Greg met Butch in the 1980s and was at Conduction No. 1 at the Kitchen in 1985. An esteemed culture critic, icon of the Village Voice and one of the founders of the Black Rock Coalition, Greg was moved enough by Conduction to start practicing it himself, notably as the leader of the groundbreaking Burnt Sugar Arkestra ensemble.
In the Q&A with Julia Lopez, Greg discusses Butch and the importance of Conduction.
A special thanks to Greg for heading out to the festival and sharing his insights into Butch and his work with the audience.
The festival will be paying tribute to the maestro this year by showing the film, and then on October 5 will be holding a panel about Butch and his music with his longtime collaborator and great friend Brandon Ross.
Istanbul was a special place for Butch. He lived there for two years as composer in residence at Bilgi University, and continued visiting throughout his life.
The BlackStar Film Festival starts today in Philadelphia.
Black February will be screening as part of the festival on Saturday, Aug. 3 at the Drexel University Papadakis Auditorium.
We’re particularly excited that Greg Tate, leader of the Burnt Sugar Arkestra, renowned music critic, and dear friend of Butch, will be at the show for a post-screening Q&A.
All the details you need are on the festival’s website.
The BlackStar Festival is a celebration of cinema focused on work by and about people of African descent in a global context. BlackStar highlights films that are often overlooked from emerging, established, and mid-career directors, writers and producers working in narrative, documentary, experimental and music video filmmaking.
Here’s Butch’s great friend, J.A. Deane, conducting an Improvistaion at Konfrontationen 2013, in Nickelsdorf on July 20.
Deane met Butch in New York in the 1980s, and they worked closely together on many projects.
The ensemble features Liz Allbee (trumpet), Hans Koch (bass clarinet), Magda Mayas (piano), Eric Arn (guitar), Christof Kurzmann (laptop), Hans Falb (turntables), Tristan Honsinger (cello), Joëlle Léandre (double bass), George Cremaschi (double bass), Els Vandeweyer (vibraphone), Paul Lovens (drums), Hamid Drake (drums), Tony Buck (drums)
A special thanks to Kim Smith for passing this along. She’s been great about keeping us all in the loop with the many tributes to Butch that have been happening this year.
Vinay, a faculty member at the New School media studies department, discusses Butch’s amazing ability to pull the musical elements out of any moment:
“One of the first shoots we did for Black February was a lecture in Arnold Hall. [Morris] was speaking about Conduction, and he turned the audience of laymen into an ephemeral and other worldly sound scape with just the contents of their pockets.”
We didn’t use that footage from the shoot in the film, but the moment was priceless: Butch asked the lecture audience to take something from their pockets–pens, or paper–and use them to make sustained noises. He then Conducted those seemingly random sounds into music.
The audience was mesmerized: they finally physically understood what Butch meant by Conduction, and got some insight into the genius that allowed him to hear music in every moment he lived.
Perhaps one day we’ll release the outtakes.
For now, check out this great clip of Butch conducting a workshop at Lucky Cheng’s in the East Village.
BlackStar is a celebration of cinema focused on work by and about people of African descent in a global context.
Butch was acutely aware of his heritage as an African American man and the limitations that society tried to place on him because of that. He saw Conduction as a way of breaking through those racial and musical boundaries, which existed even in New York in the ’70s and ’80s. Part of Butch’s genius arose out of his willingness to actively use Conduction to subvert those limitations and preconceptions.
Wayne, who called Butch his only mentor, is conducting his Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble, using some of the technique he learned from Butch in the 1980s.
Mr. Morris tended to use very little written music in his conductions, working from scraps. Mr. Horvitz, by contrast, is using his own themes and pre-existing pieces, some riff-based and directly out of the jazz tradition, but blowing them apart, making them judder and flash and fold in on themselves. His is an excellent band of nearly all Seattle residents — the soloists included the trombonist Naomi Siegel, the clarinetist Beth Fleenor and the saxophonists Kate Olson, Craig Flory and Briggan Krauss — and its had an efficacious start. What I heard in Tuesday’s early set was tighter and stronger than a live recording the band was selling at the club, made in Seattle only a few months ago.