As I developed, I found I could play a lot of notes against a common chord progression that some people would call wrong. To my hearing it's right. You can play any note you like. It's based on freedom of sound. - Eric Dolphy
TWO NIGHTS IN MAY
May 30th & 31st - Montclair, New Jersey. For two nights, the center of the jazz universe.
Seed Artists has gathered world-class musicians and artists to celebrate visionary multi-instrumentalist and composer Eric Dolphy, who died 50 years ago this June. Legends of the Sixties avant garde, today’s leading innovators, from solo cello to large ensemble—the slate and scope are unrivaled. (The nightly schedules are listed at the end of the pitch.)
But it gets even better:
We are profoundly honored to debut Eric Dolphy compositions that have NEVER BEEN RECORDED, NEVER PERFORMED. They have sat unplayed for 50 years, and it is unclear if even Dolphy ever heard them played. From solo bass clarinet to a full ensemble, we will present them both nights in a world premiere of historical importance. This is Holy Grail of Jazz territory.
A Dolphy symposium will feature revelations from his personal papers that show a theoretical and conceptual sophistication far beyond what anyone had imagined. Dolphy Reborn.
And in keeping with Seed’s core mission of Great Art for Good Works, we will donate proceeds to two partner nonprofits: the Jazz Foundation of America (JFA) and the Montclair Academy of Dance and Laboratory of Music (MADLOM).
The pieces are in place, now we need to complete funding. We hope that you will help us to help others, and to make music history.
DOLPHY and FREEDOM OF SOUND
Launching the Freedom of Sound series—each year another visionary—with this tribute is fitting not just because of Dolphy’s genius or the anniversary but also because of who he was: a risk-taker and seeker of the highest order, a deeply committed craftsman, and a man of uncommon kindness and generosity.
(If you haven't already done so, click into the rectangle at the bottom center of the screen at the end of the pitch video. It's our cellphone-video tribute to Dolphy.)
As fans ourselves,
we’re counting the days (and humbled) to see and hear this unparalleled gathering of legends and young innovators. You’ll find nothing like it anywhere.
Gunther Schuller, giant of modern music? Yes.
The Richard Davis? Yes!
Don Byron, Oliver Lake,
Vernon Reid…a debut composition from Henry Threadgill, a birdsong suite from
Diane Moser, a bass-clarinet quartet, God
Bless the Child on cello…And not just music but dance from an Alvin Ailey
instructor, a National Book Ward-nominated poet, photography, video--a slate and scope for the devotee and the Dolphy-curious, a tonic for the merely bored. (See the performance schedules at the end of this pitch. You'll be floored.)
A Bit About Seed Artists
Renowned drummer Pheeroan akLaff and his wife, Luz Marina Bueno, founded Seed Artists in Brooklyn in 2005. Seed used jazz and creative music to bridge cultural and generational gaps, spark community engagement, and bring the arts to at-risk youth. From music instruction at underserved schools to concerts at nursing homes and in community gardens. DIY through and through.
When Pheeroan and Luz Marina moved to Montclair, Seed was initially dormant. Then he met Chris Napierala (me) and Michael Schreiber at a yard sale, and we fell into the Jazz Wormhole.
We emerged with plans to revive Seed. When we realized that this summer would mark 50 years since Dolphy’s death, and we found no planned tribute (!), we decided to do it ourselves. Absent existing funding, we put in the volunteer hours to create an event that would do Dolphy justice. A grand project, but such a significant anniversary merits an equally significant celebration.
Why Are We Donating Proceeds to JFA and MADLOM? Simple. They are good at what they do and can do more good with the funds at this stage we can.
JFA’s vital work ranges from pro bono medical care to housing assistance, music in underserved schools, and free public concerts. MADLOM’s innovative performing-arts programs develop creative minds and spirits, but they’d like to bring in more at-risk kids who can’t afford the modest tuition. We are happy to be the conduit.
Our first major Sponsor, RetailMeNot, got us started. Performers took reduced pay, and the venue reduced the rental by a third. But a two-day event of this size is still costly to produce. Performance and venue fees, travel and lodgings, production staff, printing and promotions, equipment rental, insurance, food…To cover expenses and still donate funds to JFA and MADLOM, we need your help.
Seed staff will receive none of the funds from Indiegogo or the event receipts, nor do we receive salaries.
At $38,000…we can professionally audio-record the event. Our primary goal is to preserve jazz history and provide audio files to music schools and programs, to help inspire the next generation of visionaries.
It also opens the possibility of limited-edition CDs and music files, which we can then add as bonus perks.
At $55,000…a filmmaker is ready to begin a documentary exploring the story of the “lost” Dolphy compositions and his legacy 50 years on. The festival and interviews with performers frame the story. It would be a shame to miss such an opportunity given the remarkable gathering of artists and the world premiere. Beyond providing copies of the film to music programs, we plan to enter it in next year’s Montclair Film Festival and pitch it to public television. For starters.
PERKS! PERKS! PERKS!
We hope that you will dig our
perks as much as we do. (We do.)
$10 - Our eternal and cyberspacial thanks. In addition to our quiet but very earnest thankfulness, we will post your name on the Eric Dolphy: Freedom of Sound Facebook page--please do check it out--and in a large placard of donors at the event. (This applies to all proceeding perks.)
$35 You get ONE GENERAL-ADMISSION TICKET, night of your choice. Which one? Tough call. (Check the schedule at the end.) Technically a "$20 value," but plainly far more valuable than that. We expressly set a low price because deep pockets shouldn't be a condition to see and hear great music. So that $35 easily gets you a $35 value, plus you help two great causes.$40 - A limited-edition 24” x 36” Eric Dolphy: Freedom of Sound poster featuring the artwork of Peter Bodge, through the lens of graphic designer Chris Drukker. Bodge's jazz portraits are in the Smithsonian’s permanent collection. For us, he created the linoleum-cut print that is the central graphic for the festival, based on the famous Chuck Stewart photo. (Mr. Stewart personally approved Bodge's concept.) We're damned excited to see it get around.
$60 - The
Coolest T-Shirt You Will Ever Own: Get a knockout two-sided Dolphy t-shirt in one of two formats:
(A) the original (see below) in one of three color combinations, on a colored t-shirt--we will soon post the color options...
or (B) the green event shirt from Chris Drukker that you saw above.
Both shirts will feature the logo and performance slate on the back. We're already getting requests. Beautify your neighborhood by just walking down the street.
$70 - DOLPHY CALENDAR! A stunning 27"h x 18"w labor of love from graphic designer Oscar Schnider, created in 1991 as an homage to Dolphy. Full-color, glossy, heavy stock. Features Dolphy photos and musician quotes, and 4000+ birthdates of musicians and composers fill the calendar days. Each month is co-titled with a tune that Dolphy composed or played. Plus an index and discography, and a wonderful intro written for the calendar by NAT HENTOFF. No joke.
You can't find it on EBay or Craigslist. Google it: not for sale. CAN"T GET THEM ANYWHERE BUT HERE. A privilege to be able to offer this. Get a rare piece of Dolphy memorabilia and do some good in the process.
$100 - Two T-shirts of your choosing plus a Dolphy Poster. Nice.
$125 - Two T-shirts and two tickets. Another steal. Go ahead, we encourage your thievery.
$150 - Graphic Artist Keith H. Brown (KHB) does work for the Newport Jazz Fetival, among much else. Great stuff, but when we found out about his Dolphy graphic novel--!!!--we flipped. That is cool. The novel's not printed yet, but he did swing us some 18" x 24" gallery-quality prints of one of the plates, signed and numbered from an edition of 250.
$200 - Brown's print, a t-shirt and a poster. And your name in the program as a Friend of Seed Artists (FSA). (This applies to all proceeding perks.)
$201 - TWO TICKETS to the show of your choice at the legendary BLUE NOTE in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. A very hip place in a very hip place. Not enough hands to count the greats who played, play and will play the Blue Note. Name your show, get your table. Depending on the show, value up to $130. ONE SET OF TWO TICKETS, so grab it while you can.
$275 - Original Bodge: Bodge layered two separate linoleum cuts to make his image--one with the amazing letter work, the other with the Dolphy profile. Hand-pressed them. Two of the original 11" x 13" images appear above. In person they're even better. Because each one features unique colors, they are one-of-a-kind prints, signed and numbered. (PLEASE NOTE THIS CHANGE FROM THE ORIGINAL POSTING. IT CANNOT BE CHANGED IN THE PERKS COLUMN ON THE RIGHT.) And a shirt.
$400 - Drummer Pheeroan akLaff has played with the likes of Cecil Taylor, Andrew Hill and Anthony Braxton, among many (many) modern greats. He has taught at Wesleyan University for 20 years. And he can be your personal instructor on Skype for an hour. One-on-one, drums or a broader music lesson or discussion. And two t-shirts.
Cover your walls and yourself with Dolphy: The Bodge and the KHB artwork, a t-shirt and a poster.
$500 - The posters are great in their own right. But signed by all of the performers? Living legends and legends-n-the-making. There will be only 12 of these. A rare piece of memorabilia from an historic event. Plus we'll throw in two t-shirts.
$600 - Want to control the dial? You can. Curate the Music. Before the show each night, Dolphy's music will play in the theater and lobby. Whether it's his own releases or work with Coltrane, Mingus, Booker Little…You choose, we list you in the program and post your name on the onstage screen as the night's Ambient-Music Curator. Plus two shirts.
$1,000 - Two full-color banners with the Bodge graphic, roughly 4’ x 6', will bookend the stage. The green-backed flyer image, no text but the logo. Be one of only two people in the known universe with a Dolphy banner. Or grab them both and corn the market. Plus two shirts.
If available, Curate and add the Bodge or KHB artwork, plus two t-shirts, two posters.
Curate and receive a signed poster.
$5,000 - THE BIG PERK: At this level, the biggest perk is the good that you will do. Don't worry you'll still get "stuff," but right off the top we'll donate 40% ($2,000) to JFA, MADLOM, or a combination. Your call. You will be specially acknowledged in the program and onstage; you will receive a signed poster and two t-shirts…and you will get to hang out behind the scenes for a while and meet the artists. (Keep in mind that $5,000 is the starting point. You can go higher.)
Also keep in mind that these perks "make wonderful gifts." Really. Everyone looks better with a Dolphy t-shirt, and every room feels more hep with a Dolphy print.
What if We Don’t Reach Our Goal? We'll be disappointed. Briefly. But we'll still use the funds to produce the show. They will not move from the bank account, and we raise funds until we can produce it. No monies will be used for any purpose other than those stated above.
We are launching a new cultural institution, and we hope that you will hep us make it happen, and do some good in the process. We can't wait to put on our Dolphy t-shirts and to hear those first notes, and who-knows-what Dolphy created but never got to perform.
Please help us make it happen.
IF YOU CAN’T CONTRIBUTE…
•Spread the word—through the Share tools on this site (Facebook, Twitter, G+ and email icons right below the video), by bringing people to our website or our Facebook page, or by word of mouth. We know the Dolphyites are out there, we just need to reach them.
•If you’re in the Montclair area, volunteer for Seed Artists or MADLOM. In New York City, you can volunteer for JFA. Elsewhere, there is no shortage of community-based programs that could use a hand. Even a couple hours a week. And you can always do it yourself.
Thank you. Please contribute if you can, and DROP THE NEEDLE ON SOME DOLPHY.
Andrew Cyrille & Pheeroan akLaff
solo; duo w/ Marty Ehrlich; guests of choice
Russ Johnson's “Still Out to Lunch”
Roy Nathanson, Orrin Evans, Brad Jones, George Schuller
Henry Threadgill w/ David Virelles
Veronica Nunn w/ Sean Conly
Diane Moser Quintet feat. Howard Johnson
Marty Ehrlich, Anton Denner, Ken Filiano, Michael Sarin
Don Byron solo
The Dolphy Bass Clarinet Quartet
Howard Johnson, Don Byron, Marty Ehrlich, Oscar Noriega
Eric Dolphy: Architect of Possibility
SYMPOSIUM featuring GUNTHER SCHULLER, Richard Davis, James Newton, John Szwed, PhD (Columbia Univ), Michael E. Veal, PhD (Yale)
To Eric: Works by Hale Smith
Arranged by Chris White
Adegoke Steve Colson, Pheeroan akLaff, Jerome Harris, Andy McKee, Jun Miyake
Tarbaby featuring Oliver Lake
Orrin Evans, Nasheet Waits, Luques Curtis
w/ Andrew Cyrille, Angelica Sanchez, Aska Kaneko; duo w/ Aska Kaneko
Tomeka Reid w/ Beatrice Capote (dance) & Andrew Cyrille
Michael S. Harper (poetry)
Vernon Reid & Pheeroan akLaff w/ guests
Grachan Moncur III
The Sound of Freedom Ensemble
James Newton (conductor), Pheeroan akLaff, Jerome Harris, Ted Daniel, Alfred Patterson, Jay Hoggard, Andy McKee, James Brandon Lewis, Jun Miyake