Saturday, April 11th – 1 pm
Avotcja, 2015 Jazz Hero!

Avotcja4Join saxophone titan John Handy, jazz diva Denise Perrier, master trumpeter Eddie Gale and the Dynamic Miss Faye Carol (2014 Jazz Hero) — along with Modúpue bandmates Yancie Taylor, Sandi Poindexter, Jon Jang, Heshima Mark Williams, Val Serrant and Baba Ken Okulolo  — in honoring “2015 Jazz Hero” Avotcja on Saturday, April 11th at 1 pm.

The Jazz Journalists Association, Bay Area Chapter, is bestowing this award on Avotcja for her work as an “activist, advocate, altruist, aider and abettor of jazz who has made a significant impact.”

Avotcja is a jazz musician with deep roots and heavy associations, a riveting poet, an imaginative and ruminative prose writer, a pioneer, an individualist and a fierce champion of her fellow musicians, poets and artists.  Her band, Modúpue, was twice named Jazz Group of the Year, in 2005 and again in 2010, by the Bay Blues Society Hall of Fame. She also has had a profound impact on the public through her work in radio, with long-running weekly shows on KPOO (La Verdad Musical) — still going strong — and for a long time on KPFA (Musical Colors).


Avotcja with Famoudou Don Moye in the late 1960s

With New York, Afro-Puerto Rican roots, Avotcja was performing her poetry and music professionally by age 14.  She left for L.A. the next year, and found work in the area’s strawberry fields, and then in the ensuing decade, traveled widely, spending significant time on the fertile L.A. cultural scene of the late sixties, in the company of giants like Black Arthur Blythe, Billy Higgins and Horace Tapscott, before coming up to the Bay Area in the early 1970s.  Here, she has long and justly been held in high regard as a performer and for her radio work on KPOO and KPFA.  She’s won a raft of awards along the way, and richly deserves this latest “Jazz Hero” honor.

Bird & Beckett has presented Avotcja with Modúpue as our kick-off Sunday concert each year for many years running, in appreciation of their fantastic music and chemistry, and as a small gesture of thanks to Avotcja for all she’s contributed to the culture–and continues to contribute without ceasing.  We’re proud, overjoyed and humbled to be asked to host the 2015 Jazz Award event in her honor this year.

An important note:  The Jazz Journalists Association wants this event to be free and open to the public, but doesn’t have any funds for the performers. And although the Jazz Hero honor is inherently profound, we believe it carries no cash award.  If you love jazz and understand that it is an art form performed by its practitioners for scant financial reward, we ask: Will you step up?  A single $2,500 donation will be most sincerely appreciated; any amount will be meaningful. However much is donated, we will suggest to Avotcja that she take half and distribute the other half to musicians in her ensemble as she sees fit.