Studio 400 and UNFEST
When I met Howard Mandel at the 38th Chicago Jazz Fest and told him in conversation that I wanted to start a festival in 2017 he asked me, “Are you crazy?”
I guess I am. I told him that my hook was live improvisational painting. And to a certain extent, it still is. Myself documenting in close proximity to the music makers, is a staple of the Jazz Occurrence project and this new UNFEST. Like Woody Allen in his earlier films, somebody has to be that guy. But before it has even begun on May 4th with Samuel Savoirfaire Williams’ Chicago Gypsy Project at Fulton Street Collective, this festival is building a personality of it’s own.
UNFEST is an artists’ art festival. It is designed so that a musician can stretch out creativity into a visual realm.
Scott Hesse, a renowned guitarist, is also an accomplished photographer. Like Lauren Deutsch, Scott has the insider’s perspective being backstage, in green rooms and unobtrusively on the scene. He is the scene. This festival gives Scott the chance to construct a sonic narrative using his photographs. The images will be projected (by Christopher Andrew of StopTimeLive) and Hesse’s band of Dana Hall, Geof Bradfield and Clark Sommers will score them, on site. ‘Woody Allen’ will be doing his thing, documenting a document of documents documentary style (to be read in a Groucho marx voice).
This happen as the fourth installment of UNFEST on May 11th 8:30-11pm at Fulton Street Collective.
On International Jazz Day, April 30th, I found myself at City Winery Chicago for a jazz brunch, hosted by (my station) 90.9fm WDCB. I was live painting (canvases, easel and acrylics) in the very spot where I have sat and sketch Ginger Baker, Dave Mason, Esther Rada, Bill Frisell, Colin Hay, Herb Alpert, John Mayall, Nasheet Waits, Avishai Cohen to name some. A dream comes true. I painted Mark Colby, Jeremy Kahn, Bob Rummage and Eric Hochberg performing originals and songs by Sonny Rollins and Duke Ellington. It was a sweet day at City Winery. I thank Ken Scott and Dan Bindert for making it all happen and doing their jobs extremely well. WDCB is our tribe’s station, for sure.
WDCB is helping me promote UNFEST on air and online.
Chris Anderson of FSC and his multi-city concert series Jazz Record Art Collective is hosting three of the UNFEST concerts.
Here is schedule for Fulton Street Collective’s 8:30-11pm events
(1821 W Hubbard St Suite 307 Chicago 60612)
May 4th: Chicago Gypsy Project's fresh Gypsy sound fuses Hot Club acoustic bebop swing with Lush contemporary grooves that take you on a journey reminiscent of the golden era in jazz . Group members are / Jacob Wilson guitar , Nick Mizock guitar , Karl Seigfried Bass , and Samuel Savoirfaire Williams violin.
May 10th: Chris Weller’s Open Forum Project with Marcus Evans, Junius Paul, Cole DeGenova and Juan Pastor. OFP umbrellas Weller's creative experiments. It's been everything from a vessel for solo exploration to an anything goes, ready to rage, ‘let's get weird’ Chicago-based free-improvising ensemble under his direction.
Christopher Andrew of StopTimeLive will provide the light show. Ronan Dexter will be live painting along side Lewis Achenbach.
May 11th: Scott Hesse’s CHICAGO: From the Inside, a Projected and Scored Photography Narrative with the band Clark Sommers, Geof Bradfield, Scott Hesse and Dana Hall supported by media artists Christopher Andrew and Ronan Dexter.
Experience the visual & sonic storytelling of a new project from Scott Hesse.
Scott Hesse is a veteran collaborator, having played guitar with the Vincent Davis Achtet for the first Jazz Occurrence in the summer of 2014.
All shows are 8:30-11pm, $10 suggested and free with a student ID. Sketching in your seat is strongly encouraged in Jazz Occurrence style. The Urban Sketchers of Chicago are most welcome.