Science meets jazz

AGE ART | November 24, 2017 | 19:00 - 21:00

**Image gallery below**

What a night! On Friday, the members of the WDR Big Band brought the house down with their outstanding performances of classic and contemporary jazz at the annual AGE ART series.

The concert entitled “Jazz@100” explored the ideas of time passing, wonder and challenges of a long artistic life and aging through music. The jazz legends, Gillespie, Fitzgerald and Monk, all born in 1917, did not make it to their 100th birthday through their presence was definitely felt in the auditorium.

The program started with a piece entitled “Tin Tin Deo” by Gil Fuller and Chano Pozo as played by Dizzy Gillespie, followed by Irving Berlin‘s “Blue Skies” together with “In Walked Bud” by Thelonious Sphere Monk.

To provide full appreciation for these jazz legends, John Goldsby then gave us a short slide presentation of the artists in their productive years, youth on through maturity. Though their lives were often cut short by unfortunate circumstances, we learnt that they were quite productive, even until the very end.

After the presentation, more classics followed. With snippets of jazz masterpieces, each soloist perfectly captured the music’s emotion. The ensemble warmed up the audience with a piece by Dizzy Gillespie “I Waited For You” and “Evidence” by Monk.

In the next segment, Dr. Dario Valenzano from the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing delivered a fascinating lecture on evolutionary models of ageing, including the study of model organism established as a model system for ageing by Dr. Valenzano, the African turquoise kilifish.  ”Wild ageing: novel insights from a short-lived African fish” covered a range of topics including a look at our fascination with youth throughout the ages, use of model organisms in aging research, demographics of aging population around the world and novel discoveries involving the turquoise killifish. The talk certainly captured the imagination of what is possible in the future of aging research and the extension of healthy lifespan.

For the final part of the program Barnett and Goldsby composed a piece entitled “The Killifish Suite” especially for this event. 

To fully appreciate this composition, one needed not only a well-tuned jazz “ear”, but also a vivid imagination. Mr. Goldsby provided an illustration of the actual composition with explanations of the musical structure reflecting the 4 stages of lifespan, hinting at what to listen for. The illustration created by Julia Goldsby added a layer of humor and connotations to the presentation.

The piece started with a delicate African beat delivered by the drummer Dekker and then followed the trombone solo with its soft and mystical muted waft indicating the beginning of life.
Throughout the entire piece, the listener almost feels as if they are traveling through time, through life’s stages, from birth to the end of life, an entire landscape of transitory state.

A highlight of the piece was the mini-duet between the bass and the trombone. Goldsby/Barnett also made creative use of the trombones and the double bass with each instrument playing over the other but still somehow playing as one. It was very exciting to see musical creation at play.

The audience of close to 200 tapped their feet to the rhythm until the very end when the pianist Forian Ross chimed the last beat of a ticking clock.

Our next event held May 4th, 2018, is an art exhibition and a talk by Dr. Christian Haass on neurodegeneration. It is definitely worth checking out.

(Helen Antebi)