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Philadelphia Art Alliance
251 S. 18th St.
Fri, January 18, 2013
Ars Nova Workshop is thrilled to present the first Philadelphia performance by The Whammies, an all-star sextet featuring leading voices from the improvised music scenes of Amsterdam, Chicago and Boston. Tonight the ensemble performs songs by the late New York City saxophone legend Steve Lacy.
Taking its band name from a Lacy song, the Whammies released an album in 2012 titled The Whammies Play the Music of Steve Lacy. It was the first release on Driff Records, the label founded by Boston-based Whammies members Jorrit Dijkstra (saxophone, Lyricon) and Pandelis Karayorgis (piano). Dijkstra first saw Lacy perform with Whammies drummer Han Bennink (the co-founder of the Instant Composers Pool) in the early 1980s; he was deeply inspired by the composer, and studied with Lacy at the New England Conservatory two decades later. He has referred to Lacy’s book Findings as the “saxophone bible.”
The three other members of the Whammies are the Chicago-based trombonist Jeb Bishop and the bassist Nate McBride (both frequent Ken Vandermark collaborators), and the Amsterdam-based violinist Mary Oliver (whom, along with Bennink, is a member of the ICP Orchestra). Many of the Lacy compositions selected by the Whammies for this project have some sort of personal resonance with one of the group members; for instance, Bennink has fond memories of performing “Ducks (to Ben Webster)” with Lacy. And, in honor of Lacy’s deep respect for Thelonious Monk, the Whammies have worked Monk’s tune “Locomotive” into their repertoire.
“Lacy encouraged us to push the outer limits of the saxophone sound by practicing overtone series,” says Dijkstra about the late saxophonist’s legacy. “He’d say, ‘There’s a whole world up there to explore.’”
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