1W: Jasmine Guy

3M: jazz violin, bass and drums

Original Score: Avery Sharpe

Director: Dan Guerrero

Divider White

“It was an exceptional time. It was our time. It was time.”

Jasmine Guy

Jasmine Guy

Time: 1920s. Place: Harlem, New York, USA.

Some few projects line up organically. Raisin’ Cane is one such happy case.

I’ve had the pleasure to know and work with Avery Sharpe for many years. During this time he has written several classical-jazz works for cello and various combinations—always nudging this dyed-in-the-wool classical white guy toward a bit more improv and flexibility. In fact, the last work he wrote for us was called Trust, a lovely title. Avery also has an interest in acting and theater and attended several of the shows I had written without any twisting of arms! One day he suggested that I write something that he could compose an original score for. I thought this a terrific idea, but what? Well, I did scads of reading and was bowled over by Jean Toomer’s Cane. Cane is nearly always mentioned as the seminal work that started the sparks of the Harlem Renaissance flying. As I progressed further, I realized it was going to be a panoramic view that would give expression to the pent up explosion of prose, poetry, politics and music of African-Americans ready to say their piece. The words and thoughts of Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, George Schuyler, Zora Neale Hurston, Claude McKay, W.E.B. Dubois, Gwendolyn Bennett, Father Divine, Georgia Douglas Johnson and many others are given their due with a large section of the work dedicated to the brilliance of Toomer’s Cane.

After I showed Avery an early draft he asked me who I had in mind to handle such a task. I had no one in mind. “Do you know Jasmine Guy?” Avery asked, and I answered, “I do.” Lucky for us Jasmine loves the period and Cane, and of course Avery’s music, and so we were rolling.

The work has played in both small and large venues—churches, concert halls, theaters and, most fittingly, The Apollo!

Raisin’ Cane performed in Atlanta, GA in June 2010 and details can be found at the official website for Raisin’ Cane.

Short Promo of Raisin’ Cane

Jasmine Guy starring in Raisin’ Cane with the Avery Sharpe Trio