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Patricia Spears Jones is a poet, playwright, educator, cultural activist, anthologist, and recipient of 2017 Jackson Poetry Prize and is author of A Lucent Fire New and Selected Poems and three full-length collections and five chapbooks. The Beloved Community is forthcoming from Copper Canyon, Fall 2023.  She co-edited the groundbreaking anthology, Ordinary Women: An Anthology of New York City Women (1978) and organized and edited THINK: Poems for Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Day Hat (2009).  Her poems are widely anthologized most recently in African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song and Why To These Rocks: 50 Years of Poems from the Community of Writers.

Born in Mexico, Melissa Almaguer is a New York City based tap dancer, improvisor, performer, educator, and overall creator. She started studying tap dance at an early age in Mexico with Jessica Flores and Marcela Treviño. Later, she furthered it by spending time in New York City where she began studying with her mentor Derick K Grant.

Keir Neuringer is a saxophonist, composer, and writer whose work is underpinned by interdisciplinary approaches and socio-political contextualizations. He is best known for a personal and intensely physical saxophone technique, revealed through long form solo improvisations, and as a founding member of the critically-acclaimed group Irreversible Entanglements. He co-leads the improvisation trio Dromedaries, has a decades-spanning duo with bassist Rafal Mazur, and collaborations with turntablist Matt Wright and pianist Simone Weissenfels, among others.

Afro-Caribbean improvisational trumpet-and-percussion duo Aquiles Navarro & Tcheser Holmes are longtime friends, collaborators, and tireless hustlers on the creative music scenes of New York.


Aquiles Navarro was born in Toronto during a time of great political upheaval in his family’s native home of Panama. Dangers surrounding the reign of Manuel Noriega and the subsequent U.S. invasion of 1989 prompted the Navarro family’s exit, returning years later to Panama City in 1997. Navarro's grandfather was an accomplished cellist and the customs of Latin folkloric music were fastened deeply to the family paradigm. Navarro went on to study with Panamanian trumpeter Victor “Vitin” Paz (Fania All-Stars) and Panamanian-American saxophonist Carlos Garnett (who played and recorded with Miles Davis on numerous sessions including 1972’s On the Corner, as well as Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Andrew Hill, Charles Mingus, Gary Bartz, and Pharoah Sanders). In 2008, Navarro moved to Boston to continue his studies at the New England Conservatory (NEC) and, before the semester had even begun, a friendship had kindled between him and another incoming new student, Tcheser Holmes.

Given a djembe at the age of 4, Tcheser Holmes naturally wove into the fabric of a tight-knit Pan-African community in Brooklyn centered around the spiritual organization, Ausar Auset Society, and his family’s dance company, The Bennu Ausar Dancers. From early on, Holmes remembers “playing and viewing music purely as a source of celebration and achievement.” Holmes’ mother, Cecelia Adams-Holmes, was a consistent channel to him throughout his upbringing. A longtime arts educator, Adams-Holmes founded and continuously operates the cultural arts program at Kamit Preparatory Institute in Brooklyn. His uncle Ra Un Nefer Amen, a classically trained pianist from Panama, abandoned an established music career after migrating to Brooklyn in the 60s, instead focusing on the authorship of the Ausar Auset Society. “They’re definitely a force behind my music,” says Holmes. “My mom challenged me and made me take music seriously. And I always had a facility to go and practice.” Since Holmes’ high school didn’t have a music program, he enrolled in the Manhattan School of Music’s Precollege for pre-conservatory training and eventually made his way toward NEC.

Blacks' Myths is a duo from Washington, DC comprised of Luke Stewart on bass and Warren G. "Trae" Crudup III on drums

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