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17 mai 2008

N&N Festival: Saturday, May 17

Xarxa Teatre, Spanish masters of fire, will perform in Earlham Park tonight, Saturday.

Today a closing flourish brings to our festival jazzy American visionary Jon Hassell - the world's most famous unknown contemporary composer and trumpeter. He is the maker of “Fourth World” music, a mysterious mix of ancient and digital, composed and improvised, Eastern and Western.

His name may still be unfamiliar but let's judge him by the company he keeps - and the constellation of stellar artists he inspires. “Almost all of the musicians I meet at the moment seem to regard Jon Hassell as one of the God-like geniuses of contemporary music,” says David Toop, of The Wire (whose own music has just featured in Michael Clark's The Stravinsky Project).

And he adds: “There's no doubt that Jon has had an effect on contemporary music as important as Miles Davies or Jimi Hendrix or James Brown or the Velvet Underground.”

After studies with Karlheinz Stockhausen and early collaboration with Terry Riley (a recent festival bill-topper), he met Hindustani raga master Pandit Pran Nath and sought to translate that haunting Indian vocal style for the trumpet.

His 11 singular solo albums over the past two decades have been hugely influential - bringing rave reviews from, and working partnerships with, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Baaba Maal, k.d. lang, Bjork, Bono, Talking Heads, the Kronos Quartet, fashion designer Issye Miyake, choreo-grapher Merce Cunningham and film director Wim Wenders. Oh, and Ry Cooder produced his last CD, Fascinoma.

And now, thanks to a festival commission and a world premiere in Norwich Cathedral tonight, the collaborative list includes our own The Voice Project - the 100-voice, open-access choir formerly known as Bigger Sky, directed by Sian Croose and Jonathan Baker.

Tonight the choir will perform Hassell's In Tsegihi (The Night Chant), with text from a Navajo ritual of healing, with the composer on trumpet and keyboard and support from his Maarifa Street band. (...)


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