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US jazz band jets in

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A Chicago-based jazz band, The Dennis Luxion -Michael Raynor Quartet, arrived in the country on Saturday for shows at cultural centres in Harare and Chitungwiza as well as conducting workshops with local musicians.

The group’s tour to Zimbabwe is facilitated by the United States Embassy through the US Department of State’s “The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad” programme, co-ordinated by Jazz at Lincoln Centre.

Sharon Hudson-Dean, US Embassy spokesperson said the tour was timely.

“We are excited to share American jazz music in Zimbabwe. We are especially happy that The Dennis Luxion/ Michael Raynor Quartet’s visit to Zimbabwe comes just days before February, which is Black History Month,” said Hudson-Dean.

“Each February, Black History Month honours the struggles and triumphs of millions of American citizens over the most devastating obstacles — slavery, prejudice, poverty — as well as their contributions to the nation’s cultural and political life. Jazz music remains an integral component of these struggles.”

The Dennis Luxion-Michael Raynor Quartet (Chicago, Illinois) plays original, hard-swinging jazz. The group came together to create music that encompasses a wide range of styles based on the jazz tradition.

The legacy of the legendary Chicago-based tenor saxophonist, Von Freeman, is especially influential on the ensemble’s expressive style of improvisation.

From introspective solo explorations to a powerful group dynamic, The Dennis Luxion-Michael Raynor Quartet’s performances encompass the breadth of human expression.

In Harare, the group will perform two free shows at Prince Edward School on Sunday evening and Jazz 105 on Monday. The Quartet will hold workshops with music students at the College of Music, with aspiring local musicians at Jazz 105, with disabled children at the St. Giles Centre and with youth in Chitungwiza.

The Dennis Luxion-Michael Raynor Quartet is one of ten quartets selected from a national pool of 110 bands in a competitive audition process in the US, which focused on the artistic integrity and educational ability of each group.

The band members are Dennis Luxion (piano) a jazz pianist, composer and educator, Michael Raynor (drums), Jeff Pedraz (bass) and Greg Ward (saxophone).

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