A collaboration of French jazz and the Choctaw Nation
For Sharon Litwin's radio interview about this jazz collaboration on WWNO radio, click here.
Jazz takes on new meaning this week with an unusual collaboration between two unlikely sources: GrayHawk Perkins of New Orleans and the Mezcal Jazz Unit from France. The end result of a week of rehearsals between GrayHawk, a Native American of the Choctaw and Houma Nations, and Emmanuel de Gouvello and his group from Montpellier in the south of France, will be presented at Café Istanbul in the Healing Center on Friday night at 9 p.m.
Emmanuel has long been known for his fascination with other cultures and his ability to blend their unique qualities into his compositions. He has worked with musicians as varied as Nigerian folk singers and Eastern European jazz performers. The New Orleans project, called Thirteen Moons, focuses on GrayHawk’s compositions based on a series of traditional Native American chants, and refers to the 13 moons of the traditional Native American calendar.
Introduced to each other first by members of the French Consulate in New Orleans, GrayHawk and Emmanuel continued their communications largely through Skype. Somehow working out international time zone issues, they discussed the project and shared examples of each others work over many months.
For Emmanuel, the word jazz means openness to numerous influences and trends. Working cross-culturally is, he says, his European approach to this admired American music form; it's one he hopes creates a unique musical language, breaks down barriers and fosters understanding.
The Thirteen Moons concert will take place at Café Istanbul on Friday, June 15 at 9 p.m.; Cite des Arts in Lafayette on Sunday, June 17 at 7 p.m.; and at the Dew Drop Jazz Hall in Mandeville on Monday, June 18 at 6:30 p.m.
The Mezcal Jazz Unit will perform a separate concert of their own works at Snug Harbor on Saturday, June 16 at 8 p.m.
Sharon Litwin is president of NolaVie.
Sharon Litwin is president of NolaVie. Email her at [email protected]