4

Vijay Iyer / Mike ladd: Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
Vijay Iyer / Mike ladd: Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project It's been nearly 70 years since the film The Best Years Of Our Lives won seven Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture (1946). The story revolved around three returning WWII veterans and their difficulties adjusting to civilian life. While those veterans came back to the economic powerhouse that was the United States, today's returning soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars find a country with the same meager prospects that perhaps drove them to enlist in the first place.

Although the government has done it's best to shield civilians from seeing coffins returning or video of the wars, the returning soldiers do live amongst us. They are our sons and daughters, brothers, mothers, and neighbors.

Pianist Vijay Iyer and poet/MC Mike Ladd collaborated on a Holding It Down: The Veterans' Dreams Project a multimedia performance with music, video, and spoken word. The audio, recorded in studio, is presented here not as jazz music per se, but as accompaniment to the seemingly impossible entangled dreams of veterans. Like their two previous discs, In What Language (Pi Recordings, 2004) based on = people of color in airports post-9/11 and Still Life With Commentator (Savoy, 2007) a meditation on the 24-hour news culture, the pair shed light on topics mainstream media chooses to ignore. With the help of two poets' first-person accounts, Marine Maurice Decaul and Air Force drone pilot Lynn Hill, the project delivers the lives, fears, hopes, memories, and illusions and delusions of veterans of color.

The dreams spoken are so powerful, it is possible to ignore the music. Whether it is Ladd, Pamela Z, Guillermo E. Brown, Hill, or Decaul speaking, the stories of the nine different veterans presented over the 17 tracks, the accompaniment of assorted acoustic and electronic grooves serve the words rather than distract. Repeated spins of the disc and Liberty Ellman's bubble up around Decaul's words on "Tormented Star Of Morning" and Iyer's piano acts as requiem for Hill's "Dreams In Color" where she speaks "When I dream, I dream of normalcy, I dream the color of peace." The electronic bleeps and bits highlight the disconnect the veterans have with the reality of their homeland's normalcy.

The recording doesn't call for understanding, as much as for empathy for our veterans.

Track Listing: Here (Mike, Cambridge); Derelict Poetry (Maurice, Brooklyn); Capacity (Lynn, Bronx); Walking with the Duppy (Rashan, Queens); There is a Man Slouching in the Stairway (Maurice); My Fire (Brad, Chester, NC); On Patrol (Maurice, Brooklyn); Dream of an Ex-Ranger (William, Newton, MA); Name (Lynn, Bronx); Costume (Mike, Cambridge); Tormented Star of Morning (Maurice, Brooklyn); Patton (Calvin, Massapequa, NY); Shush(Maurice, Brooklyn); REM Killer (Kirk, Lexington, KY); Requiem for an Insomniac (Maurice, Brooklyn); Dreams in Color (Lynn, Bronx); Mess Hall (Merrin, San Diego).

Personnel: Vijay Iyer: compositions, piano, Fender Rhodes piano, programming, live electronics; Mike Ladd: lyrics, vocals, effects; Kassa Overall: drums; Liberty Ellman: guitar; Guillermo E. Brown: vocals, effects; Okkyung Lee: cello; Pamela Z: composition, vocals with live processing; Lynn Hill; lyrics, vocals; Maurice Decaul: lyrics, vocals.

Title: Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Pi Recordings


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Open Book CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Stolen Moments CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Sonder CD/LP/Track Review Sonder
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Putting Off Death CD/LP/Track Review Putting Off Death
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends CD/LP/Track Review Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Heaven On Their Minds CD/LP/Track Review Heaven On Their Minds
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 16, 2017
Read "Convallaria" CD/LP/Track Review Convallaria
by Glenn Astarita
Published: August 22, 2016
Read "Northern Adventures" CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "As The Wind" CD/LP/Track Review As The Wind
by John Eyles
Published: January 12, 2017
Read "Mata Hati" CD/LP/Track Review Mata Hati
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 10, 2017
Read "Swiss Radio Days, Vol. 40 - Zurich 1959" CD/LP/Track Review Swiss Radio Days, Vol. 40 - Zurich 1959
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 9, 2017
Read "Circles" CD/LP/Track Review Circles
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.