Soweto Kinch: White JuJu Deconstructed
W/ SPECIAL GUEST GARY BARTZ, KEBBI WILLIAMS, NICHOLAS PAYTON, EDWARD SIMON, MARCUS SHELBY & GREG HUTCHINSON
This week on Fridays Live, SFJAZZ presents saxophonist and rapper Soweto Kinch and his work White Juju — a name for the spell of systemic racism over the centuries. It charts a musical pathway through the recent culture wars and racial upheavals, blending electronic hip-hop, West Indian folk music, and jazz with audio samples from recent news clips — and forging a link to European classical music.
In a creative decade of genre-vaulting, Soweto Kinch has hitched jazz finesse to some grittily streetwise spoken narratives
ABOUT SOWETO KINCH
British saxophonist Soweto Kinch plays bebop. He raps. He is one of the wellsprings of the youth-driven London jazz scene, and for his second season as Resident Artistic Director, Kinch presents a combo version of his expansive work White Juju, exploring recent culture wars and racial upheavals.
After George Floyd was murdered, a statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson was taken down in Richmond, Va. In Bristol, England, a statue of the 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston was toppled and thrown into the harbor. Such acts were like “the removal of a weight, the lifting of a spell,” says Soweto Kinch. He has a name for the spell cast across the centuries by systemic racism: White JuJu. It charts a musical pathway through the recent culture wars and racial upheavals, blending electronic hip-hop, West Indian folk music, and jazz -- and forging a link to European classical music. Kinch weaves audio samples from recent news clips into the heat of White JuJu; its subject matter is sobering. But the music is “healing. It’s a tonic. It’s danceable,” he says. “We’re spending so much time on our phones and our screens, disconnected from our hips – and we really want to dance. It’s almost like `White JuJu’ is the thing that breaks up the dance, breaks up the groove, and keeps us from recognizing our common bonds.”
The son of a playwright father and a stage-actor mother, he is an inquisitive soul — wide-open, finding inspiration in the spoken word, theater, and dance. His projects invariably find the sweet spot between art, history and contemporary life. The Black Peril (performed in 2022 at SFJAZZ) was his musical commentary on the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918 and a second “virus” that broke out the following year — a wave of anti-Black race riots in Europe, the Caribbean, and the United States. There was no need for Kinch to spell out the 21st-century connections to the COVID-19 pandemic and police violence against young Black men and women.
Setlist, Personnel, & More
Coming Up on Fridays Live
FRI, MAY 26 • 7:30 PM PT
FRI, JUNE 9 • 7 PM PT
FRI, JUNE 30 • 7:30 PM PT
FRI, AUG 25 • 7:30 PM PT