Jace Clayton’s Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Music Gallery presents:
Jace Clayton’s Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner

Doors: 7pm | Concert: 8pm
Concert: The Music Gallery, 197 John St.
Tickets: $25 regular | $15 member | $20 advance at Soundscapes or BUY NOW

Over its history, the Music Gallery has earned a reputation for presenting the most forward-thinking contemporary classical music in the world. However, in many cases it is not enough to showcase music in isolation. The two free events leading into this performance build a necessary context and wider framework for this important work to be more deeply understood by the audience.

The Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner is a 70-minute performance piece for grand pianos, live electronics, and voice. JEMD focuses on the music and life of Julius Eastman (1940-1990), a gay African-American composer, pianist, and vocalist who worked extensively in New York from the late 1960s through the 80s. Eastman’s pieces were equal parts hypnotic and confrontational; he was among the first minimalist composers to integrate elements of improvisation, classical quotations, and pop structures into his writing. For all the canny provocateur playfulness, Eastman struggled with alcoholism, drug addiction, and bouts of homelessness. Most of his scores were lost, and his work is painfully under-recorded. Inspired by Eastman’s powerful, rarely performed oeuvre, Jace Clayton — the New York-based artist also known as DJ/rupture — created a work that reshapes two Eastman compositions in new arrangements, interspersed with short theatrical vignettes and original material.

JEMD features pianists David Friend and Emily Manzo processed by Clayton using custom-built audio software from his innovative Sufi Plug Ins project. Faithful approximations of Eastman’s scores flow into sections where the electroacoustic transformations take on a lead role. The vignettes and original closing song use empathy and humour to give contemporary context to Eastman’s life while resisting easy historicization of his story.

An album version of the project, The Julius Eastman Memory Depot, recorded at Manhattan’s Merkin Concert Hall, was released to critical acclaim on New Amsterdam Records in 2013.

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