“. . . overlapping echoes of George Clinton, the electric Miles Davis of Get Up With It, Lee Perry’s dark magic at Black Ark Studios, plantation blues, and gangsta hip-hop: Ellington to the future via the Grateful Dead’s Anthem of the Sun.”—Rolling Stone
A living, breathing testament to all that is right in the worlds of rock, jazz, African beats, and modern composition, the improvisational orchestra
creates unpredictable mutations in concert Saturday, December 4, at 8 pm at Cedar Cultural Center, 416 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis. Conceived as a contemporary version of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew band, Burnt Sugar is led by writer-guitarist-producer Greg Tate and, although based in New York, is composed of 12 multiethnic players from across the globe. Hailed as the big band of the new millennium, the group’s funk-powered orchestration leads listeners on a road map through contemporary black music and its roots. “Never quite sure what they’ll produce next—you’d be crazy to ignore them,” writes the BBC. “Impossible to ignore anyway, they come on irresistibly loud, hectic, wild . . . ” It’s border-crossing at its musical best. Copresented with the Cedar Cultural Center as part of Walker without Walls.
In addition to the Burnt Sugar concert, Greg Tate will read and discuss his books at 7:30 pm Friday, December 3, at Mapps Coffee + Tea. See below for details.
Formed in 1999, Burnt Sugar explores the connective tissue binding jazz, rock, funk, 20th-century composition, and African music in a lyrical, seductive, exploratory, improvisational manner. Employing Conduction, an interpretative system for improvisers developed by Lawrence“ Butch” Morris, Tate guides the band through improvisations on each of its song forms. As a result, each live performance is an original mutation in tune with the collective personality of the audience as well as the individual character and talents of the players.
Each of the players are masters of their instruments, many of whom are name artists on the contemporary scene— trumpeter Lewis ‘Flip’ Barnes of William Parker’s lauded O’Neal’s Porch Group; bassist Jared Nickerson who has toured and recorded with The The, Freedy Johnston, and Gary Lucas; and pianist Vijay Iyer, recently named “one of today’s most important pianists” by the New Yorker.
In addition to founding and conducting Burnt Sugar, Greg Tate is a writer whose work has appeared in publications, including The Village Voice, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Vibe. He is the author of the books Flyboy In The Buttermilk (Simon and Shuster), Everything But the Burden: What White People Are Taking From Black Culture (Broadway/Random House), and Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and the Black Experience (Acapella).
Burnt Sugar performs regularly at the usual hotbed venues in New York, including Joe’s Pub, Tonic, Symphony Space, The Blue Note, Makor, The Knitting Factory, Galapagos, CBGBs, BAM Café, Aaron Davis Hall, Lotus, and The Cutting Room.
The group’s travels have taken them to venues and festivals such as The Royal Festival Hall in London, The Kennedy Center in Washington DC, The Concert of Colors in Detroit, The Empty Bottle In Chicago, The University of Pennsylvania, Central Park Summerstage in NYC, and Banlieues Bleues in Paris.
Tickets for Burnt Sugar are $20 ($16 Walker members) and are available by phone at the Walker box office, 612.375.7622; or visit www.walkerart.org/tickets/.
Reading/Discussion with Greg Tate
Friday, December 3, 7:30 pm
Mapps Coffee + Tea
1810 Riverside Avenue, Minneapolis
Author, journalist, and Burnt Sugar founder Greg Tate will read excerpts from his published works, including Flyboy In The Buttermilk (Simon and Shuster), Everything But the Burden: What White People Are Taking From Black Culture (Broadway/Random House), and Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and the Black Experience (Acapella). Co-hosted by the Walker Art Center and SASE: The Write Place. SASE: The Write Place is a grassroots arts organization dedicated to making the literary arts accessible to a diverse community. For more information visit: www.saseonline.org.