Concert: Magic Triangle Jazz Series presents: The OGJB Quartet
March 5, 2017
The Magic Triangle Jazz Series, produced by the Fine Arts Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in collaboration with the Amherst College Department of Music, begins its 28th season with a performance by OGJB Quartet. The Quartet features Oliver Lake, saxophone, Graham Haynes, cornet, Joe Fonda, bass and Barry Altschul, drums. The concert is free and open to the public.
A highlight of New York’s 2016 Winter Jazzfest was the debut of the OGJB Quartet, a collaborative endeavor with each member contributes compositions to their repertoire.
The artistic scope of saxophonist, composer, painter, and poet Oliver Lake’s half-century-long career is unparalleled. His collaborations includes work with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Flux String Quartet, Bjork, Lou Reed, A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, Me’shell Ndegeocello, Anthony Braxton, James Blood Ulmer, William Parker, Vijay Iyer, Andrew Cyrille and a veritable who’s who of the jazz vanguard. He has published two books of poetry and produces visual artwork for exhibitions across the country. Lake’s multi-disciplinary approach can be traced back to his formative years with the Black Artists Group, the innovative St. Louis collective of musicians, poets, dancers and painters he helped architect over 35 years ago. He is a co-founder of the acclaimed World Saxophone Quartet (with fellow luminaries David Murray, Julius Hemphill and Hamiet Bluiett), one of the seminal ensembles of the last 30 years. In 2014, he was honored with a Doris Duke Artist Award. He currently leads the Oliver Lake Organ Quartet, Oliver Lake Big Band and Trio 3.
In the early 1970s, drummer Barry Altschul was in one of the most important ensembles of the decade: Circle, with Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Anthony Braxton. “Now, as then,” writes Kevin Whitehead, “he's great at mixing opposites: funky drive with a spray of dainty coloristic percussion, abstract melodic concepts with parade beats, open improvising and percolating swing. He's a busy player, but never too loud — he's also busy listening.” The Bronx-born Altschul was largely self-taught until 1960, when he began study with Charlie Persip. In 1972, he recorded Dave Holland’s classic album Conference of the Birds, and also made records with Julius Hemphill, Alan Silva, and Andrew Hill. His first records as a leader, You Can’t Name Your Own Tune (1977) and Another Time/Another Place (1978) are hugely influential recordings. The 3dom Factor (TUM, 2013), featuring saxophonist Jon Irabagon and bassist Joe Fonda, was the first new album under his leadership in over a quarter century, followed by Tales of the Unforseen (TUM, 2015). Altschul, Fonda and late violinist Billy Bang toured and recorded as the FAB Trio.
Over his 35-year career, cornetist Graham Haynes, the son of drummer Roy Haynes, has pushed jazz beyond its traditional boundaries. Together with saxophonist Steve Coleman, Haynes formed Five Elements, which launched an influential group of improvisers called the M-Base Collective. After the formation of his own ensemble – Graham Haynes and No Image – and the subsequent release of an album (What Time It Be?), Haynes would spend the balance of the 1980s studying a wide range of African, Arabic and South Asian Music. Haynes incorporated these influences into his next two releases – Nocturne Parisian and Griot's Footsteps. Haynes has studied and incorporated Hip-Hop and drum 'n' bass and began working with some of the finest DJs and producers in London and the U.S. Haynes has several critically acclaimed multimedia projects, composed the score for films Flag Wars and The Promise. He has collaborated with Cassandra Wilson, Vernon Reid, Meshell Ndegeocello, The Roots, David Murray, Ed Blackwell, Bill Laswell and Bill Dixon.
Joe Fonda is perhaps best known as Anthony Braxton's bassist of choice for much of the 1990s, but he has made vital contributions to the Fonda-Stevens Group, the Nu Band, Conference Call, the FAB Trio and the Michael Musillami Trio. While playing around New Haven in the 1980s, he began an association with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, whose global aesthetic helped shape Fonda's own musical philosophy; they recorded together on 1983's Procession of the Great Ancestry. Fonda also created From the Source, an interdisciplinary group which includes tap dancer Brenda Bufalino and vocalist/body healer Vicki Dodd as equal members, that is acclaimed as a groundbreaking effort. Fonda has worked with Archie Shepp, Ken McIntyre, Satoko Fujii, Bill and Kenny Barron, Randy Weston, Han Bennink and Karl Berger.