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Dot artists contribute to overflow of events for Black History Month
Black History Month is technically more than half over, but there is still an eclectic mix of events (both free and ticketed) still ahead to keep the commemoration going at least through mid-March.
Among the free upcoming events in Dorchester will be a jazz performance next Thursday (Feb. 27) at the Grove Hall Library. A trio from New England Conservatory of Music (pianist Shane Simpson, bassist Simon Willson, and drummer Robin Baytas) will perform jazz selections starting at 6 pm. An alternative free event happening the same day at 7 p.m. is “Of Ebony Embers: Vignettes of the Harlem Renaissance,” presented by the Core Ensemble at Community Music Center of Boston. This chamber music theatre work for actor and trio (cello, piano & percussion) celebrates the lives of great African-American poets as seen through the eyes of the muralist and painter Aaron Douglas. The musical score includes works by Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, Billy Strayhorn, Thelonius Monk, and Charles Mingus.
And speaking of jazz, through March 1, the Mary L. Fifield Art Gallery at Bunker Hill Community College is exhibiting a wide assortment of jazz themed artworks most of them by Roxbury and Dorchester artists. Tonight (Feb. 20), the free opening reception features performances by The Arni Cheatham Trio; a special performance of poetry and song by ENOBONG; a Dixie-Street Band processional provided by BHCC Jazz Ensemble & Music Club Spoken word/poetry MC Jean Dany Joachim with readings by Toni Bee, Deta Galloway, J. L. McRath, and others. Among the Dot artists in the show are Lucilda Dassardo-Cooper and the nationally famous abstract artist Guadulesa whose Gallery G is located in the Bicknell Street Black Indian Inn. Additional details at bhcc.mass.edu/artgallery.
Through March 16, American Repertory Theater (ART) is staging the latest musical directed by Artistic Director Diane Paulus, whose recent musicals have all ended up on Broadway. “Witness Uganda” has been described as the sentimental flip side of the smash satire “ The Book of Mormon.” The former is based on the real life experiences of a gay Jewish volunteer fighting prejudice at home and abroad. ART describes the show in this way: “ Inspired by a true story, this rousing new musical exposes the challenges confronted by American aid workers around the world and explores the question: ‘Is changing the world possible?’ ” Though the script has gotten mixed reviews, the show itself has garnered kudos for its heartfelt performances and ebullient melodies.
Sweet Honey in the Rock, the world-famous a capella quintet, is just back from appearing at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. The women’s current show – “Forty and Fierce!” – will be here for one night only, March 2, as part of the Celebrity Series of Boston at Symphony Hall.
Finally, a Boston troupe with the quirky name “Sleeping Weazel” presents three different performances on successive evenings (Feb. 27-March 1) as part of its “African American History and its Expressions.” The festival includes performances of Ed Bullins’s “The Man Who Dug Fish” and Keli Garrett’s world premiere puppet adaptation of Harlem Renaissance playwright Marita Bonner’s “The Purple Flower.” In addition, there will be performances of poetry by actor-playwright Robbie McCauley and a presentation of historical dolls by Felicia Walker and Debra Britt, founders of the National Black Doll Museum of History & Culture at Factory Theatre in the South End. africanamericanhistory.brownpapertickets.com