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February 01, 1983 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1983-02-01

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ARTS

Thp Michigan daiiv

Tuesday, February 1, 1983

Page 7

ne m cn c an vw y ___
i

SSilent j
By Julie Bernstein
OW DOES A performer
mesmerize an audience, achieve
excellence in his craft, and provoke
awe and wonder with no real rationale?
As rhetorical as these questions may
'seem, Saturday night's performance by
,Marcel Marceau was equally in-
describable. The sold-out house of spec-
tators ranged from ages eight to eighty,
and even with such great size and
diversity, he still connected with
everyone, making them laugh, cry, and
quite often simply stare in amazement.
What helped to make Marceau's sub-
tle gestures and facial reactions so
meaningful was his traditional lack of
;,laborate costumes, props, or even in-
-conspicuous backdrop. Marceau com-
'mits himself to an imaginary world that
.to him is real, taking us with him. And
why shouldn't we go along? He takes us
to wonderful places with such wondrous
things to see.
Marceau's thematic intentions star-
ted off simply and progressively gained
depth. From his charming portrayal of
the pathetic, unfortunate dice-player to
his ingenious representation of a pom-
pous attorney-at-law in "The Trial," he

night at.
remained cool and proficient. Even if
one couldn't perceive an object that he
was holding or an action he was
playing, it didn't matter - watching
Marceau should not be a game of Twen-
ty Questions, and one could still enjoy
the magic of his generally creative
body and intricately expressive white
face.
Saturday night's crowd had to be on
its toes. Every five minutes a new
character appeared on stage in some
unexpected predicament. After several
pieces, one had to be reminded that this
was a one-man show rather than a cast
of many, all intriguing in their own
right.
After intermission, the Marcel Mar-
ceau new-comers were introduced to
"Bip," the vulnerable, naive, lovable
little creature, and soon saw him veture
through the recognizable, hazardous
episodes of traveling by train and
preparing for a blind date. Bip also
wound up in some extraordinary
situations. "Bip plays David and
Goliath" was a charming sketch, ser-
ving as an excellent example of one ac-
tor creating two physical allusions.
Moreover, "Bip as a Lion Tamer"
showcased Marceau's child-like sen-
sitivity and perfect comic timing.
In addition to his touching humor,
Marceau showed us yet another, darker

Power Center

side. The suggestion of death was
evident in two of his pieces, "The
Trial," and "Bip Remembers," the lat-
ter which has never before been seen by
American audiences. Whether there
were sound effects or not (i.e., gun-
shots), the images were as believable
as those in a World War documentary
film. "Bip Remembers " contains a
great deal of symbolic imagery as Bip
recalls the different stages of his
poetically tragic life. Obviously, it was
hard to grasp all of Marceau's
message; viewing the art of gesture is
like studying a poem or famous pain-
ting - -you must examine it several
times before its essence really takes
shape and strikes you.
In the preview for this event, I men-
tioned that during Marceau's last visit,
he dined at the French House. Once
again, the artist/teacher/philosopher
spent time with students and shared
some very inspirational words. First of
all, Marceau felt that history was a
living and vital element in today's
revolutionary society. He claimed that
revolution does not mean breaking
down existing establishments and re-
constructing, but building upon what is
already there, allowing for new ideas to
come into play and influence multi-
faceted growth.
Setting a very relaxed and intimate

mood, he noted that when someone sees
a technically perfected mimical trick -
like walking an invisible dog, or
touching an imaginary wall - they
acknowledge it with, "Oh, that's a Mar-
ceau." Marceau attributed this to the
fact that he is the only one who has ever
developed the technique and underlying
theory of mine. Comparing the
technique of mime to the grammar of
English, he said that before you can
develop the style you must know the
grammar, viola, the philosophy
behind his school - if he can teach the
technique then his students can develop
their own inner expression, or
"l'espirit," to accompany it.
If you did not get a chance to see him
this time, try to catch him the next time
around. Tickets will cost a pretty penny
but I believe it is worth it. In this age of
growing artistic commercialism, there
are so many "artists" trying to get as
far as they canl as fast as they can,
forgetting what they are trying to say
and why they are sacrificing so much.
It is a relief to know that there are a few
left, like Marceau, who take the time
and exercise the discipline to achieve a
deeper understanding and more ac-
curate illustration of their artistic
opinions while striving to communicate
their passion for humanity.

Marcel Marceau's two shows at the Power Center Saturday and Sunday
nights proved that one does not have to hear as much as see what was hap-
pening.

.......... . ..

Belgrave's book and candle

brightness

College Students!
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By Jerry Brabenec
+T OCAL JAZZ fans eager to hear
Ssome true Detroit jazz had their
prayers answered Saturday night when
the Marcus Belgrave Quintet played at
the University Club as part of Eclipse's
Bright Moments series. A disappoin-
tingly small but enthusiastic crowd was
on hand as five of Detroit's finest
played a program devoted, in
Belgrave's words, to that "great com-
M poser, pianist, and humorist,"
Thelonius Monk. The small crowd was
probably a result of standard Ann Ar-
bor cultural overkill, but advertising
and publicity seemed scarce, too.
People seem largely unaware of the
caliber of Detroit's indigenous jazz
talent. Hard times have cut into the
music scene, but Detroit still boasts one
of the biggest and most vital club
scenes in the country, and Tommy
Flanagan, Ron Carter, Donald Byrd,
Barry Harris, and Elvin Jones are just
a few Detroit alumni who have gone on
to world acclaim.
Other great talents like Belgrave
have chosen to stay and enrich the
Detroit area. Belgrave's long and
distinguished performing and teaching
career began in the old Hastings Street
area, a vital black community of
homes, stores, businesses, and bars
that was wiped out by the Chrysler
Freeway.
A member of the Air Force band from
1955 to 1957, Belgrave also played with
Ray Charles, Eric Dolphy, Max Roach,
Aretha Franklin, and Charles Mingus.
His reputation as a player's player is

secure, and his is one of the truly
original trumpet styles, combining
fiery high playing and virtuosity with
impeccable phrasing in an energetic
style that is closer to Dizzy Gillespie
than to Clifford Brown, but really owes
little to either.
Belgrave has been very active in all
levels of music education in the Detroit
area for years, serving on the faculty of
Oakland University, Macomb Com-
munity College, and the Detroit Public
Schools. More recently he has been the
driving force behind the Jazz Develop-
ment Workshop, along with Sam San-
ders and John Sinclair.
The workshop offers a complete
curriculum of jazz history, theory, arr-
anging, and performance, as well as in-
strumental lessons by many of the
city's greatest players. In Belgrave's
words, "We (at the workshop) are con-
cerned with providing a learning en-
vironment for many of the youth that
are culturally disadvantaged and at the
same time making the community
aware of the young artist, bringing
enrichment to the whole community..."
Belgrave has performed on many
albums, incuding dates with Charles
Mingus, but I was only able to locate
one date as leader. The LP "Gemini
II" was released by local label Tribe
Records in 1974, and featured Belgrave
along with drummer Roy Brooks,
saxophonist Wendell Harrison, and
pianist Harold McKinney. The album
received a four star review in downbeat
magazine.
Saturday night's show featured tenor
saxophonist Donald Walden, pianist
Teddy Harris, bassist Greg Cook, and
Roy Brooks on drums. Of the four, Roy
Brooks is probably the most well
known, another respected session
veteran and recent collaborator on Max
Roach's "M' Boom" percussion en-
semble project. Teddy Harris, a fine
Bud Powell-like pianist, was longtime
music director for Diana Ross and the
Supremes.

The group caught the mood of Monk's
cryptic, whimsical tunes nicely without
lapsing into imitation. The rhythm sec-
tin was lively throughout, as bass,
piano and drums tossed accents and or-
naments back and forth constantly
without losing the simple foundation of
Monk's sound. Donald Walden has a
clear, expressive tenor sound with little
vibrato, and a taste for doubletime
phrases and staccatto tonguing.
Walden also got out a vintage curved
soprano sax for the closing chorus of
the ballad, "Pannonica."
The most exciting tune of the evening
was not a Monk tune, but one written by
John Coltrane during his appren-
ticeship with Monk. Belgrave told us
that the tune was "a blues Coltrane did
some very different things to," but then
neglected to mention the name of the
tune. It was an uptempo blues with
some unusual turnarounds and two or
three alternating melody lines. Brooks
kept the rapid tempo relaxed and
flexible, and Walden came on strong,
mixing bouncy, humorous phrases and
hard bop, keeping the listener off
balance and excited.
Marcus has great technical and har-
monic sophistication, but seems most
interested in tone quality, setting a
great variety of tones, from pinched to
blaring, from airy to solid, and bending
phrases in a way that would seem im-
possible for a valved instrument. But
the real spectacle of the evening was
the drumming of Roy Brooks. A close
look at his drum set revealed some puz-
zling mechanical additions: two or
three extra pedals, including dual
pedals on the single bass drum, and
most peculiarly of all, a rubber hose

that routed his breath into the interior
of the drums. By forcing air into the
drums and tightening the heads while
playing a roll, Brooks could change the
drums' pitches, achieving effects much
like a tympani or talking drum. Brooks
runs this unique equipment with a
rhythmic flexibility much like Elvin
Jones and the expressive phrasing of
Max Roach.

In general, this band was of the
highest caliber. Jazz reviewers often
fall into a pattern of tagging players
with "influences", saying, "He got that
from Charlie Parker," or, "There's a
lot of Coltrane in his playing." With
musicians like Belgrave and Brooks,
however, one can only compare in a vain
attempt to describe, because these men
are jazz geniuses in their own right.

S* A * co ib 7f.10

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