Firebrand multipercussionist-composer-band leader Leon Parker, recently hailed by The New York Times as "one of the finest jazz musicians of his generation," has carved out a unique place for himself where the past and future of jazz, hip-hop, African, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern influences converge. Using an array of hand drums and other percussion instruments, he creates a richly imaginative aural tapestry. The performance opens with Parker's mesmerizing drum, voice, and body-percussion solo and evolves into an unforgettable rhythmic landscape. For this special Common Time series event, New York-based choreographer-dancer Maia Claire Garrison (former Urban Bush Women member) joins him in a series of thoughtfully crafted, red-hot duets. Parker's new collective also features vocalist Elisabeth Kontomanou and percussionists Kazi Oliver and Alonzo Undly. Join Leon Parker in a master class at The Cultural Center of Minnesota on April 2 at 6:30 pm. For details, call (612) 827-0771.
This program is part of COMMON TIME, a series of landmark collaborations involving leading-edge national jazz figures and important contemporary dance innovators commissioned and presented by the Walker Art Center this spring. In past generations, it was virtually unthinkable to have a dance presentation without a live musical component. Over time, the vital link between dance and live jazz was severed, due in part to the elusive balance of collaboration and improvisation as well as the financial realities associated with touring. This was a particular loss for the creators, the performers, and perhaps most of all, the audiences. The artists in this series have been selected not just for the undeniable power and artistry of their work, but also for their proven abilities in fusing the once-inseparable collective energies that can exist between creative movement and live music. Coming in May: Urban Bush Women and The David Murry Octet.