Monday, 24 June 2013

Two of Jackie's Original Monologues on YouTube

Our YouTube channel has been rather dormant lately but today I convinced Jackie to post a couple of brief clips of her solo acting. Having been out of the country, I didn't get a chance to see these live; these two clips represent only a fraction of her theatre work this year. Both of these monologues are original scripts she authored. At risk of being labelled a dragon parent, I let the performances speak for themselves.

First, Fading River of Life

Next, Calypso's Prophecy:

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Visual Artist Gilbert Hsiao is Busy This Summer

My lifelong friend and music lover, the New York-based visual artist Gilbert Hsiao, is hitting his stride after about 57 years and has a busy exhibition schedule this summer. You can (and should) catch his work in the U.S., Germany, Holland, and Thailand according to the following schedule. This post comes by way of Gilbert's mailing list; you can subscribe by directly accessing his blog. Oops, I think we missed the first one.


Lumen Festival, Staten Island, June 15, 6 PM-Midnight.

One night only, a quick walk from the Staten Island Ferry. This festival features installations, video and perfomance by over 60 artists, curated by David Terry and Esther Neff. I'll be spinning painted records on turntables under black light in public for the first time. This festival is a great excuse to take the Staten Island Ferry (check the times; the ferry is still free but runs on an hourly schedule). For more info go to the Festival website at

Phaedo, Storefront Bushwick, June 28-July 28
16 Wilson Ave, Bushwick near the Morgan Ave Stop on the L (917) 714-3813

My first show in Bushwick. Looking forward to this; however I won't be at the opening because I'll be in Berlin (see below). With Emily Berger, Benjamin Echerverria, Nate Ethier, JJ Garfinkel, Elizabeth Hazan, Osamu Kobayashi, Dominic Mangila, Laruen Portada and Anne Russinof. For more info go to

Dynamic Invention: Abstract American Artists at 75, Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, Brattleboro, VT.. June 29-October 30

This is the first exhibition of the 75th Anniversary Edition of the Abstract American Artists Print Portfolio, featuring the work of 48 of its members. Unfortunately, can't make this opening, either. For information on the Art Center, go to For Abstract American Artists, go to For images of the portfolio, go to

Doppler Stop, Parallel Art Space, July 13-August 18
1717 Troutman, Ridgewood Queens near the Jefferson stop on the L

The 2013 version of this show organized by Mel Prest. Last year this show was seen in a number of different venues in Europe. This year, I'm proud to have been asked to do my first wall piece to be seen in a NY gallery. Artists include Steven Baris, Richard Bottwin, Edgar Diehl, Kevin Finklea, Brent Hallard, José Heerkens, Gracia Khouw, Sarah Klein, Stephen Maine, Gay Outlaw, Mel Prest, Debra Ramsay, Albert Roskam, Karen Schifano, Iemke van Dijk, Henriëtte van 't Hoog, Ruth van Veenen, Don Voisine, Nancy White, Guido Winkler, and Patricia Zarate. For more info go to


Rituals of Exhibition II curated by Light Space Projects, H Gallery, Chiang Mai, Thailand, June 16-August 25

Truly international show featuring artists from four continents. John Aslanidis/Pedro Boese/Merric Brettle /Katja Brinkmann/Nate Ethier/Wolfgang Flad/Ludovica Gioscia/Brent Hallard/Nithiphat Hoisangthong/Jan Holthoff/Franziska Hünig/Mit Jai Inn/Isabel Kerkermeier/Jeremy Kibel/Andrew Leslie/Julie Oppermann/Rob de Oude/Mel Prest/Debra Ramsay/David Rhodes/Giles Ryder/Gunna Schmidt/Andreas Schmid/Alexandra Schlund/Mark Sengbusch/Jessica Snow/Elisabeth Sonneck/Nicola Stäglich/Michael Swingle/Klaus-Martin Treder/Tilman/Anke Völk/Nancy White/Patricia Zarate. For more information go to

Two Person show with Don Voisine, dr julius austellungen \ projeckten, opening June 27
60 Leberstraße, Berlin, Germany

I'm pleased to be returning to Berlin to show work alongside Don Voisine, whose work I have admired for a number of years. I'll be showing a wall painting. To our Berlin friends: Don and I will both be at the opening; hope to see you them. For more info go to:

the great BIG little graphic Art Show, PIT, Eindhoven, Netherlands, October 3-November 1

Curated by Linda Arts of Project Initiative Tilburg, whose work and curative endeavors I've always admired. In this first opportunity to work with her, I will show a piece from a series of prints done in 2005.

Unlikely Iterations of the Abstract, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, opening October 31

Curated by Bill Arning, who gave me my first solo show back in 1986 at White Columns. More spinning records.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

New Africa Shrine, Revisited

Being accused by one of my readers of not keeping my blog up, I feel compelled to post today. Sometimes we take things for granted. I suppose I fall into that boat about the New Africa Shrine, which is no more than 400 meters from my doorstep in the estimation of a colleague from London, who was simply amazed at the music coming out of what is ostensibly my neighborhood bar. I haven’t been going there so often lately as the show has become repetitive for me. However, on Thursday I had a contingent of work visitors from the U.K. and U.S. who wanted to pay homage at the Shrine, despite its rough reputation among the Nigerian professionals in our office. The Shrine’s star shines much more brightly overseas than it does locally.

The three foreign guests were simply stunned by the show that Femi Kuti and Positive Force put on at the Shrine that night. The glow of first experience. The place itself, the front-row table, the band rocking its warm-up set, the full horn section, the percussionists, the dancers both on stage and in cages alongside, the crowd, Femi’s star power, his rap, his circular breathing shtick on alto. All things that have become less impressive to me after dozens of times in the same seat over the past year or so. Time to take a fresh look. I will return tonight.

I saw tenor saxophonist Dotun “Dotsax” Bankole up on stage; he sounded excellent in his one solo feature during the first set. Dotun dropped by my house yesterday for a jam. He doesn't get to showcase his talent on stage as much as he might like and always cuts loose whenever I see him privately. We jammed for about an hour and a half before he had to leave for his far-away home in neighboring Ogun State. Free association, Lester Leaps In, and Milestones were all we had time for. As last time we met, we swapped tenors; we both have silver-plate Mark VIs of about the same vintage and he swears mine sounds better because the silver plate is gone and the bare brass resonates differently. Here is a brief track of Dotun improvising unaccompanied on tenor; he is working on a new album of originals which he expects to be complete in about two months.

Femi and the band will be leaving for a summer tour of the U.S. in a couple of weeks, beginning late June. Tenor fans, look for Dotun on stage if you want to hear one of contemporary Africa's best saxophonists.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Shola Emmanuel - The Man Is On Fire

Just returned from a week in Abuja where I caught up with alto saxophonist Shola Emmanuel a couple of times. Shola is, quite simply, the best saxophonist currently on the scene in Abuja.

The week started out with us being roused from my hotel room in the middle of the afternoon by a guest who complained about the noise. Claimed he was sleeping; we left the room to find another place to play and found the guy sitting outside talking on his hand phone. Mffff…playing jazz is not a crime. The hotel desk was apologetic. We ended up going to a public park and set up under a big umbrella where Shola wrote out a list of tunes he wanted to play and we jammed outdoors until 7:00 pm. Here is our a cappella version of  Rahsaan Roland Kirk's Black and Crazy Blues.

On Friday night, we ended up at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja’s swankiest (and most expensive) hotel, where Shola’s bassist was fronting a piano trio in the bar. The rooms at this place are over $500 a night! Better luck musically, though. I brought my mouthpiece and Shola loaned me his tenor. We set up and the band let us sit in from 10:00 pm to midnight, enough time to cover about eight tunes, of which I played on six. Some standards I'd not thought about for years, although each seemed to be in a key different than I was used to and required that I not only dig deep into my memory for the melody, but also transpose in my head on the fly. Good exercise, I guess.

Shola was just on fire. He played the best I have ever heard him play. It helped that he knew the band, the repertoire and the keys well but that can't account for how fine his alto sounded that night. Unfortunately the crowd was sparse, which he said is a side effect of the insecurity in the capital city surrounding the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency in the north. People just don’t want to go out to high-profile public places at night. The hotel has a full airport-style security setup in place at the entryway.

Musically, the night was a success. I got in a couple of decent solos out of the half-dozen I played, got some good feedback from the audience, and got to listen to Shola work his way through some first-rate improvisations with a nice young local rhythm section. He decried the lack of opportunity to play in Abuja and continues to work a day gig. A taste but not enough. Go hear this man and his Rhythm & Sax Orchestra any chance you can.