March 31, 1997 Library of Congress Presents JAZZDANCE by Danny Buraczeski
Press Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940
On May 7, the nationally acclaimed JAZZDANCE by Danny Buraczeski will present the premiere performance of Among These Cares, created by two major artists in the world of jazz: choreographer Danny Buraczeski and pianist-composer Sir Roland Hanna. The work was commissioned by the Music Division of the Library of Congress, in conjunction with Pennsylvania State University and the Watson B. Duncan Theatre, Palm Beach Community College Foundation.
The JAZZDANCE company will perform under the auspices of the Library of Congress Concert Series at the Terrace Theater of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Wednesday, May 7, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are free and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis in the lobby of the Terrace Theater beginning at 6 p.m. the evening of the performance.
"We are celebrating the centennial of the Music Division with a turn toward some new and innovative programming initiatives," said Jon Newsom, chief of the Library's Music Division. "This project revives an interest in dance at the Library that began with a commission we're very proud of, Appalachian Spring, the ballet by Martha Graham and Aaron Copland. We are excited about this double commission, and we feel fortunate in having as commissioning partners Joe Jefcoat at Penn State and Lee Bell at the Duncan Theatre. It's wonderful to know that our new work will be seen by dance lovers around the country as the company tours the work in the 1997-98 season."
The first preview performances of Among These Cares will be presented April 17-19 at the company's home theater at the O'Shaughnessy Auditorium of the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minn., an associate commissioner of the work. Six performances are planned during JAZZDANCE's May 13-18 engagement at New York City's Joyce Theater, an internationally recognized venue for dance.
Danny Buraczeski and Sir Roland Hanna are at their most lyrical in Among These Cares, with the composer-pianist joined by violinist Sanford Allen for the performances. The strong rhythms for which Sir Roland Hanna is noted propel the company on and off the stage in layered solos, quartets and trios for the eight-member cast. A series of evocative painted panels by visual artist Susan Weil (in her third collaboration with Mr. Buraczeski) unfurl like Roman shades; lighting is by Kris Broderson, and costumes by Mary Hansmeyer. Sir Roland Hanna and violinist Sanford Allen will perform onstage with the company at the Washington and New York performances.
The Library's May 7 dance concert will also feature three other JAZZDANCE works. Bone Matter (1997), a sensuous romp for the full company, is set to the hot sounds of Kansas City jazz. A duet of restless emotionalism for Mr. Buraczeski and Judith E. James, Les xiles (1995) is performed to Ute Lemper's stinging interpretations of three ballads by Kurt Weill, written during his escape from Nazi Germany in the O30s. Hailed as "the kind of fast-paced, high-flying dancing that pulls cheering audiences to their feet" by The New York Times, Mr. Buraczeski's 1993 Swing Concerto for the full company closes JAZZDANCE's explosive program.
Dubbed the country's "most sophisticated jazz maker" (Village Voice), Danny Buraczeski is admired for an expansive vocabulary distinguished by subtlety, wit and imagination. One of the most musical of choreographers working today, he explores a wide range of scores -- from the gospel renderings of Mahalia Jackson to the Latin sounds of Tito Puente, from the hard bop of Ornette Coleman to Benny Goodman's swing and Sidney Bechet's New Orleans- flavored tunes.
His company, JAZZDANCE by Danny Buraczeski, originally formed in New York in 1979 and based in Minneapolis-St. Paul since 1993, has performed at leading concert halls and festivals in more than 25 states and in Europe and the Caribbean. Its repertory includes works commissioned by the American Dance Festival, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival and Bucknell University, among others.
In addition to creating the complete repertory of JAZZDANCE, Mr. Buraczeski has also created works for other companies, most recently for the Boston Ballet, which commissioned By the Horns in 1996. Mr. Buraczeski has taught at each of the nation's major dance festivals, and regularly travels to teach at colleges and universities throughout the country and abroad. This summer he returns to Boston Ballet to teach a three-week workshop for that company's school. He will direct the Fresh Perspectives on Jazz Workshop at Jacobs's Pillow, where the company has performed regularly for more than a decade. Among other awards, Mr. Buraczeski has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Sir Roland Hanna is ranked among the major artists in jazz and recognized as one of the most gifted pianists performing today. Born in Detroit in 1932, he began his piano studies with his father, studying both classical and popular music. After a stint with the U.S. Army band in 1950-52, he continued his musical studies at the Eastman and Juilliard schools of music. He toured with Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus and Sarah Vaughan, and joined the Thad Jones- Mel Lewis Orchestra in 1967. Since 1980 Sir Roland has appeared frequently with the New York Jazz Quartet, the American Composers Orchestra, and the Lincoln Center and Smithsonian Jazz orchestras, in addition to touring with his own ensembles.
Sir Rolands catalog of more than 400 compositions reflects a longstanding interest in both classical music and jazz, including not only works for standard jazz ensembles, but also chamber music and works for piano and orchestra. A recent addition to his discography of more than 50 recordings is a Sonata for Chamber Trio and Jazz Piano, released on a 1994 Angel/EMI recording featuring jazz sonatas by Dave Brubeck and Dick Hyman. Two recent dance- related works are A Jazz Ballet, for Jazz Orchestra and Strings, and My Name Is Jasmine, But They Call Me Jaz, commissioned by the BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio. Currently a professor at the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College, the City University of New York, Sir Roland served as musical director of the Illinois Ravinia Music Festival in 1993-94. He was knighted in 1970 by then-President William V.S. Tubman of Liberia for humanitarian services to that country.
Music commissions from the Library of Congress Music Division have become classics of the concert repertoire; a list of more than 300 offered to date would include many of the most significant composers of the century, from Igor Stravinsky and Bela Bartok to John Adams and Sofia Gubaidulina.
Over the last 25 years, the scope of the Music Division's public programs has expanded to embrace not only chamber music, but also American musical theater and jazz; today the division's programs include concerts, lectures and radio broadcasts, exhibits, films, facsimile publications, recordings, symposia, performing editions, and interactive media projects, among them a CD-ROM devoted to the career of saxophonist and bandleader Gerry Mulligan, published in 1996.
Jazz has become an important area of activity for the Music Division, involving not only concerts but acquisitions of collections from or about major figures in the field as well -- Charles Mingus, Ella Fitzgerald and Gerry Mulligan. In June 1996, the Library's Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund supported commissions for Benny Carter, Buddy Collette and Gerald Wilson. Category-bending works that explore the territory between new music and jazz are the products of McKim Fund commissions offered to composers Oliver Lake and Muhal Richard Abrams.
An expanded commitment to American dance by the Music Division includes the commission of new works, the expansion of its performance programs, and a preservation strategy that seeks to illuminate as well as document American dance. In collaboration with American University, the Library produced a Lester Horton Festival in 1996 in which three Horton works were reconstructed and documented. In addition, the Library's dance collections are being made more accessible through several continuing partnerships with the Dance Heritage Coalition.