The Creative Response: Art & Resistance – A Keynote by William Parker and Patricia Nicholson


Presented on 26 August 2022 during Part 1 of Curating for Change: The Work That Music Festivals Do in the World. This keynote closed the conference and launched IF 2022, a music festival presented by the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation.

William Parker is a bassist, improviser, composer, writer, and educator from New York City, heralded by The Village Voice as, “the most consistently brilliant free jazz bassist of all time.” In addition to recording over 150 albums, he has published six books and taught and mentored hundreds of young musicians and artists. William Parker’s early collaborations with the dancer and choreographer Patricia Nicholson created a large repertoire of composed music for ensembles ranging from solo works to big band projects. Parker played in the Cecil Taylor Unit from 1980 through 1991. He has also performed with musicians from the AACM such as Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell, Henry Threadgill, Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith, Ernest Dawkins, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. He has also played with David S. Ware, Don Cherry, Bill Dixon, Grachan Monchur III, Dave Burrell, Charles Tyler, Gunter Hampel, Jeanne Lee, Milford Graves, Rashied Ali, Andrew Cyrille, Matthew Shipp, and Steve Swell. His piece, “A Trail Of Tears,” music/dance/spoken word/film was presented at Roulette in January 2020. He is currently working on a piece about the Jewish holocaust called “Silhouette In The Dust.”

Patricia Nicholson is a dancer, poet, and organizer of movement, music, and causes. She has developed her work within the aesthetic of free jazz, and she founded Arts For Art and the Vision Festival to promote and advocate for free jazz. Beginning with the belief that dance is the visual manifestation of sound and energy, Ms. Nicholson has developed a singular practice, one drawing from both traditional and unconventional techniques to create an eclectic yet intuitive approach to movement and composition. This same aesthetic is manifest in all her work from writing to organizing to being present in each moment. Nicholson’s dance and poetry are featured in her active projects: What It Is Ensemble (co-led with William Parker and ft. James Brandon Lewis, Melanie Dyer, Devin Waldman and Gerald Cleaver); Revolution Resurrection (with art by William Mazza and music by TA Thompson and Jason Hwang); BLUE (with art by William Mazza and electronics by Val Jeanty); and Hope Cries for Justice, duos and trios with William Parker and Hamid Drake.