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Mysterious Traveler - Kunu Bi

Kunu Bi 1

Mysterious Traveler 3 Concert Series

November 21, 2016 - 7PM | Kunu Bi

Parkway Central Library | Montgomery Auditorium
1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189

 

All events in this series are FREE.

 

Mysterious Travelers 3: Internal Investigations - a collaboration between The Free Library of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Jazz Project. Back by overwhelming popular demand! FREE concerts every fourth Monday night from October 2015 through May 2016 audiences will hear from veteran, as well as up-and-coming musicians who are shaping the future sounds of Philadelphia with a sharp ear to the legacies of our past. This season will directly celebrate the massive and amazing collections of the Free Library by granting our performers access to explore them as a source of inspiration for the creation of new musical works and arrangements

 

Kunu Bi [pronounced KooNew - Bee] is an African/American, Folk/Roots music trio consisting of Papa Ed Stokes, Tom Lowery and Bert Harris.

 

Papa Ed is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist who plays more than a dozen instruments. He is also a highly-accomplished instrument maker and a lifelong student of African Diasporic music. Papa Ed has studied the Ngoni and Kamale Ngoni, stringed African instruments, with West African Masters: Mamadou Sidibie and Cheick Hamala Diabate. He's also studied the African-inspired, American instrument, the Diddley Bow with Mississippi master, Glen Faulkner. Papa Ed’s main goal is to keep these African-influenced musical traditions alive and to pass them on.

 

Kunu Bi 2Tom Lowery is an accomplished drummer and percussionist from Philly known for his versatility playing Latin/Brazilian hand drumming and ably manning the traditional drum kit. Bassist, Bert Harris plays reggae, ska, New Orleans funk and blues, straight-ahead Jazz and avant-garde Jazz: All inspired by the Roots music that Kunu Bi immerses itself in.

 

The trio, Kunu Bi, will be our next guest artist in the Mysterious Traveler Concert Series.

 

Mysterious Traveler 3 Concert Series

November 21, 2016 - 7PM | Kunu Bi

Parkway Central Library | Montgomery Auditorium
1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189

 

All events in this series are FREE.

 

PJP spoke with multi-instrumentalist Papa Ed Stokes, about Kunu Bi's music and approach.

 

PJP: Can you briefly describe your musical direction

 

Papa Ed Stokes: I am influenced by African traditional music from Mali, Morocco and other places, as well as by New World African musics like stuff from Brazil, Mississippi and the southern regions of this country. I also like traditional music from other cultures. My direction is to learn and respect traditional music, but not be confined by it. I constantly hear new sounds in my head and get new musical ideas. I like to blend the old with the new. The name of our group, Kunu Bi, expresses my feeling. It is Bambara, from one of the main dialects in Mali. Kunu means yesterday, Bi means today. One of my main influences is the Mississippi Delta and North Mississippi Hill Country Blues. All of the instruments I play are traditional African instruments, or were handmade by me.

 

PJP: What and whom are pivotal musical influences on your creative approach?

 

Papa Ed Stokes: I like Wassoulou music from Mali, Gnawa music from Morocco, and the Mississippi Blues. One of my main instruments is the Diddley Bow, which has only one string and is inspired by ancient African instruments. It was played by many Mississippi Delta and North Mississippi Blues men before they got a guitar. I am influenced artists by Don Cherry, The Digital Primatives, and Kahill El Zabar. My approach to music is to compose, or arrange pieces that have a different feel or groove, but I still hear my musical ancestors in my head and want to keep their spirit alive.


PJP: What are you going to present at the Mysterious Traveler Concert Series?
 

Kunu Bi 3Papa Ed Stokes:  I am going to present a suite of music that I have composed and introduce the audience to the sounds of the African stringed instruments. These instruments are handmade by me, and are inspired by African instruments that are ages old.

 

PJP: Why is this theme/concept so important? Can you explain your process and the steps that led to this performance?
 

Papa Ed Stokes: Because people need to remember and respect the roots of Black music. One of my goals is to keep tradition alive. I want to let people see, hear and groove to the music I compose and arrange with honor to my musical ancestors. My process and theme for this performance was hearing about it from Homer Jackson Director of Philadelphia Jazz Project and meeting with Perry Genovesi Music Librarian at the Free Library, wanting to do it and share the joy of what I do with others.

 

PJP: How  do you manage the task of creating and encouraging fresh, new, forwarding moving musical ideas while simultaneously exploring, celebrating and documenting the past?

 

Papa Ed Stokes: I let my mind stay free musically, but at the same time I hear the ancestors who blessed me with their spirit. I hear melodies in my head that are African melodies and put them in my compositions. There is a African proverb that says you must go back before you can go forward. It refers to the Adinkra symbol of a bird with its head completely turned around, looking backwards. It symbolizes taking from the past what is good and bringing it into the present in order to make positive progress through the peaceful use of knowledge.

 

PJP: When listening to your music what advice would you give the audience to assist with greater understanding and enjoyment?

 

Papa Ed Stokes: Set back. Listen. Feel. Let the Spirit Flow.

 

PJP: Why Blues? Why Jazz? When you could be doing anything else, Why this music?

 

Papa Ed Stokes: Because the music of my ancestors is what I feel  African Music, Blues, Jazz, Modern Black Music and the music that has not got here yet. I also respect music of all cultures.

 

Check out Kunu Bi in action:

 

 

Mysterious Traveler 3 Concert Series

 

November 21, 2016 - 7PM | Kunu Bi
Parkway Central Library | Montgomery Auditorium
1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189

 

All events in this series are FREE.

 

Photographs: Bruce Turner

 

Mysterious Traveler 3 - Internal Investigations Concert Series is produced by Philadelphia Jazz Project in collaboration with The Free Library of Philadelphia.

 

 

PJP Logo               FLP

 

Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Wyncote Foundation.

 

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Tags : MysteriousTraveler MysteriousTraveler3 InternalInvestigations FreeLibraryofPhiladelphia FreeConcert PhillyJazz KunuBi Yesterday-Today PapaEdStokes EdStokes TomLowery BertHarris Rootsmusic Blues Folkmusic Africanmusic Ngoni KamaleNgoni DiddleyBow Mississippi MamadouSidibie CheickHamalaDiabate GlenFaulkner DonCherry TheDigitalPrimatives KahillElZabar

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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Wyncote Foundation.