With EVIDENCE; the baldwin suite, William Hooker pays homage to the multifaceted James Baldwin during his year. Conceived by drummer William Hooker, Evidence is a stirring multimedia tribute to the ferociously daring novelist and social critic, James Baldwin. Featuring the talents of Mr. Hooker and his quintet of world-class improvisors and dancers(Tor Snyder,Jesse Henry,Matt Lavelle),rapper AKU STYX, and dancer-choreographer Juan Michael Porter(with Jinah Parker) this hour long work celebrates Baldwin’s great works and adherence to his number one conviction:speaking truth to power,regardless of how painful. An informal conversation with the audience and performers will follow the performance.‘
Jazz by it’s very nature is improvisational. Usually based on seeds of compositions and the musical skills and interactions of the musicians present. My performances are conceptual and orchestrated, interweaving different musical elements (compositions) with poetry, dance, rap and film. Bringing this philosophy to the new project will enhance the understanding of the subject.
The Year of Baldwin’ is especially important because many remain unaware of what Baldwin accomplished in ‘bearing witness’ to a particularly turbulent time in this country’s history. This project is a needed step in the direction of educating many to Baldwin’s philosophy and meaning(to society and art). Truly ahead of his time, much of what Baldwin spoke presaged today’s hyper politicized reality with an acuity that borders on the supernatural. EVIDENCE serves not only as a reminder of what Baldwin knew to be true but for what he saw as the path to transcendence: self acceptance. It has been suggested that this work should be presented in theaters in the Northeast as well as junior and high school students to get further visibility under the umbrella of the city of NY. An expanded version of this work will include a story -form using Abby London Crawford, who’s husband was a friend of Mr. Baldwin. Her first person knowledge will enhance the authenticity of the project to make the narrative complete.
Jazz by it’s very nature is improvisational. Usually based on seeds of compositions and the musical skills and interactions of the musicians present. My performances are conceptual and orchestrated, interweaving different musical elements (compositions) with poetry, dance, rap and film.
Commissioned by Harvestworks with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts
William Hooker’s James Baldwin Suite
William Hooker is a potent force of nature. His Baldwin Suite performance touched me deeply and encouraged me to continue to develop in my own potential of artistic expression and to continue to create art that encourages social change and awareness.
With every beat of the drum Mr. Hooker’s passion and fire went right through me and ignited me to the core. I was deeply touched by the ability of the accompanying musicians to express these same energies and emotions through sound. The combination of listening to Baldwin’s writing together with dance and movement infused me with frustration and anger. I was lead to tears by the intensity of the performance. I felt the social injustice that has been perpetrated against African Americans, homosexuals and women. I felt abused, exploited and most of all inspired to join this ongoing revolution.
William Hooker’s ability to be private in public or naked in public is exceptional. He manages to touch every soul in the audience with his heartfelt playing, as he opens the door of empathy and transcends us into his world. It’s almost as if we are inside of his drum.
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WILLIAM HOOKER DUO FEATURING BILLY BANG
This is part of a work done at Konfrontation, Berlin, Germany while on tour.The tour encompassed Austria,Berlin,Hamburg,Munich,Tubigen and Koln. the original music is a piece by Mr. Hooker entitled “The Miracle of Tansen”.Billy Bang,violin,William Hooker,drums ,composer.This piece was recorded for the Silkheart Label and issued under the title “Joy(within).”