Mr. Lake has been on the leading edge of creative black multi-dimensional art since founding the Black Artist Group in St. Louis and then joining the New York “Loft” scene in the early 1970s. He has continuously developed a singular repertoire including: a classic recording career with the World Saxophone Quartet, Trio 3, and his own big band and small ensembles in a range of styles; countless compositions; visual art exhibitions; published poetry; and the forming of his Passin Thru’ record label.
On June 26th, the Vision Festival pays tribute to Mr. Lake’s legacy by highlighting and celebrating the multi-dimensionality of his artistry. The Festival will host:
- A 3-week exhibition of Mr. Lake’s visual art at The Clemente’s LES Art Gallery
- Oliver Lake will premier his new work, entitled “Justice”, performed by Philadelphia based Sonic Liberation Front, supplemented by alto, tenor, and soprano vocalists.
- The entire evening will feature works by Oliver Lake, including a rare performance of the World Saxophone Quartet
“Oliver Lake is an amazing musician and poet, a true artist. He has been a real support for younger musicians, showing up with words of encouragement. He has been an inspiration for me, to always dig deeper.” James Brandon Lewis
Additional festival details including performances, schedules, tickets, and more to be announced soon at https://www.artsforart.org/vision
About Oliver Lake
In 1968, inspired by Association for the Advancement of Creative Music and the Black Arts Movement, Oliver Lake co-founded the famed Black Artist Group (BAG) to bring together young black creatives of St. Louis, find spaces and venues for their creativity, and opportunity for multi-disciplined collaborations. Mr. Lake helped manage BAG, bringing together musicians, actors, poets, playwrights, painters, and dancers. Regarding BAG, Mr. Lake stated in 2014: “There is no separation in what we did. It’s all one thing. And that’s part of the philosophy of the Black Artist Group. And it ended up being my philosophy. I am open to all forms.”
To pursue his musical career, he and other BAG musicians moved to Paris in 1972 where he recorded his first album Point from Which Creation Begins, subsequently released in 1976. Upon his return from Paris, Mr. Lake settled in New York and firmly established himself in the “Loft” jazz scene of the 1970’s. Since then, he went on to produce a body of work that is both expansive and versatile enough to avoid falling solely into the trappings of any single labeling of his art.
In 1977, Kidd Jordan invited Oliver Lake, Hamiet Bluiett, David Murray and Julius Hemphill to form a quartet, later named The World Saxophone Quartet. They went on to tour internationally, earned a rare major label recording deal with Elektra, expanded the audience of Free Jazz during a decade of its dwindling recognition, and were described by the New York Times as “the most original and important group to emerge since Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane redefined group improvisation in the late ‘50’s.”
Oliver Lake’s work can stand on compositional merit alone, all while he has etched a place for himself as one of the elite saxophone players and improvisers, is a testament to Oliver Lake’s stature as an artist.
The caliber and originality of his compositions have been highlighted in commissions awarded from the Library of Congress, the Rockefeller Foundation, ASCAP, the International Association for Jazz Education, Composers Forum, and the McKim Foundation. Mr. Lake received both the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Mellon Jazz Living Legacy Award at the Kennedy Center in 2006. In 2014, Mr. Lake was appointed for the prestigious Doris Duke Artist Award, a multi-year grant awarded to American artists in the fields of jazz, theater and dance.
An extensive resume of his collaborations includes work with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Flux String Quartet, Bjork, Lou Reed, A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, Me’shell Ndegeocello, Anthony Braxton, James Blood Ulmer, William Parker, Vijay Iyer, Reggie Workman, Andrew Cyrille and a veritable who’s who of the jazz vanguard.
A trailblazer through and through, Oliver Lake continues to produce in the vociferous, uncompromising way that is his.
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About The Vision Festival
In 1996 the First Annual Vision Festival took place at The Learning Alliance on Lafayette near Houston. The idea was to bring together luminaries from the different Avantgarde music scenes and, for the first time since the Sound Unity Festivals in the mid ‘80s, celebrate the important African American leaders of the music. Featuring artist Milford Graves, that first Vision Festival was unique in its multi-arts focus featuring poets such as Amiri Baraka, dancers such as Rod Rogers, and visual artists such as Jeff Schlanger, in collaboration with the music.
Each year the Vision Festival also brought attention to issues of social justice by curating panel discussions, such as “Decolonizing the Music: Reclaiming the Power of Creative Music in Communities of Color” or “How Funding Affects Creative Choices.”
In its totality the Vision Festival created and guaranteed a space for improvisation as a leading creative language, heralded as “one of New York’s most essential art events” (New York Times).
In the current political and cultural climate, Arts for Art’s credo is felt more strongly than ever – using powerful music and art as expressions of commitment to life and justice. Past festival titles have included A Vision Against Violence, Avant Jazz For Peace, Studies in Freedom, The Revolution Continues, The Creative Option and Take a Stand.
The Vision Festival continues to honor and amplify the careers of legendary artists that are too often under-appreciated, such as Fred Anderson, Kidd Jordan, Bill Dixon, Sam Rivers, Connie Crothers, and many others.
About Arts for Art
Founded in 1996, AFA’s work is rooted in a commitment to social justice as equity and the promotion and advancement of FreeJazz, an African American indigenous art form in which improvisation is principle. FreeJazz embodies music, dance, poetry and visual arts. It is recognized for its variety of highly developed and personalized improvisational languages. AFA works not only to preserve the legacy of FreeJazz as an African American multicultural art form, but to ensure a vital future through its re-imagination by new generations of artists. AFA offers multi-arts programs throughout the year that fulfill the role of arts in society, that is, to reflect and respond to the world. Our programming brings together multiple generations of vibrant, diverse and highly skilled artists, including the Artists for A Free World project that includes a band directed by William Parker. AFA cultivates new audiences to protect this unique aesthetic so as to remain contemporary and available. To further our goals of diversity and accessibility, we foster education through our youth programs.
Arts for Art Mission
Arts for Art is dedicated to the exceptional creativity that originated in the African American multi-arts jazz culture that utilizes improvisation to express a larger, more positive dream of inclusion and freedom.
Visit artsforart.org/vision for more information on Vision Festival 26: A Light in Darkness