PURPLE GUMS

with an opening set from

SKEETER SHELTON & DJALLO DJAKATE

Friday, October 23 at 7:30 PM

PURPLE GUMS is a brass ensemble (tenor sax, cornet and tuba) whose role is to carry on the tradition of making music in the moment. Charts don’t exist. Rehearsals have never occurred. Ideas are generated and developed on the bandstand. Music making for this group is a high risk venture. The music created from the pooled experience of the band’s members is a tasty gumbo of jazz, free improv, ragtime and classical. This leads to flights of whimsy and excursions into the unexpected. What you see is not always what you get. While you may think for a moment that you are listening to a traditional New Orleans brass band, what you are caressed with may be something all together different – as in the band’s name and the title of their first CD, Purple Gums

Purple Gums is a free-improvisation ensemble. The only times we play together is when we are on the stage. If they’re lucky, they might have a meal before the show. If they do, what they talk about is our lives, current events, memories. Never about the show. But those conversations have their effect on the performance. What’s going on the world influences the music. And because they don’t limit ourselves to the abstraction of instrumental musical expression…well, things get said. Purple Gum’s third album, Back Where We Came From, turns out to be a commentary on the turmoil that is happening in America right now, while giving a historical perspective to some of the roots of that turmoil. African American music has rarely just been about fun, love and the “hoochie coochie”. It is about oppression, injustice and a striving to not only deal with that oppression and injustice, but to turn it around and set it right. Purple Gums places its work in that tradition. Back Where We Came From, references Donald Trump’s famous tweet, speaking of four members of the House of Representatives, “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.””

Bobby Bradford, born in 1937, is the venerable elder and solid rock on which the ensemble stands. Bobby is a virtuosic cornet/trumpet player,composer and educator. He has played in and led ensembles with some of the greatest artists in improvised music, including Leo Wright, Buster Smith, John Hardee, Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, David Murray, Charlie Haden and John Stevens. With long-time collaborator John Carter, he formed the New Art Jazz Ensemble with John Carter and was a member of the Little Big Horn workshop with Carter, Arthur Blythe, James Newton, and other free-jazz musicians. Bobby continues to lead his long-standing ensemble Motet and a newer one call Tete-A-Tete. He taught for many years at Pasadena City College and continues to teach at Pomona College.

Francis Wong, a prolific recording artist, is featured on more than forty titles as a leader and sideman. For over two decades he has performed his innovative brand of jazz and creative music for audiences in North America, Asia, and Europe with such luminaries as Jon Jang, Tatsu Aoki, Genny Lim, William Roper, Bobby Bradford, John Tchicai, James Newton, Joseph Jarman, Don Moye and the late Glenn Horiuchi. Wong’s imaginative career straddles roles as varied as performing artist, youth mentor, composer, artistic director, community activist, non-profit organization manager, consultant, music producer, and academic lecturer. Key vehicles for his work are Asian Improv aRts, the company he co-founded with Jon Jang and as a Senior Fellow at the Wildflowers Institute. In addition, Wong was a California Arts Council Artist in Residence from 1992 through 1998, and a Meet The Composer New Resident in 2000-2003. In 2000-2001 he was a Rockefeller Next Generation Leadership Fellow. He has also been a guest member of the faculty at San Francisco State University (1996-98) and at University of California at Santa Cruz (1996-2001). He is currently a lecturer in the Department of Asian Studies at San Francisco State University.

William Roper is a multi-faceted artist working as a composer, performer on tuba, performance and visual artist. As a soloist he has performed in North & South America, Europe and Japan. Leading several of his own ensembles, he has released twelve recordings as a leader or co-leader. He has performed and recorded with an impressive range of artists and ensembles that include Anthony Braxton, Jimmy Cleveland, Douglas Ewart, Aluna George, Billy Higgins, Glenn Horiuchi, Elton John, Yusef Lateef, Thomas Mapfumo, James Newton, Leon Russell, Wadada Leo Smith, Horace Tapscott, John Williams, Hans Zimmer, the L.A. Philharmonic, L.A. Master Chorale and many others. He has fulfilled several commissions as a composer, with performances on three continents. Roper has been an artist in residence at institutions in California, Germany and Japan. He has received awards from the L.A. Dept. of Cultural Affairs, California Arts Council, NEA, Meet the Composer and others. In addition, as primary artist or collaborator, he has created works in dance, theatre, video and performance art. His visual art has been exhibited in the U.S. and Europe.

Saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist and composer Skeeter Shelton has played with the 70th Division Army Reserve Band for over 25 years. He is currently a member of Speaking in Tongues and is one of the founding members of Griot Galaxy, playing alongside Farouk Z Bey in other groups and on recordings but also leading his own units. His father Ajaramu Shelton was played drums with Gene Ammons and Sun Ra and was associated with the AACM. A versatile musician, he can play in any context, as evidenced by his years on the road with soul singer Joe Tex, but his main associations have been with more experimental music, be it as a leader or in bands like the Vizitors (with Deshun Mosley and Kenny Green).

Born in Detroit, drummer/percussionist Djallo Keita Djakate is one of the most dynamic and sought-after sidemen on the Detroit scene. His style ranges from traditional jazz, through avant garde, funk reggae, and traditional New Orleans music as well as Afro-Cuban and African drumming. He has toured the U.S. and Europe; performing with such diverse artists as Martha Reeves, Harrold McKinney, A. Spencer Barefield, Taslimah Bey, Charles Gabriel and Straight Ahead.