Black Praxis Sound Project carry on the tradition of exploring African-American heritage through free jazz | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Black Praxis Sound Project carry on the tradition of exploring African-American heritage through free jazz


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For decades, musicians around the world have found free jazz to be a sturdy and flexible platform. Musicians as varied as German reed player Peter Brötzmann, South African drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo, and Japanese-American multi-instrumentalist Tatsu Aoki have expressed their cultural and personal identities through the form. But its original practitioners were African-Americans, and artists such as John and Alice Coltrane, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and Nicole Mitchell have used it to articulate the cultural heritage and unique challenges that black Americans face. Black Praxis Sound Project is a new ensemble from that tradition. The group came into being when Davu Seru—a drummer from St. Paul, Minnesota, whose adroit playing has uplifted the music of Rafael Toral, George Cartwright and his own No Territory Band—visited Chicago in 2018 to play with the Microcosmic Sound Orchestra. Seru and Orchestra multi-instrumentalists David Boykin and Eliel Sherman Storey began a separate endeavor last fall that intends to bring together African-American free-jazz musicians to perform work that, according to a written statement, “embodies principles of self-determination, community wellness, and self-mastery and which will outlive the boundaries of period and genre.” An early performance recorded last November at Storey’s space, Transition East, combines imploring saxophone phrases with layers of percussion in ways that recall Sun Ra and the Art Ensemble. For this concert, the original trio will be joined by like-minded Baltimore-based saxophonist Jamal Moore.   v

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