Thursday, December 1, 2016

Notations on the Vijay Iyer Trio's first set at Jazz at the Bistro

Vijay Iyer introduces Stephan Crump on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums at the beginning of the show.


Last night, I caught the Vijay Iyer Trio at Jazz at the Bistro. The music was full of exciting ideas and rhythmic, improvisational movements. The trio, which includes Iyer on piano, Stephan Crump on bass, and Marcus Gilmore on drums, is playing at the Bistro through December 3.

In their first set, the trio moved through various works, including songs from their award-winning Accelerando. At many moments during the performance, the music was "free," which is to say, what they played was not constrained by conventional melodies and patterns we might hear with pop tunes on the radio. Instead, Iyer, Crump, and Gilmore explored an expansive body of phrasings, as they improvised and interacted with each other.

I've followed Iyer's career for some time now, and I began blogging about his music a few years ago. So, I was pleased to witness the trio live here in a show produced by Jazz St. Louis, an organization that coordinates jazz programming in the city and larger region.

Jazz at the Bistro, where the show took place, went through major renovations two years ago. It's a marvelous space, large enough to accommodate two hundred or so people, and yet arranged in a way where you feel close and connected to the musicians.

I sat up front off to the right of the stage closest to Gilmore. Crump was in the center, and Iyer was on the other side. The whole time, I felt like I was in close proximity to all of them. Maybe some of that closeness I felt was a result of the music. 

Related:
A Notebook on Vijay Iyer

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Haley Reading Group: Sarah Schweitzer’s “Chasing Bayla”



[Best American Science and Nature Writing]

Cynthia A. Campbell

Sarah Schweitzer’s article “Chasing Bayla” focuses on the dangers of right whales in their encounters with humans and unsafe fishing practices. Schweitzer highlights scientist Dr. Michael Moore’s quest for ethical treatment of endangered and injured right whales. Ultimately, the article speaks to the intersecting journey of Dr. Moore and Bayla.

Schweitzer’s discussion of Dr. Moore’s struggle to provide medical treatment for right whales was especially enlightening. At one point, Schweitzer notes that “he wanted to sedate a free-swimming whale…to remove ropes entangling it” (237). This point illustrates the desperation and urgency required to treat whales in their natural habitats using necessary extraordinary tactics.

After reading Schweitzer’s article, what was one point concerning the injuries suffered by Bayla that caught your attention? Why was that point or scene notable to you? Please provide a page number citation.

Haley Reading Group: Barry Yeoman’s "Billions to None"


[Best American Science and Nature Writing]

By Brittany Tuggle

Barry Yeoman’s article “Billions to None” focuses on the extinction of the passenger pigeon that dwindled over a century due to hunting and a genetic project deeply invested in bringing the bird back. To bring the bird back, scientists plan to genetically engineer the biology of the bird with other closely related pigeon species that will result in a passenger pigeon (adjacent) creature. However, the true controversy of the issue is that throwing this bird back into an ecosystem that has long adapted to living without it could culminate in unforeseeable consequences.

Yeoman’s discussion of how incredibly prominent the bird once was, per the title, was especially riveting. At one point, Yeoman explains that “These were passenger pigeons, Ectopistes migratorius, at the time the most abundant bird in North America and possibly the world” (297).

After reading Yeoman’s article, what was one point concerning the issues of de-extinction efforts that stood out to you? Why was that point or passage notable? Please provide a page number citation.

Monday, November 28, 2016

African American literature: a timeline


By Kenton Rambsy and Howard Rambsy II

We've worked on different timelines for a couple of years, so we decided to combine a few of them into one. While we provide more than 340 entries, we still view this project as a partial timeline. We realize, for instance, that African American literary history precedes 1852, and we have not included each and every writer who's ever published. Like always, this is an ongoing project.

1852: The Heroic Slave, a novella by Frederick Douglass, is published in 1852 by John P. Jewett and Company. The novella resembles a slave narrative even though it is a work of fiction.

1853: William Wells Brown—escaped slave from Kentucky—publishes Clotel; or, The President’s Daughter in London. His novel is considered the first to ever be published by an African American.

1854: Frances Ellen Watkins Harper's volume of poetry Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects is published.

1859: On September 5, 1859 Harriet Wilson’s novel, Our Nig, was published anonymously by George C. Rand and Avery, a publishing firm in Boston. Wilson is considered the first African American to publish a novel within the continental United States.

1859: Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s “Two Offers” is published in the Anglo-African.

1859: As a response to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, abolitionist Martin Delany began publishing Blake: Or The Huts of America in a serialized form. This was the first novel by a black man to be published in the United States.

1864: Frances E. W. Harper's poem "Bury Me in a Free Land" is published in Liberator, January 14.

1887: Charles Chesnutt’s “The Goophered Grapevine” is published in The Atlantic .

1893: Paul Laurence Dunbar's first collection of poems Oak and Ivy is published.

1895: Alice Moore's Violets and other tales is published.

1895: Alice Ruth Moore's Violets and Other Tales is published.

1896: Dunbar's Lyrics of Lowly Life is published.

1898: Charles Chesnutt’s “The Wife of His Youth” is published in the July issue of The Atlantic.

1898: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Folks From Dixie is published.

1898: The Uncalled, Paul Laurence Dunbar’s first novel, is published by Dodd, Meed, and Company.

1899: Charles Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman, and Other Conjure Tales is published by Houghton Mifflin.

1899: Alice Ruth Moore's The Goodness of St. Rocque and other stories is published by Dodd, Mead and Company.

1899: Charles Chesnutt’s The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color-Line is published by Houghton Mifflin.

1900: Charles Chesnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars is published by Boston publishing house, Houghton Mifflin Company. His novel expands the thematic representations of race, miscegenation, and passing of his earlier short story collections.

1900: "Lift Every Voice and Sing," written by James Weldon Johnson, is performed for Booker T. Washington.

1900: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s The Strength of Gideon and Other Stories is published.

1901: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s second novel The Fanatics is published by New York publishing house Mead, Dodd and Company.

1901-1902: Sutton E. Griggs founds Orion Publishing Company in Nashville, Tennessee and publishes two self-authored novels back-to-back—Overshadowed (1901) and Unfettered (1902).

1903: Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois is published by A.C. McClurg & Co., Chicago. His collection of essays and concept “double consciousness” would influence the work of many African American novelists.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Black Short Stories: A Timeline


By Kenton Rambsy

A partial timeline on the histories of short stories:

1859: Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s “Two Offers” is published in the Anglo-African.

1887: Charles Chesnutt’s “The Goophered Grapevine” is published in The Atlantic .

1895: Alice Ruth Moore's Violets and Other Tales is published.

1898: Charles Chesnutt’s “The Wife of His Youth” is published in the July issue of The Atlantic.

1898: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s Folks From Dixie is published.

1899: Charles Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman, and Other Conjure Tales is published by Houghton Mifflin.

1899: Alice Ruth Moore's The Goodness of St. Rocque and other stories is published by Dodd, Mead and Company.

1899: Charles Chesnutt’s The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color-Line is published by Houghton Mifflin.

1900: Paul Laurence Dunbar’s The Strength of Gideon and Other Stories is published.

1921: Zora Neale Hurston wrote “John Redding Goes to Sea” and became a member of Alaine Locke's literary club.

1925: Rudolph Fisher’s “City of Refuge” is published in the Atlantic in February.

1925: Zora Neale Hurston’s “Spunk” is published in The New Negro an anthology of African American poetry, fiction, and essays edited by Alaine Locke.

1925: Zora Neale Hurston won the second-place fiction prize for her short story “Spunk” in the May 1 issue of Opportunity Magazine.

1925: Rudolph Fisher’s “Vestiges” is published in The New Negro ,an anthology edited by Alain Locke.

1933: Zora Neale Hurston’s “The Gilded Six-Bits” is published.

1934: Langston Hughes’s collection of short stories The Ways of White Folks is published.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Malcolm X’s “Message to the Grassroots” by the numbers


By Kenton Rambsy and Howard Rambsy II

For years, Malcolm X’s “Message to the Grassroots” has been a speech we've frequently returned to when studying the Civil Rights Era and tracing the beginning of the Black Power Movement. We also regularly present the speech to students to showcase Malcolm’s remarkable verbal skills.

In “Message,” Malcolm discusses black nationalism, offers lessons on revolutions, presents his famous “House Negro” and “Field Negro” analogy, and calls out the Big Six. Malcolm’s delivery is rhetorically diverse, containing serious subjects as well as an abundance of humor.

The speech is 44 minutes long. Malcolm used a total of 5,361 words in the speech. He used 1,079 unique words.

Malcolm utters the pronoun “you” 168 times in his speech, making it his third most uttered word, after “the” (295) and “and” (194). Another one of his most frequently uses words is “revolution,” used 61 times, which he employs to refer to the histories of several different historical events such as the American Revolution, the French Revolution, Cuban Revolution, and so forth.

Of course, word count does not fully capture Malcolm’s rhetorical dexterity, including his humor, artful insults, rhyme, vernacular, and cadences. But mining Malcolm’s “Message” did make us aware of some of his recurring patterns and overall abilities as a public speaker.

Related:
Mining Malcolm's "Message": A Notebook
Malcolm X

Mining Malcolm's "Message": A Notebook



By Kenton Rambsy and Howard Rambsy II

As part of ongoing African American Language and Culture Lab, we decided to produce a series of entries on Malcolm’s speech, “Message to the Grassroots” (texts & audio) delivered on November 10, 1963. 

Our interest in the verbal artistry and consciousness of Malcolm’s "Message" led us to use text-mining software to pinpoint notable patterns concerning his word usage. We also present some of our findings concerning the jokes that appear in the speech as well as our documentation of Malcolm's use of "revolution" throughout his presentation.

Entries:
“Message to the Grassroots” by the numbers
Malcolm’s Lessons on the Histories of Revolutions
The Humor of Malcolm X
Yes, Malcolm is talking directly to You

A roundup of 24 Different Covers for Black Panther #1



The April 6 release of Black Panther #1, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, was one of the most anticipated moments in comic books this year. Picking up a copy of Black Panther #1 should've been easy enough, but doing so still presented some of us with a minor dilemma. Which cover to buy?

As with many major releases in the comic book industry, Marvel decided to produce alternate covers, known as "variants," for the first issue of Coates's run on Black Panther. Some releases have 4 or 5 different variants. In some cases, we'll come across 10 or so. But in the case of Black Panther, there were 24 different variants. 

Here's a look at the different covers. The link in the captions leads to more information on the variants and artists.

Brian Stelfreeze's regular covers for the first, second, and third printings of Black Panther #1

Stelfreeze's hip hop cover, Sanford Greene's cover, and Stelfreeze's variant cover for Black Panther #1