All things eclectic
While the work of most performance artists may fall outside of the comfort zone of some of us nodepressionite acousti-phobes, this CD by M. Nahadr has really been growing on me. I think there’s an inner cowgirl in there somewhere just dying to bust out –
By M. Nahadr
(LiveWired Music. )
Review by Douglas Heselgrave
Eclectic is the best word to describe this new release from the albino African American singer and performance artist, M. Nahadr. Like the other artists in the new livewired releases, Nahadr’s music embraces the exploratory spirit of Sun Ra, but rather than focusing on metaphysical questions pertaining to human beings’ place in the cosmos, she is primarily concerned with how surface differences between people disguise an essential unity between all beings.
The problem with a lot of performance art is that it often expresses concerns that seem rarified and out of the reach of the average person. Much of it can seem purposely obtuse and beyond the scope of the average music or theatre fan. There is the added problem that most performance art pieces rely on a multi media approach – often incorporating video, lighting and dance into its presentation – so listening to a CD of such a highly developed conceptual piece can seem unsatisfying and incomplete. In the past, all of Nahadr’s work – like her most famous project Madwoman: a contemporary opera featured music that made up only one aspect of the overall presentation. Thankfully, with EclecticIsM, Nahadr has succeeded in creating a musical work that succeeds completely on its own terms.
Nahadr has a solid background in improvisational jazz that includes working with artists like Sabir Mateen and Daniel Carter of the TEST co-operative. She takes the confidence she developed that allowed her to visualize beyond conventional music structures to create a series of musical and lyrical explorations that examine the idea of personality and difference. To do this, she has created a set of songs that move between spare instrumental incantations like Blue Morning Sunday – that shows off her vocal and emotional range – to full scale jazz ballads in a traditional style like the heartbreakingly beautiful Deep in a shallow bed. Nahadr sketches the territory in between with some devastating funk explorations and apocalyptic disco rave ups like Getting Up from Down Under. Those who like their music dangerous and in-the-moment will thrill to the free jazz explorations of Searching and Trip.
EclecticIsM isn’t easy listening music and certainly won’t appeal to everyone. Like other free jazz performers from The Art Ensemble of Chicago to Sun Ra, M. Nahdr isn’t going to break into the mainstream soon. That’s not the goal. The work of artists like M. Nahadr serves another purpose entirely. Rather than fill the airwaves with catchy melodies and popular songs, their job is to expand the possibilities of what music can communicate. Throughout history, cutting edge musicians from Pergolesi to Bartok to Miles Davis have introduced new musical paradigms that have indicated directions for future composers to explore. Over the years, some of their ideas will trickle down and be transformed by these artists in such a way that whole new genres of music are created. M. Nahadr is a brave musician, and EclectIcisM is an important album that unfortunately only a few people will ever hear.
This article originally appeared at www.restlessandreal.blogspot.com