Music, Performing Arts
Artist StatementIncreasing divisiveness in American politics generates new challenges for our democracy. How can we embody the spirit of toleration and cultivate more mutual understanding among citizens? We begin by listening. The Spirit of Jazz & Democracy is a program of lectures, concerts, workshops, and master classes that engage audiences in experiences of intentional listening and expression in the context of performances and discussions of jazz and democracy. At the center of the program are fully improvised concerts by master musicians Paul Murphy (drums) and Larry Willis (piano), with guest performances by poet Jere Carroll and drummer Dominic Fragman. An important facet of the Spirit of Jazz & Democracy is innovation. Innovation is essential to the expansion of freedom. We promote and facilitate freedom through free-thinking, self-liberation, and the peaceful tolerance of ideas and truths. All Spirit of Jazz & Democracy performances and classes therefore emphasize the value and power of innovation.
In 2016, Dominic Fragman developed The Spirit of Jazz & Democracy with Paul Murphy, Larry Willis, Jere Carroll, and Sybol Anderson to illuminate key lessons about preserving democracy that can be derived from experiences of jazz music. Jazz is the true American art form and the music of freedom in performance as well as concept. Improvisation, the essential element of jazz, expands freedom and improves the human condition through its reliance upon the dual liberatory powers of listening and self-expression.
Paul Murphy and Larry Willis' fully improvised performances have been recognized by Oxford University Press' Grove Dictionary of American Music as “a new direction in the jazz and art arena."