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Chamber Music America grants have jazzy Minnesota connections

What does chamber music have to do with jazz? It depends how you define it.

Chamber Music America  — founded in 1977, based in New York City — defines it as “music for small ensembles in which players perform one to a part, generally without a conductor. Historically, the term ‘chamber music’ was restricted to Western classical music for small ensembles, such as the string quartet. Today, however, chamber music comprises many different musical styles and genres.”

Including work by some of today’s most exciting and progressive jazz artists.

Late last week, CMA announced $200,000 in grants to 21 jazz artists, ensembles and presenters. Among them are several with Minnesota connections.

The Walker Art Center received a grant to support two concerts by Jason Moran’s Big Bandwagon scheduled for May 9. Pianist/composer Moran has created a multimedia performance built around Thelonious Monk’s legendary 1959 Town Hall concert.

The Walker has a close relationship with Moran. In 2004, it commissioned him to create a new work, “Milestone,” based on art from the Walker’s collection; the May 2005 concert was fascinating. Performing arts curator Philip Bither brought Moran back in February 2007 for a lively discussion. Listen here.

“We are thrilled that our upcoming co-presentation [with the Northrop Jazz Series] of Jason Moran’s ambitious ‘In My Mind’ project was awarded a grant by Chamber Music America’s Presenting Jazz Program,” Bither said Monday afternoon. “The Walker’s long relationship with Moran is very important to us, and we are pleased that CMA felt his captivatingly innovative celebration of Thelonious Monk’s legendary 1959 Town Hall Concert was deserving of support.”

Learn more here.

A number of jazz artists were awarded CMA grants for collaborative projects in France and the United States.

Baritone saxophonist François Corneloup will record and tour in France with violinist Dominique Pifarély, guitarist Dean Magraw, electric bassist Arlie Huff, and drummer James-Thomas Bates. Magraw and Bates (we know him as JT) live and work in the Twin Cities; Corneloup and Pifarély have performed at the Minnesota sur Seine music festival.

Alto saxophonist Tim Berne and pianist Craig Taborn will travel to France to perform and record. Both now live in Brooklyn, but Taborn was born and raised in Golden Valley.

Other CMA grant recipients — cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, drummer Ari Hoenig, saxophonist Miguel Zenón, bassist Hans Glawischnig — have played here within the past year. Bynum was at Homewood Studios earlier this month; Zenón with the SF Jazz Collective at the Dakota in March. Hoenig returns to the Artists’ Quarter at the end of May.

If you’re wondering about the sur Seine: The festival won’t happen this spring, but may return in the fall. Meanwhile, co-director Sara Remke plans to bring an Afro-French brass band to St. Paul in May to play in the street.

Pamela Espeland tweets a daily jazz calendar at Twitter.

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