We’re delighted to share the lineup of master improvisors joining Wu Fei & Friends: Improv Game for the ultimate improvisation experience on Saturday, March 24 at the Knoxville Museum of Art. The classically-trained composer and guzheng virtuoso has invited Shanir Blumenkranz, Billy Martin, and Ned Rothenberg to join her in leaping into unknown musical territory to create something that no one has ever heard before. This Big Ears super-group of sorts will combine 2018 festival artists: Blumenkranz will also perform in Cyro Baptista‘s Banquet of the Spirits concert, while Martin will play with Medeski Martin & Wood in addition to his solo show on the drums and special art exhibition to be announced. Rothenberg will perform a solo set as well as with Evan Parker’s Electro-Acoustic Ensemble.
Wu Fei / Classically-trained Composer and Master of the Guzheng
If you attended Big Ears 2017, then you likely remember Wu Fei’s stunning solo show at a completely packed St. John’s Cathedral. Her awe-inspiring vocals and mastery of the guzheng, an ancient 21-string Chinese zither, combine a delicious blend of Western classical and Chinese traditions to form an idiosyncratic, contemporary sound. In addition to this specially curated jam, Wu Fei will also perform with Abigail Washburn on Sunday, March 25 at the Bijou Theatre.
Shanir Blumenkranz / Acoustic + Electric Bass, Oud & Gimbri Player
Shanir Blumenkranz will join fellow Tzadik label-mate Wu Fei to contribute his signature “ecstatic strumming” to their collaborative Saturday performance. Featured on over 50 Tzadik releases since 1999, along with producing and arranging with many of those bands, he is sure to add a layer of adventurousness and intensity to this performance not to be missed.
Billy Martin / Composer, Drummer, Visual Artist, Educator & Record Producer
Best known for his deep grooves and arrhythmic improvisations in Medeski Martin & Wood, Billy Martin’s drumming takes listeners on a mesmerizing ride through the rhythms of the world — from heartland jazz to the percolations of Indonesia and the thrum of South America. His live shows navigate so much territory in the span of a single set, so buckle up!
Ned Rothenberg / Composer and Saxophone, Clarinet & Shakuhachi Player
Ned Rothenberg has graced audiences with his internationally acclaimed solo and ensemble music for the past 33 years on five continents. Performing primarily on alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, and the shakuhachi (an end-blown Japanese flute), he utilizes an expanded palette of sonic language, creating a new tradition without borders through his music.