Many of Sirone’s Illustrious Musical Colleagues to Perform in Tribute Thursday, February 25th, 2O1O, 7-1O p.m., at St. Peter’s Church, 619 Lexington Avenue at 54th St. (enter on 54th St. between Lexington & Third Ave’s), New York City 1OO22, 212-935-22OO, http://www.saintpeters.org (Take the E or V train to Lexington Ave. stop, or 6 train to 51st St. stop, or M57 or M31 bus to Lexington Ave. & East 57th St., or the M1O1 or M1O3 bus to Lexington Ave & 54th St.)
“We Are Not Alone, But We Are Few” — Sirone
A celebration of the life and music of the late / great bassist and composer Sirone (Norris Jones) with music by: Ahmed Abdullah, Muhammad Ali (drummer, Rashied Ali’s brother), Ramsey Ameen, Billy Bang, Andrew Barker, Dave Burrell, Roy Campbell Jr., Laurence Clark, Andrew Cyrille, Ted Daniel, Kali Z. Fasteau, Hilliard Greene, Henry Grimes, Jason Kao Hwang, Sabir Mateen, Ras Moshe, Abdoulaye N’Diaye, Reggie Nicholson, Adam Roberts, Juma Sultan, Charles Waters (and more t.b.a.); and words by Veronika Nowag-Jones, Jerome Cooper, Steve Dalachinsky, Michael Wimberly.
About Sirone (Norris Jones)
September 28, 194O, Atlanta – October 21, 2OO9, Berlin
A renowned double-bassist of exceptional talent, Sirone (Norris Jones) was a founding member of the Revolutionary Ensemble and remained with it throughout its six-year life. His memory is principally cherished for his power, flexibility and musicality as an improviser. Back in 1971, three adventurous young US jazz musicians formed an uncompromising improvisational group called the Revolutionary Ensemble–a title that had resonances in the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the radical transformation of jazz that had been ignited by Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor and John Coltrane. The work of the experimenters of that era is still evident in jazz today, in a freer and more collectively intuitive approach to playing. The double bassist Sirone was also a powerful influence in his own way. The Revolutionary Ensemble was remarkable for its concentration on texture, tone color and the then unclaimed territory between jazz and contemporary classical music, which partly derived from its unusual lineup: Sirone on bass, Leroy Jenkins on violin, and Jerome Cooper on textural rather than jazz-swinging percussion. Adapting what he had learned from work in the 196Os with the free-jazz luminaries of the time, Sirone brought a Charles Mingus-like earthiness and percussive attack to the mix–and nimble and imaginative enough to follow the unpremeditated thoughts of the most mercurial improvisers, he was also always ready to re-anchor the music to jazz’s most fundamental virtues in the blues.
“He was born in Atlanta, Georgia and played the trombone at first, taking up the double-bass at the age of 17. In his early playing years in his hometown, Sirone worked with a co-operative band simply called the Group, which also featured the saxophonist and occasional blues singer George Adams, later to make a significant jazz contribution in the bands of Mingus and Gil Evans. The directness of Sirone’s musical conception was established in this environment, and he was a natural recruit to the burgeoning free-jazz scene in New York when he moved to the city in 1965. Joining the pianist Dave Burrell, Sirone participated in Burrell’s Untraditional Jazz Improvisational Team. During these years, Sirone worked with Burrell and Taylor, and the fiery saxophonists Pharoah Sanders, Gato Barbieri, Marion Brown and Noah Howard. He also played with the great guitarist Sonny Sharrock, and in the late 196Os, Albert Ayler, Jackie McLean, Archie Shepp, and Sun Ra.
“From 1971 to 1977, the bassist was primarily involved with the Revolutionary Ensemble, Sirone having been introduced to violinist Jenkins by Taylor’s drummer Sunny Murray. Jenkins’s search for connections between classical music, jazz and blues quickly chimed with Sirone’s approach, and from the first 1971 exploration on the group’s debut for the ESP label (an extended improvisation called Vietnam), the bassist’s ability to mirror and extend the violinist’s bold ideas, and to merge seamlessly but tellingly into the group sound, is abundantly clear. The trio released the album ‘Manhattan Cycles’ the next year, then ‘The People’s Republic’ in 1975 and an eponymous titled departure in 1977. It did, however, reconvene in 2OO3 for ‘And Now …’, a more refined but still structurally inventive venture that Jenkins’s death the following year turned into the group’s swansong.
“By then based in Berlin, but regularly commuting to the US, Sirone joined Taylor’s group in the mid-197Os, an assignment demanding immense stamina. He also worked with Phalanx, George Adams and the guitarist James Blood Ulmer’s group, and with Jenkins on the saxophonist Dewey Redman’s fine ‘Coincide’ (1974), displaying both his capacity for dramatically atmospheric bowed playing and a highly lyrical jazz-ballad style.
“Sirone played and recorded with European musicians in his last years. He told All About Jazz in 2OO5 that he ‘put a definite attention towards the composition merely as a path of reaching the point where we can find that magical moment … to reach that point that freedom is discipline and discipline is a study.'”
(excerpted from an All About Jazz article by John Fordham)
With his wife Veronika Nowag-Jones, Sirone was very active in German theater. Sirone served as musical director and actor in a production entitled “Babylon Blues” with the great Hungarian writer / director Georg Tabori at the famous Burgtheatre in Vienna. Sirone also created a play with his wife Veronika called “Streetlife” about homeless people in New York City. Together they played a homeless couple, with Sirone acting and playing the bass. They presented this piece in Germany, Austria, Swizerland, Atlanta, and New York, and excerpts were shown on German television. Sirone also played and acted in many German television films. At Berliner Brecht, Sirone was the musical director and soloist for the Charlie Chaplin film version of “Monsieur Verdoux..” Sirone played at the Berlin Wall in 1988, with East German soldiers watching. German television has been producing a documentary film about the couple’s extraordinary lives. In Berlin, Sirone led his own music ensemble called “Concord.” They played many times in Berlin and in Poland.