Join us for the launch of J. Otis Powell!'s new CD, which mixes spoken-word, jazz, and other impulses to create something unique.
Presented by: Tru Ruts/Speakeasy Records
About the album:
BALM! is not a collection of live recordings, or a simple poetry album over recycled hip hop beats––it’s a lushly-orchestrated, full-bodied musical journey through Powell!’s words that features strings, saxophone, drums and some powerful bass, courtesy of a quartet of seasoned players. And Powell! himself plays a stunning precise and emotive instrument––his speaking voice––a low rumble, capable of startling, disarming and evoking. Powell! knows that this work isn’t about the aesthetics. "This music and poetry represent generations of conjuring to relieve dis-ease from various forms of abuse such as torture, kidnapping, human trafficking, dispossession, enslavement and release without respiration, restoration or apology. We are healing and finding joy, we are searching through every note for an essential sound," says Powell!. That ‘essential sound’ permeates this album. Whether listeners are hardcore jazz fans, spoken word appreciators or none of the above, BALM! is one of the most engaging, refreshingly unique releases of the year. In addition to J. Otis Powell!, BALM! also features jazz musician Donald Washington, violinist Katherine Pehrson, bassist Michael O’Brien, and keyboardist Tom Kanthak.
J. Otis Powell!'s first art form was theater; his current art form is life. He has made and found work for more than five decades as an actor, writer, performance artist, television /radio/ stage producer, cultural worker, educator, philosopher, curator, mentor, arts administrator and consultant. J. Otis Powell! is a practitioner of Open Space Technology and has used OST for almost two decades with notable success in various productions, in educational scenarios, in administrative consultations and as a means to resolve conflicts. J. Otis lives and works in an aesthetic informed by jazz principles and practices true democracy as art and religion in a world resistant to all three. He has been a recipient of a Loft Creative Nonfiction Award, a Jerome Travel and Study Grant, Jerome Mid Career Artists Grants and Intermedia Arts’ Interdisciplinary McKnight Fellowship. He was a founding producer of Write On Radio!, the Twin Cities literary connection, at KFAI-FM while working as Communities’ Liaison and Program Director for Interdisciplinary Collaborations at The Loft Literary Center.