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  • While I appreciate that these Seattle-based productions may be Ms. Berson’s introduction to the Theatrical Jazz form, there are a multitude of artists who have been and are currently practicing and evolving the form globally. From our past: Adrienne Kennedy, Aishah Rahman and the late Sekou Sundiata; to the present: Ntozake Shange, Marcus Gardley, Laurie Carlos, Robbie McCauley, Daniel Alexander Jones, Sharon Bridgforth, Carl Hancock Rux, Virgina Grise, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Baraka de Soleil, OluSeyi O. Adebanjo, Helga Davis, Ni’Ja Whitson, Florinda Bryant, Zell Miller III and scholar and author Omi Osun Jones, to name but a few. The Theatrical Jazz form is not merely about playing a bunch of jazz records onstage. It involves mental agility, communal engagement, polyrhythmic versatility, improvisational dexterity, physical/psychological presence, and a modern/ancient fusion inclusive of and paying homage to ancestral heritage.

    • colette

      Misha Berson here. I thank Sonja Parks for mentioning so many exceptional playwrights and performance artists with jazz sensibilities, some of whose work I’ve seen, admired and written about over the years, others I hope to check out. I certainly would never suggest they and others haven’t creatively absorbed, responded to and theatricalized jazz in their work. In this piece I just looked at three particular, Seattle-based artists who focused on jazz as subject and theme in their own intriguing and different ways, and are also worthy of national attention. Also please note that in “The Holler Sessions,” the inventive Boyd does not simply “play a bunch of jazz records onstage” but creates an interactive environment, and a vivid character who is part teacher, part shaman, part conduit for the music he is obsessed with.

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