Kazemde George ft/ Sami Stevens
Friday, November 26$35 – $45
Seatings: 7:00pm, 8:30pm, & 10:15pm. Doors open 30 minutes early.
JAZZ@theEDGE Festival! Kazmede George ft/ Sami Stevens
Kazemde George (saxophone/composer)
Sami Stevens (vocals/composer/keys)
Chris McCarthy (piano)
Tyrone Allen II (bass)
Kayvon Gordon (drums)
Black Cat welcomes Kazemde George to celebrate the release his first album, I Insist, out on October 22nd (with Greenleaf Music by Dave Douglas).
Kazemde George is an African American jazz saxophonist, composer, and beat-maker based in Brooklyn who exhibits a gift for streamlined, emotionally direct melodies, articulated with a warm tone and a certain guiding restraint. Raised by Caribbean parents in Berkeley, California, Kaz was exposed to a wide range of musical styles, and has been playing Piano, Saxophone, and Percussion from an early age.
During high school, Kazemde developed a passion for Jazz while studying the oral tradition under the tutelage of Khalil Shaheed, Charles McNeal and Susan Muscarella. He also began to make electronic music under the moniker “KG,B”. KG,B’s beats are inspired by Hip-Hop producers such as J Dilla, Madlib, and Flying Lotus, who he sees as modern the counterparts of early Jazz innovators.
In 2007, Kazemde moved to Boston to attend school, and in 2014, Kazemde completed the Harvard/New England Conservatory (NEC) Joint program, receiving his Bachelors in Neurobiology (Harvard) and his Masters in Jazz Composition (NEC). At NEC, Kazemde studied privately with Jerry Bergonzi, Cecil McBee, Donny McCaslin, John McNeil, Jason Moran, Danilo Pérez, and Miguel Zenón. In 2012, he received Harvard’s George Peabody Gardener Fellowship to study traditional music in La Habana, Cuba for ten months. Through his travels, Kaz has expanded his focus from Hip-Hop and Jazz to the full spectrum of musical styles which blossomed from the African Diaspora, including Afro-Cuban, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Brazilian, and African-American traditions. As he sees it, the study of these musical styles serves as a way to regain cultural histories that where lost through the processes of African-American Slavery.
Today, his focus is aligned towards music, but Kazemde is also a biologist at heart, and his quest to understand this wide breadth of styles is driven by an analytical mind with a scientific approach.
Kazemde has performed with Solange Knowles and Saint Heron, David Murray, Román Filiú, and Jason Moran, at venues and festivals such as, Dizzy’s Coca-Cola Club, Zinc Bar, The Bitter End, Irving Plaza, Yoshi’s, Black Cat, Cafe Stritch, The David Rubinstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, Panama Jazz Festival, Made In America Festival, AfroPunk, and Panorama NYC Music Festival.
The Black Cat Is Curious…
(9 questions, of course, with a bonus 10th)
- What things are inspiring your creative energy in this moment?
Sami: Time spent alone; time spent with friends. I just finished a tour with an art song/chamber quartet ANONYM that was very inspiring. It felt like we just oozed beautiful songs. It was intense, but very encouraging.
Kaz: I’ve been learning to play Bembé, Guiro, and Rumba. I’m starting to learn Palo next week too. I am also inspired by my band!
- What music have you been listening to recently?
Sami: Dorothy Ashby, Patsy Cline, Mulatu Astatke, Gabriel Garzón-Montano, Tom Waits…
Kaz: João Gilberto, John Coltrane and J Dilla. Same as always!
- What set you on your life’s path in music?
Kaz: I broke my ankle when I was 9, so I could do pretty much nothing but play music. My dad was very encouraging as well, and I was lucky enough to be part of Oaktown Jazz.
Sami: I always loved to sing, but getting into Jazz in high school changed the path of my life. I would listen to Chet Baker Sings and just cry every day for a while. It felt like a worthwhile thing to devote my life to. It still does.
4. What artist (living or dead) would you like to share a stage with for one night, and why?
Kaz: Elvin Jones
Sami: Joni Mitchell; especially if we could rehearse first! I would love to run a few of my songs by her and get her feedback.
5. Your favorite vinyl is spinning. What are you drinking?
Sami: Summer is ending so this may change soon, but I’ve been enjoying a tall bourbon, soda, lemon and bitters lately.
Kaz: Homemade tepache!
6. Likely there are many…but name one person/place/thing that has helped shape you as an artist?
Kaz: Havana, Cuba.
Sami: My voice students.
7. You get one album to take to your desert island. Name it.
Kaz: Acabou Chorare by Novos Baianos
Sami: I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You by Aretha Franklin
8. What is a musical or creative moment you’ll always remember?
Sami: I played a really quiet, small house concert in Brooklyn a few years back while my mom was visiting from Maine, and her reaction to the performance really meant a lot to me. It felt like she got a window into my life that she didn’t have before then.
Kaz: My first ever concert at the Jazz School, 7/7/07. Savannah Harris was in the band, and Ambrose came too. It was great.
9. We’re stoked to have you on stage at Black Cat! What are you envisioning for your time with us?
Kaz: Well, I just released my new album ‘I Insist’, so I’m hoping to carry some of that energy over to the stage! Black Cat gives us the chance to really open up, so I’m planning on reaching to deeper levels with the band on some of my newer tunes.
Sami: To start, I’m envisioning an intimate, somewhat minimalist, dynamic performance, including a lot of my own new original material, a lot of vibrato, and a lot of feelings. I imagine that the performance will blossom into Kaz’s music as the evening unfolds, growing in energy and momentum, as we get into tunes off the new album, and even newer songs he has written since.
10. The Pandemic has affected all of us. How has it affected both you personally and your music?
Sami: Like a lot of people, I have drawn inward. I’ve had rough patches, but I’ve definitely surprised myself with my own strength, my joy and perseverance. I’ve gained a lot of clarity musically and professionally speaking as well, and have changed a lot in a short time. I’ve started playing around with filmmaking, and have reinforced my relationship with playing keys. Plus, I married Kaz! Ha! So that’s new…
Kaz: I am appreciating my in-person social experiences more. I don’t take them for granted anymore. Because of the pandemic, Sami and I had to push our wedding back a full year, but we just got married in August, and it was a huge relief to finally get to celebrate with our families and friends. It felt like everyone appreciated a party!