I’m back New Orleans, where I’m honored to be writer-in-residence with The New Quorum—an artist residency organization dedicated to bringing professional musicians and writers from across the globe to New Orleans for meaningful cultural exchange with local and regional artists.”
Trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith is here, and each meal or conversation in passing with him is much like one of his vast catalog of distinguished compositions—unique, searching, free of convention and yet finely focused. I’m getting answers to questions I’d never even thought to ask. Better yet are the workshops and house concerts Smith has been leading at our house on Esplanade Avenue (more on that soon). The other musicians in residence are no less inspiring: flutist Nicole Mitchell; singer and composer Lisa Harris; and visual artist/vocalist/musician Damon Locks.
Right now, these talented folks and the woman who created this program, Gianna Chachere, are helping me dig more deeply into the tensions between tradition and innovation in New Orleans, and in jazz culture in general.
Here’s a nice piece by Cree McCree that discusses The New Quorum in the context of its predecessor and inspiration in New Orleans, The Quorum. (A documentary on that history can be found here.)
For those of you in New Orleans, we’ll explore that and other themes in a free public discussion on Wednesday, January 13—see below or here. You’ll want to stick around for a solo performance by Wadada Leo Smith to follow the panel discussion.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 13
“Looking Back, Moving Forward: Music and Advancing Cultural Equity”
Panel followed by a performance by Wadada Leo Smith
Time: 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Location: Woldenberg Art Center, Freeman Auditorium
Tulane’s New Orleans Center for the Gulf South and The New Quorum present a panel on music as an agent in the continuing Civil Rights Movement and advancing cultural equity. The discussion is led by Gianna Chachere, Founder of The New Quorum with Wall Street Journal Jazz Critic and writer Larry Blumenfeld, avant-garde jazz pioneer Wadada Leo Smith, and long time Civil rights pioneer/activist Roxy Wright.
Admission is Free