"Like the resonant African-American traditions that long precede them, the Black Spirituals are equal parts choreographed and improvisational, containing simultaneously measuredly deliberate and frenetically urgent sonicities. True to name, the Black Spirituals evoke and produce a Black spirituality in the sonorous tradition of Black flight calling us to follow the North Star and any and all other pathways to freedom. It’s the choreographed and synergistic spontaneity and improvisation with clear inspirations drawn from jazz traditions, indigenous African drumming, and anti/de-colonial musico-theological and ritualistic traditions across the Afro diaspora; and it’s an expression that constitutes the kind of musical fugitivity most organically and innately produced by Black Americans in our “post-emancipation” captive state. It’s a music for music’s sake, and it’s a feverish cathartic expression of freedom dreams with true liberatory capacity.
The Black Spirituals, like their musical forebears, are fugitive planners enacting, per Harney & Moten, “ruptural and enraptured” soundscapes and offering a space of refuge within which enlightenment can be understood and, thus, enacted.
But this is not music alone. The Black Spirituals are a transdisciplinary and genre transcendent epistemic framework that exists both in itself and in complement with other artists. Black Access Black Axes is a project expressing Black vernacularity as a solo-duetting avant-garde musical technology driven by clear need to contain and articulate both the world in which we live and the dire need to flee and imagine and create another. The album’s core are the drone-like meditative frequencies recalling an ever-present sounding alarm: a state of emergency, an alarm signaling the need for and actualization of Black escape, a Black articulation of futurity only accessible through distortions and conversing-dueling guitar and drum.
Though this is the last joint project with which Zachary James Watkins & Marshall Trammell will bless us, the beauty in their music is their dynamism together as well as apart. So/but before we continue to be blessed with their respective solo workings (made evident in this and all the group’s work), this is an invitation to revel in this deeply affective creation born out of their wellspring of love for Black people and our deservingness of freedom.
From my head to my DNA, I felt this. I hope you will, too." -Zoé Samudzi
Marshall Trammell of BlackSpirituals: Music Research Strategies' “Convergence: Emergent Strategies Against the Gentrified City,” featuring GREX
July 16 7PM
Uptown Arts Bar 3611 Broadway St, Kansas City, Missouri 64111
Foregrounding concepts of transparency, radical diversity and
inclusion, Zachary Watkins, Raven Chacon, Sharmi Basu, Morgan Craft, Ava
Mendoza, and The Living Earth Show present AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: an
evening-length collaborative production.
was conceived with Zachary James Watkins to interrogate the manner in
which chamber music is created and consumed. Composed by five artists of
color and performed by the two white cis men of The Living Earth Show,
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION highlights the “lens of whiteness” through which the
work of artists of color have to
necessarily present their work. The project is built to activate the
tradition of classical chamber music in order to craft a new,
collaborative musical language.
Just as importantly, the
collaborators view AFFIRMATIVE ACTION as a vehicle for bringing artists
and audience together, reveling and relishing in “inclusion” as the
production’s creative foundation. Though they have all engaged in
decades of collaborative musicmaking, several of the composers will be
writing their first “commissioned” piece of chamber music in this
project. By presenting these composers’ work alongside the work of
composers more familiar with the traditional chamber music ecosystem,
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION provides a platform for artists of color to use
chamber music (and the specific collaborative language of the medium) as
a canvas to create vital artistic statements.
community at large, AFFIRMATIVE ACTION is designed to welcome audience
members who have traditionally felt excluded from classical music
spaces, providing a multimedia production integrating improvisation,
electronic music, ambient music, rock music, theater, and performance
art to present an inclusive artistic experience.