SUNDAY, MAY 5: Los Angeles Premiere of “Don’t Lose Your Soul,” a documentary by Jim Choi and Chihiro Wimbush. Synopsis: “An intimate portrait of two godfathers of the Asian American Jazz movement, drummer Anthony Brown and bassist Mark Izu. Forged in the Bay Area civil rights movements of the 60s and 70s and built on the history of Japanese internment, they fused centuries old Asian music traditions with the freedom of a quintessentially American musical form: jazz. Click here for more information. 3PM, CGV Cinemas 2
Brenda and Mark began creating work together in 1979 and started their nonprofit, First Voice, in 1995. As a young girl of Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, and Scotts descent, Brenda felt she never really fit in anywhere; today, as one of the nation’s foremost solo performers, she has become a pioneer of Hapa/Mestizo culture – her face is truly what California and the world is becoming. Mark is an award-winning Japanese-American composer and jazz musician – his music comes out of respect for those who came before, knowledge of who they are as individuals, and understanding of their place in history.
Frustrated by European art forms, inspired by jazz as an expression of African-American culture, Brenda and Mark began to study with masters in Japanese traditions, hoping to create an authentic contemporary Asian-American art form. In 1995, they founded the First Voice, whose mission is to create art that builds on commonalities with other people and other cultures, and this multiculturalism works precisely because it is not a hodgepodge, nor a “melting pot,” but a reflection of a deep respect for the stories of disenfranchised people, whose experiences are interwoven in the work like threads in a tapestry.
Over the years, the directors have worked with an extraordinarily diverse range of artists and organizations whose stories resonate with theirs: from La Peña Cultural Center to Berkeley Symphony, from jazz legend Horace Tapscott to Gagaku Master Togi Suenobu. First Voice creates things of value with roots in the pass to pass to the future.