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Free Jazz and Improvised Music

FM42  KUVUKA
The Glen "Papa" Wright - Greg Mills Duo
  1. For Sun Ra 15:07
  2. Popocatepetl 19:20
  3. The Crossing 21:43
  4. The Tide's Shadow 6:38

  5. Total Time: 62:48


Recorded June 6, 2017
at Clayton Studio, St. Louis
Recording and Mastering: Tazu Marshall Mix: Tazu Marshall and Jay Zelenka Produced by Jay Zelenka/Freedonia Music
Cover photo: ANGELOUX
KUVUKA is Swahili for "crossing, surpass, transcend".
Popocatepetl is Aztec for "smoking mountain", a sacred site.

Glen "Papa" Wright: drum set
Greg Mills: Steinway Model D concert grand piano
Deeply spirited creative free improvisation showing postmodern jazz and classical influences by two master musicians at the height of their expressive powers. A summit conference for piano and drum set. Refreshingly vigorous.

MEET THE ARTISTS

Glen "Papa" Wright's career as a professional musician, teacher, composer, and creator of innovative music education programs spans over 50 years. Starting in the 1960's he toured as a drummer with rhythm and blues bands, played in top 40 groups and worked in local St. Louis clubs. His interest in creative expression led to membership in the St. Louis Black Artist Group (BAG). In the 70's he played drums with the Julius Hemphill Ensemble, JD Parran's Third Circuit and Spirit, and performed with other creative jazz musicians who were gaining national recognition, among them Oliver Lake, Baikida E.J Carroll, and Lester Bowie. He was also an affiliate of the James Marshall Human Arts Ensemble and appears on the recording, Autonomous Oblast. From the 1980's through the present Papa has led groups performing original music in a variety of musical styles. His avant-garde group of the late 80's, The Outer Limits, featured the outstanding saxophone players John Norment and Maurice "Malik" King. In a more melodic style, Papa played marimba with conga player Percy James as the duo Harambe. Thru the 90's he led a variety of jazz groups. From 2006 to the present Papa played marimba with guitarist Kathy Schottel as the duo One + One offering atmospheric background music for all occasions. Using a wide variety of percussion instruments, Papa has worked for the last twenty years with his wife Jackie as the children's storytelling duo, Tales Told the “Wright” Way. Thru out his career he has performed repeatedly as an accompanist to a number of well known poets including Shirley Leflore, Eugene Redmond and Michael Castro. His most recent creative music project is the duo Wind Spirit featuring Papa on African Karimba with Ariel Kenyatta on flute.

In addition to his long and varied history as a drummer, percussionist and marimba player, Papa taught percussion at the St. Louis Conservatory and Schools for the Arts from 1974 to 1997. For the last twenty-five years he has served as a teaching artist for the national organization Springboard to Learning with a children’s percussion workshop called The “Wright” Rhythms for Small Hands. He was honored by this organization in 2012 with their Luminary Award. Papa studied piano and theory at the J. Roy Terry School of Music and additional theory studies privately with Southern Illinois University professor of music theory, Prince Wells. He studied mallet percussion with Rich O'Donnell, principle percussionist for the St. Louis Symphony. He also studied mallets with percussionist John Hass and piano with professional pianist William Romer.

Papa's love for playing creative improv music derives from the opportunity to give full reign to his imagination and energy in the hope that what speaks to his heart will also engage the audience in an uplifting experience of shared feeling.

Greg Mills studied classical piano performance at the St.Louis Institute of Music and privately with Gail Delente and Jules Gentils. Mentored in jazz performance and theory by St. Louis Black Artist Group bassist Carl Arzinia Richardson, he gigged with Richardson performing jazz standards as the duo Epoxy in the mid 1970's. In the late 1970's he was associated with the James Marshall Human Arts Ensemble. In 1980 Mills teamed up with Jay Zelenka and for the next ten years performed and recorded as the multi-instrumental improvising duo EXILES, amalgamating influences of the musical cultures of India and Africa with free improv and elements of the Euro-classical avant-garde. Exploring exotic tunings and extended raga-like duet performances for kalimba led Mills to adapt the Indian raga form to piano, creating a unique body of work in performances and recordings. During this time Mills pursued interests in mallet keyboards, drum set, percussion and began developing what is today a virtuoso command of the melodica, a wind keyboard usually treated as a novelty instrument. In 2015 Mills co-founded the Perihelion groups (trio, quartet, and ensemble), and curated a series of performances for solo improviser (Soliloquy) and duo improvisation (Just The Two Of Us). As leader of the Perihelion groups, Mills organized numerous public performances in 2015-2016 while recording his solo work, Mosaique, Triopolis with his Perhelion Trio, A Day At The Circus by The Perihelion Quartet and New Music for Clarinet and Piano with Eric Mandat.

Throughout his thirty plus years of public performance, free improv on solo piano has been his mainstay while continuing to explore directed or structured approaches to improvisation as diverse as ragas and tone rows. Mills says his work is "about the continuing discovery and exploitation of new approaches to improvised music and the development of new techniques for improvising on the piano."
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