JOHN PIETARO - Writer-Musician-Cultural Organizer
JOHN PIETARO, M.A. is a writer, poet, journalist, spoken word artist and musician from Brooklyn NY. A staff columnist/critic of the NYC Jazz Record, he is currently engaged with a novel in progress, “Of Seconds and Shadows”, and photo-journalism book project, “Beneath the Underground”, chronicling outsider jazz artists. He recently completed a poetry chapbook “Smoke Rings” and is in the final stage of a non-fiction work, “On the Creative Front: Essays on the Culture of Liberation”. Recent credits include poetry published in International Human Rights Arts Festival online (September 2019), Harbinger Asylum journal (Spring 2019), and a short fiction selection in Italian-language anthology, "Il Biglietto 2" edited/translated by Erika Dagnino (Genoa Italy: Sibello, 2018). Pietaro also self-published “Night People and Other Tales of Working New York” (2013), a book of short proletarian fiction, and wrote a chapter for Paul Buhle and Harvey Pekar’s “SDS: A Graphic History” (NY: Hill & Wang 2007). Pietaro has also been a contributing writer to Z, the Nation, Levure Litteraire, CounterPunch, the Wire (UK), People's World, Political Affairs, the Industrial Worker, Struggle, the Socialist, Way Out West (Japan) and other progressive and arts periodicals. Pietaro is a member of the Author’s Guild, the Academy of American Poets, the National Writers Union, the Poetry Society of New York, the Jazz Journalists Association and PEN America. Founder, host and producer of the annual Dissident Arts Festival, Pietaro has curated numerous performance and discussion events. He’s been a guest speaker at Left Forum, the Vision Festival, Workers United Film Festival and the first annual UpSurge! JazzPoetry Festival. As a multi-instrumentalist and/or spoken word artist, he’s performed with Allen Ginsberg, Pete Seeger, Amina Baraka, Karl Berger, Erika Dagnino, Ras Moshe and others. He also leads post-punk protest duo Flames of Discontent and spoken word/free jazz quartet the Red Microphone; the latter collaborated with Ms. Baraka on the recording Amina Baraka & the Red Microphone (ESP-Disk, 2017) and a series of performance dates following that album’s release. On the communications front, Pietaro and his wife/partner Laurie Towers founded New Masses Media as a publicity and concert production company. The firm has been engaged by a variety of underground artists and independent businesses in the NYC area since 2014. LITERATURE AS A WEAPON OF SOCIAL JUSTICE is at the core of John Pietaro’s arts philosophy. A primary influence remains the work of Leftist militant writers of the 1910s-60s, the bold auteurs of literary fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, theatre works, reportage and screen- and teleplays that forged a new day. His work is also inspired by the performance poets of the Harlem Renaissance, Beat generation and Black Arts Movement as well as New York’s punk, post-punk and downtown underground arts movements. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS: drumkit, hand drums, guitar, vibraphone, xylophone, frame drums, banjo, voice. MUSICAL GENRES: New Music, Free Jazz, Protest song, No Wave, Post-Punk, Theatre MUSICAL COLLABORATIONS: Amina Baraka, Matt Lavelle's 12 Houses, Harmolodic Monk, The Red Microphone, Flames of Discontent, Ras Moshe's Music Now units, Karl Berger's Improvisers Orchestra, Erika Dagnino. Pietaro has also performed with Allen Ginsberg, Pete Seeger, Warren Smith, Salim Washington, Will Connell, Fred Ho, Daniel Carter, Chris Forbes, Blaise Siwula, Ken Filiano, Jason Hwang, Dom Minasi, Dave Ross, Maryanne DeProphetis, Cheryl Pyle, John Zorn, Elodie Lauten, Andrea Wolper, Andrew Drury, Hill Green, Layne Redmond, Tom Zlabinger and many more RECENT DISCOGRAPHY: 1) AMINA BARAKA & THE RED MICROPHONE (ESP-Disk 2017)-Amina Baraka, John Pietaro, Ras Moshe Burnett, Rocco John Iacovone, Laurie Towers 2) MATT LAVELLE'S 12 HOUSES: 'Solidarity' (Unseen Rain 2016)-directed by Matt Lavelle 3) MATT LAVELLE/JOHN PIETARO: ‘Harmolodic Monk’ (Unseen Rain, 2014)-Matt Lavelle, John Pietaro 4) ERIKA DAGNINO QUARTET: 'Signs' (SLAM Productions, UK, 2013)-Erika Dagnino, Ras Moshe, John Pietaro, Ken Filiano 5) THE RED MICROPHONE: 'The Red Microphone Speaks!' (Dissident Arts, April 2013) - John Pietaro, Ras Moshe, Rocco John Iacovone, Nicolas Letman-Burtinovic, with guest Nora McCarthy. 6) RADIO NOIR: 'The Lost Broadcast' (digital release, 2011) 4-song EP -John Pietaro, Quincy Saul, Laurie Towers, Javier Hernandez-Miyares 7) THE DISSIDENT ARTS ORCHESTRA (2012): Improvised film scores to 'Metropolis', 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari' and ‘Battleship Potemkin’ synced to the films by the New United Artists Studio, UK. John Pietaro, Mossa Bildner, Cheryl Pyle, Will Connell, Quincy Saul, Rocco John Iacavone, Blaise Siwula, Nick Gianni, Ras Moshe, Ben Barson, Josh Sinton, Matt Lavelle, Javier Hernandez-Miyares, James Keepnews, Laurie Towers, Ken Filiano, Lou Grassi, various others. 8) IFAR COMPILATION 'Beat Sounds From Way Out Vol 3' (IFAR label, 2012): The Red Microphone's "Brecht Breakdown" is a feature of this experimental music collection. John Pietaro, Ras Moshe, Rocco John Iacovone, Laurie Towers 9) THE FLAMES OF DISCONTENT: 'Revenge of the Atom Spies' (2007) 10) THE FLAMES OF DISCONTENT: 'I Dreamed I HEARD Joe Hill Last Night' (2005) PERFORMANCE: Pietaro has performed at such NYC spaces as Roulette, The Stone, the Jazz Gallery, Cornelia St Cafe, the Brecht Forum, the Firehouse Space, ABC No Rio, Town Hall, the Shrine, ShapeShifter Lab, Parkside Lounge, Douglas Street Collective, Henry Winston Unity Hall, El Taller Latino, 17 Frost Theatre & Gallery, Parkside Cafe, Clemente Soto Velez Center, JACK, I-Beam, Goodbye Blue Monday, Zirzamin, Theatre 80, the Launch Pad, Freddy's Back Room, the (original) Knitting Factory, Lunch for Yor Ears, Generator, CBGB, the C-Note plus Union Square Park, Foley Square, Ft Green Park, Byrdcliffe Theatre (Woodstock NY), the Colony (Woodstock NY), the Howland Cultural Center (Beacon NY) as well as on the airwaves of WBAI-FM, WKCR-FM and WDST-FM (Woodstock NY). EDUCATION: MA Education; BA Music Performance (Percussion); BA, Music Therapy. Advanced coursework in Communications and Media. Studied marimba and orchestral percussion with James Preiss, drumkit with Normie Wayne, Jazz History and Performance with Stanley Cowell, Composition/Orchestration with John Corigliano and Ulysses Kaye, and attended master classes by Dave Samuels (vibraphone), Jim Saporito (Latin and studio percussion) and Justin DiCioccio (drumkit) as well as seminars by Olatunj (African drumming) and Bernard Purdie (drumkit). Pietaro also studied at Karl Berger’s Creative Music Studio, NYC.
FLAMES OF DISCONTENT - ensemble
Flames of Discontent is the duo of John Pietaro (spoken word, vocals, electric guitar, banjo, percussion) and Laurie Towers (lead electric bass, backing vocals). The ensemble was founded in 2005, coinciding with Pietaro and Towers temporary relocation to NY's Hudson Valley, when Pietaro sought a project with a more defined protest song repertoire. Following a number of successful solo performances (singing and playing banjo) at NYC rallies, the Flames' repertoire of spoken word, daring reconstructions of classic protest music and original topical works fused through post-punk, edgy jazz and neo-Beat poetry was developed and has experienced a resurgence during these Trump years. CD RELEASES: 1) September 2005- 'I Dreamed I Heard Joe Hill Last Night…A Century of IWW Songs' (credited to “John Pietaro & The Flames of Discontent”). The CD, described by Chronogram magazine as, “kick-ass music for the masses…noble and timely”, was recorded in honor of the Industrial Workers of the World’s centenary and produced in accordance with historian/author Paul Buhle. It toured the world with is Traveling Wobbly Show. 2) March 2007- 'Revenge of the Atom Spies', a collection that metaphorically commented on contemporary struggles for social justice and civil liberties through the imagery and some of the sounds of the Cold War years. In contrast to the first disc, this one is largely comprised of originals but vintage songs are included as well, albeit treated to the Flames unique arrangements and irony. Liner notes were written by Buhle. The Flames' music has been heard live on the air at WDST-FM (Woodstock NY) and WVKR-FM (Poughkeepsie NY) as well as on a national Pacifica Radio broadcast from the 2007 Clearwater Festival. Their CDs have been heard on many radio stations including the aforementioned and others in the region and in NYC (including WBAI-FM), plus indie stations around the country: KAOS-FM (Olympia, Washington), KDHX (St Louis, MO), WHYS (Eau Claire WI), Radio Labourstart (internet radio from London, UK), and Oscar Brand’s esteemed folk music program on WNYC (New York City), among others. Performances in numerous performance spaces as well as IWW centenary celebrations (2005), May Day, Labor Day and social justice events in the Hudson Valley and NYC including a fundraiser for the Working Families Party (2006), West Point Peace Rally (2006-09), New Paltz Peace Rally (2006). Flames of Discontent were featured performers at The Woodstock Fringe Festival (July and September, 2006)
THE RED MICROPHONE - ensemble
“A special brand of new revolutionary jazz” – DooBeeDooBeeDoo magazine John Pietaro: hand drums, drumset, multi-percussion, spoken word Ras Moshe: tenor & soprano saxophones, flute, bells, spoken word Rocco John Iacovone: alto & soprano saxophones, piano Laurie Towers: electric bass ....THE RED MICROPHONE is a NYC-based New Music/New Jazz quartet of rad musicians engaging in a repertoire drenched in free jazz, dissident swing, modernist blues and contemporary composition at once exploratory, listenable, compelling and patently “downtown”. Call it post-Ornette, Post-Dolphy, post-Punk, post-Occupy music. Plainly put, the Red Microphone’s art is as revolutionary as the times demand. The Red Microphone has performed at New York City spaces such as Shapeshifter Lab, ABC No Rio, the Brecht Forum, 17 Frost Theatre of the Arts, ZirZamin, Downtown Music Gallery, the Firehouse Space, Mid-Manhattan Library and the Henry Winston Unity Center, among others. The ensemble’s debut CD, ‘The Red Microphone Speaks’ was released in April 2013. Self-produced but mastered by legendary downtown producer Kramer, the disc includes sweeping free music, original works, adaptations of fight-back songs from ‘30s Berlin and the Paris Commune, and treatments of militant prose and poetry. All that and of course original jazz and new music that recalls the New Objectivity, the Third Stream, the New Thing and the No Wave. Guest vocalist Nora McCarthy is heard on one track, “L’Internationale Reconstruct” in the company of the found voices of Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Dalton Trumbo and even VI Lenin. Bassist on this album: Nicolas Letman-Burtinovic. The Red Microphone’s single “Brecht Breakdown” was released on the IFAR label (UK) as part of the international compilation ‘Beat Sounds From Way Out Vol 4’, December 2012. THE RED MICROPHONE SPEAKS: 1) Freedom Theme (Rocco John Iacovone) 2) L'Internationale Redux (“L’Internationale” by Pierre Degeytor; adaptation and arrangement by John Pietaro) 3) God to the Hungry Child (music by Janet Barnes, poetry by Langston Hughes; adaptation and additional music by John Pietaro) 4) The Proof is Overwhelming (free improvisation incorporating John Howard Lawson’s statement to the House Un-American Activities Committee, 1947) 5) Song of the United Front (music by Hanns Eisler; adaptation by the Red Microphone) 6) One for Robeson (free improvisation dedicated to Paul Robeson) 7) L'Internationale Reconstruct (“L’Internationale”: lyric by Eugene Pottier, music by Pierre Degeytor. Excerpted prose: “Our Revolutionary Music” and “The Crisis in Music” by Hanns Eisler. Conception and arrangement by John Pietaro) –vocal by Nora McCarthy; recorded voices of Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Dalton Trumbo (HUAC hearing, 1947), Vladimir Lenin 8) The Times (“And the Times Are Dark and Fearful” by Hanns Eisler; adaptation and arrangement by John Pietaro) AVAILABLE VIA http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/theredmicrophone
THE DISSIDENT ARTS ORCHESTRA - ensemble
THE DISSIDENT ARTS ORCHESTRA is a shape-shifting ensemble first assembled for the 2012 Dissident Arts Festival, a seeming one-time vehicle to create an improvised score to the silent film classic, 'Metropolis'. Working off of only the faintest outline of head arrangement and points with musical director John Pietaro down front bringing in Orchestra members with hand cues and facial expressions, the musicians incorporated free jazz, improvised new music and a wide variety of sounds to bring to life Fritz Lang's epic tale of oppressed workers in a futuristic society. The musicians involved were so excited by its potential that the ensemble has embarked upon a performance series. 'The Cabinet of Dr Caligari' and 'Battleship Potemkin' have also been among the films the ensemble has played live scores for ---and all three performances have been synced to pristine copies of the films by the UK-based New United Artists studio, available on Youtube. Still largely focusing on improvised film scores (we are also planning on including 'The Last Laugh' and 'Nosferatu' in the canon very soon) the Dissident Arts Orchestra has also performed in conjunction with spoken word artists and is including theatre and dance in its scope. The members of the ensemble at that first performance included Mossa Bildner (vocals), Cheryl Pyle (flute), Quincy Saul (clarinet), Rocco John Iacovone (soprano and alto saxophones), Nick Gianni (baritone saxophone, bass flute), Ben Barson (baritone saxophone), Javier Hernandez-Miyares (electric guitar, min-synth), Nicolas Letman-Burtinovic (upright bass), John Pietaro (drumkit, vibraphone, xylophone, percussion, musical direction). Since then, many of the original musicians have maintained their position in the Orchestra and other have joined too including Laurie Towers (electric bass), Ras Moshe (saxophones, flutes), Nora McCarthy (vocal), Blaise Siwula (saxophones), Josh Sinton (bass clarinet), Steve Bloom (electric guitar), Hollis Headrick (drumkit, percussion), Erika Dagnino (spoken word) and others.
RADIO NOIR - ensemble
John Pietaro (xylophone, frame drums, percussion, voice), Quincy Saul (clarinet), Javier Hernandez-Miyares (electric guitar & effects), Laurie Towers (electric bass) Radio NOIR' was debuted, befittingly, at ‘the Dissident Arts Festival 2011’ in New York City. The ensemble reflects the fervent radicalism and sounds of the 1930s even as it embraces the ethics of downtown New Music and the passion of Free Jazz. Here, revolutionary politics rumpus with daring soundscapes. Their EP, "The Lost Broadcast” offers a new take on a Depression-era standard, a reconstruction of a Woody Guthrie ballad, a recitation of composer Hanns Eisler’s speech against HUAC backed by free improv, and an original modernist blues dedicated to the Harlem Renaissance. The band is engaging in a series of NYC appearances featuring their unique brand of DISSIDENT SWING and ART DECO-DAMAGED PROTEST SONG. They have played ABC No Rio, Goodbye Blue Monday, the Brecht Forum, 17 Frost and other venues. “The 1930s meets contemporary improv” – The Villager newspaper, NYC “It’s not just drum circles: Dissident Swing and Protest Song for the O.W.S. era” –NYC Arts