Walking with Trane
Urban Bush Women (UBW) returns to The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago to perform the Midwest premiere of Walking with ’Trane, following its 30th anniversary performances at The Dance Center in spring 2015. Performances take place February 18–20, 2016 at The Dance Center, 1306 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. Walking with ’Trane, created by UBW Artistic Director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, is a suite of works based on the music and legacy of jazz pioneer John Coltrane. Grammy Award-winning pianist George Caldwell provides live accompaniment with a reinterpretation of Coltrane’s album A Love Supreme. We caught up with Philip White to discuss what it was like to compose and arrange a work like this that is based off of John Coltrane's music. Chicago Jazz Magazine: Performing Coltrane’s music is often thought of as a very spiritual experience but writing music that would emulate the emotion of Coltrane yet still be an original work conceptually must have been very difficult to create. What was the process that you went through to create this piece? Philip White: For Side A the idea was to look at the music in Coltrane's orbit, music that influenced and shaped him. Of particular interest to Jawole and the rest of the company was the blues and how that's inherent even in Coltrane's most "out" music. CJM: Being a well established musician and composer yourself, what was your initial impression when you were approached to write a piece like Walking with Trane and have it put to dance? Philip White:It was both intimidating and exciting. CJM: How much of an influence did John Coltrane have on your personal musical development? Philip White: Despite primarily working with electronics currently, my background is in jazz. I, like so many aspiring improvisers, spent hours and hours in the practice room trying to master, or at least get through, Giant Steps changes. So there's just the basic relationship to him pedagogically. Even more though, Coltrane's devotion to his work is certainly something that continues to inspire. CJM: When the piece was first composed and the choreography was developed did everything just work together immediately or were there changes to the original score to accommodate the choreography? Philip White: It was a very collaborative process all the way through with the music and choreography being developed together. CJM: What has the experience been like working with a dance company like UBW? Philip White: It was truly humbling and inspiring to work with and learn from Urban Bush Women. Philip White (Composer) is a composer, performer and improviser who works with electronics at the intersection of noise, jazz and contemporary concert music. Current projects include R WE WHO R WE (with Ted Hearne), Colonic Youth (with James Ilgenfritz, Kevin Shea and Dan Blake) and duos with Chris Pitsiokos, Bob Bellerue and Taylor Levine. His music has been released on New Focus Recordings, Infrequent Seams and Tape Drift Records. It has been described as “utterly gripping” (Time Out Chicago), “bona fide evocative music” (Brooklyn Rail), and a “vibrant textural tapestry” (Wall Street Journal).