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Concert: Dave Dominique Octet / Luz Elena Mendoza Quartet / Sarah Hughes


David Dominique Ensemble feat. Ian McColm

David Dominique's forthcoming album, Mask, is a surrealist, cross-genre expression of angst and catharsis, an exploration of Dominique’s mixed heritage and diverse musical interests, from 60s jazz to avant-rock to contemporary classical. Written over eight years, Dominique's new Orenda Records release bounds between styles, strategies, attitudes and textures. Somehow, the project furthers the language Dominique developed on his enthralling 2013 album, Ritual, while offering a perpetual sense of surprise.

Mask’s aesthetic is one of upheaval; during the period in which he composed this music, Dominique, a recently-appointed Professor of Music at William & Mary, moved across the U.S. three times. He also endured tremendous loss, with his father, grandmother and uncle passing away within a span of 18 months. A cycle of grief followed, during which Dominique grasped at the fractured pieces of his personal and family history, in hopes of reassembling them into a cohesive identity.

That’s the process in play throughout Mask: an artist in the midst of profound, sometimes painful change, inhabiting and discarding one stylistic or cultural veil after another. The music sometimes feels like a stream-of-consciousness dreamscape, where any part of Dominique’s imagination or memory can suddenly emerge in full color, without warning or musical transition. While often rollicking and joyous on the surface, these sonic collages are the composer’s attempt to heal his inner strife—a continuing catharsis rooted not only in the feeling of loss but in Dominique’s lifelong effort to communicate through multiple identities.

In the end, however, Mask’s seemingly incompatible parts are embraced and normalized into a fluid listening experience that remains compelling even when the music’s backstory goes untold. A multi-hyphenate artist with wide-ranging tastes and curiosities, Dominique’s inside-outside take on the avant-garde is as entertaining as it is cerebral, with points of entry for those coming from jazz, the rock underground or the contemporary classical scene.

Flugabone/Compositions: David Dominique
Cornet: Victor Haskins
Tenor and Soprano Sax: Nathanael Clark
Flute, Clarinet, Alto and Bari Sax: Jasper Dütz
Electric Guitar: Scott Burton
Upright and Electric Bass: Matt Engle
Drums: Ian McColm

Luz Elena Mendoza (Portland, OR) is a singer-songwriter, perhaps best known for leading the enigmatic indie folk pop band y La Bamba. Luz’s story is one sung to her ancestors and humanity, exploring a faith that is greater than just religion, and a life of metamorphosis and awakening. Born in San Francisco as a first generation daughter of immigrant parents from Michoacan Mexico, she spent her childhood raised by the melodies and stories that were being told through traditional Mexican folk songs. From the intimate, contemplative verses in her native-language, to the revelations of the history in her roots, her story is delivered with poise. Mendoza's poetic expression is raw and ever-evolving. These songs are a soundtrack built for coming to grips with not just one’s own mortality, but the fragility of the world, presenting sounds that carry the realness of ancestral trauma and the search of identity. Accompanying Luz for her Rhizome performance will be John Niekrasz (drums), Grace Bugbee (bass, vocals) and Ryan Oxford (guitar).

Sarah Hughes is an alto saxophonist, composer, and music educator from Pasadena, Maryland. She is primarily a free improviser who creates within and on top of many genre frameworks including but not limited to jazz, experimental, swing, blues, folk, pop, and rock musics.

Sarah received a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Maryland in 2008 where she studied with the brilliant classical saxophonist, Dale Underwood. She taught elementary band and strings programs in Prince George’s County for five years before leaving the DMV to earn a master’s degree in jazz saxophone performance from the New England Conservatory in Boston. She studied there with Jerry Bergonzi, Ran Blake, Anthony Coleman, and Donny McCaslin.

After graduating Sarah recorded with Anthony Coleman on his latest album "You" and performed with his ensembles at The Stone and Roulette in New York. In 2015, Sarah toured in Sweden with Amy Bormet’s "Ephemera" as a part of Sweden's first women in jazz festival. Sarah toured with her own improvising trio, "Lead Bubbles" in 2016. She currently freelances and teaches in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington DC.

During her time as a musician Sarah has had the great fortune of sharing the stage with superb improvisors and composers such as: Lee Konitz, Ted Brown, Mary Halvorson, Fay Victor, Allison Miller, Joe Morris, William Parker, Hamid Drake, Daniel Carter, Michael Formanek, Matt Wilson, Dan Tepfer, George Garzone, Anthony Coleman, Ben Schwendener, Freddie Redd, and Teddy Charles. She performs locally at DC/Baltimore venues on a semi-regular basis, including Rhizome, Mobtown Ballroom, Red Room, An Die Musik, Twins Jazz, Sotto, Goethe Institute, Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery, The Hill Center, and the Glen Echo Spanish Ballroom.