Author Archives: Philip J. Mortenson
With each passing decade, music evolves as society does, reflecting the beauty, struggle, happiness, and pain in life. Music’s journey cannot be stopped and it will continue to surprise us as society calls out for a new voice in both good times and bad.
Today is no different — in many ways, our generation is living the same form of social collectivism that came from the 60s and 70s as a nation at war. Society can come together in harsh times when change and a new direction is needed, and it is often music that brings the hardest issues and sentiments to bear.
Sound Tribe Sector 9, a difficult band to classify, is an intriguing example of how music in times of struggle can bring people together to address the social climate of the day, as well as how to change society through the purity of music.
Sound Tribe Sector 9 was formed in Atlanta, Georgia in the late 1990s. At the time, the group was short some members and known as only Sector 9. By 2000, the group picked up its final members, moved to Northern California, and renamed themselves Sound Tribe Sector 9.
Sound Tribe, as they are often called, started off by playing music that could be categorized under the genre of “drum and bass.” “Drum and bass” is a rhythm-driven style of music in which the drummer and the bassist lay down fast beats and grooves that change on a dime. The rest of the band is then free to utilize melodies that dance around the powerful rhythm. Sound Tribe recorded several studio and live albums under this powerful genre, but as time changed, so did it.
Today it could be considered, among other things, as an “intelligent dance music” band. Intelligent dance music, or IDM, is a genre characterized by individual experimentation. Both of these genres are evolutions of the techno movement. The various offshoots of techno are often summarized as electronica, but Sound Tribe has pushed electronic music into a new territory. Simply put, Sound Tribe’s music is great dance music that you might hear at a club, but with a musical complexity that would appease the most discerned listener. Its music is a fusion of various styles that bring an audience on a journey, and one that is unique and open to interpretation.
Sound Tribe is known for its powerful performances, but it was its recent album “Peaceblaster” that was not only its pinnacle of studio work, but also a call for society to take on a new direction. Although they are a band that uses lyrics sparingly, the words that pour through speak to social commentary. An interview with the band reveals their sentiments that music, be it their own or other types of music coming out these days, carries a message and a spirit.
An interview found on www.last.fm reveals Sound Tribe’s feelings about music today. Band member Hunter Brown comments, “there is incredible music coming out these days. People feel alive. They feel that their lives matter, that their choices matter. This leads to great art.”
When commenting on “Peaceblaster,” bassist David Murphy states, “America is this beautiful, incredible place, but it has a dark underbelly, and even on Peaceblaster’s most ethereal songs, there’s a darkness that reflects what’s going on in society — it ain’t all bad, but it ain’t all good.”
Sound Tribe has crossed many genres and has reached an audience by delivering powerful performances and respecting music’s great influence on society. “The music of the sixties and seventies reflected the politics of the era,” Murphy says in the aforementioned article. “America’s back in that place right now.”
Sound Tribe has done more than simply bring people together through the power of music; it has also made a valiant effort to use its music to preach social awareness and responsibility. After releasing “Peaceblaster,” the band created a Web site after the album that displays a variety of current issues, from Afghanistan to healthcare. Sound Tribe also actively donates money to charitable organizations across the country. Just last summer, Sound Tribe directed its humanitarian efforts to the organization “Make it Right,” a charity working towards building homes for Hurricane Katrina victims. It is refreshing to hear about a band that has taken so many steps toward achieving social awareness and harmony through the power of their music.
Sound Tribe is composed of Hunter Brown (guitar/laptop/midi keyboard), Jeffree Lerner (percussion/laptop/handsonic) David Murphy (bass/laptop/midi keyboard), David Phipps (keyboards/laptop), and Zach Velmer (drums). From the mesmerizing lights to getting lost on the journey they take us on, they are sure to please a wide audience. It serves as an added bonus to appreciate the band’s effort to use their success for the cultivation of social awareness as they help push music forward into bold new territories.
Sound Tribe Sector 9 is performing on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 8:00 pm at The Klein in Bridgeport. Tickets can be purchased online at www.fairfieldtheater.org
The fallout from the “He Said/She Said” article on the topic of the “walk of shame” has caused “He Said” author Chris Surette to receive “harassment complaints” submitted to Public Safety.
Director of Publc Safety Todd A. Pelazza confirmed that complaints had been filed and offered a statement on the matter. “The issue has opened a very important dialogue, and it is exploring issues of free speech versus what some may deem offensive behavior.”
The complaints against Surette have been sent to the Dean’s office for final adjudication. The controversy has caused Surette to receive countless interview requests from much larger publications such as the Connecticut Post. Surette declined comment on the issue.
A freshman female, who wished to remain anonymous, commented on the Fairfield community’s outrage.
“People who have a problem with the article should not have taken it as so cut-and-dry and should have seen it as a situation that could be avoided,” she said.
In regards to Surette and the alleged charges, she said, “I feel bad for the guy, I felt it was blown out of proportion.”
A senior female commenting on Surette and his punishment stated similar feelings, saying, “I don’t think it should have been taken that far, but he needs to know that what he said was unacceptable.”
Sophomore Nicole Fogliano ’12 said of The Mirror’s involvement, “I think they are partially responsible because the language used got past three editors.”
The Mirror has also received pressure from the student body and its government. As the controversy has unfolded over the past few weeks, the Fairfield community faces a discussion on both freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
The same day that the controversial “He Said/She Said” article on “The Walk of Shame” was released, a crowd of protestors flooded the Mirror office. According to Pelazza, the protest was conducted in an orderly manner without incident.
On Oct. 6, an anonymous group developed a flyer titled “The Broken Mirror.” By the time The Mirror’s new issue was ready to be picked up by students on the Oct. 7, there were stacks of “The Broken Mirror” accompanying copies of the school’s publication. “The Broken Mirror” contained several articles that addressed the strong sentiments that some students felt against the “He Said/She Said” segment.
The anonymous response flyer reached Fairfield students on a day when The Mirror was rife with apologies and coverage of the students’ disapproval over the “He Said/She Said” column. The week pressed on as the controversy reached the desk of University President Fr. Jeffery Von Arx. Von Arx sent out a mass e-mail to the student body on Thursday, Oct. 8. Von Arx offered some words that sum up the issue facing the community, as well as addressing the idea of free speech.
“As a University, Fairfield will always support the free exchange of ideas. A willingness to accept and encourage the unfettered flow of opinions, ideas, and modes of expression is, and should be, a hallmark of a Jesuit education,” he said in the e-mail.
“This is our disposition because we believe that what is true and good will inevitably be revealed when there is an open exchange of views, provided that all the parties involved are committed to certain fundamental values — and those include a commitment to uphold and defend the dignity of the human person,” continued his statement.
The “He Said/She Said” column has caused quite an outcry from the student body. However, who is to blame? Does Surette deserve disciplinary action? “The Broken Mirror” has placed the blame on the University’s newspaper. There have been attempts made to curb The Mirror’s subscription and censorship, including the call for the dismissal of the “He Said” column, which has presented a caricature of college life over the years.
A Marine walks into a bar, pulls up a chair and asks for a beer. There’s just one problem; he’s only 18. The bartender looks around for a moment, then pours the soldier a beer.
He can fight for our country but he can’t have a drink; that just doesn’t make sense.
A freshman in college arrives for her first weekend of school. The first night, everyone seemed to go crazy. However, this particular freshman keeps a cool head on her shoulders; she knows how to drink and she knows her limits. She starts off her college career helping her new roommate who drank herself straight to the toilet; she never “got away” with drinking in high school.
Not a lot makes sense about our nation’s current drinking policies. Students across the country arrive at their respective colleges and immediately join the binge drinking culture of our generation. It’s interesting to note that those who “got away” with drinking before college are affected far less by the binge-drinking epidemic. This is simply because the problem lies in a lack of education and even a lack of trust.
At 18, a person legally becomes an adult capable of serving in the military or simply learning independence while on one’s own at school. Yet our government felt the need to take away the right to drink alcohol at 18.
At the time the legal alcohol age was changed, drunk driving fatalities were through the roof. According to the Web site by activist group Mothers Against Drunk Driving, both drunk driving and non-alcohol related traffic fatalities totaled up to 5,224 in 1982. When the drinking age was changed in 1984, total fatalities dropped down to around 4,500 a year. Fast forward to 2006 and the total annual traffic fatalities have fallen to 2,121 deaths. From these bare numbers one might want to support the original change in the drinking age. But there is a catch.
While overall traffic fatalities have dropped due to the drinking age change, alcohol related deaths and abuses on college campuses have exponentially increased. These unfortunate trends spawned a movement known as the Amethyst Initiative in July of 2008.
The Amethyst Initiative served as a call to action for our government to reconsider the drinking age. It was a movement largely backed by college presidents and deans. The government changed the drinking age to address drastically high traffic fatalities. Twenty-five years later, the government must now address the negative effects of denying Americans who are, by many standards adults, the right to drink alcohol.
According to the Amethyst Initiative’s website, “1,700 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.”
The figures get worse, unfortunately, as “599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol, more than 696,000 students are assaulted by another student who has been drinking, more than 97,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape, 400,000 students had unprotected sex, and more than 100,000 students report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex.”
These shocking numbers clearly show that America is facing not simply a traffic fatality problem, but a cultural one.
To reverse the binge-drinking epidemic, our government needs to adopt a new approach; one of proper education and trust. With a little bit of both, our government might be able to reverse an epidemic that has adversely affected the culture of modern American youth. If we respect the current generation enough to reduce the legal drinking age, we just might be able to educate them about how to safely enjoy alcohol.
Any psychology class will tell you that to deny one something they desire will only make them want it more. It also doesn’t help that if you are a college-aged adult or a member of the armed services, you might feel that you’ve earned the occasional cold one. So to deny the American youth the right to partake responsibly and during the beginning of their rightful adulthood might just cause a backlash. Today’s result is a grim one.
Students, if returned the right to drink, would be able to socialize openly with a responsible pace and plans for designated drivers. Instead, 18-year-olds fill water bottles with vodka and try to “down” as much as possible before even reaching their destination for the night. Denying the right to drink alcohol at 18 has created a culture of alcohol abuse that could be rectified if students were allowed to drink responsibly on their college campus.
College presidents and deans have backed the Amethyst Initiative because they recognize their students will drink alcohol no matter the drink age. That’s why many colleges have taken steps to ensure that their students will be safe, and not driving. The issue of student drinking has caused schools like number one nationally ranked party school, University of Colorado at Boulder, to implement a free campus shuttle — known there as “night ride” — to deter driving under the influence. If college administrations could encourage a culture of safe drinking, then both alcohol related accidents and the binge drinking epidemic might be reversed.
A young adult should be educated on the responsibility that comes with alcohol consumption. The government needs to trust that our current college generation can be mature enough to respond positively to such a drastic change.
At Fairfield, our President, Fr. Jeffrey von Arx, has signed the Amethyst initiative. We should be proud that our school’s president has put his signature on such a progressive and controversial movement. However, college students across the country must wait for a day when our government addresses such an explosive issue.
For now, it would be nice to see more programs like the one at University of Colorado at Boulder, both at Fairfield and at other schools across the country.
Everyone has heard of jazz. However, to some people, jazz is simply that “stuffy” music that your grandparents used to listen to. The first time one listens to jazz, it can seem like a complex jumble of instruments devoid of Britney Spears quality lyrics. It takes some getting used to, but when you do, an appreciation for musicianship will soon grow on you. Jazz is considered one of the most purely American art forms and to appreciate its complexity is to truly understand music.
The Fairfield Theater Company seems to foster a healthy appreciation for jazz as it prepares for the arrival of modern jazz-fusion group Medeski Martin and Wood. So before you go on thinking that jazz is something that should be left back in the 1940s, you might want to get a handle on just how much jazz has changed over the years as well as how much Medeski Martin and Wood have done to make contemporary evolutions of jazz possible.
Jazz has evolved countless times over the years. Each new reinvention of style and form pushed music forward into a new age. It was in the late 60s that the new genre of jazz fusion was born. Greats such as Miles Davis took the improvisation of jazz and blended in funk and R&B rhythms with the intensity of electric rock. Through the 70s jazz fusion was a dominant force.
The 80s came and jazz would soon go with the flow again. Then the genre known as acid jazz would hit the scene. 1980s jazz and acid jazz would birth the combination of jazz, funk, and hip-hop. Guitarists such as Al Di’Meola sought out unique ways of blending jazz styles with the constantly emerging new sounds.
By the time the 90s came, music had experienced quite a renaissance. With hip-hop and grunge completely changing the music landscape, new and innovative styles were breaking through everywhere. As the music once again changed, jazz needed to change with it, jazz had to adapt. This time in music history seems all too an appropriate entrance for Medeski Martin and Wood.
In 1991, John Medeski, Billy Martin, and Chris Wood formed their band in Brooklyn, N.Y. John played keyboard, organ, or piano, Billy played the drums, and Chris the bass. The trio got their start by permeating the New York jazz scene. The band developed their own style by taking hip-hop beats and melding them within their improvisational and melodic jazz style. Their music began to catch on in New York as Medeski Martin and Wood started to play high-end venues such as the Knitting Factory and the Village Gate.
The band recorded their first album “Notes from the Underground” that same year with the label Hap-Jones Records. By 1993, the band was ready to record again. Medeski Martin and Wood were signed to a new label called Gramavision. They recorded their album “It’s a Jungle in Here,” purchased an R.V., and toured the U.S. Two years and three albums later, the trio were playing shows in Europe and Japan.
While touring through Japan is a good indication of being in a successful band, the jazz trio was only just getting started. Medeski Martin and Wood signed with the prodigious jazz label Blue Note Records in 1999. Blue Note had acts such as Thelonius Monk, Wes Montgomery, John Coltrane, Chick Corea and countless other jazz legends. Medeski Martin and Wood recorded three albums and a “best-of” set with Blue Note but continued to gain acclaim.
The group then decided to step up to the next level by creating their own label. After the birth of Inderecto Records, the group recorded “Out Louder” in 2006 with guitar legend John Scofield. The band had worked with John Scofield before on their 1998 album “A Go Go.” Each time the group and the guitarist great reunite they do so under the guise Medeski, Scofield, Martin, and Wood. John Scofield capably lent a hand in starting off Inderecto Records with a powerful album. Medeski Martin and Wood continued their momentum and creativity in 2008 by releasing an album for kids called “Let’s go Everywhere.” For 2009, the band is working on a three part album called “Radiolarians.”
With each new album or project, this trio has done well to preserve jazz while mixing it up and turning it on its head. Their new three album project Radiolarian 1, 2, and 3 is a prime example of how Medeski Martin and Wood continue to shake up the jazz scene.
According to The Museum of Science’s Web site, it defines a radiolarian as the following: “the skeleton of a single-celled organism … Radiolarians live in large quantities as part of the ocean’s plankton. When the radiolarian dies, its shell sinks to the bottom. After millions of years of radiolarian shells ‘raining down’ on the sea floor, they accumulate in great quantities. Much of the sea floor of the deep oceans are covered in this radiolarian ‘ooze.’”
This interesting title for Medeski Martin and Wood’s album project. It speaks to the band’s new direction. The Radiolarian project will take the listener into the deep where we will find layers of jazz as they rain through the abyss. An album review on JezebelMusic.com also reveals that Medeski Martin and Wood have taken on an entirely new method to creating their albums that has aided in perfecting their new project.
According to the Web site, “Medeski Martin and Wood have taken a new approach in the means of compiling a record. Instead of writing, recording, distributing, and then touring; they wrote, toured, recorded what transpired on stage, and then distributed.” This new process lies at the heart of what jazz is and is supposed to be. Medeski Martin and Wood’s new technique allows the trio to capture the essence of each improvisational moment while allowing them to evolve naturally.
To see Medeski Martin and Wood perform would not be just a jazz show; it would be a jazz experience. Their impressive list of works covers a wide range of jazz-fusion, but the radiolarian project too would be a unique experience as these jazz greats continue to reinvent themselves. Whether it’s their older material or the new, one only needs to appreciate the immense skill that each band member exhibits, if you’re not already lost in their improvisational and harmonic excellence.
Medeski Martin and Wood have taken jazz into a new era over the past two decades. They have come a long way as a band and have enjoyed much success. We at Fairfield are fortunate to have such an important band perform so close by.
Medeski Martin and Wood are playing at the Fairfield Theater Comany at the Klein in Bridgeport on Friday, Sept. 11 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online through The Fairfield Theater Company at fairfieldtheater.org
It’s Friday, Dec. 5 at the Wonderland of Ice in Bridgeport. Fairfield University’s club hockey team is about to square off against Yale. However, there is a real problem at the rink tonight: There are no fans present.
The bleachers play host to a dozen or so people who seem to be over 30 and therefore must be parents and relatives. Where, then, are all of the team’s student fans?
The answer lies with the cancellation of a fan bus to the rink in Bridgeport. The fan buses played a crucial role in granting access for underclassmen to the club hockey team’s games. Now that there isn’t transportation provided, the team has gone through its season with an empty rink. This lack of attendance this season serves as a real low blow to a team that has worked hard to achieve success.
Fairfield’s hockey team has come a long way over the years and its regional recognition as a developing hockey plan is due to the team, as well as its head coach.
It was five years ago when coach Marshall Richards joined Fairfield’s hockey team behind the bench. Richards joined the organization when the team had been moved from Division I to club hockey status. In the time that he has served as head coach, Richards has worked hard to transform his club hockey team into a proud representation of the University.’
Under Richards’ leadership, the club team made it all the way to nationals just last year. A recent article in The Mirror celebrated the team’s success, but wrongly blamed the lack of support for the organization one year after its championship run on disinterest. The real culprit for the change?’
The absence of transportation to and from games for supportive members of the Fairfield community.
Richards, as a coach, is steadily approaching 100 wins and each year the team continues to prove itself. To have no fan support because of a busing problem after such a successful year is disappointing.
The hockey team at Fairfield had enjoyed a tradition of student fans rallying in the stands to cheer on the hard working team.
Now the team plays in a rink that resembles a ghost town. If you were to ask the team about the fan turnout this season, it is apparent that the lack of support has hurt team enthusiasm and confidence.
Freshman Chris Pacicco confirms this sentiment. ‘We need fans, it will help the morale of the team,’ Paccicco said.
Left wing Ethan Finlay ’09 said, ‘I feel like I’m out for a Sunday skate with no fans.’
The recent article in The Mirror sugar coats the attendance this season, as a vast majority of the team is upset with the turnout.
‘(There has been) zero turnout beyond parents’ freshman goaltender Mike Pagliuco.
In fairness to the team and its recent successes, the University’s club hockey team has come very far as an organization and deserves the support of the college community.
So what was the cause of the fan bus cancellation?
Rumors circulate through the rink, as the club hockey team has no one to turn to, or to blame. Representatives of club sports at Fairfield could not be reached to comment on the situation.
Searching for answers in an all but abandoned rink, it is hard to tell what the cause truly is.
A disagreement between Fairfield and The Wonderland of Ice stands as the most likely cause of the fan bus cancellation. Ideally, it would have been nice to reach a formal agreement prior to the start of the season in the fall, but it seems that it was simply an administrative problem between the two organizations that simply was not resolved. To leave such a problem unanswered, though, has caused the club hockey team to suffer.
The Fairfield administration should solve this problem, if only to reward the team for its success and show equity across the board for all club sport teams. The club hockey team is certainly not feeling respected this season as it struggles to get even a meager attendance. Fairfield needs to do something for next season so that underclassmen can celebrate a hockey team of which they should be proud. This of course will boost morale for an already accomplished team.
On the other hand, while it is difficult to blame the student body for this problem, this issue needs to be fixed by students going the extra mile to support a deserving team. The Wonderland of Ice is not very far from school and the team would like to return to the previous glory that echoed through their home ice.
It is up to the upperclassmen who have cars to make it out to the game in the absence of the fan busses. There is no excuse for this problem to persist and if Fairfield’ will do nothing to support the club hockey team, then it lies with the upperclassmen students to carpool in support of the team.
Let’s celebrate the team’s success not by simply writing about it in the past tense, but instead by attending the team’s upcoming games, regardless of the lack of fan busing or the absence of StagBus transportation.
The team has a few games left that desperately need a home ice advantage and strong fan support. The next game at Wonderland of Ice is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 6 at 8 p.m. against SUNY-New Paltz.
Let’s turn Wonderland of Ice into the great venue it once was in support of a great team.