepts developed through the tutelage ofLennie TristanoMore so, Crothers fostered a creative community rooted in humanism and her progressive credoWith her 2016 passing, concerts celebrating her life were established(as Connie had done in honor of Tristano), with vocalists Linda Satin and Dori Levine at the helm. 

Jazz vocal legend Sheila Jordan headlined with a set that transported the room back through decades, deftly supported by bassist Adam Lane (ignited with Harvey Schwartz interplay) and pianist Tom Thorndike. At 89, her swinging, bop lines carry the verve and cool we’d thought were lost with smoke-filled rooms. Other standout performances included Jay Clayton, a hip veteran of non-traditional vocals with the uncanny ability to always be on pitch. Her duet with the extraordinary bassist Ken Filianoexpanded Ornette’s “Lonely Woman” into new, quite moving realmsFiliano was also present for Andrea Wolper’s bossa-filled set with Carol Liebowitz on piano; others included Cheryl Richards, Alexis Parsons, Lynne Bongiorno and the event’s producers. There’s not enough space to give proper due to the breadth of wonderful sounds, but suffice to say that Connie, looking down, must have been most pleased. 

CD Review: John Zorn’s The Urmuz Epigrams

-Originally published in “The NYC Jazz Record”’ June 2018-

John Zorn, The Urmuz Epigrams (Tzadik, 2018)
John Zorn – saxophone,piano, organ, sound effects, guitar, bass, game calls, percussion, voice
Ches Smith – drums, percussion, vibraphone, glockenspiel, voice

CD Review by John Pietaro 

The Urmuz Epigrams may be John Zorn’s most compellingconceptual album. The leader’s saxophones, keyboards and wealth of other instruments, is paired with the drums, mallets and percussion of Ches Smith. Though the eight compositions are the saxophonist’s own, the vision propelling the music and the album’s packaging is the work of the rather mythic Hungarian writer Urmuz. Born in Bucharest, 1883, his death came some forty years later by suicide. Urmuz foresaw the Dada movement, ushering middle Europe (and the rest of us) into the avant garde of rebellionThe writer had a prominent career in law, yet his continued activity among underground creativesa leading radical, he opposed the wealthy hierarchy and conservativacademia—saw the need for him to live secretdouble existenceIn 1923, just after Urmuz’s death, Dada founder Tristan Tzara attempted to stop his publication in France, fearful of diminishment to his own standingThat said, his resurgence now within today’s avant garde should come asno surprise. Particularly when spearheaded by John Zorn.
Designed as a faux 1920s collectionthe Urmuz Epigrams is visually stunning in both its simplicity and grandeur. And while Zorn released this on his own Tzadik labelan insignia akin to EMI’Parlophone imprint is evident (Beatles fans knows Parlophone, right, John?)--modified here to Pahuciphone for the writer’s rebel group the Pahuci BrotherhoodWithin, Zorn created a score to a Theatre of the Absurd drama that never was. His use of game calls, Cageian chance arrangements and the recording studio as an instrument signal a resurgence of Zorn’s own youth as much the concept is an homage to his target’s. The brief opening cut, “Disgusted with Life”, can only be described as slow-moving rapid fire, with sounds both acoustic and electronic dropping in and out as one motive seeps into the next. However on “This Piano Lid Serves as a Wall” the modal waltz music of Erik Satie (the godfather of modernist, absurdist musicians) is implied through Zorn’s piano and Smith’s touching vibraphone melody. Throughout, the musical offerings captivate and surprise and as is often the case with Zorn, one rarely knows where composition ends and improv starts. In fleeting bursts, powerful instrumental juxtapositions are heard. Smith’s thunderous timpani solos on “A Rain of Threats and Screams” is but one example. 
In recreating the lost legend of Urmuz, Zorn’s notable false ending is the full replay of his “surrealistic suite”, heard in its “original” as opposed to “reconstructed” form, complete with simple analog mixes and 78 RPM hissing and pops. If this is parody, Zorn has achieved a parody for all time, one built on dire respect for an avant pioneer born far ahead of his time.

Album review: Gene Pritsker’s Sound Liberation, Let’s Save the World Suite

  Gene Pritsker’s Sound Liberation , Let’s Save the World Suite (Composers Concordance 2022) --originally published in The NYC Jazz Recor...