Alex Waterman Gwen Laster Charles Burnham WeFreeStrings Melanie Dyer Michael Wimberly Ken Filiano
WeFreeStrings @ Arts for Arts' Studio Rivbea Revisited Series,
Jan 2023 - "Violist Melanie Dyer’s We Free Strings harbors the raw radicalism, cultural pride and multi-media sensibility of the Loft days. Her group swings, burns, sizzles and swoons through the composed and the improvised (and the seemingly composed but improvised), as heard on its album from 2022 (Love in the Form of Sacred Things, ESP-Disk’). But this concert, a thrilling preview of her “Rebecca”, added Dyer’s rich prose, spoken word, film and photography to the mix. Dedicated to her 90-year- old aunt, the work explored heritage, lineage, the larger family, the self: “A few poems the love of my youth never read in a coat pocket full of tacit apologies, acts of hubris, lint.” The texts were as vital as the music, and Charlie Burnham and Gwen Laster (violins), Alex Waterman (cello), Rashaan Carter (bass), Newman Taylor Baker (percussion) and Dyer herself were simply transcendent." John Pietaro, NYCJazzRecord, Feb 2023
"The music is hard hittin’." Ron Scott, Amsterdam News
"Love in the Form of Sacred Outrage...is in the tradition of revolution and renaissance...is a tone fest to be savored slowly over time." Monique Nri Ngozi, NYC Jazz Record
"The music wheels, sweeps, and soars. The bowed strings voice bitterness, rumination, and exultation and veer from whispers to screams, from quiet conversations through passages of swing to orchestral swells." Derk Richardson, The Absolute Sound.
"...the idea of jazz strings takes on a new identity."
Mike Shanley, Jazz Times
"This is prayer-like spiritual jazz ..an outstanding effort..." Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
"This music has an undeniable beauty."
Mark Corroto, AllAboutJazz
"...free in spirit? Hell, yes! ...the compositions evince a refusal to be boxed in."
Joseph Jeff, Graded on a Curve
The Answer is in The Beat
Ken Waxman, JazzWord
Kevin Press The Moderns ep. 215
WeFreeStrings started in 2011 in Harlem at the home of Melanie Dyer, where the group became part of Bb Universe, a parlor series featuring underground public performances, open rehearsals, film, theater and activism. The sextet performs original, creative, improvised music.
"...this improvising collective performs original music that swirls together into an all-consuming flow..." - Giovanni Russonello NYT
"[WeFreeStrings] combine free jazz with the music of African-American string bands and classical avant-garde; it picks up where the likes of The Revolutionary Ensemble and James 'Blood' Ulmer's Odyssey left off, adding sounds previously heard in Ornette Coleman's writing for strings. This is surging, stabbing, thumping music..." - Phil Freeman, The Wire
"...positive collective synergy...a deep sense of freedom"- Filipe Freitas, JazzTrail
WeFreeStrings has received project support from JazzRoad/South Arts, Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant, New Music USA, Chamber Music America, Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Colorado Black Arts Movement, and individual donors.