It is intended with the utmost respect that this album is entitled Apura!, which in the Filipino language Tagalog translates to “Very Urgent” (the name of an epochal record by the Blue Notes, the pioneering South African jazz sextet of which drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo was the heartbeat). The musicians of Louis and Trevor Watts’s generation cast a tremendous shadow over the legacy of improvised music. It’s not difficult to romanticize the era in which these musicians first made their marks, exercising a creative daring and artistic ingenuity that was transformative in scope. For individuals like Louis, who spent so much of his youth fighting the injustices of the South African Apartheid regime, the raging music of the last century took on a kind of political urgency that reflected very real, very personal consequences.
Regardless of the era, it is (I feel) imperative that musicians generate art that is suffused with the powers of life and the convictions of the heart. It is my tremendous honor, then, to offer this recording, which pairs the heroic performances of masters Moholo-Moholo and Watts with the incandescent energy of Alexander Hawkins and my deeply-felt contributions. This is, I believe, Louis and Trevor’s first time on official record together since the 1980s.
As a musician/activist who has spent the better part of his adult life toiling away in the Northern California Bay Area, the music of the Brotherhood of Breath, the Blue Notes, the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Amalgam, etc. has offered both inspiration and a way forward. This recording is meant to both honor the past and access its spirit, channeling the legacy of the last century’s free improvisation to find a way past the injustices of the modern day.
My Aunt, Miriam Defensor Santiago, was a longtime progressive public servant in the Philippines, a country browbeaten by rampant corruption and staggering inequity. I look to her example, and the example of my collaborators here, as a way to envision a world where the creative spirit and aspirational performance can battle evil and triumph. - Karl Evangelista