Keith LaMar has said that listening to John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” helped save his life. Yet for all its power and magnificence, Coltrane’s music cannot literally save LaMar’s life, which is scheduled to end Nov. 16 when he is to be executed for murders he says he did not commit.
Even if music can’t bring justice for LaMar, it can help keep his case in the public eye and perhaps forestall his execution. That is the purpose behind two concerts this week by a project called Freedom First that has attracted some of New York’s finest musicians.
For a long time, jazz education was an oral tradition. Students learned at the feet of their master or in the adjacent chair in a section of a big band, a lineage that you could witness as well as hear. These days, that formerly oral tradition has largely moved to the university or conservatory classroom but the professionalism of jazz education hasn’t totally done away with the notion of lineage.
After the cultural extinction event of 2020, some lifeforms re-emerged sooner than others. You would expect the ones with the most funding to be among the first to return, though perhaps not at their previous strength. And you might imagine that the more DIY scenes, the ones for which precarity is an ongoing fact, would also survive.
The 1Way at the Go Factory series of free improvisation shows curated by saxophonist Dan Wenninger, is one of the survivors, though it’s more like a cicada than a hardy cockroach. It hasn’t been dormant for seven years; there were a few scattered comebacks last fall. When the series resumes March 28 at the Go Factory loft, with Togishi and the Folger/Bruce/Martinez Trio, it will mark what Wenninger hopes will be a second beginning, a 1Way 2.0.
Eleven months ago, A.J. Kluth was at New York’s New School at a conference presented by Black Quantum Futurism, the literary and artistic collective created by Philadelphians Rasheedah Phillips and Camae Ayewa, the composer and poet who performs as Moor Mother.
“That was my first time meeting Camae and really feeling like the work that the collective was doing [and] that she was doing as a musician was deeply important and urgent,” Kluth said on a video call earlier this month. “I said, ‘I would love to bring you to Cleveland sometime.’ She’s like, ‘That sounds cool. I’ve never been to Cleveland. Let’s do that.’ But she’s really busy. She’s got a really heavy touring schedule and it didn’t seem plausible.”
Several months of phone calls, planning meetings and grant applications later, the Case Western Reserve University musicologist’s implausible idea has become reality, and a reality greater than even he imagined.
On Friday evening, Moor Mother will be joined on the stage of Gartner Auditorium at the Cleveland Museum of Art by Lonnie Holley, Lee Bains, and the Cleveland-based collective Mourning [A] BLKstar for a presentation Kluth called “Toward a Different Kind of Horizon, an extraordinary collection of artists who to varying degrees are associated with the cultural movement known as Afrofuturism.