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Jazz violinist Billy Bang will perform Sept. 28 as part of Syracuse Symposium
Jazz violinist Billy Bang will perform Sept. 28 as part of Syracuse Symposium September 15, 2006Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
The violin may not be the first instrument that one would associate with jazz, but over the past three decades, Billy Bang has married the two with dramatic results. With more than 15 albums and his influence on even more, Bang has made an enormous impact on the progressive music scene.
Bang will bring his unique style of jazz expression to Syracuse on Sept. 28 as part of the 2006 Syracuse Symposium, “Imagination,” presented by Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences. Bang’s performance will begin at 8 p.m. in the Rose and Jules R. Setnor Auditorium, located in Crouse College, and is free and open to the public. Paid parking for the public is available in the Marion lot and the Irving Garage.
The performance is co-sponsored by SU’s Department of African American Studies, U. Encounter and Kaleidoscope. Syracuse University’s Pulse, which provides SU students and the Central New York Community with opportunities to attend and participate in programs and performances, will host a podcast of Bang’s performance on its website (http://pulse.syr.edu/podcast/) the week of Sept. 28-Oct. 4. Pulse is a collaborative project of SU’s Division of Student Affairs and College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA).
Born William Vincent Walker in Alabama, Bang moved with his family to Harlem when he was an infant. He got his nickname, Billy Bang — after a cartoon character — in junior high school. It was there that he started playing violin and then percussion instruments.
Bang returned to the violin as his primary instrument after serving in Vietnam, an experience that profoundly affected his life. Heavily inspired by John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy, Bang became a key member of the New York avant garde during the 1970s. He co-founded the String Trio in 1977 and toured and recorded with the ensemble as well as others. Among his numerous recordings are “Bang On” (1997) and “The Big Bang Theory” (1999).
His highly acclaimed album “Vietnam — The Aftermath” was released in 2001 and earned him the 2003 Indie Award for best mainstream jazz recording. Its 2005 sequel, “Vietnam Reflections,” continues Bang’s healing process by transforming experiences of war and the nightmares they spawned into the refined substance of profound musical artistry. While the first album was cathartic for Bang, the sequel offers a portrait of the changes that have occurred over the past 30 years in both Vietnam and America.
The Syracuse Symposium is a semester-long intellectual and artistic festival that celebrates interdisciplinary thinking, imagination and creation. This year’s theme is “Imagination.” For more information on symposium events, visit http://symposium.syr.edu.