The October Revolution of Jazz & Contemporary Music

October 1-31, 2019


In 1964, jazz legend Bill Dixon pioneered a seminal DIY jazz festival in New York City called The October Revolution in Jazz. The festival featured many artists ultimately presented by Ars Nova Workshop (ANW) and representative of its foundational curatorial focus, such as Dixon, John Tchicai, Paul Bley, Alan Silva, Burton Greene, Giuseppi Logan, and Sun Ra. Namely musicians who interrogated and redefined the conventions of jazz.

The October Revolution in Jazz at The Cellar Cafe, 1964
The October Revolution in Jazz at The Cellar Cafe, 1964

In 2017, ANW, Philadelphia’s premier jazz and contemporary music presenter, carries that torch with a four-day “listening” festival, The October Revolution of Jazz & Contemporary Music (OctRev). OctRev is a dynamic festival experience constructed out of a variety of sonic adventures and revelations, led by musicians and artists who are pushing boundaries and opening borders.

Imagine a city attuned, a fellowship of listeners actively exploring an aural landscape. Composer Pauline Oliveros (ANW presented her last two Philadelphia appearances) referred to this as “deep listening” – the act of becoming aware of the vast range of sounds that we live within. “Listening” is the watchword of the OctRev Festival. The entire infrastructure of the festival will be focused on supporting that experience, to ensure that audiences have the comfort, freedom, time, and access to interact fully with the performances.

“In this kind of landscape, in which music of all kinds can play a central role, the participants do not listen for something,” says Mark Christman, Executive & Artistic Director of ANW. “They are focusing instead on the experience of listening itself—tuning in.”

The inaugural OctRev takes place October 5-8 on the FringeArts campus, and will include performances at neighboring sites and venues. ANW is curating a line-up of the most thoughtful, adventurous music inventors and performers of our time, from across a diverse range of genres that span jazz, free improvisation, and contemporary classical and radiate outward.

  • “Curatorial brilliance”Downbeat
  • “Pushing musical boundaries”WHYY
  • “Jazz fest tests boundaries”Philadelphia Inquirer
  • “An avant-garde festival makes history”The New York Times