“Do the Right Thing”
Saturday, September 20th, 2014
Atlantic Theater Company's Stage II
featuring jazz music, environmental advocate M.C. Ted Cleary, dance from Moshe-in-Motion and photography by Harry Newman
The Rose and the Trumpet:
Ode to a Sustainable Mountain Garden
By Katie Bull, July & August 2013
1. four days without cutting vines back
and everything looks like wild hair
or the eyelashes of a giant sorceress
"It's better this way mom," says my girl,
who has become a woman.
"Like Alice in Wonderland.”
wish we lived here year round wish we
lived here wish we lived here
sword, knife, wand; the common garden tool
cutting wrestling wrangling with
the tangle of
entwining vine runners
inside there are
gaping holes that
it feels good to sweat here it is good it is
it’s good here good to sweat
I don't care
if I get stung
anyway the bees seem to know that I am unafraid
they have a mind of their own; they are
the encroaching stems of the invasive vine
are as strong as steel, threaded through the orange rose bush
adorned with petals that are feathery
almost sheer in the light, rustling like saffron robes
it’s like a fishing line – you know – the way the encroaching vine tugs
and something on the other end pulls back; roots, I guess
the rose bush and the rambling lasso are in a dance
of cultivation and chaos
the reality is
earth's green web would revert back to thick thick thicket
but for the choice to use
everything is going every which way – must navigate
to the source
and in the clearing I see
the knitted vine’s tendril
is a latticed "hand"
stems matted to form
a forceful grasping handshake
on knees this mortal is noticing
how some root systems live side-by-side and others
the orange roses are surrounded
are fascinating because they contain both
masculine and feminine
functions; generation and regeneration
on knees this mortal is noticing
a fleeting moment of thinking about the man I was once
married to, and how
we planted together before we
in a time lapse this growth would look like a spill because
nature is about flow patterns
thorns draw blood from bare hands
the orange rose reveals a heroic
elegance all her own
my god this raw
explosion of life
humming and proliferation
“Should I cut it back
more evenly?” I ask again.
“No, no” says my girl,
“no no it’s better
I can feel how, especially after rain, the garden has the
hot breath of
what comes to mind is
the black hole in
an imagined mountain lion’s mouth
but in a good way
and it’s kind of oh how do I say
overwhelming for a moment.
Makes me realize why western civilization
wants to make everything, - what’s the word?
uncurled, wavy and expansive
birch and pine trees are singing, coyotes and brown bears stop and watch at crossroads
those raspberries in the sun are
attracting fleets of black winged
beetles who create lace because they consume
raspberry leaves which then become something like ancient manuscript paper
with some secret alphabet
what does it say?
seed roots burst light feeds
the imperfection the overlapping the whole
blossom survives intact and bears forth
it could be tropical this north eastern climate
hosting a vegetable and insect menagerie,
this rowdy caucus
things growing like Will incarnate;
every which way
“Mom, listen to the birds,” says my girl.
She pauses and closes her eyes, turning her face
into the light, then – she smiles.
I watch her legs floating in the swimming pool as she hooks
her long arms on the edge, resting her spine
against the warmth of the stamped concrete.
“When will you come in? Come in mamma.”
She is getting to the age where she
understands that this is
pulling weeds peacefully beside hoards of bumble bees
winged round striped furry, they sound like
miniature goats, or helicopters
which is amusing
I am laughing
they are hanging onto the yellow centers
of the violet flowers rimming
Gaugin comes to mind
In 1974 an African elder in the Volta jungle of Ghana
was holding my hand, and he said:
“Green is the true
color of all blood, under all skin.”
So, I just want to thank the gardeners who
wake up at the crack of dawn and have, for millennia.
You are awarded the reward of the bounteous land.
It’s vines, it’s struggles, it’s blossoms.
You put your hands in the dirt.
Gardener’s dirt has been under your nails
since the birth
“Calling All Forces!” 2013
The Climate Force “Calling All Forces” event was designed as a call and response to nature. The night carried forth messages of respect and reverence for our earth within a festive air. The evening was structured as an earth-friendly listening ‘party’ to support the development of awareness and environmental action within the inter-arts jazz community. The audience was invited to experience the dynamic energy of nature’s forces through the work of cutting edge artists in free jazz, fusion-edged jazz, improvisational dance, and visual art. The Climate Force artists came together to share a common love of the planet and in a creative act of safeguarding it from the current dangers to its vital systems.
This “first annual” Climate Force inter-arts jazz event was produced by jazz vocalist and environmental advocate Katie Bull. Her intention was to contribute to the growing climate movement via the jazz and inter-arts communities by celebrating nature’s beauty and raising awareness about the need for mitigation and adaptation solutions to global warming. Bull, influenced by protests she has joined to halt hydraulic “fracking” and the Keystone XL Pipeline, booked artists who share environmental fervor. All Climate Force artists are creative forces to be reckoned with. They included (in order of appearance): Andrew Drury, experimental composer and percussionist (The Pipeline Solo: “Pipe Dreams”); The Ras Moshe Unit, an improvised “conduction” project (Ras Moshe, conductor/tenor and flute; Ratzo Harris, bass; Andrew Drury, drums; and Anders Nilsson, guitar); The Exposed Blues Duo consisting of the critically-acclaimed vocalist Fay Victor and the red hot Anders Nilsson, guitar (Best Vocal Album 2011 The New York City Jazz Record); and the Katie Bull Group Project, whose genre-defying album of original compositions , Freak Miracle, received a 2011 NARAS Grammy nomination consideration, (Katie Bull, vocals; Landon Knoblock, piano/electronics; Joe Fonda, bass; Deric Dickens, drums; and Jeff Lederer, tenor).
At the close of the night, the acclaimed jazz-blues singer/composer Kevin Fitzgerald Burke (a veteran of the legendary Jon Hendricks’ vocal group) took the stage for a couple of final songs. Described by Stephen Holden of The New York Times as “a virtuoso scat improviser,” Burke has composed for the environmental movement the elegiac “Wandrin’ the Gasland,” which is dedicated to the lives, lands, and communities destroyed by relentless and unthinking exploitation.
Dancers Alex Romania & Amanda Hunt improvised with Andrew Drury, and visual artists Robert Black, Fran Bull, and Aileen Gural offered painting, photography, and talisman art that respond to nature’s inherent life-giving energy, and that explores the dangers of defying Earth’s natural balance.
The relaxed, humorous, and sharp insight of environmental advocate Ted Cleary (also a writer, teacher, photographer, and songwriter) bridged the sets with integrated thematic riffs and environmental updates. Cleary also entertained questions. There were volunteers from 350.org and other groups on site with literature and information about the latest actions and initiatives both local and national.
Producer Bull’s take on the current condition of our planet gives context for the event: “Psyche and weather are mirror reflections. Human psyche is collectively out of balance and this imbalance is manifesting in our planetary weather. We have over-identified with material objects. Our value system has constellated in global warming. The forces of nature are speaking to us through the howl of gale force winds and the roar of rising tides. The forces of nature are speaking to us in the silence of drying riverbeds and the tears of melting glaciers. We must call upon ourselves; call our inner forces, call ourselves to action, and heed nature’s ‘call’. There is still time to listen to nature and respond to this imbalance; the time is now.”
All artists involved in the Climate Force project have strong points of view about our planet’s condition: Please also note the attached Musical Artists Statements & Biographies. Visit the visual artists websites to view their dedication to the earth & see their aesthetics, drawn from the natural world. This was a memorable night in support of a rapidly growing climate movement that is deeply meaningful within the jazz inter-arts community and beyond.