JCA Orchestra: The Death Of Simone Weil, 10-12-17

The JCA Orchestra, featuring vocalist Rebecca Shrimpton, will start its 32nd concert season with a performance of composer Darrell Katz’s epic improvisational song cycle,

The Death Of Simone Weil, composed by Darrell Katz, is a setting of text by the late Paula Tatarunis. This will be the first time this piece, which is over an hour long, has been performed in its entirety since its debut in 2001. That performance was released, as The Death of Simone Weil, to much critical acclaim, by Innova Recordings.

Simone Weil (1909-1943) was a French writer/philosopher whose concerns ranged from the political to the mystical. Tatarunis’ poem deals with Weil’s death by starvation after refusing to eat in protest of Nazi concentration camps.

“The Death of Simone Weil deals with wild flights of imagination, the Nazi conquest of Europe, desire, fishermen, and existential angst. Weil’s story unfolds like an improvisation that seamlessly mixes modern composition and the entire jazz legacy. The alto voice of Rebecca Shrimpton effortlessly captures the subtle shadings of the starkly beautiful text.  Boston’s powerfully virtuosic JCA Orchestra accompanies with fistfuls of fire. The Death of Simone Weil stands out in the jazz vocal tradition in terms of both scale and ambition, and whose depth and economy of expression are worthy of the subject. All in all, it’s an exciting soirée with the far-out, the insane, and the beautifully strange.” – Phillip Blackburn.

The JCA Orchestra has been a fixture on Boston’s creative music scene since its first performance in December 1985. “…. every community should have one” says Willard Jenkins of Jazz Times. The group has released 10 critically acclaimed CDs, with its last release, Wheelworks, on the list of Down Beat’s best albums of 2015. “This is music for mind and soul.” — Irwin Block, Montreal Gazette.

Paula Tatarunis, who published over 200 poems, was twice been the recipient of a Massachusetts Artist Fellowship in poetry. Katz (director of the JCA) has received one in music. Tatarunis, a medical doctor, photographer, essayist, and prolific poet, woke one morning and quite suddenly quit the publishing biz, explaining to Katz, her husband, “Who the hell am I to call myself a poet?” “To discover a poet of Paula’s mastery and thematic ambition is to recognize one’s own relationship with the vanishing point as mere flirtation. She stands at the prow of no ship, school, or affiliation, yet points with some authority to a hyper-realistic world we can’t help recognize as our own. Discomfort, she seems to say, is the price of admission. There will be teeth. There will be squirming.” – Wendy Videlock, Mezzo Cammin

“… Darrell Katz has forged an identity as a progressive and creative orchestrator of new music in a way that few can claim … Katz is best known not only for jagged edges and vast colors of the musical spectrum as much as direct correlations to tradition.” – Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide. “Singer Rebecca Shrimpton has a soprano voice that combines the intimacy of a jazz singer with the purity of tone one normally associates with trained sopranos…although she sings lightly her tone has a fullness to it that is rare among jazz vocalists.” – The Art Music Lounge, Lynn René Bayley

“Singer Rebecca Shrimpton has a soprano voice that combines the intimacy of a jazz singer with the purity of tone one normally associates with trained sopranos…although she sings lightly her tone has a fullness to it that is rare among jazz vocalists.” – The Art Music Lounge, Lynn René Bayley

“… the JCAO seamlessly moved from composition to improvisation, chordal improvisation to free extemporization, wide-open structure to well-ordered chaos. The music was daring but incredibly disciplined. Even in their wildest abandon, every musician demonstrated self control in the service of expression and musical goals larger than themselves.” Aesthetic, Not Anesthetic Perfesser M. Figg

“Darrell Katz is the heir to the great George Russell –composer, arranger, innovator par excellence. Just as Russell invented the Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organisation,  Darrell Katz has redesigned and integrated songform into the ‘jazz’ orchestration and attracted major soloists to his visioning of the art.”- Sandy Brown Jazz, Steve Day

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