April 26, 2004

Quadrangle to have distinct ‘African Flava,’ May 1

By Allison Germaneso Dixon

Emory’s Quadrangle will be alive with the rhythm and spirit of African culture during the Carlos Museum’s outdoor “African Flava: A Festival of Art, Music and Cuisine” on Saturday, May 1, from 4–8 p.m.

The jazz station WCLK-91.9 FM will team with the museum to promote this child-friendly event. African Flava will feature performances ranging from traditional dancers and drummers to some of the city’s best—and youngest—jazz musicians. Games, storytelling, art-making activities, tours of the museum and food for purchase from local African restaurants (It’s Tropical, Queen of Sheba and Shewit) will complement the performances and engage festival-goers of all ages.

The Carlos’ permanent exhibition of African art (the inspiration for the festival and concert) focuses primarily on masks, figural sculptures, weapons and textiles from West and Central Africa. Not to be missed are a rare Mambila shrine screen painted on a canvas made of raffia palm pith; a dazzling 19th century bowl-carrier figure covered in blue bugle beads from Cameroon; and a Mande hunter’s jacket emblazoned (for the wearer’s protection) with animal and raptor claws and boar’s tusks.

The museum has been actively collecting in this area since it acquired approximately 900 works from William Arnett in 1994. Scheduled performers include:

• Joe Jennings, director of the jazz program at Spelman College. Jennings’ teaching experience spans 30 years and his professional performing experience includes concerts and tours with Duke Pearson, Clifford Jordan, Reuben Phillips and Johnny Taylor. Jennings is co-founder and director of the recording group Life Force, and he is founder and director of the Metropolitan Youth Jazz Ensemble.

• The Young Performers Jazz Workshop, under the tutelage of Jennings and organized in 2003 as a vehicle to assist serious students of jazz in learning a repertoire and experiencing small ensemble performance practices. These young musicians, ages 14 to 17, include saxophonist Edwin Barbash, pianist Dave Naylor, drummer Daniel Platzman and Stanford Leon Thompson on trumpet.

• Fungafrica Cultural Bridge, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which shares its members’ culture and heritage through song, dance and stories with U.S. audiences. Since its founding in 1990 by director Koblo Kibul, the group has performed throughout the Congo and the continent of Africa. Its focus has grown to include health outreach, youth ministry, care for the poor, and food, shelter and clothing programs.

• SamaTo, led by Artistic Director Aly Camara, a nonprofit corporation established to enlighten and entertain communities through culture, information and performance. SamaTo offers West African drum and dance workshops, performances and artist residencies, and is committed to preserving heritage with presentations on the culture and traditions of West Africa.

• Kinah Boto, percussionist for the Georgia State University Faculty Jazztet. Boto has an extensive list of performance credits that has taken him to Europe and the Far East. He has worked with jazz musicians Bill Anschell, Russell Gunn and Nnenne Freelon on four Grammy-nominated recordings, and also has recorded with Marcus Printup.

Admission to “African Flava” is free for Emory faculty, staff and students with ID. General admission is $7 (museum members receive a discount), and tickets are available through the Arts at Emory box office, 404-727-5050. Lawn chairs and picnic blankets are permitted.