News Release  



Event Date: Saturday, May 4, 2019


Kente Arts Alliance presents Craig Harris Septet performing Brown Butterfly

A multi- media work based on the movement of Muhammad Ali
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, April 5, 2019 - On Saturday, May 4, 2019, 8 pm, Kente Arts Alliance will present Craig Harris Septet performing Brown Butterfly, a multimedia work based on the movements of Muhammad Ali - expressed in video, dance, and music - at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Avenue, East Liberty, Pittsburgh. 

When Craig Harris exploded onto the jazz scene in 1976, he brought the entire history of the jazz trombone with him.  From the growling gutbucket intensity of early New Orleans music through the refined, articulate improvisation of the modern era set forth by J.J. Johnson, and into the confrontational expressionism of the ’60s avant-garde, Craig handled the total vernacular the way a skilled orator utilizes the spoken word.
He has performed with a veritable Who’s Who of progressive jazz’ most important figures – including Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Sam Rivers, Abdullah Ibrahim, Jaki Byard, Muhal Richard Abrams, David Murray, Henry Threadgill, Lester Bowie, The WORLD Saxophone Quartet, The Roots, RAKIM, and the list goes on and on.
His own projects display both a unique sense of concept and a total command of the sweeping expanse of musical expression. And it’s those two qualities that have dominated Craig’s past 15 years of activity, bringing him far beyond the confines of the jazz world and into the sphere of multimedia and performance art, as composer, performer, conceptualist, curator and artistic director.  Projects like: Souls Within the Veil, composed to commemorate the centennial of W.E.B. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk;  God’s Trombones, based on James Weldon Johnson’s classic collection of poems that refigure inspirational sermons by itinerant Negro preachers; and his most recent project, Brown Butterfly, a multi-media work based on the movement of Muhammad Ali with video, dance, and music.
Conceived by Harris and Marlies Yearby as a tribute to the majesty of Ali in his prime, and to also help us better understand the indomitable spirit that triumphed over adversity and controversy, Brown Butterfly transforms Ali’s unique attributes into art.  Just as Ali punched his way through the constraints of racial discrimination, Harris’ pulsating music smashed barriers between avant-garde jazz and rock that while recalling the groundbreaking fusion work of Miles Davis, spoke with an inspired contemporary voice. While an unflinching time-machine visit back to Ali’s heyday, Brown Butterfly also is an artful call for renewing 1960s’ idealism, daring us to again dream of genuine racial and social equality, and a poignant invitation to celebrate the strengths of our diversity.
The Septet
Craig Harris, trombone, didgeridoo
Eddie Allen, trumpet
Jay Rodriguez, reeds
Adam Klipple, keyboards
Calvin Jones, bass
Ngoma Hill, spoken word and didgeridoo

“Brown Butterfly the acclaimed multimedia celebration of Muhammad Ali, packs a wallop. At the conclusion of its Saturday stop at Lawrence’s Lied Center, the hip combination of Craig Harris’ jazz, Marlies Yearby’s dancers and Jonas Goldstein’s images had us on our feet applauding and thinking. Indeed, one couldn’t help but look back to the 1960s when Ali was “The Greatest” and contemplate the singular role he played not only in sports, but also in the inferno fired by the decade’s roiling racial and political undercurrents.” Chuck Berg
“Harris is a throwback to the days when brass players made their instruments speak. He can manipulate his slide and plungers to produce the sort of moans, shrieks, horse laughs, mock war whoops and comic epithets two generations of tightlipped bop trombonists had all but expunged from the horn’s working vocabulary.” The Philadelphia Enquirer
“There is an element of nostalgia to the music – just as there was in Mingus’ – but it’s a nostalgia for an archetypal past; the music borrows ideas of personality instead of personality, ideas about structure instead of structure. Harris may use all of the vocal effects of the Ellington trombone section, but he sure doesn’t sound like them. Groomed as a headliner, he’ll prove that the passing of the bop generation doesn’t herald the passing of jazz, either as art or as finance.” The Village Voice
General Admission: Starting at: $35
Tickets are available online:
By phone: 888-718-4253
Or at: Dorsey’s Record Shop (Homewood), 
Kente Arts Alliance is a non-profit arts organization 501 (3) ©) that was established in 2007.  Since then it has presented some of the music world’s most legendary performers including Pharoah Sanders, The Last Poets, and Hugh Masekela, Roy Haynes, Randy Weston and the late Geri Allen.
For more information visit:  or call 412.322.0292. 
The program is made possible in part by generous grants from The Heinz Endowments, Advancing the Black Arts in Pittsburgh Fund, The Pittsburgh Foundation, Opportunity Fund, The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and RAD.   The media sponsors are WYEP, WESA and WZUM. 
Kente Arts Alliance
1212 Manhattan Street, Pittsburgh, PA, 15233


Media Contact: Mensah Wali


Phone: 412 322 0292