An avant-garde fusion of African and European strings. Reverent and cheeky, these two virtuosic trailblazers from different backgrounds weave a seamlessly genre-blurring tapestry of sound. Hypnotic grooves, unalloyed soloing and deep synergy celebrate both tradition and improvisation in a spell-binding nexus of bliss. Playing in unison or in poignant counterpoint, the kora and cello, in the hands of these joyful souls, act as crystalline foils for each other, glorifying the unique and arresting beauty of each. Kora player John Hughes and cellist Stephen Katz are each exceptions to many a rule. The duo reaches, at once, deeply into their respective traditions and far and wide outside of the proverbial 'boxes' of both. The result is an errant complicity of deeply poetic proportions. Stately and elegant, intense and passionate, precise and playful, the music frolics through time and space like bees in a field of wildflowers - euphonic praise of life and fellowship!
Cellist and award-winning composer Stephen Katz has charted new territory for the rhythmic potential of the cello. The groundbreaking technique he calls Flying Pizzicato juggles two or three “voices” at a time to make music that simultaneously lays grooves, weaves tunes, and lifts spirits. Stephen has premiered his cello compositions at Carnegie Recital Hall in New York City, and performed internationally with the Paul Winter Consort, Rachael Sage, and the Essex String Quartet. Stephen is a 2012 NEA grant recipient via the SUNY/Buffalo Arts in Healthcare Initiative. He received a Master of Music degree from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Stephen lives in Haydenville, Massachusetts with his wife Beth and son Olin. He has released 6 CDs of original music.
John Hughes is an internationally recognized sculptor, kora player, percussionist, singer, dancer, instrument builder and educator. He holds an M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.F.A. from the Tyler School of Art of Temple University in Philadelphia, PA and the West Surrey College of Art and Design in Farnham, England. John has studied the music song and dance of West Africa for over 20 years, training with numerous master drummers and dancers from Guinea and Mali, including Mamady Keita and Famoudou Konate. As a Kora player, John is primarily self-taught and has developed a style all his own, though deeply rooted in the ancient Mande tradition (more than 800 year old). John Lives in Brattleboro, Vermont. He has released three CDs of original music.
John is also available to play solo performances.