Certain Blacks return with their latest festival, ‘Circus Circus Circus’, a mixed programme of live art, spoken word, jazz, opera and circus. An eclectic performance line up, Certain Blacks continue on their mission to showcase works exploring themes via various theatrical forms. Bringing his latest show London Art Collective to Rich Mix London on Saturday 9th November, jazz flautist, musical arranger and composer Rowland Sutherland’s show is an exploration of ‘spatial, galactic and spiritual jazz’. The evening will see him joined by a collective of talented musicians, Rowland tells us more about the show!
Hi Rowland, you’ll be taking part in this year’s Certain Blacks’ Circus Circus Circus Festival on 9th Nov with your show London Art Collective. How are you feeling ahead of the performance?
I’m very much looking forward to is taking part having performed with Cleveland Watkiss MBE and Byron at previous events by the same organisation. It will be uplifting and energising to express ourselves to the audience through spiritual, modal, cosmic jazz and free improvisation. It is looking like being such a vibrant and adventurous festival.
London Art Collective will showcase an evening of ‘spatial, galactic and spiritual jazz’. What inspired you to create a show exploring this musical form?
I’ve been leaning towards steering the collective through a wider realm of spiritual jazz and improvised music and will be intertwining the two with each other.
It all stems from having been inspired by the organisation AACM, Sun Ra, The Art Ensemble of Chicago and the Vienna Art Orchestra, among other similar setups and some of their otherworldly highly spirited ventures.
The show sees you collaborate with sound artist and theatre maker Marv Radio, how have you both worked together to create the show?
This performance at the Rich Mix on 9 Nov marks the first time that we both share the stage. We will perform our own sets which will compliment each other.
Orphy Robinson, Pat Thomas, Rachel Musson, Ansuman Biswas, Alec Dankworth and Mark Sanders amongst others form the London Art Collective. How was the collective formed and what has the collaborative process involved?
The London Art Collective actually came into fruition in 1999 after I received an invitation to headline a very special homage to Sun Ra event called Sounds of Joy, which took place throughout the Scala venue in Kings Cross, London.
This first collective line up featured John Edwards (double bass), Pat Thomas, Orphy Robinson and Geoff Hawkins (tenor sax/flute) as well as a special guest, the former Sun Ra Arkestra percussionist and drummer Francisco Mora-Catlett. We closed that alldayer event to a very rousing reception. The event also featured Carl Craig’s Innerzone Orchestra, Ra poetry from Louis Reyes Riviera, Ahmed Abdullah, Gilles Peterson and Kirk de Georgio.
The venue was filled with Sun Ra movies, dishes, vinyl, CDs and all manner of Sun Ra memorabilia.
It was a very memorable day.
Since the fairly early days of playing in the Jazz Warriors Orchestra with Orphy Robinson just after the mid 1980s. Then there were a large number of projects which both myself and Orphy led and we often collaborated with each other.
Throughout the 1990s.
I then also ran projects where I would collaborate with Ansuman Biswas and at other times with Pat Thomas too. Since the 2000’s I have also collaborated with Mark Sanders and then later on with Rachel Musson. All of whom are also active in the improvised music scene.
With the affinity and rapport we have, it was only natural for these superb artists to be a part of the London Art Collective. There are a number of other wonderful soloists involved too.
Have you learned anything new from creating the show?
The performances are continually growing and evolving. They are becoming more and more musically enhanced.
What can audiences expect from the show?
Come with an open mind. Often audience have felt enriched and uplifted during our shows. The energy is positive. We strive to travel through a range of emotions from turbulence through to the sublime.
What would you like for audiences to take away from the show?
A feeling of positivity and hope. To feel energised and to also embrace the music of the composers who’s music we feature.
What advice would you have to aspiring musicians and composers?
Be focused. Set goals to strive for. Be dedicated to your art and nurture it as well as you can. Take on board a wide range of good advice.
Questions by Lucy Basaba.
London Art Collective will show on Saturday 9th November as part of this year’s Circus Circus Circus Festival at Rich Mix London. To find out more about the production, visit here…