Jazz Poetry: World Saxophone QuartetSaturday, September 17, 2016 @ 8 p.m.
Join the World Saxophone Quartet for an evening of international jazz. Between jazz sets, these musicians will also collaborate with writers Adriana E. Ramírez and Osama Alomar for a jazz and poetry interlude.
Hamiet Bluiett is an American jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer. His primary instrument is the baritone saxophone, and he is considered one of the finest living players of this instrument. A member of the World Saxophone Quartet, he also plays (and records with) the bass saxophone, E-flat alto clarinet, E-flat contra-alto clarinet, and wooden flute.
Bluiett moved to New York City in the fall of 1969, where he joined the Charles Mingus Quintet and the Sam Rivers large ensemble. In 1976 he co-founded the World Saxophone Quartet along with two other Black Artists’ Group members, Julius Hemphill and Oliver Lake, as well as multi-reedist David Murray. He has remained a champion of the somewhat unwieldy baritone saxophone, organizing large groups of baritone saxophones. Since the 1990s Bluiett has led a virtuosic quartet, the Bluiett Baritone Nation, made up entirely of baritone saxophones, with drum set accompaniment.
In the 1980s, he also founded the Clarinet Family, a group of eight clarinetists playing clarinets of various sizes ranging from E-flat soprano to contrabass. Bluiett has also worked with Sam Rivers, Babatunde Olatunji,Abdullah Ibrahim, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye.
He returned to his hometown of Brooklyn, Illinois, in 2002 but moved back to New York City in 2012. He currently performs at gigs, including the New Haven Jazz Festival on August 22, 2009. He performed with students from Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, CT. The group were known as Hamiet Bluiett and the Improvisational Youth Orchestra.
Saxophonist, poet and composer Oliver Lake‘s artistic vision remains daring, unique and uncompromising, helping him maintain his place as one of the preeminent saxophonists in the progressive jazz scene, a position he has long held during his long and storied career. Oliver continues to work with several brilliant and creative minds, such as his Organ Quartet and Big Band groups, the World Saxophone Quartet, Tarbaby and notable collaborators such as Flux String Quartet, Myra Melford, Roscoe Mitchell, Vijay Iyer, Geri Allen, Meshell Ndegeocello and many others.Oliver has curated and participated in the City Of Asylum’s Jazz Poetry concerts for more than ten years. Lake has been a recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, has received commissions from the Library of Congress, and in 2006, was honored to receive the Mellon Jazz Living Legacy Award at the Kennedy Center. Most notably, Oliver was recently selected to receive the prestigious 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award. As such, the coming years promise to be exciting and filled with bold new artistic endeavors.
Adriana E. Ramírez is a 2015 PEN/Fusion Award-winning nonfiction writer, storyteller, digital maker, and performance poet based in Pittsburgh. Her work has appeared in the LA Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica, PEN America, Convolution, HEArt, Apogee, and Nerve.com, as well as on hundreds of stages across the country. She co-founded the Pittsburgh Poetry Collective (home of the Steel City Slam) and Aster(ix) Journal. Ramírez is the author of two poetry chapbooks, The Swallows (Blue Sketch Press) and Trusting in Imaginary Spaces (Tired Hearts Press); she is also the nonfiction editor of DISMANTLE (Thread Makes Blanket Press). Her nonfiction novella, Dead Boys, is forthcoming from Little A (November 2016), and her debut full-length nonfiction book, The Violence, is forthcoming from Scribner (Fall 2017).
In his hometown of Damascus, Osama Alomar is one of the most highly regarded, prize-winning writers in Syria, author of four books and many journal publications. He is a prominent practitioner of, and heir to, the Arabic literary form al-qisa al-qasira jiddan (“very short story”)—a form that dates back more than a millennium in the Arab world and contains elements of poetry, philosophy, folk tale, and allegory. In 2008, Alomar came to the United States to join his mother and older brother, who had emigrated in the 1990s; he has since lived in Chicago, working as a cab driver at the Horizon Taxi Cab Company. In a New York Times article, Alomar is quoted as saying, “Driving a cab is hard work and very hard psychologically, because it takes me away from writing. It is a kind of spiritual exile to go with my physical exile.”
Now, after years of literary obscurity, Alomar’s literary flame has been rekindled by the excitement surrounding Fullblood Arabian, a collection of stories issued by New Directions in 2014 as part of their renowned poetry series. Alomar’s poetic fictions are strange, often humorously satirical allegories, where good and evil battle with indifference, avarice, and compassion alongside striking imagery and effervescent language. Lydia Davis describes them as “wasting no words…they go quickly from one moment to the next and on to the end. So they have density, but also are sort of explosive, with an aftershock, because they seem to tell one story at the same time they are telling another.”
In English, Alomar has been published by Noon, Conjunctions.com, The Coffin Factory, The Outlet (the blog of Electric Literature), and The Literary Review. In Arabic, he has also published three collections of short stories: Ayuha al-insaan (O Man), Rabtat Lisaan (Tongue Tie), and Jami’ al-huquq ghayr mahfuza (All Rights Not Reserved); and one volume of poetry, qaala insaan al’ asir al hadith (Man Said the Modern World). He is a regular contributor to various newspapers and journals in Syria and the Arab world, among them Tishrin, an-Nur, Spot Light, al-Halil, Adab wa Naqd, and al-Ghad.
Christian Collins, Alomar’s translator, writes: “Osama and I made these translations together in difficult circumstances: most were done in the front seat of his taxi in a Chicago suburb heavy with the ache of immigration and the unimaginable pain of watching one’s country implode from afar. With books and dictionaries piled on the dashboard, hoping the taxi line wouldn’t advance too quickly and force us to break our concentration with another ‘load,’ we were able to make some part of that lost world in Damascus live again, however briefly. May the act of bringing forth this significant Syrian voice in English serve to continue this spirit of understanding and tolerance, bringing depth and nuance to a situation and a part of the world too often reduced in American eyes to a violent caricature of the truth.”
Osama Alomar travels with his translator, Christian Collins.