April 15, 2020
Krakauer & Tagg’s New Album, Breath & Hammer, Comes Out on May 8
Fostering human connection through innovative cross-cultural collaboration is what David Krakauer and Kathleen Tagg do best. Even now that the lockdown has forced them to suspend their live tour, the Grammy-nominated clarinetist and composer-arranger-pianist-producer stay true to their mission with a new streaming series, Sunday Connections with Krakauer & Tagg. Produced and hosted by the artists themselves, the weekly show streams live from their Facebook and YouTube channels on Sundays at 11am EDT, with a live comment thread. Each episode features a special guest appearance by one (or more) of their many distinguished creative partners, who join the duo remotely for live conversation and previously unshared film footage of their imaginative collaborations. The first two episodes featured Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and funk legend Fred Wesley respectively, and upcoming guests include Brazilian forró master Rob Curto, video designer Jesse Gilbert, and filmmaker Eric Steel, whose award-nominated new feature film, Minyan (2020), boasts an original Krakauer and Tagg score. In place of regular programming on May 10, the two artists look forward to celebrating the release of their new album, Breath & Hammer, with a pair of intimate livestreamed 75-minute-long performances, followed by online record signings, at 1pm EDT and 7pm EDT. See full details of Sunday Connections with Krakauer & Tagg and Breath & Hammer below.
Sunday Connections with Krakauer & Tagg
Any additional programming will be announced shortly.
March 29: Kinan Azmeh
Syrian composer and clarinet virtuoso Kinan Azmeh introduces his haunting improvisatory piece November 22nd, as heard on Breath & Hammer, which is due for release on May 8. Krakauer & Tagg then share their previously unseen live performance of the work, which took place at the Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin with video design by Jesse Gilbert. Watch the episode now on Facebook and YouTube.
April 5: Fred Wesley
Funk legend Fred Wesley talks about Abraham Inc., the chart-topping klezmer-funk outfit he and Krakauer co-founded in 2006 with Canadian rapper Socalled. Together We Stand, the group’s second album, came out last fall. Watch the episode now on Facebook and YouTube.
April 12: Krzysztof Czyżewski & Michał Moniuszko
Award-winning cultural activist Krzysztof Czyżewski and musician and educator Michał Moniuszko talk about Poland’s Borderlands Foundation, which strives to revive the cultural and ethnic diversity of Poland’s Eastern borders, where Krakauer and Tagg’s evening-length orchestral piece, The Keepers of the Flame, premiered in 2017. Specially designed for the week of Easter and Passover, the episode – like so much of the duo’s work – celebrates connection, tolerance and humanity. Watch the episode now on Facebook and YouTube.
April 19: Rob Curto
Accordionist, composer and pianist Rob Curto is widely regarded as the foremost U.S. ambassador of the popular Brazilian music-and-dance genre forró. As heard on Breath & Hammer, Krakauer and Tagg have completely recast his tune Demon Chopper over a giant “drum circle” of piano samples, modeled on Nigerian traditions, in a nod to Brazilian music’s West African roots.
April 26: Eric Steel
Krakauer and Tagg’s original film score brings “rich cultural specificity” (Hollywood Reporter) to Minyan (2020), a nominee for Best Feature Film at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. A “queer coming-of-age tale, set in 1980s Brooklyn’s Russian Jewish immigrant community” (Indiewire), the film marks the narrative feature debut of director Eric Steel, who introduces previously unseen footage from Berlin.
May 3: Jesse Gilbert
Video designer Jesse Gilbert works at the intersection of visual art, software design and sound, creating flexible frameworks that are activated in live performance, through network interaction, or in installation settings. He talks about collaborating with Krakauer and Tagg on the making of Breath & Hammer II: The Ties That Bind Us (see further details below).
U.S.A.: 7pm EDT
To celebrate the release of Breath & Hammer on May 8, Krakauer and Tagg showcase works from the record in two live 75-minute-long performances, followed by online meets-and-greets and album signings. Alongside intimate, acoustic versions of repertoire from Breath & Hammer, the performances will feature some of the duo’s other old favorites and new arrangements, all filmed with professional-quality audio feed in a multi-camera shoot. Click here for tickets and details.
May 17: Andre Petersen
South African jazz pianist Andre Petersen recently collaborated with Tagg, also a native of South Africa, on her duo piano project, “Where Worlds Collide.” This saw the two pianists tour the U.S. East Coast with a program pairing their own compositions with original arrangements of works by such South African jazz icons as Abdullah Ibrahim, Moses Molelekwa and Bheki Mseleku.
May 24: Socalled
A true kindred spirit, it was Canadian rapper Socalled who first alerted Krakauer to the possibilities of integrating klezmer with hip-hop. Socalled produced the clarinetist’s album Bubbemeises, and the two continue to perform and record together in Abraham Inc., the klezmer-funk band they co-founded with Fred Wesley.
May 31: Jerome Harris & Sarah MK
American jazz bassist, guitarist and vocalist Jerome Harris collaborated with Krakauer on his “Ancestral Groove” program for jazz quintet, while Canadian soul singer-songwriter Sarah MK has appeared with him in Abraham, Inc.
Breath & Hammer, due for release on May 8
May 8 brings the release of Breath & Hammer on Krakauer and Tagg’s own label, Table Pounding Records. Performed solely on clarinet, piano and Tagg’s self-styled “piano orchestra” of interwoven preparations and samples, all integrated into a multi-layered, quasi-orchestral soundscape, the new album captures the duo’s electro-acoustic performance program of the same name. This combines their own compositions with their original arrangements of music by close friends and collaborators. Besides Kinan Azmeh and Rob Curto, both guests on Sunday Connections, these include saxophonist John Zorn, Cuban percussionist Roberto Rodriguez, and accordionist and klezmer specialist Emil Kroitor. Click here to see an excerpt from Breath & Hammer, with video by Sunday Connections’ Jesse Gilbert.
An expanded version of Breath & Hammer, featuring newly composed interludes, was created for the in-the-round space of Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal, where Krakauer and Tagg premiered the piece as Breath & Hammer II: The Ties That Bind Us last spring. Pronouncing this “one of the most remarkable concerts I have ever attended anywhere in the world,” CUE magazine marveled: “Creation and recreation elided in an astonishing display of indescribably stunning, mesmerising musicianship. … A phenomenal performance.” Click here to see a video teaser for Breath & Hammer II.
High-resolution photos can be downloaded here.
In light of the public health and safety measures currently in place, all Krakauer and Tagg’s upcoming live tour dates are now subject to postponement. Cancellations, make-up dates and other updates will be announced here.
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© 21C Media Group, April 2020