Thursday: Star-studded ‘City of Poets’ project comes to the Atlas; come be a part of CapitalBop’s Riffin’ session

The Atlas Performing Arts Center on Thursday launches its Jazz Appreciation Mini-Series, in honor of Jazz Appreciation Month, with City of Poets, an engaging new project from the pianist/composer Cedric Hanriot and the trumpeter/composer Jason Palmer. In a way, by presenting this concert, the Atlas is celebrating not only jazz but also the music’s way of being a connector, between art forms and frames of mind.

Sure, there’s the international connection: Hanriot is French, and Palmer is American; the music they make together fluidly blends their approaches to improvisation. But then there’s the fact that — as its name suggests — the City of Poets project was inspired by another art form: the written word. Plus more.

The pair worked together to translate the work of science fiction writer Dan Simmons into a three-movement instrumental suite; along the way, they employed some techniques from modernist Western classical composer Olivier Messiaen. Specifically, they were working with Messiaen’s famous harmonic concept, the “seven modes of limited transportation.”

Thankfully, Palmer’s and Hanriot’s music is forceful and joyous and plump with harmony, and hearing it, all these ideas become secondary. What matters is the focused exuberance coming from these compositions, and out of the band – which, by the way, is an all-star quintet that features Donny McCaslin on saxophone, Clarence Penn on drums and Michael Janisch on bass.

This Thursday, we’ll be sitting down with Palmer and Hanriot to discuss the project, and their respective influences, as part of our series Riffin’: CapitalBop Listening Sessions at the Atlas. (Messiaen is likely to come up a bit.) This session will follow our familiar format: We’ll watch videos of musicians that have influenced these guys, and then the floor will open up for an open conversation between you, the audience, and them, the artists. The Riffin’ session is free with your ticket to the concert. Grab a seat at this link; you can RSVP to our Riffin’ session there, too.

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Giovanni Russonello

About Giovanni Russonello

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Giovanni is the founder of CapitalBop, and a music critic for the New York Times. He previously served as a contributor to the Washington Post, the FADER, JazzTimes, NPR Music and others, and hosted “On the Margin,” a books show on WPFW-FM. As head of CapitalBop, he has covered the D.C. jazz scene since 2010. (He is no longer directly involved in the presenting of CapitalBop's concerts.) He graduated from Tufts University with a bachelor’s degree in history, with a focus on African-American history. Reach Giovanni at editor@capitalbop.com. Read him at giovannirussonello.com or nytimes.com/by/giovanni-russonello. Follow him on Twitter at @giorussonello.

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