False Harmonics #8: Matthew Shipp, Michael Bisio, Jason Hwang, Ama Birch & David Henderson perform with Alex Harsley’s The First Light

For the eighth installment of False Harmonics, a musical series meant to explore alternative approaches to composition, improvisation and performance, pianist Matthew Shipp, bassist Michael Bisio and violinist Jason Hwang will collaboratively create a live score for Alex Harsley’s experimental video work The First Light. A complex montage of flickering images and symbols, the video takes viewers on a nonlinear journey across parallel dimensions, and metaphorically alludes to the cosmological origins of time and energy.

Their set will collide with poetry readings by Ama Birch and David Henderson, in a fusion between art, music and poetry that harkens back to the original spirit of Minority Photographers, Inc. and The Fourth Street Photo Gallery. Shipp, Birch and Henderson are all longtime colleagues and friends of Harsley’s, each having developed their creative practices in the East Village and on the Lower East Side.

About the Artists

Ama Birch is the author of Faces in the Clouds, Sonnet Boom!, and Ferguson Interview Project, as well as a video game available for Android, Space Quake by Ama Birch. She has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the California Institute of the Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She has been published by Autonomedia, A Gathering of the Tribes, Vail/Vale, Les Figues Press, Vitrine, Insert Blanc Press, CalArts Creative Writing Program, the State University of New York, and The Brooklyn Rail.

Bassist and composer Michael Bisio has been called a poet, a wonder and one of the most virtuosic and imaginative performers on the double bass. Nat Chinen wrote in The New York Times, “The physicality of Mr. Bisio’s bass playing puts him in touch with numerous predecessors in the avante garde, but his expressive touch is distinctive.” He has over one hundred recordings in his discography, more than two dozen as leader or co-leader as well as a dozen more documenting his extraordinary association with piano icon Matthew Shipp. Jazz Times describes Michael as “a performer who resonates with intelligence, emotional depth and probing virtuosity. Signal to Noise writes, “ Bisio is one of the few musicians who has managed to meld this high concept of physicality with the soulful charge of jazz. His fiddle-high, scraped overtones create a tangled choir that is impossible to resist; his expressiveness with the bow is unmatched.”

The poet and writer David Henderson was a founding member of the Umbra Poets, an influential collective of poets and writers who were central to the Black Arts Movement. His books include De Mayor of Harlem and Neo-California. He has been widely published in anthologies and magazines, including The Def Jam Poetry Reader, The Paris Review, and Essence. He has read from his poetry for the permanent archives of the Library of Congress. Born in Harlem and raised in Harlem and the Bronx, Henderson now lives in downtown New York City.

The music of composer, violinist and viola player Jason Kao Hwang explores the vibrations and language of his history. His compositions are often narrative landscapes through which sonic beings embark upon extemporaneous, transformational journeys. His most recent releases The Human Rites Trio and Conjure, his duo with Karl Berger, have received critical acclaim. As composer, Mr. Hwang has received support from Chamber Music America, NEA, Rockefeller Foundation, NY Community Trust, NJSCA, NYSCA, US Artists International and others. As violinist, he has worked with William Parker, Anthony Braxton, Butch Morris, Reggie Workman, Pauline Oliveros, Taylor Ho Bynum, Tomeka Reid, Patrick Brennan, Will Connell, Jr., Zen Matsuura, Oliver Lake, Jerome Cooper and others.

With his unique and recognizable style, pianist Matthew Shipp has worked and recorded vigorously from the late '80s onward, creating music in which free jazz and modern classical are intertwined. His artistic breakthrough came in the early 1990s as the pianist in the David S. Ware Quartet, and he soon began leading his own dates (most often including Ware bandmate and preeminent bassist William Parker) as well as recording duets with a variety of musicians, from the legendary Roscoe Mitchell to violinist Mat Maneri. Through his range of live and recorded performances and unswerving individual development, Shipp has come to be regarded as a prolific and respected voice in creative music into the new millennium.