Freedom Through Collective Improvisation

Freedom Through Collective Improvisation

The Arts Center

April 1, 2010 6:00 PM - April 30, 2010


Grand opening of a new gallery show:

Freedom Through Collective Improvisation: iEAR Presents! "Free Jazz from the Sanctuary"

Reception: 6 pm - 7 pm

Closing reception on Troy Night Out, April 30

Exhibition runs through April 30


Live performance by The Matthew Shipp Trio:  7 pm
Admission by donation ($10 suggested, $5 student/low income)

Pianist Matthew Shipp is a leading light in the New York jazz scene.  With bassist Michael Bisio and drummer Whit Dickey, they reach the holy grail of jazz.

After moving to New York City in the mid-1980s, pianist Matthew Shipp quickly became one of the leading lights on the jazz scene.  He was a sideman in the David S. Ware Quartet and also for Roscoe Mitchell's Note Factory before making the decision to concentrate on his own music.  He has recorded many albums but his most enduring relationships have been with two labels, Hatology and Thirsty Ear.  In his collection of recordings he has generated a body of work that is visionary, far reaching, multi-faceted and widely-acclaimed.

Troy native Michael Bisio invariably astounds audiences with the beauty of his tone and the intensity of his very personal musical language on the bass.  His recorded output has consistently met with critical praise; as a recording artist he appears on more than 50 cds.

Whit Dickey is a uniquely gifted drummer whose work with David S. Ware and Matthew Shipp is legendary.  In addition to numerous recordings as a leader, he has also worked with Rob Brown, Joe Morris and numerous other jazz luminaries.



Freedom Through Collective Improvisation celebrates a 13-part series of jazz performance videos featuring some of the world's most talented improvisers performing a wide spectrum of music in the genre broadly known as free jazz.  These uncompromising and inventive musicians create new languages and expressive forms, with an aesthetic and conceptual edge that challenges listeners to look at the world anew.

Like freedom itself, free jazz as a term defies definition. The name most likely comes from Ornette Coleman's 1961 album Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation. This music celebrates the individual voice and collective action—and, like anyone exploring the limits of freedom, the musicians who play it sometimes find themselves on the edge of what is commercially, culturally and politically acceptable. But they endure ... and their quest continues!

Audio and video samples:

The featured musicians in these videos and photographs are:

• The Thirteenth Assembly (Taylor Ho Bynum, Tomas Fujiwara, Mary Halvorson, Jessica Pavone)

• Ethnic Heritage Ensemble (Kahil El'Zabar, Ernest Dawkins, Corey Wilkes)

• Fay Victor Ensemble (Ken Filiano, Anders Nilsson, Michael TA Thompson, Fay Victor)

• From Between Trio (Michel Doneda, Tatsuya Nakatani, Jack Wright)

• Michael Vlatkovich Quartet (Christopher Garcia, Jonathan Golove, David Mott, Michael Vlatkovich)

• Sax Soup Poetry and Voice (Joe Giardullo, Pierre Joris, Nicole Peyrafitte)

• Trio Tarana (Sam Bardfeld, Ravish Momin, Brian Prunka)

• The Ras Ensemble (Clif Jackson, Dave Miller, Ras Moshe, Tor Yochai Snyder)

• William Hooker

• Empty Cage Quartet (Ivan Johnson, Paul Kikuchi, Jason Mears, Kris Tiner)

• Weasel Walter Trio (Peter Evans, Mary Halvorson, Weasel Walter)

• Splatto Festival Chorus (Dave Barrett, Michael Bisio, Ed Mann, Todd Reynolds)

• Amiri Baraka and Rob Brown

This exhibition contains video and photographs that aspire to capture not only the music, but the spirit behind the Free Jazz from the Sanctuary series. The concerts were recorded live between 2007-2009 at The Sanctuary for Independent Media, a historic former church in North Troy. 

Andrzej (Andre) Pilarczyk, who has documented over two decades of musical events throughout the Capital Region, photographed the Free Jazz from the Sanctuary concerts. "I am out there in front of the stage with a camera because of my passion for the music and the musicians," Andrzej explains. "Since I'm not a musician, this is the way I emotionally and psychologically connect with the music and the performance."

Jon Flanders, a member and former president of International Association of Machinists Local 1145 and a member of the Troy Area Labor Council AFL-CIO, is also an avid photographer.  He shot one of the "Free Jazz from the Sanctuary" concerts.

The series is a co-production of the Department of the Arts at Rensselaer and NY Media Alliance, The purpose: to create a cutting-edge, professional artistic media project to further a love and understanding for this brilliant, rarely heard music.

NY Media Alliance, a 30 year-old non-profit advocate for the media arts, operates The Sanctuary for Independent Media.  It's a place where politically engaged interdisciplinary artists experiment with aesthetic form and challenging content.  In this sanctuary, the overarching goal is to shed light on media arts' vital role in the process of building a democratic society.

Free Jazz from the Sanctuary was made possible in part with support from the New York State Council on the Arts [Presenting Program] and the NYS Music Fund, established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors when investigations into the practice of "payola" or "pay for play" by major recording and broadcasting companies were resolved. These settlements stipulated that funds paid by the music businesses should benefit the residents of New York State through music education and appreciation programs.

This exhibition is supported by the Department of the Arts and the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Rensselaer, and is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency.

Exhibition credits:  photographic printing: Seana Biondolillo; graphic design: undergraduate design students from Rensselaer; technical support: Greg Palmer, Troy Pohl; curatorial consultant: Mary Anne Staniszewski: iEAR coordinator; Laura Garrison. Special thanks to all of the staff and volunteers from the Arts Department and The Sanctuary for Independent Media who in the spirit of collective improvisation helped to create this exhibition.



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