The Harvest Time Project is an ever-evolving concert which will happen around the world, featuring a selection of different musical ensembles who will come together in different iterations to reinterpret Pharoah Sanders' seminal composition Harvest Time (1977). Each performance will diverge from the others as much as Pharoah’s own wildly different live performances.
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National Sawdust will present the workshop premiere of The Harvest Time Project on October 14, 2023, to celebrate Pharoah's birthday. The performance will feature Jeff Parker, Chad Taylor, James Brandon Lewis, and special guest (and original Pharoah guitarist) Tisziji Muñoz, under the musical direction of Joshua Abrams (Natural Information Society, original member of The Roots, etc.).
On 15 September, Luaka Bop will reissue the 1977 album Pharoah, which features Harvest Time: a radical departure from Sanders’ earlier work. The re-issue will be accompanied by never-before-heard live recordings, archival material and extensive liner notes and photography. Misunderstood upon its release, the album has long been a holy grail and has been bootlegged for years. It will now be presented in its definitive, remastered version.
Spirit-taught, avant-garde jazz virtuoso and extreme guitarist, Tisziji Muñoz is best known for his uniquely original guitar sound and playing style, likened to that of a spiritual tornado. Born on July 15, 1946, his career has spanned over five decades and includes a vast repertoire of creative works and inspired compositions released by his independent label, Anami Music.
Tisziji has received unqualified praise from such artists and fellow collaborators as Rashied Ali, Paul Shaffer, Pharoah Sanders, John Medeski, McCoy Tyner, Dave Liebman, Henry Kaiser and Ra Kalam Bob Moses.
Rashied Ali: “Tisziji’s music can go anywhere at any time. His open and free conception is what I’ve been working towards all my life. Tisziji Muñoz is a creative genius and he demonstrates that when we play. It is a way of life with him. He is of that different order of life, being humble, extraordinary and very spiritual.”
Tisziji’s profound interest in ‘jazz’ as a language and an innovative process was sparked in 1968 when he was introduced to the music of John Coltrane while enlisted in the US Army 440th General’s Band. Upon discharge from military service, Tisziji pursued his musical interests in Canada and took a lead role in the development of Toronto’s underground music scene, where he began a long-lasting, working relationship with pianist Paul Shaffer and performed as guitarist in the musicals Hair and Godspell.
Paul Shaffer: “I have played with all the great guitar players, from Eric Clapton to Van Halen to Santana to Jeff Beck, and nobody plays guitar the way Tisziji Muñoz does. He is very spiritual, and as a guitar player he swings wild.” In the mid-70’s, Tisziji returned to New York City and began a dynamic collaborative relationship with master-of-sound saxophonist Pharoah Sanders in such renowned settings as the Village Vanguard, the Village Gate, Sweet Basil, Fat Tuesday’s, the Keystone and Lighthouse.
Pharoah Sanders: “Tisziji is a man of self-knowledge. He is the kind of genius who has to write his own books and play his own music. He thinks and plays on a higher level. Tisziji plays with that spiritual quality that is about being Free. That is in his music, that unique Sound. If you want to know about Tisziji, you have to listen to his music.”
In the years that followed, Tisziji moved to upstate New York to fulfill his destiny as a composer, producer of Anami Music, author, time master/astrologer and visionary, releasing an extensive body of unique projects featuring jazz greats Pharoah Sanders, Dave Liebman, Ravi Coltrane, Lam Sobo John Medeski, Ra Kalam Bob Moses, Marilyn Crispell, Paul Shaffer, Steve Kuhn, Bernie Senensky, Henry Kaiser, Don Pate, John Lockwood, Billy Hart, and the late greats Rashied Ali, Lew Soloff, John Hicks, Nick Brignola and Hilton Ruiz.
Joshua Abrams (Music Director)
Joshua Abrams is a composer, bassist, and improviser. His early formative musical experiences include performing in a chamber group conducted by Earle Brown, and busking on the streets of Philadelphia as an original member of The Roots. Since the mid-1990s, Abrams has been a key figure in Chicago's creative music communities and an international touring musician with artists across genres. In 2010, Abrams formed the project Natural Information Society (NIS), a group that creates long-form psychedelic environments that join the hypnotic qualities of the guimbri, a Gnawan lute, to a wide range of contemporary musics and methodologies including jazz, minimalism, and experimental rock.
Abrams has toured internationally with Natural Information Society, including performances at Endless Shout, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Festival International de Music Actuelle de Victoriaville (Vico), Canada; Fylkingen, Stockholm, Sweden; Guelph Jazz Festival, Canada; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Pritzker Pavillion, Millennium Park, Chicago; Sant'anna Arresi Jazz Festival, Sardina, Italy; Serralves em Festa, Serralves Museum, Portugal; Stanser Musiktage Festival, Stans, Switzerland; Teatro Maria Matos, Lisbon, Portugal; and Kaleidophon Festival, Ulrichsberg, Austria. Natural Information Society's recorded works include Simultonality (eremite, 2017); Magnetoception (eremite, 2015); Represencing (eremite, 2012); Natural Information (eremite, 2010); and Cipher (Delmark, 2003).
Abrams has scored numerous feature films, including The Trials of Muhammad Ali (2013), and several projects with award-winning director Steve James: the films Abacus: Small Enough To Jail (2017), Life Itself (2014), The Interrupters (2011); and the documentary series America To Me (2018). Abrams' collaborations with visual artists include sound projects and exhibitions with Lisa Alvarado, Theaster Gates, and Simon Starling.
Abrams has appeared on over 100 recordings, including those by Fred Anderson, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, David Boykin, Hamid Drake, Neil Michael Hagerty, Nicole Mitchell, Roscoe Mitchell, Mike Reed, Matana Roberts, The Roots, and Town and Country. His performances include work with The Fred Anderson Trio, Sean Bergin, Ari Brown, Earle Brown, Peter Brötzmann, Rhys Chatham, Gerald Cleaver, Tony Conrad, Toumani Diabaté, Bill Dixon, Axel Dörner, Von Freeman, Jandek, Kidd Jordan, Oliver Lake, Joe McPhee, Joe Morris, Evan Parker, Jeff Parker, William Parker, Ballaké Sissoko, Damo Suzuki, Craig Taborn, Chad Taylor, and Kurt Vonnegut. He was an artist in residence at Fred Anderson Park (2017) and at The Hideout (2016), both in Chicago. Abrams was awarded the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists award (2018).
Jeff Parker is recognized as one of contemporary music’s most versatile and innovative electric guitarists and composers. With a prolific output characterized by musical ideas of angularity and logic, he works in a wide variety of mediums - from pop, rock and jazz to new music - using ideas informed by innovations and trends in both popular and experimental forms. He creates works that explore and exploit the contrary relationships between tradition and technology, improvisation and composition, and the familiar and the abstract.
His sonic palette may employ techniques from sample-based technologies, analog and digital synthesis, and conventional and extended techniques from over 40 years of playing the guitar.
An integral part of what has become known as “The Modern Chicago Sound”, he is a longtime member of the influential indie band Tortoise, and is also a founding member of Isotope 217˚ and Chicago Underground. A look at his extensive work as a collaborator and session musician offers a glimpse into Mr. Parker’s diversity. This list includes: Andrew Bird, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joshua Redman, Toumani Diabate, George Lewis, Bennie Maupin, Nicole Mitchell, Peter Erskine, Carmen Lundy, Makaya McCraven, Vijay Iyer, Yo La Tengo, Daniel Lanois, Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band, Jason Moran, Joey DeFrancesco, Nels Cline, Charles Earland, Ken Vandermark, Dave Douglas, Fred Anderson, Tom Zé, Clipping, and hundreds more.
Parker has released several albums as a leader, all to critical acclaim, including: Like-Coping (2003), The Relatives (2005) Bright Light In Winter (2012), The New Breed (2016), Slight Freedom (2016), Suite For Max Brown (2020), Forfolks (2021) and Mondays At The Enfield Tennis Academy (2022). The New Breed and Slight Freedom were named two of the Top 10 Jazz releases of 2016 by The New York Times, and The New Breed was named the Top Jazz Album of 2016 in The London Observer. Suite For Max Brown (2020), debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard Jazz Chart, and was included on numerous year-end Best Of lists, including WIRE Magazine, MAGNET Magazine, and The Guardian. Renowned contemporary music ensemble Dal Niente premiered Parker’s composition “Water On Glass” at 2017’s Ear Taxi Festival.
Branching out into the role of record producer, he has worked with Jeremy Cunningham on The Weather Up There, Paul Bryan on Cri$el Gems, and Anteloper on Pink Dolphins.
As a film composer, Parker has scored several documentaries and contributed music to feature films and games.
An associate member of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) since 1995, Parker was awarded the United States Artist’s Fellowship in 2022.
One of the most prolific drummers/percussionists over his three decades of performing and recording with some of the modern, improvised music’s most influential musicians such as the late Fred Anderson, Nicole Mitchell, Matana Roberts, Ken Vandermark, Marc Ribot, and Jeff Parker, Chad Taylor has defined his voice as one that is unique, rawly refined, unending in creativity, and historically relevant in the world of modern creative music. His partnership with Rob Mazurek in the Chicago/ London Underground Duo/ Trio/ Quartet/ Orchestra, has placed him in an individualistic stylistic mode of playing that is distinct and undoubtedly original. Let's also not forget his contributions to folk/rock/pop groups such as Stereolab, Sam Prekop, Yo La Tengo, Doug McComb’s Brokeback, Glen Hansard and Iron & Wine. Most recently, Taylor’s work can be heard on critically acclaimed releases of 2017 such as Jaimie Branch’s Fly Or Die (praises from The New York Times, Arcade Fire’s Sarah Neufeld, Ryley Walker, Jazz Right Now, BandCamp Best of…, and more) and Eric Revis’ Sing Me Some Cry release alongside MacArthur Fellow Ken Vandermark and Kris Davis.
James Brandon Lewis
In 2021, the saxophonist and composer James Brandon Lewis had a career breakthrough with his tenth album, The Jesup Wagon. Inspired by the mobile agricultural education efforts of inventor George Washington Carver, the song cycle was hailed by critics for its dreamlike mosaic of gospel, folk-blues and catcalling brass bands. It was named Album of the Year at Jazz Times and Downbeat and a bunch of international jazz magazines, and it established Lewis as one of the provocative musical voices of his generation.
Lewis’ melodic identity encompasses ancient and future, inside and outside, density and openness, church and street. He’s a master of the short infectious motif, and like Sonny Rollins, devotes long expanses of his improvisation to the stretching and refracting and mutating of short phrases. The son of a minister, Lewis grew up playing in church and hearing the titans of jazz at home, and then as he got older, encountering Buffalo artists like the free-jazz saxophonist Charles Gayle and the groove-minded saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. After moving to New York, Lewis pursued music in many different lanes, playing regularly with bassists William Parker and Jamaaladeen Tacuma from Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time band, as well as trombone player Craig Harris and many others.