The episode centers on One for Jazz by Billy Bang, a piece dedicated to his friend, Dennis Charles, that consists of Bang’s extensive improvisations on the blues melody—Daydreams—and his speech of Charles’s favorite poem.
His enthralling performance opens with the wistfully plaintive blues melody, Daydreams. Bang extends the opening emotional atmosphere through an astonishing variety of techniques that elicit dramatically and propelling images before returning to the beginning mood. A wonderfully lyric ballad with allusions to play and work songs follows. Dedicated to Bang’s friend, Dennis Charles, who went by the nickname Jazz, this composition was titled One for Jazz. Included in the piece is a poem that was his friend’s favorite, authored, and spoken here by Bang. The piece ends with a firey, non-stop cadenza at presto-tempo, Untitled. In the interview, Bang speaks of searching and exploring the components of “daydreams” and of being “magnetically pulled” into new aspects of the piece. He recalls the combination of jazz and the European spirit in the AACM and illuminates the “loft jazz” years in New York, emphasizing the creative persons involved and the development of more open ways of playing.
Performance date: 12/13/1991
Episode digital release date: 07/05/2010
Host: Phoebe Legere
A renowned violinist, composer, and improviser, Billy Bang, was born in Mobile, Alabama, and grew up in the South Bronx. He studied with the brilliant composer-performer, Leroy Jenkins. In the 1970s, he formed the Survival Ensemble, and later co-founded the String Trio Of New York. Bang has performed and collaborated with musicians such as Sam Rivers, Frank Lowe, Sun Ra, Don Cherry, Marilyn Crispell, and James Blood Ulmer.