Village Voice 04.19.2017 : Page 36

36 April 19 April 25, 2017 PINDERHUGHES from p34 man being, as well as a wonderful musi-cian full of ideas and promise.” Pinderhughes lives uptown, in Hamil-ton Heights, where he shares an apart-ment with his younger sister, Elena, a brilliant flutist who has performed with numerous jazz greats, and is also cur-rently recording her upcoming debut as a pop singer. Musicians from a young age, the siblings have long worked on each other’s projects. Their parents, a Black father raised in Boston and Sephardic mother from New York, are professors with a deep political streak. Samora was named for Samora Machel, the Mozam-bican revolutionary. “It’s a family thing,” Pinderhughes says. “Even if we hadn’t lived in the Bay, I would still be political, radical, super-duper Black.” Still, the regional setting, with its strong and overlapping jazz, po-etry, and hip-hop communities, was key to his creative growth. He is an alumnus of the Berkeley High School jazz band, which produced saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Benny Green, trum-peter Ambrose Akinmusire, and many others. He also attended another crucial local institution: the Young Musicians Choral Orchestra. It was a supportive scene, Pinder-hughes says. “That’s what’s cool about the East Bay: It’s very community ori-ented, and the old heads would look out for the younger cats.” Artists who had moved to New York would come back for visits and catch up with the next crop at the homes of the local teachers they all shared. “They would come and see them and kick it, and we would just be there, and that’s how we’d meet them,” he says. Pinderhughes imagines he’ll move back to California eventually. “I do see myself at some point wanting to have a family, and that’s the only place I’d want to raise my kids,” he says. For now, he feels he’s inally at ease in New York City, after years of trying to ind his com-fort zone and community. For his new band, Venus, a quintet that includes Elena but otherwise a different roster than the Transformations Suite regulars, he is writing and singing songs from his private side, catching up with his feel-ings. “It’s a very personal project, about relationships and different losses I’ve sustained,” he says. “It’s very different from the macro level that was The Trans-formations Suite .” His method has not changed, how-ever. When working on a project, he immerses himself in a set of music and books, for months at a time. For the suite, it was Marvin Gaye, the poems of Saul Williams, the Wayne Shorter’s Classic Blue Note Recordings , Nina Sim-one, Schumann’s song cycles, Tupac’s Me Against the World . These days his diet includes Frank Ocean, Laura Mvula, James Blake, James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man , Gabriel García Márquez’s autobiography, and August Wilson’s plays. “And I’m always reading [James] Baldwin, because he’s my hero. That’s a constant.” Pinderhughes’s mix of projects and in-spirations signals the limits of “jazz” as a category today. Some musicians reject the term on political grounds; he generally agrees, but feels it’s not worth the debate. “That argument is a waste of time because it’s all outdated,” he says. “Not only am I past the word jazz , I’m past the word mu-sic . I’m not interested in being limited by any barriers of what I’m supposed to be. And I think almost every musician that I know in my generation feels that way.” We Resist! presents Samora Pinderhughes, Daveed Diggs, & Rafael Casal at Le Poisson Rouge, April 20, at 7 p.m. Info: 212505 3474, lpr.com VILLAGE VOICE.com

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