With Jazz, Hermitage Fellow Luke Stewart Democratizes Music-making

Todays News

When jazz materialized as an art form in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it carried with it an implicit aim of democratizing music. Created largely by African Americans who were denied access to formal music training and who were influenced by their West African roots, the genre came to symbolize the pursuit of freedom to express oneself. Operating in a sidelined orbit around Western European music traditions, the jazz approach to music gave its early adopters the agency to establish their own provenance and build a genre with open access. 

And for Hermitage fellow Luke Stewart, improvisation continues to be one of the most effective tools within the jazz genre to continue its long tradition of open access and free expression. The multi-instrumentalist, who begins his second stay at the artist’s retreat next week, is best known for his avant-garde improvisational soundscapes on both electric and upright bass. His virtuosic style sees him create runs and feedback loops with accompanying musicians that can include any combination of horns, drums and vocals. As he hops from ensemble to solo and back to ensemble again, his career, in a way, has been made by belonging to every band and no band at all—he is above all else an individual in his own orbit who, for a time, gathers with other celestial bodies on a stage or a street to create a beautiful, striking noise.

 “Improvisation is a practice that’s historically been aesthetically and structurally marginalized next to the idea of this ‘capital C’ composer,” says Stewart of free form jazz. That Composer, in Stewart’s estimation, has also embodied all the implicit and explicit power differentials in a society, as well as served to gatekeep access to music composition, performance and ownership. Stewart’s career is an attempt to advocate for a more egalitarian approach to music.

 “Creating music is a collective process,” says Stewart, “one in which the composer, conductor, musicians and even the audience are sharing in an idea.” As part of Stewart’s stay at The Hermitage, he will participate in a performance and music-making masterclass with Booker High students called “The Edge of Music” in which he will share some of his insights into an approach to music he hopes can transform the way we exist in the world. “Breaking down  a concept that reaches not just into music, but into how we perceive and accept all forms of art,” says Stewart, “and even how we relate to each other.”

 “The Edge of Music” takes place next Friday, December 17th at 5:30. Click here to learn more.

For more information click here

« View The Friday Dec 17, 2021 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

Building the Story

Building the Story

Dylan Campbell | Jul 1, 2022

Growing An Institute

Growing An Institute

Barbie Heit | Jul 1, 2022

Modern Girl

Modern Girl

Dylan Campbell | Jul 1, 2022

The Players Centre Presents Love, Linda

The Players Centre Presents Love, Linda

Jun 28, 2022