The death of the celebrated poet, critic and political activist Amiri Baraka (formerly known as LeRoi Jones) in 2014 prompted Thomas Sayers Ellis and James Brandon Lewis to form a collective of poets and musicians under the name Heroes Are Gang Leaders. Ellis is a poet, photographer and professor. Lewis is a saxophonist.
In their concerts and their recordings, they blend the confrontational approach of the Last Poets with the free spirit of 1970s Loft Jazz in work that runs parallel to that of such rappers as A Tribe Called Quest and Kendrick Lamar. The result, an exploration of the sound extensions of literary text and original compositions, has led them to be described as “an avant-futurist poetry-jazz-hiphop band”. Disturbed times produce disturbing voices, and Heroes Are Gang Leaders exist to reflect in words and music the turbulence of contemporary America.
Celebrated for his work with Sons of Kemet and The Comet is Coming, Shabaka Hutchings is one of the leaders of an exciting new generation of British jazz musicians whose ears are open to the music of the streets as well as the sound of jazz past, present and future. Born in London in 1984, he moved to Barbados at the age of six and stayed for ten years, during which time he began his studies of the classical clarinet.
Since returning to the UK he has played with Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, the Sun Ra Arkestra, the Jazz Warriors, Mulatu Astatke, King Sunny Adé, Louis Moholo-Moholo and many others. In 2016, while spending time in South Africa, he encountered a group of musicians with whom he made an album titled “Wisdom of Elders”. Together they explore ways to reinfuse jazz with the rhythms and textures of Africa.
Opening Jazzfest Berlin 2017: Heroes Are Gang Leaders / Shabaka and the Ancestors LIVE
31st October 2017 | Doors 00:00 CET | Starts 20:00 CET
Lido | Cuvrystr. 7 | 10997 Berlin