Although the Madison Center for Creative and Cultural Arts no longer has a physical space downtown, it continues to sponsor a wide range of cultural activities in local schools and around the Madison area. One of the most prominent is its annual fund-raiser and celebration of contemporary improvised music, FreedomFest, which takes place on Friday, Feb. 22, in the Overture Hall Lobby. Saxophonist Archie Shepp, a major force in forward-thinking jazz who worked with Cecil Taylor and John Coltrane early in his career, headlines a full day of music with a quartet featuring Chicago pianist Willie Pickens, bass legend Richard Davis and drummer Steve McCraven. MCCCA director Hanah Jon Taylor will also debut a new international group called the Seekers.
Taylor notes that Madison jazz fans don't get a lot of chances to experience contemporary improvisation. "We think it's important to emphasize that this music is a form of liberation as well as communication," he says.
The opportunity to hold the festival at the city's most prominent arts facility is obviously a boon for the MCCCA. Taylor says that Overture sweetened the pot by offering its lobby rent-free.
Will there be more partnerships in the future? Taylor isn't certain, but he hopes a successful festival will breed a closer relationship. "We think we can supplement as well as complement Overture's efforts."