|"Navigating Democracy", "Navigating the Essence of Cool", "Yoruba Cool", "Ghetto Cool", "Channeling the Jazz Impulse", "Navigating Otherness": These are some of the ideas behind Jean-Paul Bourelly's "Congo Square".
Dahomey, Bahia, Port au Prince, Paris, Kingston, London, New York: These are the established centres for the transformations of African impulses that have so broadly effected culture in the West: Impulses and emotions that turned the guitar into the blues; the drum set into funk; Yoruba religious pratices into Santeria, Candomble and Voodoo.
Music as the main form of expression during slavery played an outstanding role in the world of ideas central to the Black Atlantic. It was the main source of communication, a source of subversion, innovation and spirituality needed to survive the nightmare of slavery. It was a platform for reflection and philosophy as well - not least because Africans under slavery were forbidden, under the threat of death, to use the written word. The art forms that took root in the 19th century at New Orleans' Congo Square - the only place in the South where the Black population could gather freely to dance and sing on a Sunday - have led to most of the dominant musical forms celebrated in global culture today.
Two long weekends, the House of World Cultures will take up the idea of ,Congo Square". Around thirty internationally acclaimed musicians - legends of Black music, innovative talents as well as newcomers - will give their audiences an opportunity to hear what makes the heart of Black Atlantic music beat: spontaneous dialogue, interaction, improvisation, and re-invention. This special gathering will function toward bringing a collective articulation on what sounds and ideas need to be expressed today for the sake of advancement. Under the artistic direction of guitarist producer Jean-Paul Bourelly, who is recognized internationally as an important figure in changing the face of progressive music, will be joined by the following musicians (among others) in concerts and vibe music jam sessions: funk giant Joseph Bowie; experimental pianist Omar Sosa; manding-groove keyboarder and singer Cheick Tidiane Seck; the legendary Archie Shepp; drummer and Afrobeat drum legend Tony Allen; the founder of NYC's Black Rock Coalition, Marque Gilmore; percussion-master Doudou N'Diaye Rose; and the vodoun-inspired band Ayibobo; DJ Spooky along with inspired musicians from the Berlin scene.
Discussions and talks on the meaning of sound within the framework of the Black Atlantic take up the programme from a theoretical standpoint: what paths have the different music styles taken, and what transformations have they undergone? What role did jazz play in Nazi Germany? What significance does dub music have outside Jamaica? How have the new technologies influenced contemporary music styles? In which direction is HipHop moving in Europe?
Black Roots. Vibe Music. Cross Borders Jam Sessions. Across Identities. Expressing Survival. Resiliency. Blood Memory. Democracy. Re-Invention.
New sounds for a new world.