“A fleet-footed big band, sliding and swaggering through galactic R&B, brawny jazz and electric funk like a Sun Ra-size spin on Miles Davis’ On the Corner band.” —Rolling Stone
Minneapolis, March 12, 2014—Burnt Sugar, the 17-member Afrocentric jazz/funk collective, lays claim to and subverts the Steely Dan songbook in a program curated and conducted by guitar hero Vernon Reid (Living Color). Of the wildly diverse palette and players in the New York ensemble, Arkestra leader Greg Tate says, “Burnt Sugar got the nerve to claim Sly Stone, Morton Feldman, Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix, and Jean Luc Ponty as progenitors. Our player-ranks include known Irish fiddlers, AACM refugees, Afro-punk rejects, unrepentant be-boppers, feminist rappers, jitterbugging doo-woppers, frankly loud funk-a-teers, and rodeo stars of the digital divide.” Look for heady and deeply funky remakes of Steely Dan classics such as “Pretzel Logic,” “Haitian Divorce,” “Any Major Dude,” “Black Cow,” “Kid Charlemagne,” and others. Burnt Sugar performs Saturday, April 26, at 8 pm in the William and Nadine McGuire Theater.
Tickets to Burnt Sugar the Archestra Chamber are $25 ($22 Walker members) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600
Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber
Led by Village Voice icon Greg “Ionman” Tate and monster groove bassist Jared Michael Nickerson (featured in the VH1 Nelson George documentary Finding the Funk), Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber is a sprawling band of musicians whose prodigious personnel allows to freely juggle a wide swath of the experimental soul-jazz-hip hop spectrum.
Founded in 1999, this very accomplished crew has playing credits that range from Cecil Taylor, Toshi Reagon, Charlie Musselwhite, DJ Logic, Gary Lucas, TV on the Radio, Tamar Kali, Phish, William Parker, Mark Ribot, Lizz Wright, The Holmes Brothers, Lady Kier, Wadada Leo Smith, David Murray, Joseph Bowie.
With alumni that includes Matana Roberts, Vijay Iyer, Julia Kent, Graham Hayes, DJ Mutamassik, Okkyung Lee and Avram Feffer, Burnt Sugar has released fourteen recordings on their labels Tru Groidd and Avant Groidd Musica defining the art of creating scripted sounding music with the wave of a baton and hand gesture.
Arkestra Conductor Greg Tate says, “Burnt Sugar got the nerve to claim Sly Stone, Morton Feldman, Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix and Jean Luc Ponty as progenitors. Our player-ranks include known Irish fiddlers, AACM refugees, Afro-punk rejects, unrepentant beboppers, feminist rappers, jitterbugging doowoppers, frankly loud funk-a-teers and rodeo stars of the digital divide.”
With the insistence of Mikki Shepard, Bill Bragin and Leda Le Querrec, the Burnt Sugar Arkestra has spent the last three years performing the musics of Melvin Van Peebles, Miles Davis, James Brown, David Bowie and Sun Ra in venues as disparate as The Apollo Theatre, Sons d’hiver Festival in Paris France, Rikers Island Prison, Joe’s Pub, Bryant Park and Lincoln Center.
After a Lincoln Center Atrium David Bowie songbook performance a suggestion from Vernon Reid to Bill Bragin initiated Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber tackling the Steely Dan songbook. What Vernon and the band have discovered, is that there is universal love for Steely Dan’s musical inventiveness and ruminating lyrical content; and most importantly, when you add a bit of the “holy ghost” it makes for a very emotional, revelatory and uplifting musical experience.
The Walker Art Center’s performing arts programs are made possible by generous support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation through the Doris Duke Performing Arts Fund, the William and Nadine McGuire Commissioning Fund, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Performing Arts programs and commissions at the Walker are generously supported by members of the Producers’ Council: Russell Cowles; Sage Cowles; Nor Hall and Roger Hale; King’s Fountain/Barbara Watson Pillsbury and Henry Pillsbury; Emily Maltz; Dr. William W. and Nadine M. McGuire; Leni and David Moore, Jr.; Mike and Elizabeth Sweeney; and Frances and Frank Wilkinson.