Ahead of his concert paying homage to the minimalist composer Julius Eastman, DJ and producer Jace Clayton takes us on a musical journey inspired by some of the themes in Eastman’s music.
‘Much has been made of the more attention-grabbing aspects of Julius Eastman – black! gay! homeless! he pissed off John Cage! – so as a point of departure for this playlist, I decided to focus the interplay between sacred and profane that animates a lot of Eastman’s music. Along with some relevant gems…’
Excerpts from Buxtehude’s cantata cycle Membra Jesu Nostri
Each of the cycle’s seven parts is addressed to a different part of Christ’s body. I begin with the closing “Amen” section then rewind.
Next up is a wonderful vocal piece by Murlo and Gemma Dunleavy…
Lost and Looking, Sam Cooke
Cooke got his start in a gospel group then moved on to soul – that movement from church traditions to popular music is the meta-narrative of 20th century black vocalists, from Whitney Houston as youth choir soloists to Marvin Gaye, Arethra Franklin.
Eastside Churchboi, John Givez
Cooke flows into Eastside Churchboi by John Givez – trap beats with Job-inspired lyrics of the faithful under fire.
Sextet:III.Slow, Steve Reich, David Friend
Then we move into a Steve Reich piece performed by JEMD pianist David Friend (appearing as part of the Third Coast Ensemble). This album landed them a Grammy.
Then comes Arca’s Whip – a nice counterpart to the clean lines of Reichian minimalism that preceded it, one that resonates with Eastman’s participation in the BDSM and leather bar scenes of 70s/80s NYC.
Other highlights include:
– Two excerpts from the album version of JEMD, released on New Amsterdam as The Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner
– Debussy’s Sunken Cathedral for solo piano, in honor of the other JEMD pianist, Emily Manzo, who performed a drop-dead stunning rendition of this (with choral support from The Prometheus Chamber Orchestra) for my Room 21 project
– Horațiu Rădulescu, because he spent his entire life dedicated to make instruments sound with the keening otherworldly beauty of this solo viola
– Harpist Mary Lattimore, who only needs a harp and a Line 6 delay pedal to make everything alright
Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner takes place at LSO St Luke’s on Saturday 9 September.