Arts Fuse critics select the best in music, film, theater, visual arts, author readings, and dance that’s coming up this week.
By The Arts Fuse Staff
Raven’s Many Gifts: Native Art of the Northwest Coast
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA, April 5 – May 31, 2015
The now-celebrated art of the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest played a critical role in modern anthropology’s understanding of “civilized” and “primitive” cultures. After studying these coastal tribes and their accomplished wood sculpture, metalwork, and textiles, pioneering anthropologist Franz Boas concluded that cultural Darwinism was wrong, that all human beings have the same basic characteristics, and that so-called advanced civilizations were no more inherently intelligent than any other human group. In other words, there was no such thing as “primitive” human beings.
Starting many decades ago, several museums in the Boston area collected Northwest Coast art as anthropological artifacts. In the second half of the twentieth-century, after the original Indian culture had gone into decline, their art — elaborate, transformational ceremonial masks, striking blankets, metal work, and totem poles — became highly prized (and priced) as art. The Peabody Essex Museum exhibits 200 years of this art from its collections — including, apparently, later pieces made for art galleries when the art-making traditions revived — in Raven’s Many Gifts: Native Art of the Northwest Coast. The Raven in the title is Northwest Coast Prometheus, the greedy transformer, the trickster, and the benefactor of Northwest Coast mythology, who brought both fire and light to human beings.
The art Boas studied in the late 19th century, though, was not meant to last, much less wind up in museum shows. Traditionally, totem poles were left to gradually rot back into the humid coastal forests; other works were deliberated burned or smashed in elaborate ceremonial displays of conspicuous consumption called potlatches. That an exhibition like this one is thus a contradiction in terms should not prevent you from enjoying it.
— Peter Walsh
First Fridays at ICA: Just Dance
Institute of Contemporary Art
Boston Ballet dancer Jeffrey Cirio’s Of Trial is presented twice during this open-for-dancing spring party, with gallery tours, DJ Knife at the turntable, and lots of sparkly clothes. 21+ only.
The Shape She Makes
An eleven year old girl explores the legacy of her absent father and neglectful mother in a fusion of dance and theatre choreographed by television actress and dancer Susan Misner and written and directed by Jonathan Bernstein.
Yvonne Rainer at MIT
ACT Cube at Wiesner Building
There’s no revolutionary like a seasoned revolutionary. The Judson dancer turned feminist filmmaker who is the subject of endless dissertations asks “Where’s the Passion? Where’s the Politics?” in a free lecture at MIT subtitled “How I Became Interested in Impersonating, Approximating, and End Running Around My Selves and Others,’ and Where Do I Look When You’re Looking at Me?”
And further afield
Antennae with Emily Beattie and Brian Knoth
The technical challenge of “sorting through noise to find a solid signal” has a kinetic representation in Brian Knoth’s triggered sonic events activated by the movement of inventive Boston-area dancer Emily Beattie. Seating is limited, so reservations are recommended.
— Debra Cash
Jason Moran: Fats Waller Dance Party
April 4, 8 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center, Boston, MA.
Pianist/composer Moran, who has re-imagined Thelonious Monk’s 1959 Town Hall concert as a multi-media extravaganza, now turns his attention to the great pianist and songwriter Fats Waller. We’re not sure how much of a “dance party” you can have in the aisles of the Berklee Performance Center, but Moran intends to look at Waller’s music first through the lens of his own estimable trio (with bassist Taurus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits), and then “as contemporary dance music.” Bassist, singer, and songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello was a late addition to the program, so be ready to expect the unexpected.
Amy Cervini is of that talented young breed of jazz singers that mixes all manner of contemporary pop along with standards and originals. That means Fiona Apple, Feist, and Depeche Mode along with Rogers & Hart. The title of her latest album plays two ways: Jazz Country (Anzic) — because she sings both kinds of music, and jazz is her country. So expect to hear Hank Williams and Neil Young along with “Blue Moon.” For her Jazz Country tour she’s retaining the spare arrangements (no drums) and musicians from the album (guitarist Jesse Lewis, bassist Matt Aronoff). Which means you’ll get to hear her crystalline delivery in an uncluttered setting of musicians who know the music, and each other, well.
Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra
April 5, 8 p.m.
Cambridge YMCA Auditorium, Cambridge, MA.
The venerable JCA Orchestra – featuring some of the best musicians in the Boston area — play new work by Mina Cho, David Harris, Darrell Katz, Bob Pilkington, Warren Senders, and Norm Zocher. The program, titled “Global Perspectives,” focuses on world music influences.
Lee Konitz Quartet
April 5, 7:30 p.m.
Regattabar, Cambridge, MA.
Konitz is now 86, and still blowing free as a bird (though not Bird, whom he early on distinguished himself from). The great alto saxophonist convenes with longtime collaborators Dan Tepfer on piano, Jeremy Stratton on bass, and George Schuller on drums.
Dave Bryant Quartet
April 6, 8 p.m.
Outpost 186, Cambridge, MA.
Dave Bryant, keyboardist with Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time, takes to the intimate Outpost 186 with a group of like-minded improvisers: Neil Leonard (saxophones and electronics), Garrison Fewell (guitar), and Jeff Song (cello).
Trumpeter, composer, and arranger Brian Carpenter has taken to the music of Raymond Scott, Alec Wilder, Reginald Foresythe, and the John Kirby Sextet for his Ghost Train Orchestra’s latest CD, Book of Rhapsodies. Carpenter’s goal was to rescue the music from contemporary nostalgia and the popular novelty status of its day (the ’30s and ’40s) with imaginative original arrangements and his own idiosyncratic touches (like a six-person vocal choir). You can read Fuse contributor Steve Elman’s piece on the band and the CD here. And you can read my Boston Globe profile here. Long story short: we both like it.
The Why and Bruno Råberg Quartet
April 10, 7:30 p.m. (Why) and 9 p.m. (Råberg)
Lily Pad, Cambridge, MA.
As on many another occasion, you could easily spend most of your evening at the Lily Pad. The early show tonight is the experimental jazz quartet the Why (“Asking the question changes everything”), with pianist Bert Seager, cellist Catherine Bent, bassist Sean Farias, and polymath percussionist Brian O’Neil (Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica). At 9, a veteran crew of hardcore Boston jazzers takes over, led by bassist Råberg with trumpeter Phil Grenadier, saxophonist Allan Chase, and drummer Austin McMahon. Separate admission, but it’s cheap: $10.
— Jon Garelick
Rock ‘N’ Roll Rumble (Preliminary Rounds)
April 6-8 and 10-12
T.T. the Bear’s, Cambridge, MA.
It’s a tradition like no others, and no, I’m not talking about the Masters. The Rock ‘N’ Roll Rumble, Boston’s annual “battle of the bands,” returns for its 35th year this week. Rumble organizer and host of WZLX’s “Boston Emissions” Anngelle Wood recently told me that she jokingly refers to the competition as the “Boston Rock Love Fest,” and that’s a pretty good summation of what it is. Over the course of three weeks, 24 Boston/New England bands will do battle and while only one will win, it’ll be hard to say that any of the other 23 are losers. The preliminary round schedule looks like this:
April 6: 9:00 p.m. — Rebuilder; 9:45 p.m. — Tigerman WOAH; 10:30 p.m. — Sinnet; 11:15 p.m. – Guillermo Sexo
April 7: 9:00 p.m. — Doom Lover; 9:45 p.m. — When Particles Collide; 10:30 p.m. — Goddamn Draculas; 11:15 p.m. — Emma Ate The Lion
April 8: 9:00 p.m. — Barricades; 9:45 p.m. — Airport; 10:30 p.m. — Z*L; 11:15 p.m. — The Life Electric
April 10: 9:30 p.m. — Butterknife; 10:15 p.m. — Slowdim; 11:00 p.m. — Gondoliers; 11:45 p.m. — Western Education
April 11: 9:30 p.m. — Feints; 10:15 p.m. — Petty Morals; 11:00 p.m. — Summoner; 11:45 p.m. — Vary Lumar
April 12: 9:30 p.m. — Harris Hawk; 10:15 p.m. — Await Rescue; 11:00 p.m. — The Color and Sound, 11:45 p.m. — Yellabird
Upcoming and On Sale…
London Grammar (4/11/2014, Paradise Rock Club); Rock and Roll Rumble: Semi-Final Rounds (4/17-18/2014, TT the Bear’s Place); Rock and Roll Rumble: Finals (4/25/2014, TT the Bear’s Place); Lana Del Rey (5/6/2014, House of Blues); Haim (5/13/2014, House of Blues); Primal Scream (5/14/2014, Royale) Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (5/17-18/2014, Mohegan Sun Arena); Morrissey (6/7/2014, Boston Opera House); Parquet Courts (6/10/2014, TT the Bear’s Place); Eagulls (6/18/2014, Great Scott); Queen + Adam Lambert (7/19/2014, Mohegan Sun Arena); Queen + Adam Lambert (7/22/2014, TD Garden); Arcade Fire (8/19/2014, Comcast Center); Peter Hook & the Light (11/8/2014, Royale)
— Adam Ellsworth
Bernard Rands’ Piano Concerto World Premiere
Presented by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
April 4-6 and 8, 8 p.m. (1:30 p.m. on Friday)
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA.
The BSO’s last premiere of the current season is a new piano concerto by Bernard Rands, long a local presence. Jonathan Biss is the soloist and Robert Spano conducts. The rest of the program is something of a welcome hodge-podge, featuring two movements from Debussy’s Nocturnes and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances.
Presented by the Handel and Haydn Society
April 4 at 8 p.m. and 6 at 3 p.m.
Symphony Hall, Boston, MA.
Music that influence the young Felix Mendelssohn – particularly pieces by Handel, J. S. and C. P. E. Bach – are paired with an early score of the 19th-century master, his D minor concerto for violin and strings. H&H’s dynamic concertmaster, Aisslinn Nosky, leads the H&H Period Instrument Orchestra.
Concertos: Italian vs. German
Presented by Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin
April 6, 1:30 p.m.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA.
There’s nothing like a little national rivalry to get the blood flowing, especially when it comes to programming. Or so it seems with the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin’s upcoming concert at the Gardner Museum, which focuses on Baroque concertos by Handel, Bach, Marcello, Veracini, Vivaldi, and Telemann. How a winner in the rivalry is determined is unclear, but at the very least this is a very exciting ensemble to hear, as a couple of their recordings released last year attest.
— Jonathan Blumhofer
Boston Classical Guitar Society
Friday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m.
First Lutheran Church, 299 Berkeley St., Boston, MA.
Guitar virtuoso Manuel Barrueco is part of a program that includes music by J. S. Bach, Scarlatti, Joaquin Turina, and Isaac Albéniz.
MISTRAL presents “The Orient Express”
Friday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m.
St. Paul’s Church, Brookline, MA.
The program includes music of composers from Romania, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
Saturday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Emmanuel Church, Newbury St., Boston, MA.
A performance of Handel’s opera Susanna featuring singers Kendra Colton, Deborah Rentz-Moore, Mark McSweeney, Teresa Wakim, Frank Kelly and Pamela Dellal.
Boston Symphony Chamber Players
Sunday, April 6, at 3 p.m.
NEC’s Jordan Hall, Boston, MA.
The program includes works of Milhaud (Suite ‘apres Corrette, for oble, clarinet, bassoon), Currier’s new work for flute and string quarter (a BSO co-commission and a Boston premiere), and Schubert’s Octet for Winds and Strings.
First Monday at Jordan Hall
Monday, April 7 at 8 p.m.
Jordan Hall, Boston, MA.
A fabulous round-up of music: performances of Britten Canticle II Abraham an Isaac Op. 51., featuring Ian Howell, countertenor, Joshua Collier, tenor; Tanya Blaich, piano. Ravel’s fabulous Introduction and allegro (1905) with all-star cast: Jessica Zhou, harp; Paula Robinson, flute; Richard Stolzman, clarinet; Donald Weilerstein and David McCarroll, violins; Dimitri Murrath viola, and Laurence Lesser, cello, and Brahms Clarinet Quintet, Opus 115 with Richard Stoltzman, clarinet.
— Susan Miron
World and Roots Music
Although exquisite chamber-folk multi-instrumentalist Violet and beguiling guitarist Jones are both treasures of the local indie-acoustic scene, they’ve never shared a bill together. Appropriately enough the night is called “One sings, the other doesn’t.” (Jones is the one who doesn’t.)
In the late 60’s a shambolic band of musically untrained New Hampshire sisters called the Shaggs created an album, Philosophy of the World. Completely ignored at the time, it’s now considered a high moment of outsider art, the subject of innumerable tributes and articles. Now lead singer Dot Wiggin has returned to music. If you agree with Frank Zappa that the Shaggs were “better than the Beatles” you might want to arrive early given the Lilypad’s tiny size.
Despite possessing a voice that’s more clear than twangy, Laura Cantrell has been a key honky tonk figure as an author, radio host and songwriter. Her most recent disc, No Way There From Here, is her best yet as it adds lush production to lyrics that are full of yearning and questioning. Local indie bluesman R.L. Crosby does an opening set as he makes his way to Clarksdale, Miss.’s Juke Joint Festival later this month. It’s part of a strong week at Atwood’s that also includes two of the Telecaster guitar’s finest practitioners, Bill Kirchen on Saturday and Duke Levine (leading his own mostly instrumental band) on Tuesday.
Talent, perseverance and a stirring documentary have taken this band from an exile refugee camp to world music festivals around the world. Their new LP, Libation, is a strong tonic that mixes their West African highlife roots with the reggae grooves which have long inspired them.
— Noah Schaffer
Coolidge Corner Theater, Brookline, MA.
This film has been astounding audiences. It follows “six brilliant scientists during the launch of the Large Hadron Collider, marking the start-up of the biggest and most expensive experiment in the history of the planet, pushing the edge of human innovation. As they seek to unravel the mysteries of the universe, 10,000 scientists from over 100 countries joined forces in pursuit of a single goal: to recreate conditions that existed just moments after the Big Bang and find the Higgs boson, potentially explaining the origin of all matter. But our heroes confront an even bigger challenge: have we reached our limit in understanding why we exist?”
Boston LGBT Film Festival
Through April 12
MFA, ICA, Paramount, & Brattle Theater, Coolidge Corner, and Club Cafe
The 30th anniversary of this festival continues with an enormous variety of films in venues throughout the city, including the MFA, ICA, Paramount, Brattle Theater, Coolidge Corner, and Club Cafe. The curators celebrate work that entertains, enriches, and enlightens audiences, particularly those from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.
The Unknown Known
The Coolidge Corner Theater, Brookline, MA
As he did with Robert McNamara in Fog of War, Boston’s Errol Morris goes head to head with another warrior of questionable integrity, Donald Rumsfeld. This is a troubling and riveting study of responsibility and aversion. Says Morris: “I was often struck by the difference between Rumsfeld and Robert McNamara. McNamara said that he never answered the question he was asked but rather the question that he wanted to be asked. Rumsfeld, on the other hand, would never answer the question he was asked or any other question — Ask Rumsfeld a question, and all you get is evasions. But are they just evasions or do they reveal a lack of substance?”
Hearts and Minds
Monday, April 7 at 7 p.m.
Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA.
Essential history: Peter Davis’s landmark 1974 documentary Hearts and Minds, according to the Criterion notes, “unflinchingly confronted the United States’ involvement in Vietnam at the height of the foment that surrounded it. Using a wealth of sources — from interviews to newsreels to footage of the conflict and the upheaval it occasioned on the home front — Davis constructs a powerfully affecting picture of the disastrous effects of war. Explosive, persuasive, and wrenching, Hearts and Minds is an overwhelming emotional experience and the most important nonfiction film ever made about this devastating period in history.” Filmmaker Davis will attend in person for a Q&A moderated by Erin Trahan, film journalist and editor of The Independent.
O’er the Land
Thursday April 10 at 7 p.m.
U Mass Boston, 100 Morrissey Blvd. Campus Center Ballroom
This Boston premiere is a meditation on national identity, gun culture, wilderness, consumption, patriotism, and the possibility of personal transcendence. It explores how Americans have come to understand freedom and manifest destiny in an age of increasingly sophisticated technology. Deborah Stratman takes a bracingly refracted survey of America’s landscape and obsessions interacting with Mexican border guards, Revolutionary War reenactors, gun-toting families, football teams, and finally a military jet pilot who lived through a 45-minute, hurricane-buffeted parachute descent from his plane. A Q&A with the filmmaker follows this free Screening. Read more about this unusual film.
Boston Cinema Census
April 10 at 8 p.m.
Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA.
In the true spirit of a census, the line-up at the BCC each year includes an impressive range of narrative, documentary and experimental films. It is a vehicle for regional filmmakers to demonstrate their place in the local filmmaking community and an opportunity for audiences to experience current trends in local filmmaking. This year presents another diverse array of 13 short films.
— Tim Jackson
Our Lady by James Fluhr
Presented by the New Rep Theatre at the Black Box Theater at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, Watertown, MA, through April 27.
Part of the Next Rep Black Box Festival, “this dynamic, gutsy one-person performance piece exposes dramatist/performer Fluhr’s stunning surprises through his own coming out as a gay man. The piece was created in response to toxic homophobia responsible for many gay suicides.”
— Bill Marx
Teju Cole took the literary world by storm with his unique first novel Open City back in 2012. He’s also mastered the Twitterverse, too, using the medium as an outlet for micro-fiction, literary parody, and criticism of drone strikes. The Nigerian-American author and academic will be reading from his highly-anticipated second novel at the Harvard Book Store.
If you grew up in New England and have ever heard of baseball, Ted Williams is more than just one of the greatest batters ever. He’s also an icon. Sponsored by the Harvard Book Store, author Ben Bradlee Jr discusses the splendid splinter and all his significance in his new biography of The Kid. Tip your hat to the man who wanted to be the greatest hitter who ever lived at the Cambridge Public Library. Arts Fuse book review.
What is it about Maple Syrup that makes people go crazy? It’s not just that sweet, sweet Vermont sugar – according to Emerson College professor Douglas Whynott, it’s also a host of other factors. Monday evening, Whynott will come to Brookline Booksmith to read from his new book and explain how maple syrup is a million dollar industry with it’s own black market, heists, and government surveillance issues. Find out why a barrel of maple syrup is actually worth more than a barrel of oil, aside from the fact that it goes better with toast.
They say April is the cruelest month – well, at least T.S. Eliot did – and it also happens to be National Poetry Month. Coincidence? Porter Square Books hosts a reading of several local poets as a celebration of spoken verse coming from Plume Press. The reading will feature some of the contributors to the Plume Press Anthology of 2013. After basking in the simple joys of a free verse fest, see why even T.S. Eliot might change his mind.
— Matt Hanson