The Makanda Project: Joe Ford, Jason Robinson, Charlie Kohlhase, Kurtis Rivers, Sean Berry, reeds; Eddie Allen , Bill Lowe, Ku-umba Frank Lacy, Jerry Sabatini, brass; John Kordalewski, piano, arrangements; John Lockwood, bass and Yoron Israel, drums. Special guest: guitarist and composer Michael Gregory. Gateway City Arts, 92 Race St., Holyoke, MA. Tickets $15
The Makanda Project, an ensemble based in Makanda Ken McIntyre’s hometown of Boston, is dedicated to continuing Makanda’s legacy through the performance of his music – specifically, by playing some of the 350 compositions which Makanda never had the opportunity to record or perform in public. This enormous body work reflects the full range of his imagination as a composer. The group hopes that as some of it is heard there will be heightened appreciation for his significance as a musician.
The leader, pianist John Kordalewski, who studied and performed with Makanda, has written arrangements for the ensemble, working from the lead sheets in Makanda’s notebooks. The band, which was formed in 2005 has kept mostly the same personnel since then, featuring leading musicians based in Boston and New York.
Since 2007, the Makanda Project has presented an ongoing series of free concerts in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, and has performed elsewhere in New England. Jazz Shares hosted the band in Springfield in 2014.
One of the most influential guitarists to emerge during New York’s avant-garde loft jazz scene in the 1970s, Michael Gregory continues to create a wide variety of music. Gregory has worked and/or recorded with luminaries including Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake, Wadada Leo Smith, Anthony Braxton, Will Calhoun, Nels Cline, Nona Hendryx, Jack DeJohnette, Steve Winwood, David Murray, Walter Becker, Carlos Santana, Marcus Miller, Henry Threadgill, Omar Hakim, Vernon Reid, and Patti LaBelle. He lived in the Pioneer Valley for decades before moving to Kittery, Maine.