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Jazz Listening Session #7:

Russ's Excellent Adventure
in Ethiopian Music – TAKE 2

Sun. Feb. 6

2 pm EST via Zoom


The session on Jan 19 was so well attended that we ran out of space on my zoom account, so I'm doing it again!

Russ's Excellent Adventure in Ethiopian Music will weave together a couple of stories.

The grand one is about how the Emperor Haile Selassie, Rastafari himself, became interested in military band music and other Western forms, which led to the development of modern Ethiopian pop and Ethiojazz.

The personal one is about how this music drew me and my colleagues in the Either/Orchestra into its spell. And about how this path took us to Ethiopia and into collaborations with the very musicians whose work we had been admiring and interpreting.

The Session will include selected videos and recordings of historic Ethiopian performers, including some that have never been released, along with analysis of how the E/O and I have attempted to put our own stamp on Ethiopian songs and styles.

Tales of working with Mulatu Astatke, Mahmoud Ahmed, Teshome Mitiku, Getachew Mekurya, Alemayehu Eshete, Girma Negash and many others will be included, as well as discussion of Francis Falceto, a French promoter and researcher whose passion and efforts have done much to connect Ethiopian music to the world, and me and my musicians to Ethiopia.

As always with my Sessions, I ask that you pay something, but pay what you wish, via...


Venmo: @Russ-Gershon

Check: Russ Gershon, 100 Pearl St. #7, Chelsea MA 02150

"Just Kissed My Baby" to raise funds for the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic
I was invited to contribute a song video to Wolf's Virtual Mardi Gras Ball, an annual event, which premiered on Fat Tuesday, along with an array a fine contributions from musicians all over the country.

Mike Castellana of the great Blue Ribbons and many other bands plays guitars; I played all the other instruments and did the singing; Andy Plaisted mixed the track.

The Virtual Ball may be over, but you can still donate to the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic any time to help them with their great work.

Russ Gershon
The Quarry Dance IX film is now online here

Music by Russ Gershon

For the past eight years, the end of July has found me improvising music to accompany "Quarry Dance" at various locations on Cape Ann, Massachusetts. Dusan Tynek choreographs his dancers in a variety of setting around, on and sometimes inside of the beautiful rocks, trees and water found in these settings.

The 2020 challenge for Dusan and his dancers was to transform what have been in the past ensemble works performed in front of sizable in-person audiences into something safe and appropriate for pandemic times. With the help of videographer Anders Johnson, they created intimate takes within grand settings, using smaller groupings and and the power of the closeup.

Instead of improvising on a series of instruments in response to the dancers, setting and audience, I locked myself in my dimly lit studio and created a variety of music, using virtual instruments, that is, samples and synthesizers. You can hear drum ensembles, all kinds of keyboards, woodwinds and percussion, along with sounds of nature. 

As with the live Quarry Dances, the choreography was created first and the music in response. For musicians and others interested in such things, there was no click track or sequencing used except a drum loop on one of the fourteen segments. I'll leave it to you to guess which one...

Hundreds attended the online premiere and Q&A sessions a month ago, but for those who were unable – and those who want to enjoy the work again – as of today the entire 34 minute dance is available for viewing at your pleasure.

As always, I thank Dusan, Alex, Jessie, Liz and Gary, and this year for the first time, Anders, for their extraordinary work. And I give special thanks for the opportunity to Windhover Executive Director Lisa Hahn, who carries on her late mother Ina Hahn's vision of Quarry Dance and Windhover.

And it's FREE

Quarry Dance is produced by the Windhover Performing Arts Center

Quarry Dance composer with pandemic beard (right)

Quarry Dance IX trailer (below)