Thu, October 12, 2017
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2017-10-12 8:00 pm
Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra at Berklee Performance Center
The JCA Orchestra, featuring vocalist Rebecca Shrimpton, will start its 32nd concert season with a performance of composer Darrell Katz’s epic improvisational song cycle, The Death Of Simone Weil, with text by the late Paula Tatarunis. The concert takes place at The Berklee Performance Center, 130 Massachusetts Avenue in Boston. Tickets are $12; $8 if picked up at least a day before show, are available at the BPC box office or online at Berklee.edu/bpc.
Simone Weil (1909-1943) was a French writer/philosopher whose concerns ranged from the political to the mystical. Tatarunis’ poem deals with Weil’s death by starvation after refusing to eat while she had friends in concentration camps in the midst of the horrors of World War II. Featured is Rebecca Shrimpton. “She is a singer of quite extraordinary perception.” .”- Sandy Brown Jazz, Steve Day
“The Death of Simone Weil deals with wild flights of imagination, the Nazi conquest of Europe, desire, fishermen, and existential angst. Weil’s story unfolds like an improvisation that seamlessly mixes modern composition and the entire jazz legacy. The alto voice of Rebecca Shrimpton effortlessly captures the subtle shadings of the starkly beautiful text. Boston’s powerfully virtuosic JCA Orchestra accompanies with fistfuls of fire. The Death of Simone Weil stands out in the jazz vocal tradition in terms of both scale and ambition, and whose depth and economy of expression are worthy of the subject. All in all, it’s an exciting soirée with the far-out, the insane, and the beautifully strange.” – Phillip Blackburn
Paula Tatarunis, who published over 200 poems, was twice been the recipient of a Massachusetts Artist Fellowship in poetry. Katz (director of the JCA) has received one in music. Tatarunis, a medical doctor, photographer, essayist, and prolific poet, woke one morning and quite suddenly quit the publishing biz, explaining to Katz, her husband, “Who the hell am I to call myself a poet?”
“To discover a poet of Paula's mastery and thematic ambition is to recognize one's own relationship with the vanishing point as mere flirtation. She stands at the prow of no ship, school, or affiliation, yet points with some authority to a hyper-realistic world we can't help recognize as our own. Discomfort, she seems to say, is the price of admission. There will be teeth. There will be squirming.” – Wendy Videlock, Mezzo Cammin
This will be the first time this piece, which is over an hour long, has been performed in its entirety since its debut in 2001. That performance was released, as The Death of Simone Weil, to much critical acclaim, by Innova Recordings. “This is music for mind and soul.” — Irwin Block, Montreal Gazette
The JCA Orchestra has been a fixture on Boston’s creative music scene since its first performance in December 1985. “.... every community should have one” says Willard Jenkins of Jazz Times. The group has released 10 critically acclaimed CDs, with its last release, Wheelworks, on the list of DownBeat’s best albums of 2015. Drawing on influences that span the history of jazz and the world's musical traditions, the JCA has brought together a huge palette of sounds, structures and concepts. A runner up in 2009’s Boston Phoenix Best of Boston poll, The JCA Orchestra has also presented an illustrious group of guest performers including Oliver Lake, Steve Lacy, Dave Holland, Julius Hemphill and Henry Threadgill.
Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Ave