Jymie Merritt

2016 Pew Fellow

1/5: Jymie Merritt, 2016 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.
2/5: Jymie Merritt, 2016 Pew Fellow. Photo by Ryan Collerd.
3/5: Jymie Merritt and the Forerunners in rehearsal at Philly Sound Studios, 2015. Photo by Lori Mager-Barstow.
4/5: Jymie Merritt and the Forerunners performing at World Café Live, 2016. Photo by Drew Raison.
5/5: Jymie Merritt. Photo by Cameron Robert for National Public Radio.

“My own compositions, with their emphasis on collective improvisation, are not intended to dispense with the individual solo, but to promote substance rather than obligation as a trigger for soloing.”

Jymie Merritt (b. 1926) is a pioneering bassist and composer who, over the last 60 years, has played with some of the most acclaimed American jazz and blues artists in history, including Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, B. B. King, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, and Chet Baker. An early adopter of the electric bass, Merritt established the ensemble The Forerunners in the 1960s, and began developing work that brings forth collective improvisation within a complex rhythmic and harmonic language. Over the past decade, Merritt says the possibilities of digital composition tools have influenced his musical investigations. “The shift from analog to digital united the traditional instrument with the computer,” he says. “My interest is to provide composition prototypes that honor the past while envisioning an increasingly digital future.” A selection of Merritt’s most recent work was performed at World Café Live and broadcast on NPR’s “Jazz Night in America” in early 2016. The recipient of a Philadelphia Jazz Heritage Award, Merritt has been honored with a Living Legend Award from the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz and the Performing Arts and the Philadelphia City Council (2013).


References

Mendelssohn Club Artistic Director Alan Harler and a panel of experts will lead a discussion on Mendelssohn’s editing choices in considering Bach’s original score.

Grants & Grantees

Founded in 1900, the Philadelphia Orchestra has distinguished itself as one of the world’s leading orchestras.

Painted Bride Art Center presented a theater piece compiled from the known works, unperformed stories, and unpublished diaries of the late legendary monologist.

Grants & Grantees

Network for New Music brought renowned composer John Harbison to Philadelphia for a week-long mini-festival that celebrated his career of classical- and jazz-inspired chamber music.

Retrace mining lore back to the anthracite fields of central Pennsylvania through this new, folk-classical hybrid choral work by composer Julia Wolfe.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Harris Eisenstadt is a drummer, composer, and bandleader who has studied with respected names in jazz and improvised music, as well as in West African and Cuban drumming.

Grants & Grantees

Yane Calovski is a visual artist and a 2001 Pew Fellow.

Grants & Grantees

Jahmae Harris is a writer and a 1998 Pew Fellow.

The PRISM Quartet presents new works composed and performed by Dave Liebman and Greg Osby.

Collaborators & Colleagues

James Elaine is an artist and adjunct curator for the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. In 2008, he moved to Beijing, where he is researching China’s emerging culture and art scene.

In this month’s Pew Fellows news highlights, sculptor Kukuli Velarde and media artists Nadia Hironaka and Matthew Suib have been named 2015 Guggenheim Fellows. DJ and electronic musician King Britt lets followers get behind the scenes with a new subscription service.

Grants & Grantees

The Philadelphia Ceili Group is an educational organization with an interest in Irish culture, founded in 1958 to preserve traditional ceili and set dancing.