Burnt Sugar / Terry Adkins at Levy Gorvy

To celebrate the exhibition, Terry Adkins – The Smooth, The Cut, and The Assembled at Levy Gorvy Gallery last February, Greg Tate, with the Burnt Sugar Arkestra Chamber conducted a live score to Adkins’ video work Synapse — A Faustian portrait of Beethoven glacially transforming into a young black man and back, pondering the rumors of Beethoven’s Moorish ancestry, as well as his triumph over deafness.

Terry Adkins created performances he called Recitals as part of his installations and exhibitions, after they had been open for a time and he felt they needed to be “activated”. At Performa in 2013 Adkins dedicated his Sacred Order of the Twilight Brotherhood Recital to his friend, the composer Butch Morris, who had just died of cancer, sadly about a year before Adkins would also succumb to the disease. Butch Morris was the type of iconoclastic, under-recognized figure that Adkins might’ve explored in his work. He invented a ground breaking form of improvisation called Conduction, using a highly refined language of gestures to shape the music of an improvising ensemble in performance.

Acclaimed musician, writer and cultural critic Greg Tate became friends with both Adkins and Morris as a teenager in Washington D.C. in the 1980’s. Calling Morris his “sensei” Tate was inspired to study and begin practicing Conduction, forming the Burnt Sugar Arkestra Chamber in the late 1990’s. Their prismatic, organic integration of avant-garde jazz, electric funk, rock and contemporary composition was beautifully adapted for a live score to Adkins’ droning Synapse video, and to celebrate the lives and achievements of both Morris and Adkins.

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