Dancing to a new Beat: Jazz Musicians and Dance Company Create Three New Works
No, you don’t have to go to New York to catch three world premiere productions that combine the control of ballet with the freewheeling improvisation of jazz performed by well-known live jazz trios.
Not when the award winning Marigny Opera Ballet teams choreographers Diogo de Lima, Nikki Hefko and Barbara Hayley with composers Helen Gillet, Larry Sieberth and Nutria (Byron Asher, Trey Boudreaux and Shawn Myers) for The Art of Jazz, a triple-threat evening of original dance and music.
Q&A: The Art of Jazz
Meet Lawrence Sieberth, one of three composers featured in the Marigny Opera ballet production
How does your composition for The Art of Jazz differ from other pieces you’ve done that didn’t involve dance?
This project requires thinking about the music’s association with movement. The music’s emotional content has to create a meaningful development for the purpose of choreography — whereas jazz is about soloistic development. My piece is classical in nature, almost through-composed so there is a framework for a correlation to movement. The duration of ideas becomes very important as opposed to instrumental jazz where evolution is not time constrained.
What do you want the audience to experience when they’re listening to The Art of Jazz?
Foremost is to enjoy the performance – additionally the audience members should feel on a deep level the journey that the music combined with movement brings. Hopefully it will bring an emotional ‘newness’ to the listener
What are the next two things on your creative bucket list?
Composing new material for my group Estrella Banda at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and finishing a suite written for piano trio, percussion and orchestra.
What composers/musicians inspired your section of The Art of Jazz?
Messian, Herbie Hancock, Charlie Mingus
Was the experience you’re having with The Art of Jazz collaborative? How much interaction did you have with the choreographer?
After composing the piece I have been to several rehearsals and have expressed a few ideas — however I feel that Barbara Hayley needs the freedom to do her own thing — my ideas are mainly to point out synchronistic details in the music.
What does the next generation of jazz look like?
Jazz has become quite institutionalized – it has always been a vehicle for self-expression rather than emulation.
What is on your personal playlist?
Olivia Trummer (Classical to Jazz 1)
Geoffrey Keezer (Via)
Toru Takemitsu (Spirit Garden)
Akira Nishimura (Esse in Anima)
A Deeper Dive: Lawrence Sieberth
“I’ve always considered music to be a bridge to the spirit world…I perceive music with an architectural bent — add and subtract — everything is connected.”
Pianist, composer and producer Lawrence Sieberth is at home in virtually any musical setting. While based in jazz, his musical vision is not limited by genre barriers—he prefers to integrate the many facets of music and performance into an engaging, inclusive experience. Sieberth’s own neo-bop improvisations and experimental inclinations combine with his classical and world music influences providing an extensive musical vocabulary for both performances and compositions for television, film, and stage.
His transcendent 2009 album “New New Orleans” finds him literally center stage, a solo piano set wherein traditional New Orleans jazz pieces get a brilliant surveying with some judicious modern overtones sprinkled throughout them. That same year saw the far side of the spectrum via “Arkipelago,” an album exploring the area(s) where the ethereal overlaps with the earthy, where fevered fantasy coalesces with funk, the Second Line strolls Alpha Centauri. In the most recent album “It’s Magic” in collaboration with singer Germaine Bazzle, Sieberth’s exemplary skills as accompanist come to the fore—songs such as “Bye Blackbird” and “Sophisticated Lady” are not merely covered but made anew, the notes dangling from his fingertips as if they were dipped in honey.
Sieberth’s local ensembles vary from New Orleans traditional to questing improvisations, from the avant-garde to mainstream jazz and R&B. He has performed at virtually every venue in New Orleans, from small clubs to the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival where he has been a regular featured artist and musical director of over 30 years. His collaborations with notable local performers include: Johnny Adams, Charles Neville, Leslie Smith, Tony Dagradi, Jeremy Davenport, John Vidacovich, Luther Kent, Leah Chase, Topsy Chapman, Herlin Riley, Brian ‘Breeze’ Cayolle, Victor Goines and Jason Marsalis.
He presently performs and tours with Gerald French & the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, Germaine Bazzle, and Lena Prima (daughter of the legendary Louis Prima) with whom has just released a Christmas CD playing duo with Lena on vocals
A commissioner on the Louisiana Music Commission, Sieberth was honored by New Orleans Magazine (1998) as outstanding contemporary jazz pianist. His CD “Heartstrings” was chosen by Jazziz (1995) in their ‘Keyboards on Fire’ special issue. He has also received numerous grants including the Louisiana Artist Fellowship Award and the 2009 Asante Award and is a recent recipient of the Community Partnership Grant sponsored by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Sieberth was formerly adjunct Professor of Jazz Studies at both the University of New Orleans
and Loyola University at New Orleans, teaching courses in jazz piano, theory, arranging and improvisation.
He attended Southern University, Baton Rouge, LA, with Alvin Batiste (1975); Loyola University New
Orleans, La. (1976), and Hartt College, Hartford, CT (1977).