Riga, Latvia’s Skaņu mežs festival for adventurous music will host its 21 edition on October 6-8 at concert hall Hanzas Perons (16a Hanzas street), with an opening event on September 30 at art center NOASS (AB jetty 2). Tickets can be purchased at www.bilesuserviss.lv. Festival ticket price is 50 EUR. Only 100 tickets will be available with a 10% discount until the end of August. To get the discount, enter the special code AUGUSTS while purchasing tickets.
On October 6, improvising guitarist Joe Morris, described by The Wire as “One of the most profound improvisors at work in the U.S.”, will perform alongside bass player William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake, hailed by Phil Freeman as “the best rhythm section in jazz right now” and as “Two icons of free jazz” by Tom Schulte.
Joe Morris is a composer/improviser multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, double bass, mandolin, banjo, banjouke electric bass and drums. He is also a recording artist, educator, record producer, concert producer/curator and author. His is considered to be one of the most original and important improvising musicians of our time. Down Beat magazine called him “the preeminent free music guitarist of his generation.”
He was born in New Haven Connecticut in 1955. He began playing guitar at the age of 14 first playing rock music, progressing to blues, then to jazz, free jazz and free improvisation. He has also performed on double bass since 2000. He released his first record Wraparound in 1983. He has composed over 200 original pieces of music.
Morris has performed and/or recorded on guitar or bass with many of the most important contemporary artists in improvised music including, Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith, Evan Parker, John Zorn, Ken Vandermark, Mary Halvorson, Tyshawn Sorey, Tomeka Reid, Mats Gustafsson and many others.
He has lectured and conducted workshops on his own music and on improvisation in the US, Canada, and Europe including at Princeton University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Bard College, University of Alberta, and University of Guelph. He was the recipient of the 2016 Killam Visiting Scholar Award at University of Calgary. He has been on the faculty at Tufts University, Southern Connecticut State University, Longy School of Music of Bard College, and New School. Since 2000, he has been on the faculty in the Jazz and Contemporary Musical Arts Department at New England Conservatory of Music. Morris is the author of the book, Perpetual Frontier: The Properties of Free Music (Riti Publishing 2012).
William Parker is a bassist, improviser, composer, writer, and educator from New York City. He has recorded over 150 albums, published six books, and taught and mentored hundreds of young musicians and artists.
He has been called “one of the most inventive bassists/leaders since [Charles] Mingus,” and “the creative heir to Jimmy Garrison and Paul Chambers…directly influenced by ‘60s avant-gardists like Sirone, Henry Grimes and Alan Silva.” The Village Voice called him, “the most consistently brilliant free jazz bassist of all time” and Time Out New York named him one of the “50 Greatest New York Musicians of All Time.”
He has been a key figure in the New York and European creative music scenes since the 1970s, and has worked all over the world. He has performed with Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Peter Brotzmann, Milford Graves, Peter Kowald, and David S. Ware, among many others.
William Parker works all over the world but he always returns to New York’s Lower East Side, where he has lived since 1975.
Hamid Drake is an American jazz drummer and percussionist. He lives in Chicago, IL but spends a great deal of time touring worldwide. By the close of the 1990s, Hamid Drake was widely regarded as one of the best percussionists in jazz and avant improvised music. Incorporating Afro-Cuban, Indian, and African percussion instruments and influence, in addition to using the standard trap set, Drake has collaborated extensively with top free-jazz improvisers. Drake also has performed world music; by the late 70s, he was a member of Foday Musa Suso’s Mandingo Griot Society and has played reggae throughout his career.
Drake has worked with trumpeter Don Cherry, pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonists Pharoah Sanders, Fred Anderson, Archie Shepp and David Murray and bassists Reggie Workman and William Parker (in a large number of lineups).
Drake won the Jazz Journalist Award in 2009 and the Downbeat Critics Poll in 2006, 2010, 2017, 2018, 2019 as best percussionist. In 2017 he was awarded the title of Chevalier Des Arts et des lettres. The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) is an order of France established on 2 May 1957 by the Minister of Culture. Its purpose is the recognition of significant contributions to the arts, literature, or the propagation of these fields.
Skaņu mežs is a member of the SHAPE+ platform for innovative music and audiovisual art as well as the project tekhnē, supported by the European Union and the Latvian Ministry of Culture.
Skaņu mežs festival is supported by the State Cultural Capital Fund, Riga City Council, the Latvian Ministry of Culture, Goethe-Institut Lettland, Trust for Mutual Understanding Foundation and the Nordic Culture Point. Sponsors of the festival are Valmiermuižas Alus and Radio NABA.
Skaņu mežs is a member of the international network ICAS (International Cities of Advanced Sound) and the Northern European music festival network NERDS (North European Resonance and Dissonance Society).
Media partners are TVNET, Rīgas Laiks and Mūzikas Saule.
The festival will also feature activities of LYRA, a project for kids and teens that is supported by the EEA Grants and Norway Grants funded by Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway.
LYRA receives grants in the amount of EUR 206,256.00 within the framework of the EEA Grants and Norway Grants funded by Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway. The project aims to introduce kids and teenagers to experimental music and to get them involved in its creation. As it is democratic and non-hierarchical in essence, experimental music gives trained and untrained kids the chance to take part in making music. Since the project crosses social and ethnic divides, it is also socially inclusive.
Total LYRA eligible costs: EUR 202,510.00, European Economic Area financial instrument programme Local Development, Poverty Reduction and Culture Cooperation support sum: 85% or EUR 85,000.00, of which:
- European Economic Area financial instrument co-financing: 85% or EUR 175,317.60;
- State Budget co-financing: 15% or EUR 30,938.40.