“Salomé: Woman of Valor addresses the social and political necessity to speak the unspoken, resist outdated notions of identity and ethnicity. It critiques a received narrative, historically accepted as truth, and opens up a space where difference and otherness can be celebrated. All set to a hypnotically ecstatic, electric bhangra trance/dance score.”
Over the last three decades, the celebrated East Village-based Canadian poet/performer Adeena Karasick and Grammy Award-winning composer/trumpeter Frank London have each transformed the worlds of poetry and music with work that is sensual and political, steeped in Jewish mysticism, exploding notions of high and low culture.
Their first collaboration together is Salomé: Woman of Valor, heard now in its debut recording on London's NuJu Music label. Karasick and London's Salomé takes its inspiration from the historical figure who has become typecast as a lurid femme fatale, especially via Oscar Wilde's play and Richard Strauss's opera which depict Salomé as the seductress who danced the infamous ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’ for her stepfather Herod, and had John the Baptist beheaded.
Karasick’s libretto explores, exalts, and reclaims the figure of Salomé in a feminist light—using references to Hebrew texts and Kabbalistic practices, popular music, Sound Poetry, and neo-Fluxus performatics—to reveal an apocryphal figure who refuses to be locked into a world of subjegation and misrepresentation.
London, a lover of poetry/music collaborations, has transformed poems into opera (Hatuey Memory of Fire),oratorio (A Night in the Old Marketplace), and pop song (the Grammy-winning Wonder Wheel Lyrics by Woody Guthrie). His Salomé score is drawn from many musical traditions—Klezmer, Bhangra, Arabic, and Jazz (with a big nod to Miles Davis’ electric work and to trumpet innovator Jon Hassell).
Featured on the recording are Punjabi percussion virtuoso Deep Singh and Middle-Eastern jazz electronica guruShai Bachar, with guest appearances by world renowned actor, director and ubu god, Tony Torn (renowned actor in the companies of Richard Foreman and Reza Abdoh, featured in Chasing Amy, 30 Rock, The Good Wife, Ubu Sings Ubu), and singer Manu Narayan (Bombay Dreams, My Fair Lady, The Love Guru.)
Salomé: Woman of Valor is the culmination of seven years work. Karasick's text was published in 2017 in English (click here to download the book from Gap Riot Press, Toronto) and Italian (University of Padua Press, trans. Pina Piccolo, Serena Piccoli); and sections have been published in Bengali, Arabic, Czech, and Malayalam. In 2018, Salomé: Woman of Valor was performed internationally, a live immersive art experience described as “groundbreaking in its interplay of poetry, music, video and dance” (SeeTorontoNow) and “a brain-teasing mix of semiotic play, pop-culture references, and erudite historic-religious touchstones… a mix of high academia and high camp” (Georgia Straight).
Ironically, the global pandemic gave Karasick and London—two of the busiest touring artists—the gift of time together in New York to complete this recording.
Called the “mystic high priest of avant klez-jazz” by All About Jazz, Sir Frank London is a Grammy-award winning trumpeter-composer and co-founder of the Klezmatics, the world’s leading Yiddish music group. He composed and performed Freylekhs - Klezmer Fantasy for Trumpet & Orchestra at Central Park SummerStage. His Yiddish-Cuban opera Hatuey Memory of Fire (with Elise Thoron) premiered in Havana and at Montclair’s Peak Performances. He composed the poetry/dance/video/music work Salomé: Woman of Valor (with Adeena Karasick) which performed internationally. In 2019 alone, he premiered the song cycle Ghetto Songs at Hamburg’s Elbephilharmonie; co-created and music directed Carnegie Hall’s From Shtetl to Stage; presented Weill in New York at Dessau’s Kurt Weill Festival; and created the spectacle In Dreams Begin Responsibilities for the New York Public Library. In April 2020, he composed the NYC-wide pandemic symphonic fanfare For Our Courageous Workers.
Frank has worked with John Zorn, Karen O, Itzhak Perlman, Pink Floyd, LL Cool J, Mel Tormé, Lester Bowie, LaMonte Young, They Might Be Giants, David Byrne, Jane Siberry, Ben Folds 5; is on over 500 CDs and was featured on Sex And The City. He created, composed, performed and music directed From Moses to Mostel, the history of Jews in musical theater starring Steve Martin at NY’s Town Hall; the folk-opera A Night In The Old Marketplace (with Alex Aron and Glen Berger), Green Violin (with Elise Thoron & Rebecca Taichman), Davenen for Pilobolus Dance Theater; 1001 Voices: Symphony for a New America (with Judith Sloan & Warren Lehrer); music for Tony Kushner’s A Dybbuk, John Sayles' The Brother From Another Planet, Karin Coonrod’s Merchant of Venice, and the Czech-American Marionette Theater's Golem.
He leads Glass House Orchestra, Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars, Shekhina Big Band, Sharabi with Deep Singh, Ahava Raba with Yanky Lemmer & Michael Winograd, and Vilde mekhaye with Eleanor Reissa. He has published 2 books: ‘Klezmer Trumpet Duets” & “Patterns for Klez.” London was Artistic Director of KlezKanada. In 2016, he was knighted "Sir Frank" by Hungary for his work advancing Jewish and multicultural Hungarian music and culture, and given the Honourable title by the city of Krakow.
Adeena Karasick, Ph.D, is a New York based Canadian poet, performer, cultural theorist and media artist and the author of ten books of poetry and poetics. From Lollapalooza and Burning Man to clubs, classrooms, and concert halls, her Kabbalistically inflected, urban, Jewish feminist mashups have been described as “electricity in language” (Nicole Brossard); “proto-ecstatic jet-propulsive word torsion” (George Quasha); "a twined virtuosity of mind and ear which leaves the reader deliciously lost in Karasick's signature ‘syllabic labyrinth’” (Craig Dworkin); and “demonstrating how desire flows through language, an unstoppable flood of allusion (both literary and pop-cultural), word-play, and extravagant and outrageous sound-work” (Mark Scroggins).
Most recently is Checking In (Talonbooks, 2018) and Salomé: Woman of Valor (University of Padova Press, Italy, 2017), the libretto for her Spoken Word opera co-created with Grammy Award-winning composer, Sir Frank London.
Karasick teaches Literature and Critical Theory for the Humanities and Media Studies Dept. at Pratt Institute, is Poetry Editor for Explorations in Media Ecology, Associate International Editor of New Explorations: Studies in Culture and Communication, 2019 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Award recipient and winner of the 2016 Voce Donna Italia award for her contributions to feminist thinking and 2018 winner of the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. The “Adeena Karasick Archive” is established at Special Collections, Simon Fraser University.
For further information, review copies, photos, and to arrange interviews, please contact Aleba & Co. at 212/206-1450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.