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Satellites #7 - J. Michael Harrison & Homer Jackson

Satellites Harrison - JacksonSatellites #7

May 30th, 2018 / 8pm - CORRECTION!!!

Satellites Are Spinning: A Sizzling, Sonic Celebration of Sun Ra
World Cafe Live
3025 Walnut Street

Philadelphia, PA 19104

 

For Tickets: CLICK HERE

 

Continuing the exploration started by our Sun Ra Mixtape Series celebrating the influence of the Philadelphia, visionary musician, philosopher, composer and band leader, Sun Ra, Philadelphia Jazz Project present, Satellites Are Spinning: A Sizzling, Sonic Celebration of Sun Ra. This concert series features 8 performances at some of the region's most important venues including; The Barnes Foundation, Ardmore Music Hall, Johnny Brenda's, The Planetarium of The Franklin Institute and World Cafe Live. Hosted by WRTI radio deejay, J. Michael Harrison.

 

J. Michael Harrison was born in Philadelphia. His first radio show was WPEB’s, Is That Jazz in 1993. He came to WRTI in 1994 as a production volunteer and started his own show, The Bridge, which continues to this day. The program won Philadelphia Magazine’s "Best Radio Program "award and Philadelphia City Paper called it the “Best On-Air Reminder That Jazz Didn’t Die in 1965.” The Philadelphia Clef Club made him a Stakeholder in 2016, and in 2017 the Jazz Journalist Association named him a "Jazz Hero." He has lectured at Penn State and the University of Pennsylvania, has written liner notes, has sat on and moderated numerous panels, has curated series, produced events, and hosted concerts in Philadelphia, NJ, New York City, and New Orleans. J. Michael Harrison also works closely with the Philadelphia Jazz Project.
 

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Homer Jackson is an interdisciplinary artist from Philadelphia whose work is presented as installation, performance art, public art, video and audio. He has created performances in collaboration with artists such as the late AACM violinist, Leroy Jenkins, instrument maker and former AACM president, Douglas Ewart, the late, poet, Essex Hemphill, multi-media artist and performer, Joyce J. Scott, as well as the Philly hip-hop ensemble, The Roots. Mr. Jackson has received support for his work from the Rockefeller Foundation, Pew Fellowships in the Arts, Civitella Rainieri Foundation, ennsylvania Council on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, The Playwrights Center and Franklin Furnace Fund For Performance Art. Homer Jackson serves as the director of the Philadelphia Jazz Project.

 

PJP spoke with WRTI radio host, J. Michael Harrison & PJP director, Homer Jackson about the Satellites Are Spinning Concert Series.

 

PJP: Can you briefly describe your direction as a listener and presenter of music?


Homer Jackson: My direction tends to be at, or in the moment. For instance, if you ask about my favorite jazz record, I would probably answer whatever, I’m listening to this week. Next week, it’s a whole new list. I’m trying to response to my feeling and hope that the audience feel it too.


J. Michael Harrison: To a certain extent I’m trying to produce the same experience whether I’m the listener or curator.  As a listener I try to approach music with a really open mind.  It’s really simple, it’s about feeling the music.  Ultimately, I’m looking for the music to connect and move me, take me on a journey, excite, inform, generate a reaction or a thought.  It’s beyond genre.  As a curator or presenter I’m looking to produce that experience for the audience.  Seizing the opportunity to create goose bumps, drop your jaw, jubilation and igniting your passion.

 

 

SAS Quiz 4 - Image 2

 

PJP: What and whom are pivotal musical influences on your approach?


J. Michael Harrison: At the foundation of what I do is recognizing how fortunate I am to have the opportunities that have been made available to me.  Having folks believe in my vision helps to fuel the creativity.  So, when my cousin Harry Butch Reed and my brother John Harrison demonstrated their passion for music it provided a validity and credibility to thinking free for me.  They helped me understand it was okay to like everything that felt good artistically.  Later when artist like Jef Lee Johnson, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, David Fiuczynski, Steve Coleman, Hannibal Lokumbe, Vernon Reid, Ruth Naomi Floyd, Pat Martino, Greg Osby, Uri Caine, Warren Oree, Sonia Sanchez, Jill Scott, Ursula Rucker, Wadud and many, many more co-signed it drove the notion home.

 

Homer Jackson: As a visual artist, who loves the music, I’d have to say folks, like Romare Bearden, Robert Rauschenberg, and of course, Amiri Baraka and Ishmael Reed, two outspoken and prolific writers who inspired my sense of creative freedom.

 

J Michael HarrisonPJP: Tell us about the mixtape series that inspired this concert series.


J. Michael Harrison: SPECIAL!  It was wonderfully imaginative to conceive an opportunity to pay respect to one of the most original and creative geniuses of our time.  The mixtape recording sessions brought together an onslaught of musicians, many that hadn’t performed together before to embrace the legacy of Sun Ra and channel his spirit to produce bright moments.


Homer Jackson: A few years ago, PJP in collaboration with PhillyCAM applies for a grant to celebrate Sun Ra’s 101st birthday. We were rejected for the grant, but one of the ideas included in the application was the creation a Sun Ra-inspired mixtape. After I got over my disappointment, I reached out to the Sun Ra estate to ask for permission to access some of the music and to have all kinds of artists to re-work it. I then reached out to all kinds of artists; singers, poets, rappers, rock musicians, Hiphop and EDM producers, and of course, jazz musicians to get participation. The intention was to do just one mixtape. We ended up doing 7 of them over a 2-3 year period.


PJP: Tell us about the Satellites concert series.


Homer Jackson: J. Michael was at my studio to record voice over for our Frosty - Xmas Holiday mixtape. He hadn’t heard the Sun Ra Mixtapes. When he did, he suggested that I bring them to the stage in a series of concerts. But, he can explain it better than I can.

 

J. Michael Harrison: Sitting down with Homer to listen to some of the sessions prompted an immediate response from me.  “CUZ!  THIS NEEDS TO BE ON STAGE”!  I strongly suggested that he find a way to reproduce this energy in a live performance series!  Experiencing so many incredible moments through hosting the series at 5 fabulous venues has been remarkable and helps me believe it was a good idea.

 

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PJP: Why is this theme/concept so important?


J. Michael Harrison: One of the aspects of Sunny’s legacy that doesn’t get a lot of attention is the multimedia performance experience the band provides.  He incorporated dancers, the band itself may dance through the audience during a performance, the uniforms worn by the musicians and the diversity of the music all come together to generate an event.  It’s much more than just a concert. 


The presentation of the mixtape live piggybacks on that energy via video projections, film shorts, unique apparel and a diverse array of music and artist that develop the satellites are spinning experience in real-time.


Homer Jackson: Well, for me, Sun Ra was an invisible catalyst in my career. It starts with me at 21 years of age going to see the Arkestra at Prince’s Total Experience in North Philly and meeting Steve Rowland there, who invites me to become a DJ at WRTI. My work at WRTI gets the attention of an audience member who calls me up 20 some odd years later and asks me if I want to re-invigorate Philadelphia Jazz. That’s how PJP was born.

 

Satellites Slimshot 606


PJP: Concert #7 is being called a Percussion Discussion. What does that have to do with Sun Ra?


Homer Jackson: A Sun Ra concert is always going to have some aspect of pageantry and the drums are the heartbeat of that pageantry. It is extremely rare to see the Arkestra and not experience the power of African drums.

 

J. Michael Harrison: At the foundation of mankind you have the heartbeat. At the foundation of human communincations, you have the drum beat. Sun Ra always maintained consistent and persistent rhythmic elements in his musical presentations. A piano is indeed a percussion instrument... a drum if you will. It is also the foundation of the journey of the Sun Ra Arkestra.

 

Satellites Slimshot 4


PJP: Who is working with you on this?


Homer Jackson: We worked with over 60 artists on the mixtape series and the artists involved in Satellites concert #7 include...

 

Kim Pedro - drums/music director

Kevin Diehl - drums/percussion

Greg McDonald - drums & former member of the Sun Ra Arkestra

Atakatune - percussion & member of the Sun Ra Arkestra
Malik Henry - E-percussion & fx
Ron Howerton - percussion
Dan Kaplowitz - guitar
Jaco McNelly - bass
Tim Price - saxes
Matthew Clayton - alto sax
Adam Faulk - keyboards
Bethlehem - vocalist
Pheralyn Dove - poet
Raphael Xavier - rapper/poet

 

 

PJP: When experiencing the Satellites Concerts, what advice would you give the audience to assist with greater understanding and enjoyment?


Homer JackHomer Jacksonson: Relax, sit back and put on your seatbelt. The unexpected lies ahead.


J. Michael Harrison: Embrace a wonderful musical experience!  It’s a uniquely original tribute to a uniquely original American Master!  Remember that it’s always “Sunny” in Philadelphia!

 

 

PJP: Why Jazz? When you could be doing anything else, Why this music?
 

J. Michael Harrison: Jazz is indeed a four letter word!  So, what I chose was music, this beautiful artist creative expression that moves and heals.  To be more precise, perhaps I should say it selected me.  The passion, the desire, the addiction, this medicine, the need to have it consumes me!  I literally have to have it!  My life has consistently been pulled towards this magnificent magnetic  miracle called music.

 
Homer Jackson: Jazz is the clandestine language of freedom for Black Americans, which has become the public language of freedom all around the world. Pretty much all American Popular music emerges out of some expression of Jazz. I’ve spent most of life trying to understand this trickster-inspired, language and have struggled to learn how to speak it in my own way. I ain’t stopping now.

 

 

Satellites #7

May 30th, 2018 / 8pm - CORRECTION!!!

Satellites Are Spinning: A Sizzling, Sonic Celebration of Sun Ra
World Cafe Live
3025 Walnut Street

Philadelphia, PA 19104

 

For Tickets: CLICK HERE

 

 

Check out music from Satellites #3

 

 

Special Thanks: The Sun Ra Estate, Irwin Chusid, Michael Anderson, J. Michael Harrison, Kim Pedro Rodriguez, DMHotep, Antoine Haywood, Gralin Hughes, James Solomon, Nija Walker, Bobby Zankel, Jay Levin, Agent Zero, Eric Bogacz, Alex Santilli, Gary Dann, Anthony Tidd, Dmani Lopez, Dan Blacksberg, V. Shayne Frederick, Asha Jackson, Julia Lopez, Melissa Talley Palmer, Gail Fountaine, Stephanie Seiple and Rich Nichols.

 

For more information about Sun Ra:

Sun Ra Estate Website
Sun Ra Arkestra Website
Sun Ra Facebook
Mission Creep Sun Ra Resources
Pitchfork's Essential Sun Ra Music
The Sun Ra Music Archive
Perfect Sound Forever Sun Ra Article
University of Chicago Sun Ra Exhibit
 

Stay tuned for details about this series!!!

 

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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.

 

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Tags : JMichaelHarrison HomerJackson Satellites SunRa FranklinInstitute BarnesFoundation ArdmoreMusicHall JohnnyBrenda’s WorldCafeLive PhillyCAM SunRaMixtape WRTI PhillyJazz KevinDiehl KimPedro MalikHenry Atakatune RonHowerton DanKaplowitz JockoMcNelly TimPrice MatthewClayton AdamFaulk Bethlehem PheralynDove RaphaelXavier

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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.