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GemArts Masala Festival: New Ways of Moving in the Counterworlds

today July 17, 2024my_locationCluny 2

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In a special performance commissioned for Masala Festival, bassist John Pope and violinist John Garner will play alongside poet Nisha Ramayya in an experimental homage to their shared influences. Drawing upon Pope and Garner’s 2022 album Water Music and Ramayya’s forthcoming collection Fantasia, the trio will celebrate luminaries of jazz and poetry including Alice Coltrane, Moten/López/Cleaver, and Nathanial Mackey and The Creaking Breeze Ensemble. The work of these great artists extends art into the realms of spiritual community, collective study, and political action, and Pope, Garner, and Ramayya perform with an attunement to the changes that become possible when we come together to play. The event will include a discussion chaired by Preti Taneja (Director of NCLA) before the music/poetry performance.

Presented by GemArts, Jazz North East and Newcastle Centre for Literary Arts

GemArts award winning Masala Festival is back from 15 – 21 July 2024 celebrating a mix and blend of the finest South Asian Arts and Culture, packed full of performances, exhibitions, events, workshops, talks, pop ups and delicious Indian food in venues, places and spaces across the North East. For full Masala Festival 2024 programme visit

Nisha Ramayya works across poetry, criticism, and collaborative performance, and teaches creative writing. She’s the author of States of the Body Produced by Love (Ignota, 2019) and a new poetry collection Fantasia, which is coming out with Granta in August 2024. Fantasia hazards a listening walk through seashells, telecommunication networks, and cosmic vibrations, to learn something new about how we sound. Alice Coltrane’s experiments in jazz and spiritual community guide these poems that hum and glitch, that leap across space-time, landing in and reflecting the discordant music of life on earth.

Having played together now for many years, powerful Tyneside bassist John Pope and mercurial virtuoso violinist John Garner have developed a unique improvisational language, channeled through the lens of their contemporary experience in myriad musical traditions. Described by A Jazz Noise as ‘absolutely addictive’ and by The Jazz Mann as ‘nothing less than extraordinary’, their 2022 album Water Music paid tribute to mid- to late-twentieth century artists who shook the world to its core, driving political and social change in their wake, including Jeanne Lee, Alice Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and Don Cherry. The pair also have four records of purely improvised music to their name, the latest of which, Judas, was released in support of United Help Ukraine. In 2022, they appeared at Lancaster Jazz Festival and Newcastle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music, as well as venues in Bristol, Newcastle, Edinburgh, and Leeds, leading a workshop with jazz students at Leeds Conservatoire, as well as working in schools in Gateshead and Sunderland as ensemble in residence, a scheme facilitated by MishMash Productions. More recently, they released 23323, an album recorded live at Cobalt Studios, Newcastle. In August 2023, they made their London debut at the internationally celebrated Cafe OTO.

Preti Taneja is Professor of World Literature and Creative Writing at Newcastle University, and Director of the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts (NCLA).

Begin July 17, 2024 H 19:30
End July 17, 2024
Location Cluny 2
Address 34 Lime Street, Ouseburn, NE1 2PQ
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