Photo: Oliver Lake | John Hurd/Flickr. Creative Commons licensed. Some Rights Reserved by photographer.
The next show will air on Sunday, December 14, 2014 from 11:00 PM – 1:00 AM Monday Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. This broadcast features an interview with poet, painter, performance artist, saxophonist and composer Oliver Lake. Join us as Lake discusses his past work with the Black Artists Group, continuing work with the World Saxophone Quartet, Trio 3, his visual art and poetry and his upcoming performances at the 2015 Winter Jazz Festival. You can hear a short preview below.
Extremely few artists could embrace such a diverse array of musical styles and disciplines. Lake is not only able to thrive in all of these environments, but does so without distorting or diluting his own remarkable artistic identity. Part of this is due to his experience with the Black Artists Group (BAG), the legendary multi-disciplined and innovative St. Louis collective he co-founded with poets Ajule and Malinke, and musicians Julius Hemphill and Floyd La Flore over 35 years ago. But in reality, Oliver’s varied artistic interests go back even further than that.
Born in Marianna, Arkansas in 1942, Lake moved to St. Louis at the age of two. He began drawing at the age of thirteen (and paints daily, using oil, acrylics, wood, canvas, and mixed media), and soon after began playing cymbals and bass drum in various drum and bugle corps. At 17, he began to take a serious interest in jazz. Like many other members of BAG and its Chicago-based sister organization, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Lake moved to New York in the mid-’70s, working the fertile ground of the downtown loft scene and quickly establishing himself as one of its most adventurous and multi-faceted artists.
A co-founder of the internationally acclaimed World Saxophone Quartet with Hemphill, Hamiet Bluiett and David Murray in 1977, Lake continued to work with the WSQ and his own various groups – including the groundbreaking roots/reggae ensemble Jump Up – and collaborating with many notable choreographers, poets and a veritable Who’s Who of the progressive jazz scene of the late 20th century, performing all over the U.S. as well as in Europe, Japan, the Middle East, Africa and Australia.
While he has continued to tour regularly with his own groups, collaborations and guest appearances, Lake recognized the changing trends and new challenges facing creative artists, especially those working in the jazz tradition. Always a strong proponent of artist self-empowerment and independence, in 1988 Lake founded Passin’ Thru, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit, dedicated to fostering, promoting and advancing the knowledge, understanding and appreciation of jazz, new music and other disciplines in relation to music.
Under his artistic direction, Passin’ Thru has commissioned new works, sponsored performances by emerging artists, documented works by prominent artists, and has established on-going educational activities not only in its home base of New Jersey and New York, but also in Florida, Minnesota, Arizona and Pennsylvania, along with occasional activities in other locales all over the U.S. The organization also operates Passin’ Thru Records. In addition to Lake’s albums, ranging from solo to big band, Passin Thru has also issued recordings by the late, legendary multi-reed master Makanda Ken McIntyre, piano great John Hicks, the first recording by Lake’s mentor, St. Louis tenor sax giant Freddie Washington, and renowned trombonist Craig Harris.
Lake currently, performs, composes, and tours with his Organ Quartet, Steel Quartet, Big Band, the WSQ and Trio 3.
Show engineered, produced, hosted, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.
Watch Lake perform live in Poland with the World Sax Quartet in 1998.
Watch Lake perform live with Trio 3 at the 2012 Vision Festival in New York.
Watch the closing song from Lake’s live performance with Trio 3 at the <a href="2012 Vision Festival” title=”2012 Vision Fest” target=”_blank”>2012 Vision Festival.