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Elena Ayodele Pinderhughes, her musical collaborator Lionel Loueke, and Kuumbwa Jazz Society are collaborating to create a five-part musical suite, African Diaspora Journey, exploring the myriad musical traditions that have uplifted the Black community in the context of oppression, racism, and social inequality. The work will blend jazz, blues, Afro-beat, Afro-Latin, and gospel music, and will premiere at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, performed by the collaborating artists.

Pinderhughes is an accomplished flutist, vocalist, and composer, who began singing and playing flute at age seven, and had recorded her first album, Catch 22, by age nine. She later was a member of the Grammy Band and Choir, San Francisco Youth Symphony Orchestra, and Young Musicians Choral Orchestra. As an adult, she has been cited as “the most exciting jazz flautist to have emerged in years, by The Guardian. Pinderhughes is currently performing with a range of musicians, as well as her own group, and touring internationally with Scott aTunde Adjuah, Common, and Herbie Hancock.

Founded in 1975, Kuumbwa Jazz Society – its named inspired by the Swahili word meaning “act of spontaneous creativity” – envisions a community where all people can experience the joy and understand the value and legacy of jazz as an original American Art form. It is committed to producing live performances of the highest artistic merit, presenting some 130 concerts in a typical year.

Photo of Kuumbwa Jazz Society by R.R. Jones