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Kamau Daáood appearing at the Central Library, Los Angeles

by Patricia McAllister Thursday, Apr. 14, 2005 at 2:52 PM 213-200-6981 P.O. Box 86562, Los Angeles, CA 90086

A mythic figure in the Southern California arts scene, Kamau Daáood is a performance poet, educator, and community arts activist who is widely acknowledged as a major driving force behind Los Angeles’ black cultural renaissance.

Kamau Daáood appear...
daaood-9808.jpg, image/jpeg, 232x250

Thursday, May 26, 2006 7:00 PM

Appearing at the Central Library

Kamau Daáood

The Language of Saxophones

In performance with David Ornette Cherry

Daáood has a long history of cultural work in the Los Angeles area. Born and raised in Los Angeles, the multi-talented artist was instrumental in transforming Leimert Park into the cultural center it is today. In 1989, he and master jazz drummer Billy Higgins teamed up with a handful of artists to establish the World Stage. Under Daáood’s and Billy’s leadership this store-front performance gallery became Los Angeles’ black creative epicenter. The park is now home to a wealth of performance spaces, studios, galleries, shops, and restaurants, and is widely viewed as the symbol of Los Angeles’ rebirth. Less than a decade later, Daáood’s reputation has grown to that of a folk hero. The author of two chapbooks of poetry, Ascension and Liberator of the Spirit, his work is featured in Ten Contemporary American Poets. An award-winning documentary film about his life, appropriately titled Life Is a Saxophone, premiered in 1985.


Central Library

Mark Taper Auditorium

Fifth & Flower Streets,

Downtown Los Angeles

Please visit their website to make on-line reservations.

This is a free event.

By Andrew Gilbert

SWAYING ON THE BANDSTAND of the World Stage, a small store-front performance space in L.A.'s Crenshaw district, Kamau Daáood leans down toward a microphone and pours out a torrent of words, painting images of a community in search of redemption and healing: "I stand on the OG corner and tell old-school stories with a bebop tongue to the hip-hop future / I see new rainbows in their eyes as we stand in the puddles of melted chains."

For some 30 years, Daáood (who appears Friday at Fuel in San Jose along with percussionist Babatunde) has served as a griot for black L.A. Steeped in the jagged rhythms of bop and the incantatory wail of John Coltrane's tenor sax, Daáood is a jam-session poet, a writer who builds riffs with an improvisor's sense of drama and structure. His debut CD, Leimert Park, on the MAMA Foundation label, is named after the neighborhood where he and legendary drummer Billy Higgins founded the World Stage. In the past six years, the performance space has become the heart of an artistic renaissance flourishing in the Crenshaw.

In putting together Leimert Park, Daáood drew on the many musicians, both young and old, who have turned the neighborhood into a hothouse of musical invention. Featuring pianists Horace Tapscott and Nate Morgan, flutist James Newton, bassist Dr. Art Davis and the B Sharp Jazz Quartet, Leimert Park is one of more profound and organic marriages of jazz and the spoken word. But then, Daáood developed his performance skills on stage with some of L.A.'s most creative improvisors. "When I'm performing, I really try to establish ritual space," he says. "Listening to the radio, you hear one note, and you know its Coltrane or Monk. There's something inside that sound that speaks to that spirit. I look at my poetry in the same way. I don't memorize my work, because that leads to an intellectual process where I'm trying to develop a trance, where I'm trying to go back to the space where these words come from. It doesn't always happen, but that's my process."

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