Mark your calendars now and plan to spend your lunchtimes on Morristown’s Green enjoying the tenth season of Music Beyond Borders, the collaboration between Morris Arts and the Mayo Performing Arts Center which brings free performances of world music and dance to the Morristown Green during June-August. This year’s series will showcase Zydeco music, Colombian salsa, West African music for balaphon, kora and mbira as well as Mexican mariachi music. Performances will run from 12:30-1:30pm on alternate Tuesdays, June 25, July 9, July 23 and August 6. Special thanks go to the Morristown United Methodist Church on the Green, 50 Park Place, for providing a wonderful rain site.
This year’s schedule includes:
The Zydeco Revelators are a Jersey band, fronted by singer-accordionist Phil Passantino of Elizabeth, who told the Jersey Journal in 2015 that he fell in love with zydeco on a trip to Louisiana. “We’re go up the streets to a restaurant and see amazing Cajun bands playing and people dancing and we really felt the culture,” he said. “It was something we never experienced before … It’s fun, happy music and makes you want to get up, jump around and dance. The rhythm is infectious!” (fas quoted in https://www.njarts.net/pop-rock/zydeco-revelators-put-their-own-spin-on-springsteens-dancing-in-the-dark/))
Featuring Phil Passantino (accordion/vocals), Lou Selmi (drums, vocals), Lawrence Ochs (guitar/vocals), Keith Richard Vukan (bass/vocals), as well as Karen Lerman and Sal Carollo (both on rubboard), the Zydeco Revelators deliver hot Louisiana-inspired dance music. Take a little bit of “Jambalaya,” add some stompin’ cowboy zydeco classics, and season with a dash of classic rock and jam band. Groove with sweet Cajun accordion riffs backed by electric guitar, a powerhouse rhythm section, and that cool metal rubboard vest! Get ready to dance up a storm.
July 9, 2019: Armando Son Jimenez’ Grupo Sabor (Colombian Salsa)
Since he migrated to the USA more than 25 years ago, Jorge Armando Jimenez (aka Sonjimenez or Sonji) has performed with top salsa musicians at prominent venues from NYC’s B.B. Kings to Club Tropicana in Milan, Italy. His trio, Grupo Sabor, has a hot, tropical swing which combines hard salsa, some Cuban stile, romantic salsa and cumbia. Celebrate summer with the hot Latin rhythms of this fabulous salsa trio.
Forestdance Trio plays the music of Africa now, at once ancient and modern, spirit which moves in us all. From a world of deep musical tradition, motherland joins hands with all, in unity. With ancestral sounds ringing ever-fresh and present; healing sounds of the wind, water, heartbeat, earth, sky, and sun. Deep within us all, source. The wind whispers through the trees… Forestdance! The Trio features Famoro Dioubate on balaphon or bala (xylophone), Salieu Suso on kora (West African harp) and Kevin Nathaniel on mbira (Zimbabwean finger piano).
A Yale scholar, teaching artist, mbira player and advocate of African culture, Kevin Nathaniel Hylton has studied mbira with West African masters, performed at Lincoln Center, Juilliard, the Met and Guggenheim Museums, Kennedy Center and Symphony Space, and composed/performed for Opra Winfrey’s film, Beloved. The founder of multiple performing ensembles exploring facets of African (and world) music, Kevin shares the Green today with two widely renowned African musicians, Famoro Dioubate on balaphon (African xylophone), and Salieu Suso on kora (21 stringed African harp), whose musical traditions date back to the 13th century yet still intrigue and inspire listeners of today.
From Northeastern Guinea, Famoro Dioubate is the grandson of the legendary Djeli Sory Kouyate, one of the most renowned musicians in Guinea and since coming to New York City in 1999, has collaborated in educational programs at the Juilliard School and regularly performs with Keba Cissoko’s Tamalalou, with Sekouba Kandia Kouyate (with whom he has also recorded) and even appeared on the Morristown Green with Sylvain Laroux’s Fula Flute ensemble as part of Music Beyond Borders of 2010.
Born into a family of farmers, traditional musicians and historians from Gambia, West Africa, Salieu Suso is a descendant of JaliMady Wulayn Suso, the originator of the kora. Salieu speaks fluent English as well as Mandigo, Fula, Wolof, Sarahuli, and some German. Before settling in the United States in 1989, he performed extensively throughout Africa and Europe. The leader of the Jaliya Kafo ensemble and a prominent figure in the rapidly growing African music scene, Salieu has performed widely in the US, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s series “Musical Instruments Interpretive Concerts/The Harp.”
August 6, 2019: Mariachi Citlalli: a taste of Mexico
This highly talented mariachi band performs a wide range of Mexican music from traditional to contemporary. Founded in 2000, the group’s members perform on trumpet, vihuela (5 string guitar-like instrument), guitarron (large guitar), and keyboard/accordion. Mariachi Citlalli has performed on national media and for such celebrities as Rosie O’Donnell, President Bush (Sr.), former Mexican President Ernesto Cedillo, Mariah Carey, and Conan O’Brien, among others. They have also performed at such venues as Madison Square Garden, Lincoln Center, the Ed Sullivan Theater, Shea Stadium, the Plaza Hotel, the Waldorf Astoria, and the United Nations.
So brown bag a meal, stop by while walking in town, take a break from work and bring friends to sample cultures from around the world while getting to know your neighbors. The world is literally at your doorstep! “We hope that people will enjoy our wonderful free lunchtime outdoor concerts that celebrate the rich cultural diversity of the area,” said Allison Larena, President and CEO of the Mayo Performing Arts Center. Tom Werder, Executive Director of Morris Arts, adds, “It’s exciting to collaborate with MPAC on this special series and to bring performing arts from around the world to the center of Morristown.”
The Mayo Performing Arts Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit performing arts organization, presents a wide range of programs that entertain, enrich and educate the diverse population of the region and enhance the economic vitality of Northern New Jersey. The 2018 season is made possible in part by a grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State. The Mayo Performing Arts Center has been designated a Major Presenting Organization by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Now in its 46th year, Morris Arts is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building community through the arts. Using the arts to inspire, connect and engage, Morris Arts serves as a resource for Morris County with a special focus on arts programming in the community and the schools, arts advocacy, creative placemaking and support of the Morris Area community of artists and arts organizations. www.morrisarts.org.