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.
Being a creative musician in Chicago almost demands a willingness to play anything, everywhere with everybody. Percussionist Tim Daisy and saxophonist Ken Vandermark, who will appear at Convivium 33 Friday, Jan. 13, embody that imperative as well as anyone, having collaborated with hundreds of musicians, movement and visual artists on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet despite lengthy resumes that suggest an affinity with musical speed dating, the two are just as committed to long-term relationships, especially their own.
When he was a student at the Hartt School of Music, trumpeter Tommy Lehman occasionally joined the legendary late-night jam sessions at Small’s jazz club in Manhattan. One night immersed in a solo with his eyes closed he opened his eyes for a moment and found himself face-to-face with the late trumpet player Roy Hargrove, who was sitting in the second row.
Remembering the solo, Lehman said with a laugh, “It sounded terrible,” adding, “I’ll always try my best though. Even if I’m sounding sad, I’m gonna give it everything I have.”
Back in his native northeast Ohio, Lehman is giving it everything he has these days, seemingly playing with everyone everywhere. His latest venture is a new recording, Uplift, which be available on Dec. 21 on Lehman’s Bandcamp page and which he’ll celebrate with a release show at BLU Jazz+ in Akron.