6Degrees Composers presents an online concert in celebration of African American Music Month on Saturday, June 19, 7pm CST at HotHouse Global Live. The concert honors the memory of Melba Liston, composer, arranger, and trombonist. Known for her work with Randy Weston and Quincy Jones, Liston was the first woman trombonist to play in the big bands in the 1940s. In their tribute 6Degrees commissioned music for solo trombone by its members. The music will be performed by Chicago’s Audrey Morrison, who will treat them as a musical narrative: Blues for Melba, Swing the Big Bone, June in Colors, Insomnia, and Sweet Dreams. Liston compositions open and close the program: We Never Kissed, performed by group member Ester Hana, voice and piano, and Zagred This, with pianist and Liston protégé, James Weidman.
Continuing the celebration of Juneteenth, the concert presents music with both African and American roots. Mamiwata, for solo marimba, by Janice Misurell-Mitchell, references the African water goddess in its musical imagery that also includes quotes from the a cappella singing of Joseph Shabalala and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and the Cockroach-Click Song. Regina Harris Baiocchi’s vocal jazz music, Lovers & Friends, for voice, flute and piano suggests that friendship is the foundation of love. Baiocchi’s Dream Weaver, for voice, alto sax, and piano, is incidental music from the composer’s play, Dream Hoppers.
The concert will also feature music by Kyong Mee Choi: Pale Courage, a true story about the composer’s great-aunt who chose death by starvation to fight for her dream to be educated instead of being forced to marry someone she did not know. The composer is currently working on a three-act opera about this story. ASA TA? (Kwery) by Esther Hana for solo piano asks, “Where are we headed?” The title comes from Cebuano, a language from the southern Philippines, and the composer replies, “We forge with music, hoping for progress and understanding.”
Patricia Morehead’s Design Two, for solo flute, is based on a four-note motive. The piece explores relationships between competing sections, using multi-phonics that vie for our attention. Morehead’s Song of Pilgrimage for mezzo-soprano, English horn, and piano, was commissioned by Reverend Ted Curtis, the rector of Grace Place Episcopal Church in Chicago. The piece is based on a text from Ecclesiastes.
Performing on this concert are the Artemisia Trio: Diana Lawrence, Alexandra Olsavsky, Kaitlin Foley, voice; Gena van Oosten – mezzo-soprano and Ruth Naomi Floyd, vocals; Jamie Thomson, flute, Liston protégé Talib Kibwe (aka TK Blue), flute and saxophone; Audrey Morrison, trombone; Ester Hana, Philip Morehead, and James Weidman, piano; John Corkill, percussion.
In 2010 Regina Harris Baiocchi founded 6Degrees Composers to inspire and promote music by women of different traditions. 6Degrees wishes to thank Marguerite Horberg, Executive Director of HotHouse, and Ralph Loza, Technical Director, for their support. Donations may be made anytime via 6Degrees web page www.6DegreesComposers.com or through this hyperlink: Donate to 6 Degrees Composers.
We Never Kissed – Melba Liston
*ASA TA? (Kwery) – Ester Hana
Design Two – Patricia Morehead
Song of Pilgrimage – Patricia Morehead
Tribute to Melba Liston: Audrey Morrison, trombone (Guest Artist)
*Blues for Melba – Regina Harris Baiocchi
*Swing the Big Bone – Patricia Morehead
*June in Colors – Ester Hana
*Insomnia – Janice Misurell-Mitchell
*Sweet Dreams – Kyong Mee Choi
Pale Courage – Kyong Mee Choi
Mamiwata – Janice Misurell-Mitchell
Lovers & Friends – Regina Harris Baiocchi
Dream Weaver – Regina Harris Baiocchi
R. Floyd, TK Blue, J. Weidman
Zagred This – Melba Liston