The Oliver Lake Reunion Trio featuring Pheeroan akLaff (drums) and Michael Gregory (guitar).
The artistic scope of the renowned saxophonist, composer, painter, and poet, Oliver Lake, is unparalleled. An extensive resume of his collaborations includes work with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Flux String Quartet, Bjork, Lou Reed, A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, Me’shell Ndegeocello, Anthony Braxton, James Blood Ulmer, William Parker, Vijay Iyer, Reggie Workman, Andrew Cyrille, and a veritable who’s who of the jazz vanguard. Oliver’s efforts extend far beyond the music, which include creating the non-profit Passin’ Thru organization, becoming a mainstay at Pittsburgh’s City of Asylum, publishing two books of poetry, and frequently producing visual artwork for exhibitions across the country.
Pheeroan akLaff has performed internationally since 1975. He is known for his ability to transform the drum set into an orchestral force supporting the many ensembles he has led or accompanied. (Including a stint with New York City Opera in the premier of “X” by Anthony Davis.) He has conducted educational workshops in several countries of Africa and Asia. His latest CD as a leader/composer is titled Global Mantras (Modern Masters 1998), a World Beat Jazz extravaganza with Asian and African American themes. It features Oliver Lake, Michael Cain, Scott Robinson, Josh Roseman, and a cast of celebrated virtuosos.
Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Michael Gregory Jackson began to play the guitar at the age of seven. In his teens, he often performed his own material during solo gigs and band appearances. Among Michael’s early influences were Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Son House, Led Zeppelin, Joni Mitchell, and Igor Stravinsky. His father exposed him to Wes Montgomery, Mahalia Jackson, Les Paul, Mary Ford, and early George Benson, and Michael’s musical destiny began to take shape. Progressive improvised music composer and trumpeter, Wadada Leo Smith, influenced Gregory to look beyond the boundaries of rock, folk, and mainstream jazz, and soon Michael was playing avant-garde music with Smith and such other notables as a pianist, Anthony Davis, and saxophonists, Julius Hemphill, David Murray, and Oliver Lake. During this period, Gregory notes, “I learned that it was ok to try different things, to experiment. If I had a song that was going one way, it was all right to make it go in another direction or to add diverse elements. I’ve allowed myself to be creatively and stylistically liberated.”
Aired on rTV: 2007
Performance: April 22, 2007
Produced by Jim Staley
Directed by Matt Mehlan