The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum will continue its 35th season of Wednesday Folk Traditions on July 13, 2016 with Afro-Semitic Experience. Afro-Semitic Experience is dedicated to preserving, promoting, and expanding the cultural and musical heritage of the Jewish and African diaspora. Co-founded by African-American jazz pianist Warren Byrd, and Jewish-American jazz bassist David Chevan in 1998, Afro-Semitic Experience draws from many genres of music, including spiritual, world-beat, funk, jazz, cantorial, gospel, salsa, swing, and soul. Their music has been heard around the United States—at festivals, in churches, synagogues, and colleges. Afro-Semitic Experience uses their eclectic array of styles to share their guiding message: Unity in the Community.
With their unique instrumentation and message of love and respect,Afro-Semitic Experience is redefining the jazz concert. Pianist and Composer Warren Byrd is a Hartford, Connecticut native with many years of experience playing Jazz throughout Southern New England and New York. Bassist and composer David Chevan grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts. His passion for music has led him to explore a wide range of musical realms from singing in synagogue, to playing in Gospel groups, Polka bands, Klezmer bands, and Italian wedding bands, and finally to Jazz and contemporary composition and improvisation. In 1998, Chevan and Byrd created Afro-Semitic Experience as an expansion of their duo work. In addition to Byrd and Chevan, the band is made up of critically acclaimed musicians: Alvin Benjamin Carter, Jr. on drum set and percussion, Alvin Benjamin Carter, Sr. on congas and percussion, Will Bartlett on saxophone, clarinet, flute, and percussion, Stacy Phillips on dobro, lap steel, and violin, and Saskia Laroo on trumpet and electronics. Together, Afro-Semitic Experience works to preserve, promote, and expand the cultural and musical heritage of the Jewish and African diaspora.
Afro-Semitic Experience’s albums have garnered critical acclaim and made numerous best-of lists. Their newest work, Jazz Souls on Fire, pays tribute to some of the their favorite composers whose creativity inspired Afro-Semitic Experience. On Jazz Souls on Fire, the band visits pieces by Leon Thomas, Duke Ellington, Hank Mobley, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and others. Jazz Souls on Fire honors not only these musicians’ music, but also the struggles from which they emerged to light the way for Afro-Semitic Experience’s own work.