Pushing musical boundaries with the October Revolution

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For culture lovers, Philadelphia has had an embarrassment of riches lately. September was dominated by the Fringe Festival, Opera Philadelphia’s O Festival and the start of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway centennial celebrations.

Now, as the calendar turns, we turn to another festival coming up this weekend.

“We’re calling it ‘The October Revolution of Jazz and Contemporary Music,” said Mark Christman, executive director of Ars Nova Workshop. “We’ve been presenting 40 to 50 concerts a year, throughout the city, for nearly 17 years. We’ve developed partnerships with other organizations — and our relationship with FringeArts gave us the opportunity to make use of their expertise in presenting a festival.”

The four-day festival showcases musicians who defy easy categories. Some have been doing so for decades, including the Art Ensemble of Chicago, multi-instrumentalist Anthony Braxton and Philadelphia’s own Sun Ra Arkestra. The festival also features younger artists who draw inspiration from a wide range of music, from free jazz to minimalism to indie rock.

Drummer John Colpitts is one such musician. He performs in a variety of contexts, sometimes as Kid Millions with his percussion-focused ensemble Man Forever, as well as in a duo with saxophonist Jim Sauter of the pioneering noise band Borbetomagus.

“I love being able to present my music in a wide range of settings,” Colpitts said. “I can go from the Ars Nova October Revolution Festival to a bar like Kung Fu Necktie. I try to focus on creating the music and not think about the labels.”

Colpitts brought his band Man Forever to our studios to perform and talk with WHYY’s Kimberly Haas and Ars Nova’s Mark Christman. You can see a video of their set and listen to the conversation via the links above.

The October Revolution of Jazz and Contemporary Music runs through Sunday at FringeArts and Christ Church.

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