The excellent 2015-16 jazz season at the Wexner Center ends on a high note with the Mark Lomax Trio making its debut at the venue on Friday, June 3rd, at 8pm. Tickets are available here. This rare Central Ohio appearance by drummer Lomax, tenor saxophonist Eddie Bayard, and pianist Dr. William Menefield will present a groundbreaking modern jazz composition played by some of Ohio’s best musicians. The group will be premiering Dr. Lomax’s new seven movement suite entitled Song of the Dogon, a work dedicated to the Dogon, the ancient people of Mali’s Upper Volta. Coincidentally, this performance will take place on the release date for two new albums, Blues People and The Art Of Sound – read here for more details and ordering information, and stay tuned for an upcoming review. Dr. Lomax was kind enough to answer a few questions via email – Keep reading for more about Song of the Dogon and upcoming projects:
What can you tell us about the Song of the Dogon composition?
Mark Lomax (ML): Song of the Dogon is my second and latest work for the piano trio (tenor sax and drums). It is a piece that, as organically as possible, fuses Western type compositional techniques and harmonies with spontaneous composition and rhythms derived from Dogon traditional rhythms.
What inspired you to pay musical homage to the Dogon people?
ML: They have an ancient and amazing cosmology. Their culture predates ancient Kemet (the Greeks called it Egypt), and they have centuries-old scientific knowledge that Western scientists have only relatively recently discovered. How do they know of the existence of Sirius B (they call it Potolo) in the absence of telescopes? How do they have an understanding of string theory (they use spider web terminology)? How did they come to understand the natural world at the molecular level without sophisticated scientific equipment? How is it that their spiritual systems are so well thought out, their communal ties so strong, their systems for passing the culture from generation to generation still intact yet they live in abject poverty? What does that say about our material culture? How does that speak to their understanding of this plane of existence? These are the questions that inspired me to explore the Dogon.
You have been writing at a prolific clip in recent years, including your double album release on June 3rd. Can you tell us about any other projects you have in the works?
ML: I don’t think I’ve been more or less prolific in recent years in comparison to say, pre-2013 years. The main difference is that the Columbus community has been more receptive to my work where the good Ohioans in Cincinnati and Dayton, and venues in other parts of the country that have supported us for the last 20 years have been more supportive in earlier stages of development.
I can’t say much about next projects other than I am beginning the work on music for my Blues In August premiere at the Short North Stage (August 17th) as part of the August Wilson Festival happening this year in central Ohio. I’m most excited about a project we’re calling 400 Years. Without going in to too much detail, I’m working with artists across the country to create programming and artistic products that tell the story of Afrikans in America. The purpose of the project is to use the arts as a means of facilitating a national discussion on unification and uplifting the Human spirit.