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Weekly Blog 15: Artists and the Bluecoat Building

published by The Bluecoat

This week's blog will be the last in our series dedicated to My Bluecoat, as we look ahead to the ...

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Elaine Mitchener - Playlist

In this week’s eshot we’re focusing on the work of Elaine Mitchener. Elaine’s acclaimed SWEET TOOTH performance was premiered at Bluecoat in 2017, our 300th anniversary year.

This week we invited Elaine to select music that has inspired her practice. Listen to her playlist on YouTube here.

You can also read more about her choices in the notes below.

Elaine has also chosen three films: an extract from Black Journal  1970), focusing on the life of Alice Coltrane and her children in the wake of the death of her husband John Coltrane; Rising Tones Cross (1985) documenting the New York avant-garde jazz scene; and Lizzie Borden’s documentary-style feminist fiction film, Born in Flames (1983).

 

Playlist

Luciano BerioO King (1967/68). 4:40

Berio (1925-2003) composed this in 1967 for mezzo-soprano and five performers. The following year, in response to the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King Jnr, he merged this into a new work dedicated to King. It is performed here by members of the London Sinfonietta and Swingle II.

 

Archie SheppOn This Night (If That Great Day Would Come) (1965, Impulse). 10:00

Archie Shepp (tenor saxophone and piano), Christine Spencer (vocals), Rashied Ali (drums), Henry Grimes (bass), Joe Cambers (timpani), Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone). The track, a tribute to W.E.B. DuBois, is the centrepiece of Shepp’s On This Night LP and he described it as ‘a synthesis of how I sum up contemporary America as a man of colour … there is the presence of a people fighting for emancipation. “That great day” is the day of liberation.’

 

Sun Ra and His Astro Infinity ArkestraStrings Strange (1967, Saturn Research). 20:23

This is from the Strange Strings LP, the only Sun Ra album of its kind, where this track, as well as ‘Strange Strange’ feature the entire Arkestra playing stringed instruments, including ukuleles, banjos, mandolins, kotos, koras. 

 

Jeanne LeeConspiracy (1974, Earthforms). 48:25

One of the greatest free-form albums from the 1970s, originally self-released by Lee on her short-lived ‘artist-owned’ record label, Earthforms.

 

Lily GreenhamLingual Music (2007, Paradigm Discs). 10:34

The term 'lingual music' that Greenham coined for her compositions refers to her technique of using tape loops of text to create complex and dense musical structures. Her best-known composition in this style is 'Relativity', which was made in 1974 in collaboration with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

 

Jackson Mac Low with Jeanne LeeThe text on the opposite page (1965, Soundohm). 13:36

The text on the opposite page may be used in any way as a score for solo or group readings, musical or dramatic performances, looking, smelling, anything else & / or nothing at all.’ – Jackson Mac Low. This recording of the first performance features Mac Low and vocal artist Jeanne Lee.

 

Iannis XenakisOresteïa (composed 1965-66; revised 1969/87/89; recorded 1970, Erato) 49:25

‘In truth, “Oresteia” is less an opera than a hybrid oratorio and ballet. The choruses convey much of the drama in a highly stylized, changeable language that at first has the rhythmic and melodic character of church chant and later takes on a freer, more idiosyncratic accent that, combined with the text in ancient Greek, conveys a modernist’s vision of a starkly elemental, nuance-averse ancient ritual.’ - New York Times 

 

Folk Music of Jamaica (1956, Smithsonian Folkways). 43:36

This compilation, recorded by Edward Seaga, ‘provides a glimpse into the secular and religious musics of Jamaica. Work songs sung to occupy and energize manual laborers are placed side by side with "ring play" which consists of spontaneous song-games played in a circle in the moonlight, sometimes during wakes; Christian cult music of Revival Zion and Pocomania is juxtaposed with "Afro" magico-religious cult music kumina.’

 

Documentaries/Films

Black JournalAlice Coltrane segment (1970, Smithsonian). 15:40

This is from a 16mm documentary film shot three years after the death of jazz musician John Coltrane for the National Education Television's Black Journal television programme. The segment here focuses on the life of Alice Coltrane and her children in the wake of the death of her husband.

 

Rising Tones Cross (1985, dir. Ebba Jahn) 1:52:00

Documentary on the avant-garde jazz scene in New York. It features Charles Gayle, Peter Kowald, William Parker, Patricia Nicholson, Wayne Horovitz, John Zorn, Billy Bang’s Forbidden Planet, Charles Taylor Quintet, Don Cherry with Sound Unity Festival Orchestra, Jemeel Moondoc Sextet, Irene Schweizer, Rüdiger Carl and Peter Brötzmann.

 

Born in Flames (1983, dir. Lizzie Borden). 1:20:00

This 1983 documentary-style feminist fiction film explores racism, classism, sexism, and heterosexism in an alternative United States socialist democracy. The title comes from the song ‘Born in Flames’ written by Mayo Thompson, a member of Art & Language and the band The Red Krayola.

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