For Immediate Release
April 21, 1998
“Open Palm Prayers” Melds Music and Poetry
In Jazz-Influenced Show at Intermedia Arts, May 19, 1998
Performance Launches ‘Nu Ark Experiments,’ A 12-part Series
Exploring ‘Force and Energy of the Oral Tradition’
A talented group of improvisational musicians and poets will demonstrate a new, multi-sensory approach to uniting word and music in performance, at an evening-length show called “Open Palm Prayers” on Tuesday, May 19, 1998. The performance takes place at 7:00 p.m. at Intermedia Arts, 2822 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis. Tickets are $6, or $3 for Intermedia Arts Partners. Reservations may be made by calling (612) 871-4444.
The key to the performance concept is a jazz-influenced melding of poetry and music, according to organizer e.g. bailey, a member of the performance collective Arkology. “Our goal is to create a spoken word/music synthesis based in the aesthetic of the jazz ensemble,” bailey said. “The work can originate in a word, a concept, an image, or a sound, and then each ‘instrument,’ including the voice, enters the ensemble on an equal footing and has an opportunity to lead and shape the experience.”
“Open Palm Prayers” marks the first event in a 12-part series of innovative spoken word and musical events called Nu Ark Experiments. The aim, bailey said, is “to experiment with the presentation of spoken word by melding it with other art forms, including music, dance, and film.” The series involves ten performances of set pieces and improvisational works, and two workshops designed to introduce others to improvisational techniques for blending art forms in performance. The performances and workshops will occur at several venues in the Twin Cities over the next ten months, beginning with “Open Palm Prayers” at Intermedia Arts.
At the core of the Nu Ark Experiments is a group of well-known, multi-talented artists, most of whom are members of the improvisational performance collective Arkology. At “Open Palm Prayers,” for example, e.g. bailey will contribute his skills as a “verbalist,” joined by Arkology members Kona (drummer), Dennis Maddix (bass), and writer/vocalists Mankwe Ndosi and Miré Regulus. The collective has also appeared with other Twin Cities musicians such as Kevin Washington, Rene Ford, Sam Favors, Markiss, Michael O’Brien, Doug Reed, and Tom Speath.
“We will explore forms and avenues not normally associated with spoken word, with the hope of bringing new life to poetry, and giving back to it the force and energy inherent in the oral tradition,” said bailey.
The idea for the Nu Ark Experiments series originated with Blues for Nina, a 25-minute spoken-word/music performance about the famed singer Nina Simone that bailey presented for the opening of the 1997 Twin Cities Black Film Festival, in collaboration with five other artists. “The audience response to that piece as well as the music/word interaction in the rehearsal process motivated me to explore how to further develop this performance structure,” bailey said.
Nu Ark Experiments is produced with support from a Cultural Collaborations Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Co-sponsors for the series are SASE: The Write Place and Intermedia Arts, and KFAI Fresh Air Radio 90.3 FM Mpls/106.7 St. Paul.