Bravo! Kicks summer season off on Sunday |

Bravo! Kicks summer season off on Sunday

AE Kris Sabel 12-28-06 KH

Editors note: Directors Corner is a weekly column where Kris Sabel, who is in charge of cultural programming for the Vail Valley Foundations, gives his expert take on shows not to be missed.VAIL On Sunday, June 24 we kick off the summer season at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater with a special Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival and Vail Valley Foundation joint presentation. Congo Square, a cross-cultural musical collaboration between trumpet virtuoso Wynton Marsalis, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Ghanaian drum master Yacub Addys eight-piece ensemble Odadaa!, is a show not to be missed. This special tour is making stops in some of the finest performing arts centers in the nation, and we are very lucky to have a performance right here in the Rockies.

The composition is inspired by the public square of the same name in New Orleans. From the 1700s to the late 1800s, African slaves gathered there on Sunday afternoons to perform African song and dance. Due largely to the fact that New Orleans was originally a French colony, Congo Square was the only place in America where such regular slave gatherings and performances took place. Across most of the nation, African drumming and dance were considered a menacing form of communication and were prohibited. Historians agree that the unique musical heritage of Congo Square is what made it possible for New Orleans to become the birthplace of jazz at the turn of the twentieth century. This is a very special opportunity to see a unique piece of music performed in Vail. According to Marsalis, Congo Square was the origin and birthplace of many so-called American musical traditions that have endured to this day. In a Philadelphia Daily News interview, Marsalis said that Congo Square was the ultimate melting-pot experience that created the relationship of the bass and drums, and all music that came after that jazz, country music, R&B all North American music developed {in Congo Square}.

According to The New York Times, Congo Square is an incredible celebration of these musical traditions. In a review of the piece, Nate Chinen said it was imbued with a sense of uplift and release and praised the joint sound of the orchestra and Odadaa!, which illuminates the undercurrent of African rhythm in New Orleans second-line grooves.This is also an incredible opportunity to see one of the most prominent jazz musicians of the modern era perform in our community. Marsalis, master of both jazz and classical trumpet, composer and Musical Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, has been awarded nine Grammy Awards and won the Pulitzer Prize for music, the first time it had been awarded for jazz.

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