Deep River Dancing – première in American Night by Fuse & Fretz & friends

Confuse2 Affichenovember 2012 – At the night of the American election I attended Club 8 in Amsterdam were Fuse pictured America in a wild blend of performances, presented by Dutch stand up comedian Johan Fretz…

Fuse  specializes in versatility. In their American programme four jazz dancers danced the Introduction to West Side Story, a chorus of actresses sang ‘I wanna be in America’, comedian Marcel Hartevelt seemed to warmly recommend Mitt Romney but eventually chose a new ‘King’, Elvis Presley, and First Lady Michelle was honoured in a beautiful version of Ellington’s Sophisticated Lady by singer Sterre Konijn.
In this way, all music seemed to gain a political significance in which Hi and Lo mixed, as in the version of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal where a ‘classical’ intro moved into a steaming string version featuring virtuoso beatbox-artist Sniggy. All the time, visual artist Sonja van Vuure was working on a life-size picture while comedian Johan Fretz presented the evening in his selfless and witty manner.

Fuse took different guises all the time. From big band in Benny Goodman’s Sing, Sing Sing (with an old fashioned violin battle by leader Julia Philippens and Noah Eyl) to string quartet in Dvoràk’s American Quartet.

Even though I was the one Dutch composer on the programme, my Deep River Dancing fit in nicely. The starting point, the spiritual Deep River, has become a part of the American musical heritage in the version published by composer and singer Harry T. Burleigh in 1917. It was he who made Dvoràk, during is short stay in America around 1893, aware of the spirituals and the characteristic nature of the American musical inheritance. In my little piece I add to Burleigh’s somewhat romanticised version elements of the earlier more ‘primitive’ version of the Fisk Jubilee Singers that I found in the 1880 edition of Marsh, arranging it a way that uses both the more recent big band style and the earlier, African rhythmic style.