U.S. Jazz group to tour Zimbabwe

A Chicago-based jazz band, “The Dennis Luxion / Michael Raynor Quartet”, will visit Zimbabwe this weekend to perform live shows at cultural centers in Harare and Chitungwiza as well as conduct workshops with local musicians. The group’s tour to Zimbabwe is facilitated by the United States Embassy through the U.S. Department of State’s “The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad” program, coordinated by Jazz at Lincoln Center.

“We are excited to share American jazz music in Zimbabwe. We are especially happy that The Dennis Luxion/ Michael Raynor Quartet’s visit to Zimbabwe comes just days before February, which is Black History Month,” says Sharon Hudson-Dean, U.S. Embassy spokesperson. “Each February, Black History Month honors the struggles and triumphs of millions of American citizens over the most devastating obstacles— slavery, prejudice, poverty— as well as their contributions to the nation’s cultural and political life. Jazz music remains an integral component of these struggles.”

The Dennis Luxion / Michael Raynor Quartet (Chicago, Illinois) plays original, hard-swinging jazz. The group came together to create music that encompasses a wide range of styles based on the jazz tradition. The legacy of the legendary Chicago-based tenor saxophonist, Von Freeman, is especially influential on the ensemble’s expressive style of improvisation. From introspective solo explorations to a powerful group dynamic, The Dennis Luxion / Michael Raynor Quartet’s performances encompass the breadth of human expression.

In Harare, the group will perform two free shows at Prince Edward School and Jazz 105. The Quartet will also hold workshops with music students at the College of Music, with aspiring local musicians at Jazz 105, with disabled children at the St. Giles Center, and with youth in Chitungwiza.

The Dennis Luxion/ Michael Raynor Quartet is one of ten quartets selected from a national pool of 110 bands in a competitive audition process in the U.S., which focused on the artistic integrity and educational ability of each group. The band members are Dennis Luxion (Piano); a jazz pianist, composer and educator; Michael Raynor (Drums); Jeff Pedraz (Bass); and Greg Ward (Saxophone).

Jazz at Lincoln Center is dedicated to inspiring and growing audiences for jazz. With the world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and a comprehensive array of guest artists, Jazz at Lincoln Center advances a unique vision for the continued development of the art of jazz by producing a year-round schedule of performance, education and broadcast events for audiences of all ages. These productions include concerts, national and international tours, residencies, a jazz hall of fame and concert series, weekly national radio programs, television broadcasts, recordings, publications, an annual high school jazz band competition and festival, a band director academy, jazz appreciation curriculum for students, music publishing, children’s concerts, lectures, adult education courses, student and educator workshops and interactive websites. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis, Chairman Lisa Schiff, and Executive Director Adrian Ellis, Jazz at Lincoln Center produces thousands of events each season in its home in New York City, Frederick P. Rose Hall, and around the world. For more information, visit jalc.org.

U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs promotes mutual understanding between the United States and other countries through a wide range of academic, cultural, private sector, professional, and sports exchange programs. Through its Cultural Programs Division, the Bureau supports cultural exchanges that support U.S. foreign policy, foster America's artistic excellence, and demonstrate America’s respect and appreciation for other cultures and traditions. The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad program presents selected professional American performers on concert tours in countries with limited exposure to live American culture.

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