Groove with Deep Tones for Peace, an impressive collection of musicians who jam for a deeper purpose.
By BARRY DAVIS
Sometimes, when things don't quite work out as you had hoped, it's a good idea to start over again. That generally means beginning from the bottom, and working your way up, a sentiment with which veteran double bass player Barre Phillips fully identifies. Phillips is one of an international array of stellar musicians who are due to play in the Deep Tones for Peace (DT4P) concert at Jerusalem's The Lab on Sunday, April 26.
"Things don't seem to be happening at the top, on a political level, so why not start from the bottom, with double bass players," says septuagenarian San Francisco-born Phillips, who has been living in France for over 35 years. One of the world's leading jazz and free improvisation bass players, Phillips says he has participated in events with peace-mongering intent before, but says the forthcoming DT4P is something special. "To do it in Jerusalem means a lot. The situation in the Middle East is so complicated but, if you get enough people involved, change happens. I hope this concert gets a good response from the Israeli public."
DT4P is the brainchild of a leading light on the free improvisation scene, Jean Claude Jones. A bass player and teacher, Jones will also take part in a number of DT4P April concerts. Jones, a Jerusalemite, put together a powerful lineup of bass players.
While they may not be instantly recognizable to MTV fans, the likes of Phillips, fellow American bassists Bert Turetzky and Mark Dresser - who are both Jewish - Nigerian-born UK-based award winning classical player Chi-chi Nwanoku, Thierry Barbe from France and Bulgarian-born Danish bassist Irina Kalina Goudeva represent a gathered artistic caliber the likes of which has probably never been seen before in Israel.
And, there's more where that all came from. Even more top ranking, improvisational bass players from New York will join the musicians, live via telematics technology, for the April 26 show. This group will include William Parker and Henry Grimes, Sarah Weaver and Taiwanese bass master Han Han Cho. Their musical endeavor at a location in New York will be transmitted via the Internet to Jerusalem, enabling the artists in the states and here to play "together" across cyberspace, in real time.
Phillips believes his and his DT4P colleagues' efforts will get the peace message across the world over. "I think there is something about the low thud of the double bass and the cello that plays on the vibrational and frequency level of the body." He also feels that the DT4P concert will draw listeners in. "You have to listen intently to an acoustic bass, otherwise you might miss something. Today, with iPods, headphones and the powerful amplification systems they use at concerts, the music is served up to the listener. But when you play acoustic bass there's an appealing natural warmth."
"Our intention is to add our deep voice to the growing worldwide appeal for peace in the Middle East," Jones explains. "We sincerely hope that our music - classical, jazz and contemporary - be received as it is being offered, as a sharing of distinct musical languages and structures that coexist and are appreciated by all participants."
For Phillips, it is all about spelling things out in simple terms. "We need to take a deep breath and say 'let's stop the bullshit and have a drink.' It's all about sharing and being natural. I think that is something we can all get."
Deep Tones for Peace, with the support from Danish Composer's Society's Production Pool/Koda's Fund for Social and Cultural Purposes, runs from April 16 through 26. For program information visit deeptonesforpeace.org. For more information about the Stateside concert visit cueartfoundation.org or msmnyc.edu. For details about the April 26 concert at The Lab, visit maabada.org.il or call (02) 629-2000.
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