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Tomorrow night’s Spark of Being: a jazz concert with a film

Tomorrow night the Walker-commissioned Spark of Being will be performed in the McGuire Theater by Dave Douglas and his band Keystone. Fans of Erik Friedlander’s Block Ice & Propane performance last year will probably find much to love with Spark of Being, because both pieces feature film by Bill Morrison. However, tomorrow night’s evening length film […]

Tomorrow night the Walker-commissioned Spark of Being will be performed in the McGuire Theater by Dave Douglas and his band Keystone. Fans of Erik Friedlander’s Block Ice & Propane performance last year will probably find much to love with Spark of Being, because both pieces feature film by Bill Morrison. However, tomorrow night’s evening length film was developed in conjunction with Dave Douglas’ ongoing process of music composition; in contrast to film footage being used as accompaniment to music, tomorrow night’s piece is more of a cross-pollination, with the music heard and the film seen being inseparably involved in each other’s creation. As Douglas said in a San Jose Mercury News article (unfortunately no longer available online) “The whole thing from its genesis was a parallel construction.”

The article also has a great story on how Morrison and Douglas met:

[Morrison] and Douglas first met in an earlier phase of Morrison’s life, when he was a dishwasher at New York’s Village Vanguard jazz club in the early 1990s. “I wouldn’t have done a dishwashing job anywhere else,” Morrison says. “The dishwasher had a heightened status at the Vanguard. The dressing room is in the kitchen, and the dishwasher is the only non-musician, non-owner who could be in the dressing room. It was a wonderful job. I ended up going in on my off nights as well. It afforded me a chance to meet these other great artists.

Dave Douglas’ composition and Bill Morrison’s found-footage film both used the Frankenstein story as loose inspiration.

Morrison: "...early expeditions to the South Pole featured footage of icebound ships and that's how Shelley's novel begins." (still from Spark of Being)

Star Tribune has a great feature on Spark of Being also, with this to say about the performance tomorrow night:

Douglas…found that performing the film straight through can be “so intense that it might be nice to have a break in the middle.” In Toronto, he inserted “a short segment where we just play the score without the film and then the lights go back down and the audience sees the rest of the film,” an experiment he will repeat on Thursday. This time, Morrison will be on hand to provide his feedback on how it works.

Here’s the trailer for Spark of Being’s premiere at Stanford earlier this year:

Tickets are still available and the show begins at 8 pm. Also, for the first 40 people who come to the McGuire Theater tomorrow night, we have music download cards featuring a cut from every musician/music group in the now underway 2010-11 Performing Arts season.  For those of you who have already received a download card, make sure to redeem your code soon. The links will expire mid-October.