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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Producer’s Note: Claudia Acuña, Numinous, and a note about Fred Ho

By Darrell McNeill

BAMcafé Live Week Four: We hosted our two best attended shows of the season last weekend. It started with in-demand contemporary R&B singer/songwriter Gordon Chambers, whose lush sounds had the room standing, and wound down with the willowy vocals of Magos Herrera celebrating the richness of the Latin jazz traditions of Central and South America.

Week Five of BAMcafé Live brings two more acclaimed artists to the Lepercq stage. On Friday, October 18, award-winning jazz chanteuse Claudia Acuña draws from a rich, star-studded discography dating back to her 2000 Verve debut, Wind from the South. Born in Santiago, Chile, Acuña moved to New York in 1995 to pursue a career singing the jazz and standards she loved growing up, but infused with her rich culture. Over the years, Acuña has held court with such notables as George Benson, Billy Childs, Roy Hargrove, Tom Harrell, Christian McBride, Danilo Perez, Arturo O’Farrill and many others, yet has never strayed too far from her roots.

Joe Phillips of Numinous

On Saturday, October 19, Numinous, the experimental ensemble founded and directed by composer Joe Phillips, performs from a vast catalog of seamless and unclassifiable works that challenge convention and expand the senses. Numinous is a 25-piece ensemble fusing some of the city’s most respected classical musicians with some of the city’s most respected jazz musicians, forging a nimble collective capable of music without category. An example: 2012’s stunning accompaniment to the iconic silent film The Loves of Pharaoh at the BAM Harvey. Joe will bring a scaled-down version of Numinous for an intimate, intense musical rendering of his works.

Full disclosure: my duties at BAM—and a 20-year friendship—had me at the BAM Harvey last weekend enraptured by the work of Fred Ho. His truly epic project, The Sweet Science Suite: A Scientific Soul Music Honoring Muhammad Ali, premiered, and I was complete dumbstruck by the majesty of this work. The suite tracks Ali’s life from his early days in segregated Louisville, KY, through the highs and lows of his flamboyant career culminating in the reclamation of his boxing crown.

Fred is in the final throes of Stage Four terminal cancer, but rather than hampering him, he has ACCELERATED his creative output and his political outspokenness while stripping away material trappings. So many "accomplishments" or "entitlements" attached to music work seem infinitesimal in comparison. Fred puts in proper perspective so much of music's value.

Hope to see you in the café this weekend…

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