The Filosofía Caribeña project still needs your help!
We are very excited about the progress of Filosofía Caribeña, but we are about $4000 short of matching the East Bay Community Foundation’s grant to complete the project ($10,000). The foundation has generously extended their deadline to March 18th, so please consider contributing any amount large or small and helping us spread the word to make Filosofía as big and beautiful as it can be. Donations are tax deductible as allowed by law through our fiscal sponsor, the Eastside Cultural Center. You can make your contribution online, by clicking on the following link to do it safely and directly . . . https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?aid=21444 and make sure to also click the Special Donation Filosofía box! You can also send a check to the Eastside Cultural Center, PO Box 17008 Oakland, CA 94601, and please remember to put Filosofía in the memo. In either event, please drop me an email as well, to facilitate a simple back-up list.
At the $250 level, we are very humbly offering a set of four CDs of your choice from my Machete Records catalog that can be found on the music page of my website (www.johnsantos.com). At $500 and above, in addition to the four CDs, we offer 2 preferred seats to the official World Premiere of Filosofía Caribeña at the SF Jazz Festival on April 2, 2011. We will keep all donors informed as to the progress of Filosofía.
Your support is critical to the success of Filosofía and HIGHLY appreciated. Funds raised allow us to invite more collaborators and spend much more time writing, rehearsing and developing the concept, performance, and compositions. This is a unique project from a creative standpoint and more importantly, because of the unprecedented grassroots support from patrons and friends that is directly responsible for the existence and trajectory of Filosofía Caribeña. Thank You.
John Santos, Saul Sierra, Ramon Ramos Alayo, John Calloway
Filosofía Caribeña News
We will be making the East Coast Premiere of some of the Filosofía material at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC on April 15th.
As of the moment, our special guests for the World Premiere at the SF Jazz Fest include: Jerry Medina from Puerto Rico, Ramon Ramos Alayo from Cuba, Nuyorican transplants to the Bay, wordsmiths Rico Pabon and Sandra Garcia Rivera, Los Angeles-based jazz spoken word artist Kamau Daaood.
The CD, Filosofía Caribeña Vol. 1 will be officially released on May 1, International Worker’s Day, in honor of the history of labor centered in the Caribbean area as well as among migrant Caribbean communities. We hope to release Vol. 2 next year. Here is what the beautiful cover will look like . . . the painting is by Bay Area DJ, patron of the arts, and artist extraordinaire, Jose Ruiz, and the wonderful graphic design is by Nadia Khastagir of Design Action Collective in Oakland.
In addition to the awesome musicians of my Sextet, Dr. John Calloway, Saul Sierra, Marco Diaz, David Flores and Melecio Magdaluyo, we are honored that the CD also includes the artistry of special guests Steve Turre, Pavel Urkiza, Claudia Gomez, Javier Navarrette, Joey DeLeon, Willie Ludwig and Beatriz Muñiz Godinez.
Filosofía Caribeña is a cross-disciplinary project (original music/spoken word, dance) that aims to illuminate Afro-Latino presence, identity, and the marvelous, undeniable, and unheralded historical connections between Black and Latino communities; communities that are so often pitted against each other due to lack of information, and direct competition for government services such as housing, education and healthcare.
The Afro-Latino theme of Filosofía is especially relevant and urgent at this time because the separation in the US between Black American communities and those of Hispanic origins is stark, and perceived to be representative of American culture. However, the commonalities of our American history of labor, displacement, identity, struggle and spirituality far outweigh the real and perceived gaps in communication, understanding and empathy. Knowledge of our historical and current bonds empowers us all to move forward as a positive cultural and political force.
Filosofía is directly connected to the Creole culture that firmly emanates from the Caribbean heart of the Americas, where huge Spanish speaking communities have directly integrated African culture in myriad forms. Our national art form, Jazz, was born in the major Caribbean port of New Orleans and as such, represents the living, resilient tradition of Caribbean music. The Caribbean example is the epitome of American migration, adaptation and survival with Indigenous, African, European and Asian roots. This story must be revealed as an important link in the identity and fragmented history of the Americas. Through Filosofía, we hope to creatively convey the powerful celebratory and documentary nature of Caribbean art as well as the community it reflects and inspires.
Filosofía supports and reflects pan-Caribbean philosophy with a forceful alliance of original music, spoken word, ancient/contemporary rhythm and movement, and improvisation. It is a significant work that peacefully and joyfully celebrates life, honors the elders and ancestors, human rights, liberty, love, and resistance to colonial mentality. We are attempting to demonstrate our great respect for the African-based cultural practices that have brought so much wisdom, spirituality and joy while counteracting the tendency towards separation, violence, and the selective, non-inclusive writing of history. Marginalized traditional instruments, rhythms, dances and musical forms have always been strong voices against war and other violations of human rights. The songs, chants, and poetry will be sung and recited in English, Spanish, Kongo, and Yoruba (Nigeria). The music and language evolve, but the basic relevance of the message is essentially the same. It is about unity.
I am doing the bulk of the composing, with musical arrangements in collaboration with Dr. John Calloway and Saul Sierra. The first few compositions of the work-in-progress debuted at the Eastside Cultural Center in East Oakland on August 21st and 22nd, 2010 to capacity houses and wonderfully enthusiastic response. The collaborators for the first phase of Filosofía were the wonderful musicians of my Sextet and two brilliant writers and cutting-edge spoken-word artists; long time Los Angeles-based Jazz poet, Kamau Daaooud, and Oakland based Puerto Rican poet, Rico Pabón. They each represent a wealth of Afro-American experience and expression from unique perspectives. We share a deep mutual respect and friendship. The music and poetry (and newly-added choreography) are all-original, born of the Caribbean experience that has informed, and continues to greatly influence, pop culture throughout the Americas.
This is a project several years in the making and has been a work-in-progress for the last year and a half. It has come into being through support from the East Bay Community Foundation in the form of a matching commissioning grant at the end of 2009, along with significant support from the National Association of Latino Arts & Culture (NALAC), the Ford Foundation, and private donations from dozens of generous and enthusiastic individual donors.
The completed work will have its official World Premiere on April 2, 2011 at the Herbst Theater as part of the San Francisco Jazz Festival. For this momentous occasion, we will add choreography by top Cuban choreographer Ramon Ramos Alayo, and the unique voice of the legendary Jerry Medina from Puerto Rico (who collaborated with us a few years ago on the 20th Anniversary double CD by JS & The Machete Ensemble and live at the San Francisco and San Jose Jazz Festivals).
Filosofía Caribeña Vol 1, by The John Santos Sextet, is slated for a May 1st, 2011 release on Machete Records (we hope to release Vol 2 in 2012). To date, we have guest appearances on the new CD by Claudia Gomez of Columbia; Cuban singer, arranger, and guitarist, Pável Urkiza; Los Angeles based Puerto Rican percussionist Joey DeLeón; and Bay Area percussionist Javier Navarrette. The Sextet’s steady line up is Saul Sierra on bass, Dr. John Calloway on flute and piano, Melecio Magdaluyo on saxes, Marco Diaz on piano and trumpet, David Flores on drumset, and me on percussion.
I hope you will follow the work’s progress, and I invite you to become a supporter of Filosofía Caribeña and to help us spread the word to potential donors, supporters and/or presenters. Together we can realize the dream of celebrating our rich Afro-Latino culture and sharing it with a broader audience.
With much love and respect . . . John Santos
composer, producer, bandleader, musician, educator
THANK YOU FOR MAKING ALL THIS HAPPEN!!!
www.johnsantos.com – February, 2011