21M.355 | Spring 2013 | Undergraduate

Musical Improvisation

Concert Videos

Concert Series: The Art of the Improvisors

This page highlights the four concerts that comprised the Art of the Improvisers concert series, presented at MIT in conjunction with this course. The series was made possible with the support of MIT Music and Theater Arts and the Alumni Class Funds Program.

Students were required to attend all four concerts, and write short reflection papers on each one.

About the Artists


FILM + improvisation=FiLmprov! Add live musical improvisation by world class musicians to the moving modern art of filmmaker Kate Matson and enter the world of FiLmprov! Join Matson and this wonderful ensemble for a dazzling display of visual and aural invention: Mark Harvey, trumpet, Peter Bloom, Phil Scarff, and Dan Zupan, saxes and woodwinds, John Funkhouser, string bass and piano, and Jerry Leake, percussion.

Kate Matson’s found object animation has had improvised accompaniment ranging from solo piano in a coffee house setting to the entire Aardvark Jazz Orchestra at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In addition to screenings at Takoma Park, MD with music by the Aardett and for the Society for Arts, Religion, and Contemporary Culture, New York City, a trio of her films scored by Forrest Larson (MIT Libraries) was part of the Experimental Intermedia Festival, Screen Compositions 6, New York City. FiLmprov has participated in annual film / music performances at MIT since 2006, performed at the First Annual Cambridge Science Festival, the Berklee College of Music, Harvard’s Dudley House, and the Berkshire Community College Forum.

Natraj, Featuring Special Guest, Indian Classical Virtuoso Chitravina Ravikiran

This concert was presented in collaboration with MITHAS.

Acclaimed world-jazz group Natraj teams up with Indian classical virtuoso Sangeet Samrat Chitravina N. Ravikiran for an amazing East-West synthesis. Doordarshan (Indian National Television) broadcast this collaboration’s stunning performance at the Prayojana International Music Festival in Chennai, India. Natraj showcases Ravikiran on adaptations of Indian classical and original pieces, including works by Ravikiran who will also present an Indian classical segment.

Called “an arresting virtuoso” by the Los Angeles Times, and one of India’s finest musicians, Ravikiran plays the Indian stringed instrument, the chitravina. He has performed and recorded with the BBC Philharmonic, blues legend Taj Mahal, and Grammy Award winner Glenn Velez. Radio National Australia hails Ravikiran as “perhaps the greatest slide instrumentalist in the world today.”

“Natraj…seamlessly fuses classical Indian music, the traditional music of West Africa and contemporary jazz to create its own style,” extols Asian Age (Bengaluru, India). Along with Ravikiran, this concert features Natraj regulars Phil Scarff, soprano and sopranino saxophones; Mike Rivard, string bass; Jerry Leake, tabla and multi-percussion; and Bertram Lehman, drums and percussion.

Improvisation and Electronics, with Neil Leonard and Robin Eubanks

Neil Leonard is a sound artist / composer / saxophonist. His work includes jazz performance, composition for orchestra with computer generated video / sound, sound / music for dance, theater, installation, and film, including over 25 years performing with live-electronics and saxophone. Leonard’s collaborations with visual arts have been featured at MoMA (NYC), the Whitney Biennial, the Havana Biennial, and will be featured in the Cuban Pavilion of the Venice Biennial (2013).

Robin Eubanks is a premier jazz trombonist of his generation and a prolific composer / arranger, whose work has been featured by his own ensembles and been central to long-term associations with Dave Holland, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Art Blakey, the San Francisco Jazz Collective, and the M-Base Collective.

Leonard and Eubanks will perform solo works from their repertoire for saxophone / trombone and electronics and new duo compositions written for this concert. Their work creates a discourse that explores the implications of emerging technologies and their impact on jazz improvisation.

Tre Corda

Whether reinventing jazz standards, breathing fresh life into classical repertoire, or premiering their own original works, Tre Corda generates a compelling sound all its own. Their works blend composition and improvisation in new and unexpected ways, using the musical vocabulary of classical composers like Bartok and Stravinsky, as well as songs and ideas from the worlds of jazz and popular musics. Cellist Eugene Friesen’s dynamic rhythms and incredible array of bowing and plucking techniques, trumpeter Greg Hopkins’s virtuosic leaps and outrageous genre-bending phrases, and pianist Tim Ray’s lyric melodicism and two-fisted pyrotechnics—these are just a few of the ways Tre Corda concerts have satisfied and delighted audiences with both jazz and classical expectations.

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Spring 2013
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