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February 05, 1983 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1983-02-05

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Saturday, February 5, 1983

Page 5

Jumpin'jazz jamtonight

By Jerry Brabenec
NE OF THE MOST highly praised
and creative musicians in con-
temporary jazz, saxophonist Anthony
Braxton will perform at the University
Club tonight in a duet concert with
pianist Marilyn Crispell. Making one of
his main tenets the dictum that "there's
nothing that happens that doesn't
swing," the chess playing, professorial
Braxton has devoted his distinguished
composing, performing, and teaching
career to constantly expanding the
boundaries of jazz.
Born in Chicago in 1945, Braxton
began playing clarinet in high school
and developed a taste for some of the
more intellectual, cool jazzers of the
late 50's. Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh,
PaulrDesmond, and Miles Davis were
all developing more complex har-
monies and arrangements, playing
with an understated sophistication that
ran against the earlier stripped down
simplicity and uninhibited soloing of
bepoo. After a tour with the army band
in Korea, Braxton returned to Chicagl
and soon befriended fellow saxophonist
Roscoe Mitchell, began to work with the
Chicago based Association for the Ad-
vancement of Creative Music.
This group was organized, as Braxton
says, "to study and advance the music
that was solidifying during that period,
namely the music of John Coltrane,
Albert Ayler, and Sun Ra. One of the
many wonderful things about the
AACM was the cooperative spirit found
there. The emphasis was always on the

collective rather than the individual."
Other members of the AACM to achieve
great prominence during the ensuing
years have included Muhal Richard
Abrams, Lester Bowie, and the other
members of the Art Ensemble of
Chicago.
By the end of the '60s, Braxton had
already made jazz history by recording
the first album devoted entirely to solo
saxophone music. The album, For Alto,
received the Japanese Gold Disc Award
and a five star (top rated) review in
Downbeat Magazine. The early '70s
found Braxton in Europe, playing with
pianist Chick Corea, bassist Dave
Holland, and drummer Barry Altschul
in the group Circle.
Composed of four famous jazz vir-
tuosi, Circle created dense, complex
textures that developed sonic territory
totally outside traditional jazz harmony
rhythm, having much more in common
with avant garde classical composers
like John Cage and Karlheinz
Stockhausen. By this time Braxton and
developed his technique of titling his
compositions with small
mathematic/geometric diagrams that
represented a sort of schematic of each
piece. During his early days in Europe,
Braxton was living in a rather hand-to-
mouth fashion, making money during
the day as a chess hustler and playing
his music at night.
. The music that resulted from this
period cemented Braxton's reputation
particularly the 2 record live set en-
titled, Circle: the Paris Concerts,
released on the German label ECM.
Another important release from this

period was Conference of the Birds,
with saxophonist Sam Rivers, in music
that ran the gamut from abstract free
textures to the folksong-like simplicity
of the title tune.'
In 1972, Braxton performed a solo alto
concert in New York's Carnegie Hall,
and during the next few years he
worked in an amazing variety of con-
texts. His music for four orchestras
was performed and recorded at Oberlin
University, where he taught and served
as artist in residence. He substituted
for tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon on
a straight ahead jazz date, astonishing
everyone by performing the bebop
standard "Donna Lee" on the elephan-
tine contrabass clarinet. He composed
the score for a French film entitled
Paris Streets, wrote ballet music for
Merce Cunningham's dance company,
and experimented with electronic
music.
Some of his compositions, such as the
music for 5 shovels, or the music for 100
tubas, seems to have been written
largely just to demonstrate that dictum
that "there's nothing that happens that
doesn't swing". The Creative Or-
chestra Music 1976albumfeatured
reworkings of classic American march
forms, and Braxton and Holland recor-
ded Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag,"
extending the concept of creative im-
provised music to embrace the entire
history of what Lester Bowie calls
"Great Black Music."
Braxton shows no signs of slowing
down as he moves into the '80s. His
recent collaboration with drummer
Max Roach, Birth and Rebirth, was
awarded the Italian Jazz Society's
Album of the Year honors, and he has
also received a Guggenheim fellowship
to work on his "Composition 102 for Or-
chestra and Puppet Theatre."
Appearing with Braxton at the U Club
tonight will be pianist Marilyn Crispell.
A '68 graduate of the New England Con-
servatory, Crispell worked in the realm
of dance and classical music before
enrolling at the Creative Music Studio
in Woodstock, New York in 1977. There,
she met Braxton, and performed in
some of his large ensembles. Asked
about her style in an interview in the
New York Times, Crispell said, "I say I
play free music, but there's still a
feeling of a strong energy pulse going
through it, so it's not just some
dissipated, intellectual mish-mash."
Braxton will hold a free lecture
workshop at theWilliam Monroe Trot-
ter House today at 4.

Karen Carpenter
dead at age 32
From Wire Service Reports

N O MORE rainy days or Mondays
for Karen Carpenter. The 32-
year old singer, who with her brother
Richard brought soft rock to the top of
the charts with such songs as "Top of
the World" and "Close to You," died of
cardiac arrest Friday at a hospital.
Carpenter was rushed to the Downey
Community Hospital early yesterday
morning after becoming ill at her
parent's home, according to her agent,
Paul Bloch. CPR efforts and
stimulative drugs failed to revive the
unconscious celebrity.
The fresh-faced Grammy Award-
winning Carpenters sold 60 million
albums worldwide following their first
big hit, "We've Only Just Begun," in
the early 1970s. In their early recording
days, Carpenter, an anorexic brunette,
surprised audiences by playing the
drums, although she later moved
behind a microphone for good. Many of

their biggest hits were tunes by fluff
songwriter Burt Bacharach.
"This was a wonderful fresh voice
that came out of this really fresh, won-
derful girl," Bacharach said. "She had
a sound in her voice that was very
unique, that I haven't heard before and
haven't heard since."
In 1975 the Carpenters were forced to
cancel a 38-month concert tour of
Europe because Karen was suffering
from a severe case of physical and ner-
vous exhaustion. Carpenter was
bedridden for six weeks at that time.
Married in 1980 to industrial real
estate developer Thomas J. Burris of
Newport Beach, Carpenter was in the
process of a divorce, according to
Bloch.
Her last album, Made in America,
was released in 1981 and she was about
to record a new one with her brother, he
said.

Carpenter
... top of the world

Shakespeare at mid-day

By Julie Bernstein
SHAKESPEARE in the park? No,
Shakespeare at the Union. Every
Thursday afternoon, the School of
Music's "Music at Mid-day" program
provides free entertainment from 12:10
to 1 p.m. Usually, music students are
scheduled to do recitals; this past
Thursday, however, the faithful weekly
attendants saw something a little dif-
ferent as students from Oberlin College
in Ohio performed a musical and
dramatic interpretation of various
scenes from Shakespearean plays.
"Hot Ice and Wondrous Strange
Snow..." was first produced by
professional actors from the Royal
Shakespeare Company. Six out of the
original 12 actors cast were chosen to
tour with the show, which was cut down
to an hour. Since the beginning of
January the troupe has appeared at
high schools throughout Cleveland,
Cincinatti, Columbus, Pittsburgh, and

Ann Arbor. Their last stop here at the-
University was a well-deserved finale
for these weary travelers. The ex-
perience of performing as many as
three shows a day at differenthigh
schools and conducting workshops in
Shakespeare, music, and juggling can be
tiring. Such activities count as the one
term extra-curricular project that
every Oberliner must complete for
graduation.
Thursday's program included 11
scenes from As You Like It, Romeo and
Juliet, Taming of the Shrew, The Win-
ter's Tale, and The Tempest, in ad-
dition to sonnets and Shakespearean
love songs. The central theme tying the
scenes together was nothing but old
Bill's favorite literary topic, love and
its many stages. The first movement
exposed love's irrationality and outbur-
sts of passion and giddiness; the second
described the pain and problems of
lovers', and the final one covered the
trust and understanding that is
developed with time.
In general, the acting was overdone
and the interpretations were trite. This
may have been intentional since "Hot
Ice..." was designed for younger
audiences with limited exposure to the
Bard. The smooth, effective transitions
between scenes were cleverly staged by
the use of a simple prop or costume ac-
cessory to establish a new character or
Shakespearean idea. Also, the selec-

tion of scenes served as a thorough
representation of Shakespeare's most
famous love scenes.
Brian Dean, graduate student in
violin performance, accompanied the
scenes with beautiful folk melodies on
old medieval and mountain instrumen-
ts. His harmonious tunes evoked all the
romance and enchantment
Shakespeare himself would have direc-
ted.
The performances seemed to lack
energy but after a month of high school
kids and tiresome bus trips, "can'st
thou blame them?" "Music at Mid-
day" is an excellent release for working
students and staff. If you have the hour
free, take a break and relax.

Anthony Braxton jazzes up the U-Club tonight at 8and 10:30 p.m.

'Potassium'

earns its drama salt,

COMPUTER.TERMINALS
FOR RENT
$60.00 per month
TIPCO 455-8133

By David Kopel
A NN ARBOR has never been known
as a town one travels to to get a
start in theater. So whenever a theater
program dedicated to showcasing local
talent comes along, it makes a major
contribution to the vitality of theater
here.
Performance Network is a com-
munity theater group founded last win-
ter. Located on the far side of down-
town (408 W. Washington), they have
already established a reputation for in-
novation and variety. One of their most
interesting projects has been the
"Works in Progress" series. Original
works, usually one-acts, by local
playwrights are given trial performan-
ces, with minimal sets and staging. Af-
terwards, the audience and the
playwright discuss possible revisions
for the script. The playwright revises,
and, a few months later, the script
receives a full production.
This weekend, the term's first two
full productions in the series will be
1 playing. The Atomic Weight of
Potassium and Slow Monday opens
tonight and continues on Monday at 8
p.m. The Atomic Weight of Potassium
will also appear at the Michigan Union
on March 22. Admission for these two
plays is an unconscionable five dollars.

If your idea of an evening of drama is
Neil Simon at a dinner theater, The
Atomic Weight of Potassium will annoy
you. But if you enjoy multi-layered
psychological conflicts, this play is just
right.
Dan, an unemployed high school
civics teacher, is married to Samantha,
a lady lawyer. A few weeks ago, Dan
had a nervous breakdown; the play
takes place the evening he leaves the
institution for a dinner-date with Sam.
Author Lyn Coffin's use of language is
brilliant. As in Who's Afraid of Virginia
Woolf? the characters use their words
as weapons in a sexual power struggle.
No line of dialogue is wasted, as each
word contributes several meanings.
Timothy Grimm, a University grad
student in theater, plays Daniel. Sen-
sitive to the nuances of Coffin's script,
he fills his role with dignified self-pity.
He deftly directs his sarcasm at
Samantha - and at himself, for he vac-
cilates between thinking himself wret-
ched and Christ-like.
As Samantha, Sandy Storrer brings
out Sam's conflict between her attrac-
tion to Dan-as a mother-and her
weariness with her indulgent and half-
sane spouse. Sometimes, however,
Storrer substitutes stridency for
genuine anger.
As the play progresses, the charac-
ters play their roles more broadly. In
the final two scenes, Dan's journey into

his own world becomes especially in-
teresting, as is the build-up to the final
confrontation between Dan and Sam.
Slow Monday takes place in an all-
night diner. All the regulars-the diner
owner, a waitress, and a gigolo - lead
stale lives of inaction and numbness.
Into the diner walks a crazed young
man, afraid he has just killed someone.
Roger Kerson plays Tom, the young
man who dominates the action. His ob-
sessive eyes, twitchy tension, and
swagger earns him the undivided atten-
tion of the diner's occupants, and of the

audience.
In a small role as the gigolo's client,
Judith Ottmar is a delight. In a few
minutes, she shows the audience a well-
developed character, grasping at lies to
ward off her advancing age. The rest of
the cast works well together, although
none has the conviction of Kerson and
Ottmar.
Performance Network has shown that
very good playwriting- talent exists in
Ann Arbor, and that talent to produce
satisfying versions of original plays
exists too.

.d

-------

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