GALLERY SPOTLIGHT – Expose Gallery at the Contemporary Arts Center
The Expose Gallery at the CAC is almost impossible to find—unless you happen to have parked on St. Joseph Street. It’s a series of windows facing the street, and its small surface area has displayed work from a range of young artists. Currently, Expose features “After You’ve Been Burned by Hot Soup You Blow in Your Yogurt,” by artist and experimental documentarian Margot Herster.
The exhibit’s simple setup belies its complicated subject matter: Herster offers a series of photographs, quotes and videos from Guantanamo Bay detainees and their lawyers, who have gained their wary clients’ trust by visiting detainees’ homes and families in the Middle East. Why photographs? By including themselves in a picture with prisoners’ family members or offering a video of a cherished landscape, attorneys at Guantanamo made lens-based media “an important part of the trust relationship,” explained Herster.
Captives held at Guantanamo are under suspicion of terrorism. They are also denied basic rights and held for years without being charged. With this in mind, Herster’s goal is to provoke conversation and awareness, especially about Yemeni detainees who have not been released because, wrote Herster, the U.S. views Yemen as “politically unstable.”
“After You’ve Been Burned by Hot Soup You Blow in Your Yogurt” is on display at the Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St., until August 18, 2013.
MUSIC SPOTLIGHT – The Session
With a brand-new album and a performance at Jazz Fest 2013 under their belts, young jazz quintet The Session is looking forward. To what, exactly? “World domination,” laughed drummer and bandleader Darrian Douglas. Barring that, he said, “We’re booking different jazz fests, gigs in New York…looking to get out of New Orleans.”
Douglas, who moved to New York in the fall of 2012 to pursue his musical career, returns to New Orleans frequently to play with The Session. The two-year-old band, which features Stephen Lands on trumpet, James Partridge on saxophone, Andrew McGowan on piano, and Jasen Weaver on bass, is an equal partnership, but not always an easy one. “It’s highly dysfunctional,” said Douglas, “like a family when you’re growing up. You love your sister…but it’s not like you really like her. But it brings you closer in the long run.”
When push comes to shove—which it literally has onstage—members of The Session keep it real. That honesty, said Douglas, leads to better music. “The best thing about this band is that everyone can be honest with each other. A lot of times, that causes tension, but also relieves it,” clearing the way for the quintet to focus on playing.
The Session’s February 2013 debut album, “This Is Who We Are,” is a ten-song example of the group’s variable style. With five members each writing music their own way, the result is hard to describe in a single sentence. “My music is more emotional, more soulful,” said Douglas. “Steve writes songs that are highly informed, but sensitive. James is a thinker, very intellectual and long-winded. Jasen won’t say a lot to you—his music is kinda mysterious. And Andrew writes the funkiest stuff in the band. You look at him and you don’t think hip-hop. But he’s a brother—it doesn’t have to do with race.”
Setting the group apart from its contemporaries, Douglas said, is its combined musical knowledge. The Session has written three distinct sets of original music, and has studied and played at least ten different artists’ repertoires over the last two years. “We did Miles, Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter,” remembered Douglas. “We’ve studied New Orleans music—Ellis Marsalis, Harold Battiste, James Black. We know music no one else in the world knows. That also contributes to our advantage.”
The Session’s Sunday afternoon Jazz Fest set yielded a standing ovation and calls for an encore from the Jazz Tent crowd. Within 24 hours (and another Session gig at the Roosevelt Hotel), Douglas was on his way back to New York. If he gets his way, The Session will join him there soon.
The Session’s first album, “This is Who We Are,” is available on iTunes, CDBaby and Amazon. Learn more at thesessionmusic.com
AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT – Charles Jolivette
An author and recording artist from San Francisco, Charles Jolivette has deep roots in Louisiana. He grew up influenced by his grandparents, who were originally from the Opelousas/Lafayette area, and got a taste of Southern culture in childhood. In 2010, Jolivette took his first trip to New Orleans and experienced the pull of the city firsthand. He moved here permanently in early 2011.
Drawing on his upbringing and from the many summers he spent mentoring inner-city Oakland, California kids in language arts, music production and other subjects, Jolivette decided to write a children’s book. “Bayou Babies Really Cookin,’” illustrated by Thaddeus Lavalais, stars five enterprising kids in small-town Main Lake who work together to make a pot of gumbo. It’s educational, but “I dressed it in fun,” said Jolivette. “I want to really be a part of the movement to bring fun back into education.” One of the book’s characters, Tanya, is based on an eighth-grade teacher of Jolivette’s, a positive role model he’s never forgotten.
So far, the book’s reception has been “fantastically positive,” said Jolivette. He’s been on four book-signing tours, and notes that “Bayou Babies” is just as popular with adults as it is with kids. Fans of all ages won’t have to wait too much longer for another installment, though—a second Bayou “Babies” is in the works.
Buy the book and learn more about “Bayou Babies Really Cookin’” at bayoubabiesworld.com