Award-winning tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith collaborates with renowned musician/singer/composer Owen “Fiidla” Brown to present an original composition of a highly anticipated musical response to the critically acclaimed film 12 Years A Slave. The piece was commissioned by The Charles & Joan Gross Family Foundation and debuted to a packed crowd at Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium on Mardi Gras earlier this year. The work, entitled “Transformation: Rhythm’s Roots,” is a celebration of the instrumentation and the natural musical evolution that transpired alongside the African-American experience in America. All ages will enjoy this musical journey…Rhythm is what connects us after all!
Jason Samuels Smith won an Emmy and American Choreography Award for his tribute to Gregory Hines and has performed and/or contributed choreography for Black Nativity, Idlewild, So You Think You Can Dance, Bring in Da’Noise, Bring in Da’Funk on Broadway, and Psych. Owen “Fiidla” Brown is a 26-year veteran of the Sun Ra Arkestra who has appeared alongside Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, George Clinton, Babatundi Olatunji (father of African drumming), Gil Scot Heron and more. Tyrone Brown (bassist) has worked with the likes of Max Roach, Grover Washington Jr, Dizzy Gillespie, and Pat Martino to name a few. Bill Meek (pianist) has played and recorded with world-renowned drummer, Philly Jo Jones, toured with Grover Washington Jr. and performed with Max Roach, Donald Byrd, Stanley Clarke, Cecil Bridgewater, John Blake, Gerald Veasley, Odean Pope, and is currently a member of the Grover Washington Jr. Tribute Band among others. Harry “Butch” Reed (drums) has toured with several well-known musicians including John Blake, The Onus, The Andrew Neu Group and The Electric Mingus Project.
Jamal Jackson was born in Brooklyn, New York and began his formal studies of movement with the Harlem based Batoto Yetu Dance Company. His pursuit of dance led him to Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, where he received the Weston Award for his contribution to the Fusion Dance Company and New Works/World Traditions African Dance Company from 1996-2000. Jamal studied with Michelle Bach-Coulibaly, Seydou Coulibaly, and Fred Benjami and worked under M’ba Coulibaly, Salimata Soumare from Kelete Dance Theatre, and Ba Issa Diallo, director of Troupe District du Bamako in Mali, West Africa. Jamal choreographed for the New York Arts Festival and Inaya Day in 2002, marking the beginning of his African based, modern style of movement. Jamal performed with Ballet International Africans for two seasons as a principal dancer and in 2004 he founded the Jamal Jackson Dance Company, which debuted Images of the Union at University Settlement in New York and at Westport Hall in Connecticut. Jamal Jackson Dance Company has established a strong presence in and out of New York City, performing year round in festivals, self-produced shows, community outreach programs and private events. The company has presented work at venues including: Mark Morris Dance Center, Jacob’s Pillow, SummerStage, DanceNow Festival, Dance Theater Workshop, Battery Downtown Dance Festival, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Brown University, Equality Now’s 20th Anniversary, Big Range Festival in Austin, TX, The Yard in Martha’s Vineyard, MA, and Performance Spaces for the 21st Century in Chatham, NY. Jamal has also created work for the Diversity in Dance Project at The Yard alongside the Urban Bush Women and the Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company. http://www.jamaljacksondancecompany.org/