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Penn State Hosts Free-Jazz Symposium, LCJO Concert

Free jazz was all about exploding boundaries, substituting pure creativity and rebelliousness for more-or-less strict regimentation, and subverting existing power structures. This, of course, means that it’s the perfect subject for a learned conference at an enormous state university. Penn State has accepted the challenge, bringing together Archie Shepp, Amiri Baraka (pictured left) and a host of other notables for “Free Jazz and Its Legacies: A Symposium on Improvisation and American Culture,” on April 5 and 6 in State College, Pa.

As the title of the symposium indicates, this seminar addresses not only the musical but also the cultural and political aspects of free jazz, all of which are intertwined and essential. One could hardly find better men to address these diverse disciplines than Shepp and Baraka. Shepp is not only a fiery saxophone player, but also a noted playwright who made his thoughts on free jazz’s sociopolitical implications into drama in his early works. Baraka, of course, has been a poetical rebel to America and jazz fanatic seemingly since time immemorial. When the two come together to give a concert, the results will undoubtedly be revolutionary in all senses of the word.

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