Dec. 8th at 8PM in Studio 5
1938 Dempster St, Evanston, IL 60202

Dee Alexander
Ancestors Reign
Dee Alexander – voice
John McLean – guitar
Emma Dayhuff – bass
Carmani Edwards – bass
Zara Zaharieva – violin
Dr. Jovia Armstrong – percussion
Nejla Yatkin – dance

When Dee Alexander last performed at Studio5 (a beautiful tribute to Billie Holiday with the Metropolitan Jazz Octet), she and I were chatting backstage about Studio5 and the Dance Center where it resides, and I saw her eyes light up. She mentioned that she had been working on a jazz project that had a strong dance component, centered on the theme of giving tribute to our ancestors … and wondered aloud if it might be a good fit. You can imagine that this did not necessitate a long meeting. Béa and I couldn’t wait to find a date to welcome Dee’s project to our space.
Ancestors Reign (check out the video clip above!) is a collaboration between some of Chicago’s premier established and up-and-coming artists, celebrating the power of music and dance, paying tribute to those that have gone on before us. The group gives thanks and honors the ancestors, asking for continued blessings and guidance as together we take a journey through their original compositions. The aim of Ancestors Reign is to bring joy, spread peace, love and the gathering of community to support one another during these tumultuous times.
In addition to Dee’s remarkable vocals, Ancestors Reign brings the extraordinary dancer (and 2023 Guggenheim Fellow) Nejla Yatkin to our stage for the first time. The New York Times described Nejla’s work as “magical” and “fierce”. Joining Dee and Nejla is a stunning collection of instrumentalists: bassists Emma Dayhuff (graduate of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance in Los Angeles) and Carmani Edwards (Ernest Dawkins, Bethany Pickens, Sharel Cassity), violinist Zara Zaharieva (composed and played for Spike Lee’s movie Chiraq), percussionist Dr. Jovia Armstrong (Black Earth Ensemble, Musique Noire, Les Nubians), and Dee’s longtime musical collaborator, legendary Chicago guitarist John McLean.
Given the current state of … everything, it seems we could all use a large dose of peace, love and community right now. What a beautiful way to wrap up our Fall 2023 music season at Studio5. –SR

‹ Back