Douglas Ewart's “3 on 3 Music Is the Game”
No stranger to eclectic sonic exploration, Kingston native and multi-instrumentalist Douglas Ewart has been building his own instruments and developing a singular approach to composition since pre-adolescence. At 53, he is nationally renowned, particularly in academic and community-arts circles, as a master craftsman, inspirational teacher, and world-class performer who's more than willing to test new ground.
With his latest improv-composition “3 on 3 Music Is the Game,” the celebrated alumnus of Chicago's enterprising AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) takes his lifelong pursuit of do-it-yourself musicmaking to a rarefied level. This self-described “ritual game piece” intends to bridge the often remote worlds of art and sports by teaming up a multigenerational sextet of adventurous aural improvisers with the able-bodied jocks of Mills College's Cal Pac basketball squad.
The lineup for the musical combo is in itself impressive: Ewart (winds), Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet), James Newton (flutes), Adam Lane (contrabass), Walter Kitundu (turntables), and poet Karesh Ali Lansana. Add to that the variegated percussive effects of competitive sportsmanship — the stomp and squeak of a Nike chorus on a hardwood court, the bounce and boom of mad ball-handling skills, the crash of inflated leather against metal and fiberglass; plus the inevitable whoosh! of an all-net three-point jumper — and you've got rhythmic, timbral, and visual calisthenics of uncommon elasticity. Equal parts art and athletics, “3 on 3” promises a multidimensional game well worth playing.
Douglas Ewart presents “3 on 3 Music Is the Game” on Friday, March 10, at 8 p.m. at Mills College's Walter Haas Pavilion Gymnasium, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. Admission is free; call (510) 430-2296.