A sense of balloon-popping good humor has always accompanied the significant and challenging 20th– and 21st-century jazz/classical/poetry crossover composer David Amram: not the acute and scholarly good humor of, say, Peter Schickele’s PDQ Bach – one of serious music’s greatest parodists – but rather a slather of self-effacing good humor, the humor of someone trying to make the serious-reputation game tolerable for himself. It worked. A still-vital presence, Amram’s recent video documentary is titled David Amram: The First 80 Years. On Sunday, December 3 at 8 p.m., Amram celebrates his 87th birthday at the Falcon in Marlboro.
His achievement is nothing to joke about, and his self-promotion is as savvy and keen as ever. “The Falcon,” he says, “reminds me of my favorite places in the ’50s when I played in Greenwich Village with the bands of Charles Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie and Oscar Pettiford; when Jack Kerouac and I gave the first-ever jazz-poetry readings in New York City; when I played with Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Odetta and Pete Seeger in the ’60s, and was composing for the Lincoln Center Theater’s production of Arthur Miller’s After the Fall and Joe Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival, as well as creating film scores for Splendor in the Grass and The Manchurian Candidate.”
Well into his ninth decade, the award-winning composer/conductor/multi-instrumentalist and author is receiving awards and honors worldwide, composing two new commissioned symphonic works, performing at major folk, jazz, classical, spoken-word and film festivals, working on his fourth book, David Amram: The Next 80 Years, and posing as the subject of a new feature film documentary by filmmaker Michael Patrick Kelly.
There is no cover charge at the Falcon, but the climate is one of conscious patronage and recognition of the tenuous terms of the artistic life. The Falcon is located at 1348 Route 9W in Marlboro. For more information, visit www.liveatthefalcon.com.