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Bill Ware’s Live Score for The Adventures of Prince Achmed

Festival Details - "Bill Ware’s Live Score for The Adventures of Prince Achmed"...

The composer and acclaimed vibraphonist Bill Ware presents his score for the 1926 film The Adventures of Prince Achmed by Carlette “Lotte” Reiniger. Performed by the Prince Achmed Band—Ware on vibraphone, Steve Bernstein on slide trumpet, Sam Bardfeld on violin, Philip Mayer on percussion, and John Murchison on gimbri and bass—Ware’s score is built upon the haunting pulse of the gimbri, also known as the sinter: a three-stringed, skin-covered, bass plucked lute played by the Gnawa people of Northern Africa. Middle eastern percussion instruments and jazz vibraphone create a unique and captivating groove, with violin and slide trumpet completing the ensemble to explore melodic motifs that match the various characters in the film.

Thought to be one of the oldest surviving feature-length animated films, The Adventures of Prince Achmed is a visually compelling 1926 silent film/fairy tale based on the timeless stories of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. Pioneering filmmaker Charlotte “Lotte” Reiniger (1899–1981) used an innovative silhouette animation technique with manipulated cardboard cutouts and thin sheets of lead under her camera.

Bill Ware’s Live Score for The Adventures of Prince Achmed was originally scheduled to premiere in Spring 2020, but was postponed and rescheduled due to Covid-19. Roulette’s Fall season will be presented virtually and available for free on a variety of streaming platforms. Our theater is currently closed for public performances as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the safety measures that Roulette has put in place to keep staff, artists, and the public safe.

Bill Ware and the Prince Achmed Band
Bill Ware, composer, vibraphone
Sam Bardfeld, violin
Steven Bernstein, trumpet
Philip Mayer, percussion
John Murchison, bass & gimbri

Bill Ware is a world class vibraphonist, composer and bandleader from East Orange, New Jersey with an eclectic body of work and a distinct and unapproachable sonority. He received his college degree in music theory and composition from Montclair State University, where he studied with Daniel Wertz and Ting Ho, and trained at the Harlem Jazzmobile Workshop under Billy Taylor before he embarked on his lifelong career of performance, recording and composition. Significant teachers and mentors also include Barry Harris, Frank Foster, Jimmy Owens and Wilson Moorman. Ware is a charter member of the internationally renowned NYC downtown group, The Jazz Passengers; he was at the heart of the New York City “acid-jazz” scene as a founding member of Groove Collective; and he toured as percussionist and vibraphone soloist with Steely Dan for the Alive in America (1993-1995) concert tour, also appearing on the live album for that tour. On his own, Ware has led numerous ensembles, including his Latin jazz ensemble, AM Sleep; his signature quintet, the Club Bird All-Stars; his trio Vibes – formed from the Jazz Passengers rhythm section; Groove Thing with Deborah Harry; Keeping Up With the Jones’ in 1999; and his Y2K Jazz Quartet. He has performed with dozens of notable artists including Deborah Harry, Elvis Costello, Little Jimmy Scott, Steve Turre, Jeff Buckley, Mavis Staples, John Modeski, Joe Lavano, Melba Moore, Frank Foster, Arturo O’Farrill, Teruo Nakamura, Marc Ribot, Chris Stein, Roberto Borrel, Butch Morris, Victor Jones, CC Peniston, Marshall Crenshaw, Tony Williams, Bernie Worrel, Janis Seigel, David Byrne, Rez Abbasi, Sara Wollan, Eliane Amherd, Joel Dorn, Janis Siegel, Bob Dorough, John Kelley, Phil Roy, and Bobby Previte. Ware has also explored classical composition beginning with his orchestrations of a book of Jazz Passengers songs for performance with Deborah Harry, the Jazz Passengers and symphony orchestra. He has composed several works, including three symphonies and concerti. In 2004, his “Das Juengste Kind, Symphonie der Familien” was selected in a rigorous competition for a reading session by the Minnesota Orchestra. He has scored several films, alone and in collaboration with Jazz Passengers front-man Roy Nathanson, including Martin and Orloff, Raising Victor Vargas, Undefeated, Excess Baggage, and Hal Wilner’s Harold Arlen Tribute. He also arranged the Jazz Passengers’ music for their live performances set to the cult classic Universal film, The Creature From The Black Lagoon.

Steven Bernstein has been an impactful presence on the New York scene for 30 years as trumpeter, composer, arranger and bandleader. He has immersed himself in such a wide array of music with his bands Sexmob, Millennial Territory Orchestra, Diaspora Soul, Universal Melody Brass Band, Spanish Fly, Blue Campfire and the Butler-Bernstein Hot 9 that he defies easy categorization. A former member of the Lounge Lizards and Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Band, Bernstein has also composed works for film, theater and dance in addition to doing arrangements for a diverse list of artists ranging from Lou Reed to Lee “Scratch” Perry, Allen Toussaint, Marianne Faithfull, Linda Ronstadt, Rufus Wainwright, Darlene Love, Mario Pavone, Bill Frisell, John Lurie and the Kansas City All-Stars. His lengthy list of sideman credits includes recent recordings by Laurie Anderson (Heart of a Dog), Roswell Rudd (Trombone for Lovers), Mostly Other People Do The Killing (Loafer’s Hollow), Antony and the Johnsons (Turning) and Nels Cline (Lovers). He also continues to perform with Ray Anderson’s Pocket Brass Band, Omaha Diner and the Kamikaze Ground Crew.

Sam Bardfeld is a violinist, composer and arranger. He is a member of The Jazz Passengers and a frequent collaborator of Bruce Springsteen’s – a veteran of three recordings and two tours. He has worked with a long list of jazz, pop, folk and experimental acts including Elvis Costello, John Zorn, Calexico, Anthony Braxton, Debbie Harry, Steven Bernstein, John Cale, Kris Davis, The String Trio of NY, The Red Clay Ramblers, Nancy Sinatra, Willie Colon, Johnny Pacheco and The Soldier String Quartet among others. Bardfeld’s own recordings, Taxidermy (CIMP, 1999) and Periodic Trespasses (FreshSounds, 2006) have both earned acclaim, including a “4-Star” rating in Downbeat magazine, raves in Jazz Times, Jazziz magazine and “4-Stars” in All Music Guide (both recordings). He has performed with his own group at jazz festivals and clubs throughout Europe including Banlieues Bleues (Paris), Sud-Tirol (Italy) and Porgy and Bess (Vienna). In addition to being a member of the Jazz Passengers, Sam’s jazz playing is featured as a member of Roy Nathanson’s Sotto Voce and Joel Harrison’s String Choir and he has toured and/or recorded with Michael Attias’ Sextet, Royal Hartigan’s Blood Drum Spirit, Butler/Bernstein, Steven Bernstein’s MTO, Anthony Braxton’s Trillium Orchestra and many other groups.

Philip Mayer is a New York City based percussionist. With a background in jazz and American popular music, Philip’s interest in drumming traditions from around the world has led him to travel to and study extensively in India, Turkey, Israel, Spain and Italy. These immersive experiences abroad combined with an already ingrained improvisational sensibility has given Philip a versatility that enables him to be equally at home in a wide variety of musical styles from classical Arabic to indie rock. He has a degree in jazz performance from Florida State University. Notable teachers include: Leon Anderson Jr., Pandit Samir Chaterjee, Zohar Fresco, Yshai Afterman, Mehmet Akatay, Bünyamin Olguncan, and Aleix Tobias. Philip Mayer has performed, toured, and/or recorded with Natalie Merchant, Kishi Bashi, of Montreal, David Wax Museum, Coleman Barks, Lonnie Holley, Moira Smiley, Seamus Egan, Hazmat Modine, Pillar Point, Tall Tall Trees, Parijat Desai, Charlotte Kate Fox, The New York Arabic Orchestra, Addi & Jacq, Jai Jagdeesh and many more. Philip is the drummer and percussionist for the award winning musical ‘The Band’s Visit’ on Broadway which won 10 Tony Awards and a Grammy.

John Murchison is a Brooklyn-based bassist and multi-instrumentalist, active in many of the various music scenes of NYC, from pop and musical theater, to jazz and avant-garde, to traditional music from Africa and the Middle East. John is one of the most in-demand bassist for traditional Arabic music in in the United States. While bass is his primary instrument, he also performs regularly on the qanun, bendir, gimbri, and ney. He has performed in a variety of theater productions from downtown to Time Square, including the Broadway production of “Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812”. Murchison has performed around NYC and in Puerto Rico as bassist with folkloric dance ensemble Danza Fiesta. He has also performed with popular artists from West Africa such as Fode Kouyate and Sekouba Kandia, and plays regularly in NYC with Kakande, featuring Famoro Dioubate and Missia Saran Dioubate.

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