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Artist Profiles

Susie Ibarra

By Published: August 9, 2008
On the solo work Drum Sketches (Innova, 2007), natural sounds such as crowd and animal noises are wonderfully integrated into the soundscape. Ibarra reflected on her use of the environment: "I have an affinity for it. They are real sounds. I have peepers on there, those are frogs. I love them, they blend in. I like to create cinematic content; sonically I like to have that kind of element in the music as in a way it is a sonic narrative. They are not all narratives, I like abstract form too, but I like that cinematic element in music so often I bring that in because I heard it and I needed it."

Ibarra recently returned from a three-month trip to the Philippines with Rodriguez where they did field work among the remaining indigenous tribal cultures. As Ibarra recalled, "I was on a fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council to research indigenous and folkloric music for two projects. One is a collaborative project with Roberto, a music film titled Song of the Bird King, which features many of the music groups in several of the islands. We are very excited about the film...and we feel we are racing with time. The elders are dying off and the youth are not taking it on. Bird King is told in two narratives... Some of the music will die off because of it not being passed on and the national bird, the Philippine eagle, is also endangered due to overabundant and illegal logging. Song of the Bird King is a parable of cultural and social awareness. The second project is a musical that poet Yusef Komunyakaa and I are developing that revolves around the American/Philippine war and pre-American colonial times when African-American soldiers were sent over to fight and they defected."

Ibarra's work crosses musical, artistic and diverse cultural boundaries; this coupled with her high degree of comfort in the international arena, augers that her impact on the direction of jazz and art in general will continue to increase in the coming years. As international artistic boundaries continue to blur, artists like Susie Ibarra will begin to occupy more of a position in defining the mainstream. If one believes that we are in an age of globalization and technology, then Ibarra is an artist for this new millennium. Her vision is one of egalitarianism, but an egalitarianism that preserves heritage and culture. As such, in a world that is plagued by violence and political unrest, she and her contemporaries are bright spots for the future.

Recommended Listening:

Susie Ibarra, Drum Sketches (Innova, 2007)

Electric Kulintang, Dialects (Plastic, 2006)

Susie Ibarra, Folkloriko (Tzadik, 2004)

David S. Ware, Wisdom of Uncertainty (AUM Fidelity, 1996)

Susie Ibarra/Denis Charles, Drum Talk (Wobbly Rail, 1998)

William Parker/In Order to Survive, Peach Orchard (AUM Fidelity, 1997-98)

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