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Malcolm X JazzArts Festival 

When: Sat., May 19, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. 2012
Price: free
EastSideArtsAlliance.com

The very name "Malcolm X JazzArts Festival" speaks volumes about the event's artistic credo: Music is an aesthetic pleasure, certainly, but that doesn't obviate its political and social undertones. To the organizers of EastSide Arts Alliance -- whose "Third World" culture center in East Oakland uses art to explore intersecting civil rights struggles -- jazz has always been freighted by its historical and cultural circumstances. You can't talk about John Coltrane's A Love Supreme without acknowledging its connection to the black church; you can't fully understand Lee Morgan's Search for the New Land without referencing the political discourses of the 1960s. Fittingly, many of the headliners at past Malcolm X JazzArts Festival events -- among them saxophonist Billy Harper and poet Amiri Baraka -- represented the "free" side of the jazz spectrum. This year's iteration will include a tribute to avant-garde violinist and former Sun Ra collaborator Billy Bang. Spoken-word songsmith Avotcja will perform with her ensemble Modúpue. Classically trained hip-hop pianist Kev Choice will lead his band through a repertoire of distinctly polyglot material. Other treats include the Katherine Dunham Dance Stage, a graffiti court, B-boy battles, live painting, international foods, and activist speeches at the Javad Jahi Stage. It all goes down at San Antonio Park (18th Ave. at Foothill Blvd., Oakland) on Saturday, May 19. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., free. EastSideArtsAlliance.org

— Rachel Swan

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