Mark Guiliana

“Mark Guiliana, a technical master with a rare sense of musicality, has over the last decade become one of the most influential drummers of his generation.”— JazzTimes

Hailed by the New York Times as “a drummer around whom a cult of admiration has formed,” Mark Guiliana brings the same adventurous spirit, eclectic palette and gift for spontaneous invention to a staggering range of styles. Equally virtuosic playing acoustic jazz, boundary-stretching electronic music, or next-level rock, he’s become a key collaborator with such original sonic thinkers as Brad Mehldau, Meshell Ndegeocello, Donny McCaslin, Matisyahu, and the late, great David Bowie.

OKAN

Fusing Afro-Cuban roots with jazz, folk and global rhythms in songs about immigration, resistance and love, OKAN takes their name from the word for heart in their Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria. With vocals in Spanish, English and Spanglish, OKAN is led by the Cuban-born violinist and vocalist Elizabeth Rodriguez and percussionist and vocalist Magdelys Savigne, both Grammy and Latin-Grammy nominees.

Alfredo Rodríguez Trio

Alfredo Rodríguez is a GRAMMY-nominated pianist, composer, arranger, and producer. After meeting Quincy Jones at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2006 and receiving an offer to work together, Alfredo emigrated to the US to pursue his dream of being an internationally acclaimed musician. Over the past decade, Alfredo has gone from a local Cuban artist to a globally recognized GRAMMY nominee with five critically acclaimed releases on tastemaker imprint Mack Avenue Records: Sounds of Space (2011), The Invasion Parade (2014), Tocororo (2016), The Little Dream (2018), and Duologue (2019) with percussionist Pedrito Martinez.

Beyond his accomplishments, Rodriguez’s ability to “play stories” on the keys allows him to connect with his listeners on a deeply personal level. His albums, including The Invasion Parade, Tocororo, and Duologue, reflect his memories of Cuba, his experiences as an immigrant, and his journey of self-discovery through music. He’s been featured by All Things Considered, Downbeat, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Wall Street Journal among many others, and performed for NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert.

Rodriguez continues to share his music along with his impactful message of perseverance and cross culturalization on an international tour, while sharing a variety of viral social media videos in which he plays well-known compositions in a Cuban timba style.

Read The Program Note

Jake Blount

5:30 pm: ArtTalk with Jake Blount: “Inherited Black Futures Shaping Tomorrow Through Ancestral Craft”

A powerfully gifted musician and a scholar of Black American music, Jake Blount speaks ardently about the African roots of the banjo and the subtle, yet profound ways African Americans have shaped and defined the amorphous categories of roots music and Americana. His 2020 album Spider Tales (named one of the year’s best albums by NPR and the New Yorker, earned a perfect 5-star review from the Guardian) highlighted the Black and Indigenous histories of popular American folk tunes, as well as revived songs unjustly forgotten in the whitewashing of the canon. Blount’s new album, The New Faith, is a towering achievement of dystopian Afrofuturism and his first album for Smithsonian Folkways (released September 23, 2022). The New Faith is spiritual music, filled with hope for salvation and righteous anger in equal measure. The album manifests our worst fears on the shores of an island in Maine, where Blount enacts an imagined religious ceremony performed by Black refugees after the collapse of global civilization due to catastrophic climate change. Blount’s music is rooted in care and confrontation. On stage, each song he and his band play is chosen for a reason—because it highlights important elements about the stories we tell ourselves of our shared history and our endlessly complicated present moment. The more we learn about where we’ve been, the better equipped we are to face the future.

This is Jake Blount’s San Diego premiere.

aja monet

Born in New York City to parents of Cuban and Jamaican descent and raised in the Brooklyn neighborhood of East New York, amja onet Bacquie began writing poems when she was eight or nine years old. While attending Baruch College Campus High School, she performed spoken-word for school talent shows. Around this time, monet joined Urban Word NYC—a non-profit organization that offers guidance and public platforms to young writers, particularly those of color—and became a part of a community of aspiring urban writers.

aja monet’s lyrical poems explore gender, race, migration and spirituality. In 2018, her first full collection of poetry, My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work. She read the title poem at the national Women’s March on Washington DC in 2017 to commemorate women of the Diaspora. In 2019, she was awarded the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Award for Poetry for her cultural organizing work in South Florida. She has collaborated with poet and musician Saul Williams on the book Chorus, an anthem of a new generation of poets and won the legendary Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam poetry award title in 2007.

About aja monet

aja monet’s poems are a work of gravity. They are a fundamental for which all things are attracted, considered upon and enacted towards. Her work moves, constantly, between origin and outcome, allowing them to exist in converse. In her debut album when the poems do what they do, we glimpse her indefatigable commitment to speak. Those thematic origins of this album at times center around Black resistance, love and the inexhaustible quest for joy.

As a community organizer, surrealist blues poet and teacher aja monet moves between mediums, each one an element to her writing. Here, organizing and activism aren’t the point, they’re the process. The endgame is liberation and the poems, the music, and the art serve as the scribe of the time. Building off a tradition rooted in oratorical facility aja is the conduit for her predecessors to channel through. At any given time you’ll find the revolutionary spirit of Audre Lorde and the Last Poets, you’ll feel June Jordan, Amiri Baraka, Jayne Cortez and even the expressive ephemerality of a passing blue note. All appearing as generational trees from which these poems fruit.

aja monet has been a poet in name since before birth. In her 2017 debut collection of poems my mother was a freedom fighter, she outlines in give my regards to Brooklyn, “i owe my life/to the woman/who stopped my mother/on the b56/on her way/to the abortion clinic/and told her/ you have a poet coming.” She has been a poet in verb since youth, “I started writing when I was 8 or 9 — [but] I think I was a poet before I wrote my first poem.” She matriculated in writing upon enrolling in Baruch College Campus High School and then in joining Urban World NYC. She cut her teeth within the walls of the legendary Nuyorican Poets Café, where she won the title of Grand Slam Champion in 2007 at age 19, making her the youngest Grand Slam Champion in the venue’s history.

She grew up in Brooklyn, where the incessant harassment of the Black community by way of the police was an untenable growing pain. Here in between the raucous and propulsive insistence of rap and the predetermined experience of Black people in America she learned to navigate language. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence College and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and living briefly in Paris, aja monet co-edited Chorus: A Literary Mixtape alongside poet-actor-director Saul Williams and released two chapbooks of poetry The Black Unicorn Sings and Inner-City Cyborgs and Ciphers. Throughout her journeys, her poems always have a way of pointing back to home – aware and paying homage to from whence she came.

About when the poems do what they do

In when the poems do what they do aja monet appears as a woman of letters and storm, her poems do not roar in pentameter – but rather in storm surge because, “Who’s got time for poems when the world is on fire?!.” And this work isn’t one to pull apart into one liners, these are poems of things felt. There is a fullness here that can’t be encapsulated in even the boundaries that language offers. aja monet is a griot, a storyteller, a chronicler, and your grandmother telling you about her first love all at once. These are baby making poems – literally the spring enacting upon the cherry trees. These are poems of urgency and want and the rallying cry to demolish the insidious systems from which our futures seem to be wrought, in other words,“If we had a sense of humor we’d be more radical.  More migrant than citizen we’d breathe the air clean and ration our resources…we would melt ALL the guns.” You will find yourself readying arms because of these poems, and simultaneously mourning the unstoppable loss of names already destined to be immortalized. aja monet crafts a work as she always does, that can be entered from many doors. These aren’t poems for poets, but poems for everyone.

She is joined in effort on this album by musicians Christian Scott (trumpet), Samora Pinderhughes (piano), Elena Pinderhughes (flute), Luques Curtis (bass), Weedie Braimah (djembe) and Marcus Gilmore (drums). Together creating music that is insistent and unrelenting. There are songs reminiscent of jazz club virtuosity and melee, others of a healing balm in gilead, and the chords of Castaway move like that of the call to intercessory prayer.

When you finally reach the end of this album, you are left with a similar feeling you get when heartbroken, the gravity of barrelling back down to earth, sopping wet with tears, out of breath, overcome with love, despair, hope, and all too aware that all of this, is over far too soon. When the poems do what they do, they do absolutely everything.

 

Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog

“Guitarist Marc Ribot’s wildest project doesn’t mess around. The guitar legend, with bassist Shahzad Ismaily, and drummer Ches Smith, merges funk backbeats with the taut chaos of Sonic Youth and flashes of Woodstock Santana.”—New York Magazine

On the band’s 5th studio release, Connection, Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog have pushed their long-brewing tension between traditional pop song craft and avant garde improvisational music to the breaking point, bridging their customary genre-agnostic approach with elements of glam boogie, minimalist disco, psychedelic boogaloo, garage-punk-against-the-machine agitprop, and so much more. From the anthemic manifesto “Soldiers in the Army of Love” to the unhinged ranting of “Heart Attack” and indescribable “No Name,” Ceramic Dog unleash a fury of complex time signatures, blues abstraction, and free-blowing energy to create their most unapologetically audacious collection thus far, their one-of-a-kind daring evidenced by the unlikely cover of Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz’s “That’s Entertainment,” written especially for the 1953 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical film The Band Wagon but here, in Ribot and Co’s hands, deconstructs Hollywood cliches while simultaneously winking at both the post-punk and post-Cultural Revolution iterations of the Gang of Four. Fueled by what Ribot calls “several bolts of creative lightning,” Connections stands as a vibrant, odd, and in many ways definitive milestone in what is truly a singular creative journey for Marc Ribot and Ceramic Dog, its zeitgeist-busting sound and vision not only affirming their place in the musical universe but raising the stakes for whatever comes next.

Their performance at ArtPower is a record release show for their new album, Connection.

Madison McFerrin

Opening Set by Professor King Britt (DJ Set)

Throughout her fruitful independent career, spanning three EPs and multiple collaborations, Madison McFerrin has earned accolades from the New York Times, NPR, The FADER, and Pitchfork—who named her a Rising Artist in 2018. Her genre-bending work has led to Questlove dubbing her early sound “soul-appella.” In addition to a stirring performance on the renowned COLORS Studio platform, McFerrin has also performed at Lincoln Center, Central Park SummerStage, and BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn, and shared stages with the likes of De La Soul, Gallant, and The Roots. Off the stage, Madison’s music has been featured in episodes of Comedy Central’s Broad City and HBO’s Random Acts of Flyness. Working at the intersection of artistry and community building, McFerrin co-curated programming for the BRIC Jazz Festival in 2021, and in 2022, aligned her MAD LOVE initiative with the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy to present three installments of Summer Fridays—a series focused on themes of RELEASE, RESTORE & REJOICE with DJs, comedians, and musicians providing some much needed space for healing from the collective trauma and grief of the pandemic. Most recently, McFerrin has performed at the Saint Joseph’s Art Society in San Francisco and Joe’s Pub in New York City to support fundraisers benefiting the National Network of Abortion Funds.

 

Solo Piano with Ehud Asherie

A mainstay of the New York City scene with admirers worldwide, Ehud Asherie brings many selves to the piano bench: the dazzling jazz improviser with an astonishing range from ragtime to the present and future; the composer of surprising melodies; the living embodiment of Brazilian piano music with a special love for Ernesto Nazareth.  

Dirk Powell Band

Dirk Powell is a musician whose emotional understanding of American tradition has enabled him to expand on roots extending back more than nine generations in the southern mountains. His new group is a hard-driving, exciting testament to the power of the living old-time music tradition. Powell’s ability to unite traditional and historical forms with modern sensibilities has led to work with many of today’s greatest artists, from Sting to Jewel to Loretta Lynn to Joan Baez.

Steve Riley and Racines

The late Dewey Balfa once said “A culture is like a tree, you have to water the roots, but you can’t go cutting off the branches every time the tree tries to grow”.  Well, Racines (which means “roots” in French) both waters the roots and stretches outward.  A collaborative project of five gentlemen who are all well-known Cajun musicians in their own right, Racines explores the varying musical traditions that call Southwest Louisiana home: Cajun music, Zydeco, blues, and more.