Kuumbwa Jazz & Indexical Present: Speak for Change


 | July 11, 2022

Kuumbwa Jazz Center & Indexical bring the highly popular Speak for Change series of live events to the Kuumbwa stage. The NYC-based duo of Darius Jones & Amirtha Kidambi opens the evening with a series of musical adaptations of cosmological writings by iconic improviser and bandleader Sun Ra. Following the live musical set, host Thomas Sage Pedersen sits down with Cat Willis—Founder of Tannery World Dance & Cultural Center, and instigator of the Black Health Matters initiative—to discuss her work and founding one of the central organizations cultivating Black culture and art in Santa Cruz.

Longtime collaborators Amirtha Kidambi (voice) and Darius Jones (alto sax) join sonic and compositional forces to materialize “Angels and Demons”, musical adaptations of cosmological writings by iconic improviser and bandleader Sun Ra. Singer Amirtha Kidambi contributed in extraordinary fashion to The Oversoul Manual (AUM Fidelity), saxophonist and composer Darius Jones’s all-vocal (but wordless) suite, the fourth installment of his Man’ish Boy Epic, performed by the Elizabeth-Caroline Unit. The duo formed to honor the intellectual, musical, literary and spiritual contribution of Sun Ra, as a great Black composer. Dancing between Ra’s prophetic poetic verse, abstract phonemes and syllables, sound, noise, tone, melody and rhythmic interplay, Jones and Kidambi use their unique compositional and improvisatory voices to amplify Ra’s thought to contemporary audiences.

Cat Willis is the Founder and former Executive Director of the Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center located in Santa Cruz/San Francisco Bay Area. She is originally from Rochester, N.Y., where she began her dance education with Garth Fagan Dance, with whom she studied extensively for six years. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Dance from SUNY Brockport. Cat has served on the Arts Council of Santa Cruz Grants Advisory Committee, the Arts Council of Santa Cruz grants panel, and County Park Friends Advisory Committee. She received the 2014 Gail Rich Award for her excellence in arts leadership in Santa Cruz County. Her cross cultural studies and work in the dance arts have led her to West Africa, and Jamaica where she lectures at the Edna Manley School of Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston.

Speak for Change Podcast was founded with the mission of creating positive and lasting social change in our local and global communities. From a studio at the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz, Thomas Sage Pedersen has hosted over 100 podcast episodes – and now, Speak for Change and Indexical bring you a series of live events! Each event features an interview and a musical guest, with new and custom sets tailored to the topic of conversation.

Wednesday, July 20
7:00 PM

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