A Concert in Honor of Arnold I. Davidson

The Thought of Improvisation: A Concert in Honor of Arnold I. Davidson 

Saturday, January 19th | 4pm
Fulton Recital Hall

In Celebration of Critical Inquiry Volume 45, No. 2 Winter 2019

Davidson and His Interlocutors

a performance by

the Quartet of Dave Rempis, Joshua Abrams, Jim Baker, and Avreeayl Ra

with remarks by

Daniel Wyche


Arnold I. Davidson


The quartet of Dave Rempis (Saxophone), Avreeayl Ra (Drums), Joshua Abrams (Bass), & Jim Baker (piano/ARP) is a perfect example of what makes Chicago such a fertile breeding ground for improvised music; four musicians of widely varying ages, backgrounds, playing experiences, and musical interests join forces to deliver moments of both sublime beauty and volcanic energy, continually tempered by the seamless narrative momentum that they weave together in a seemingly effortless way.  Convened in the fall of 2012, the band keeps up a regular concert schedule in Chicago and abroad, and their group dynamic reveals the type of incredibly seasoned chemistry that only such regular performances could allow. With Joshua Abramson bass, and Avreeayl Ra on his characteristically wide array of percussion, the music these four create together is wide-ranging in nature, drawing upon influences from around the world to create a sound that's totally unique within the current milieu of improvised music. The group released their first recording “Aphelion” in January of 2014 on Aerophonic Records, and their second record, “Perihelion,” in June of 2016.

Arnold I. Davidsonis the Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Comparative Literature, the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, the Committee on the Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, the Divinity School, and the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge. European Editor of Critical Inquiry, he is also a director of the France-Chicago Center. His major fields of research and teaching are the history of contemporary European philosophy, the history of moral and political philosophy, the history of the human sciences, the history and philosophy of religion, and the philosophy of Judaism.

He has been a visiting professor at many French institutions (including the Collège de France, the École Normale Supérieure, the University of Paris I and the University of Paris VII) and has also been Professor of the History of Political Philosophy at the University of Pisa and Professor of the Philosophy of Cultures at the University Ca'Foscari Venice, where he has been named an honorary member of the faculty. Most recently he has been a Distinguished Visiting Professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In addition, he has been the jazz critic for the Sunday cultural supplement, "Domenica," of the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.

His current projects revolve around figures as diverse as Pierre Hadot, Joseph Soloveitchik, Michel Foucault, and Primo Levi, and around themes that range from the history of spiritual exercises and practices of self-transformation to the relation between Talmudic and philosophical argumentation, and the aesthetics, ethics and politics of improvisation. He is also currently working on a critical edition of the manuscripts of Zalman Gradowski. Gradowski was assigned to the Sonderkommando in Auschwitz---he managed to write one of the most singular and powerful accounts of the Shoah, from both an historical and a literary point of view, composed during the time of the events themselves. His manuscripts were buried under the ashes of Birkenau and discovered after the war. This edition (under contract with the University of Chicago Press) will be the first complete critical edition in English. Davidson's main publications are in French, Italian, and Spanish, as well as in English.


Daniel Wyche is a PhD Candidate in the Philosophy of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School, a curator at the Elastic Arts Foundation in Chicago, and a composer and improvisor active in the Chicago community. His research engages the political consequences of Michel Foucault’s ethics of the care of the self and Pierre Hadot’s spiritual exercises through the lens of race and religion in the United States in the 20th Century. He is the translator of Raoul Moati’s Levinas and the Night of Being (Fordham, 2016), has published in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and performed at institutions like Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. 

Co-sponsored by the University of Chicago Divinity School, the Department of Philosophy, The Department of Comparative Literature, The Department of History, The Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, The Morris Fishbein Center for the History of Science and Medicine, The Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge, and Critical Inquiry; with gratitude to the Department of Music.