Avotcja & Modupue!
Francis Wong, sax and flute.
Jon Jang, piano.
Heshima Mark Williams, bass.
Avotcja is a jazz musician with deep roots, a riveting poet, an imaginative and ruminative prose writer, a pioneer, an individualist, a fierce champion of her fellow musicians, poets and artists. Â Her band, Modupue,Â was twice named Jazz Group of the Year, in 2005 and again in 2010, by the Bay Blues Society Hall of Fame.
With New York, Afro-Puerto Rican roots, Avotcja was performing her poetry and music professionally by age 14.Â She left for L.A. the next year, and found work in the areaâ€™s strawberry fields, and then in the ensuing decade, traveled widely, spending significant time on the fertile L.A. cultural scene of the late sixties, in the company of giants like Black Arthur Blythe, Billy Higgins and Horace Tapscott, before coming up to the Bay Area in the early 1970s.Â Here, she has long and justly been held in high regard as a performer and for her radio work on KPFA and KPOO.Â Sheâ€™s won a raft of awards along the way.
Weâ€™ve presented Modupue as our kick-off Sunday concert each year for four years running, in appreciation of their fantastic music and chemistry, and as a small gesture of thanks to Avotcja for all sheâ€™s contributed to the cultureâ€“and continues to contribute without ceasing.
Poet Genny Lim has said, â€œAvotcja is one tough, no-nonsense poet, deejay, teacher, jazz and world music aficionado.Â Her homegrown roots stretch from funk to rhythm and blues and jazz in a blazing trail of tongue-lashing poetry accompanied by some of the hottest Bay Area musicians playing.â€
Says activist and educator Betita Martinez, â€œAvotcja is a unique voice among our poets, musicians, playwrights and other creative folk today.Â She combines a fierce, persistent and consistent passion for justice with a beauty of words, sounds andÂ image that can take your breath away. To put it simply, Avotcja is a national and international treasure.â€
Regarding her work with Modupue, author Ishmael Reedâ€™s liner notes to their â€œLive at Yoshiâ€™sâ€ cd observe that â€œHer â€˜Oaktown Blueâ€™ ranks with the works written by the best blues writers, Bessie Smith, Langston Hughes & Sterling Brown included.Â Jon Jang has some fabulous â€œchopsâ€!Â He can play in styles, Chinese as well as Black, without ever being a tourist. His â€˜Youâ€™ll Never Walk Aloneâ€™ would please Roy Hamilton.â€ Â Francis Wong and Heshima are powerful, fearless players, both with long resumes and vast talents.
Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.
The BBCLP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit...
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