David Amram Celebrates First 80 Years

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Mark Morganelli of Jazz Forum Arts is
paying tribute to the talents of composer, conductor, author, and
musician David Amran who turns 80 this year via presenting “David
Amram: The First 80 Years.” The event takes place on Thursday,
Nov. 11, at 7:30 pm at the Symphony Space, located at 2537 Broadway
(95th Street and Broadway) in Manhattan.

David Amram has made such a significant contribution to the world
of music, one wonders why he isn't a household name. He is an
author and lyricist who has composed more than 100 orchestral and
chamber music works. Mr. Amram has written music scores for Broadway
theater and film, including the classic scores for the films
"Splendor in The Grass" and "The Manchurian
Candidate.” He wrote the score for the documentary film PULL MY
DAISY which was narrated by novelist Jack Kerouac. He wrote 2
operas and authored three books, "Vibrations," an
autobiography, "Offbeat: Collaborating With Kerouac," a
memoir, and "Upbeat: Nine Lives of a Musical Cat" published
by Paradigm Publishers. Amram plays the French horn, flutes,
whistles, piano, percussion, and dozens of folkloric instruments from
25 countries.

“We are having the birthday party 6
days before my actual birthday so I could be warmed up if not warn
out,” joked Amram who will have performers such as Pete Seeger,
Arlo Guthrie, Willie Nelson, appear live and on film, as well as
actor Keir Dullea, John Ventimiglia, Malachy McCourt, members of the
New York Philharmonic and the Stella Adler Studio of Acting on hand
to wish David a very happy 80th birthday.

During “David Amram: The First 80
Years,” the audience can look forward to viewing the screening of
“12th Night” an opera Amram wrote with Joseph Papp; see David
Amram conduct the Queens College Orchestra with conductor Maurice
Peress; and hear the Brooklyn Conservatory Jazz Ensemble directed by
Earl McIntyre and the Jazz & Gospel Choirs directed by Renee
Manning. Fans of Candido and Bobby Sanabria can look forward to
amazing Latin music via the musical styling of David Broza, John
McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Josh White, Jr., Larry Kerwan
and the Imani Winds. Amram will also play a symphonic variation of a
song by Woodie Guthrie whom Amram met. “Woodie and I sat in a
kitchen talking about Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Woodie's
adventures as a seaman and all the places he loved to frequent in NY
to listen to music” mentioned Amram.

Also during the show Lawrence Kraman's
documentary film on David entitled “David Amram: The First 80
Years” will be featured.

Candido and Bobby Sanabria will perform
a piece in memory of the great Congo player Chano Pozo, who played
with Dizzy's band from 1947 to 1949, during the First 80 Years
birthday event in Amram's honor.

“Latin music and jazz music comes
from a beautiful place. It has an energy that is actually healing,”
remarked the great composer/conductor. “I learned this when I
studied the music and the instruments of other cultures. There are
histories in this music. Dizzy used to say everybody is a drummer.
He'd say everybody can play a drum...learn how to play a drum.
Everybody is a singer, learn to sing. And that's true. I realized
that all the basics of all the sincere music comes from the same
principles. Anyone whose been depressed or stressed knows that
after listening to music you get an energy blast that sometimes lasts
for days. I felt that way after listening to Sonny Rollins a few
days ago and when working with Willie Nelson on FARM AID. “As I see
it, each culture has their own ancestral drum. I played with Mingus
55 years ago at the Cafe Bohemia. Mingus would say every night with
him was like performing at Carnegie Hall no matter how ratty the
place was where we performed. He said that being on the bandstand
was serious business. Mingus said being on the bandstand was like
being in church because what we were doing was very important. It
was sacred,” recalled the composer.

“My entire life I have been
surrounded by jazz, blues, classical and traditional music. In fact
when I was hired to conduct a symphony at Carnegie Hall someone said
to me you don't seem nervous. I said playing at Carnegie Hall was a
piece of cake compared to working with Mingus and Gillespie,”
recalled David.

David was a pal and collaborator of
Jack Kerouac. They worked together on “Pull My Daisy,” a Alfred
Leslie and Robert Frank's 1959 film, in which Amram, Kerouac and
several other members of the Beat Generation appear. Amram composed
and performed the musical film score while Kerouac narrated the
soundtrack. Amran has worked with several greats during his 80 years
including Langston Hughes, Dizzy Gillespie, Dustin Hoffman, Willie
Nelson, Thelonious Monk, Odetta, Elia Kazan, Arthur Miller, Charles
Mingus, Lionel Hampton, E. G. Marshall, and Tito Puente just to name
a few. He scored the movie Manchurian Candidate starring Frank
Sinatra and Splendor in the Grass which starred Natalie Wood and
Warren Beaty.

David was hired in 1966 to be the first
composer in residence of the New York Philharmonic by Leonard
Bernstein. “ During the interview process, I was asked by the
interviewer who were my musical influences. I mentioned Palestrina,
Bach, Mozart, Schumann, and Beethoven on up to Charlie Parker, Duke
Ellington, Monk, King Oliver, Fletcher Henderson, Lester Young, and
Gil Evans. The Philharmonic interviewer asked how I could equate bar
room entertainers with the masterpieces of European music. I said
they share one thing in common -- purity of intent and an exquisite
choice of notes” said David whose actually birthday is November

Tickets for David Amram: The First 80 Years presented by Jazz
Forum Arts on Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 7:30pm can be purchased
at the Symphony Space Box Office, 212-864-5400, or at
www.symphonyspace.org. For information about Jazz Forum Arts, call
888.99.BEBOP, or visit www.jazzforumarts.org.

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