Saturday, July 15, 2017

StLJN Saturday Video Showcase:
Samora Pinderhughes, jazz, and justice

This week, StLJN's video spotlight is focused on pianist and composer Samora Pinderhughes, who will be here in St. Louis to perform next Thursday, July 20 at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation.

A 25-year-old Juilliard graduate who grew up in Berkeley, CA and now lives in Harlem, Pinderhughes has toured with jazz artists including Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and Branford Marsalis.

For his performance here, the pianist will lead a quartet with Scott, bassist Luques Curtis, and percussionist Mark Whitfield, Jr, playing music inspired by his soundtrack for the documentary Whose Streets?, which was co-directed and produced by St. Louis artist and activist Damon Davis (aka FarFetched).

Writing the soundtrack for a film about the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the subsequent protests would seem to fit neatly with Pinderhughes' ongoing interest in multidisciplinary projects that address social issues, as exemplified by "The Transformations Suite," which has brought him to wide public attention since the release last November of his album of the same name.

A multi-media event combining music, words and visuals that took the composer/pianist five years to complete, "Transformations Suite" examines the history of oppression and protest throughout the African-American diaspora, connecting contemporary issues like social justice and prison reform with the history of "revolutionary movements of color."

"Transformations Suite" was the subject earlier this year of an episode of NPR's "Jazz Night in America," and you can see that recording, made at the Way Christian Center in Berkeley, in the first embedded window up above.

In addition to Pinderhughes, the ensemble includes his key collaborators Jeremie Harris, who performs the spoken word parts, and Jehbreal Muhammad Jackson, who sings lead vocals, along with Riley Mulherkar (trumpet), Lucas Pino (tenor sax), Joshua Crumbly (bass), and Jimmy Macbride (drums).

After the jump, you can see an earlier performance of "Cycles," one segment of the "The Transformations Suite," recorded in May, 2016 at Joe's Pub in New York City. The ensemble features Pinderhughes, Jackson, Harris, Mulkerhar, Pino, and Macbride, plus the leader's younger sister Elena Pinderhughes on flute and vocals, Tony Lustig on baritone sax, and Clovis Nicolas on bass.

After that, there are a couple more videos demonstrating Pinderhughes' penchant for collaboration and socially relevant topics, as he performs "Black is the Color" with poet Jules Latimer and "For Those Lost" with singer Lalah Hathaway.

Finally, you can see a couple of clips of Pinderhughes playing other peoples' music. The penultimate video is a medley of "Cosmia" by Joanna Newsom and "Over There" by Derrick Hodge, recorded in 2013 at La Peña in Berkeley and featuring the Pinderhughes siblings, Jackson, Crumbly, and Macbride.

And for something completely different, the last video shows Pinderhughes as part of a group backing singer Claudia Acuna, recorded in 2015 as part of the NYC club Jazz Gallery's "Mentoring Series."

For more about Samora Pinderhughes, check out the recent coverage of him and his work from, CBC, and the Village Voice.

You can see the rest of today's videos after the jump...

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