Underworld Jazz Fest Wraps Up This Weekend with Two Free Shows at MOTR

The fest, organized by Napoleon Maddox, continues through May 25 at various venues and features multiple artists

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click to enlarge Tank and the Bangas - Photo: Alex Marks
Photo: Alex Marks
Tank and the Bangas

The Underworld Jazz Festival — curated by Cincinnati native and international touring artist Napoleon Maddox (known best locally as the creative mind behind progressive Jazz/Hip Hop project IsWhat?!) — is back for its second annual celebration and examination of Jazz, Hip Hop, Soul and other styles of music, featuring special guests from all over the world. The showcase of everything from “survival songs to rebel music (and) from Spirituals to Trap” began May 11 and continues through May 25.

One of the marquee events of UJF this year is the In Her Voice show at the Woodward Theater in Over-the-Rhine on May 16. The showcase is described as a celebration of “black women through performance and poetry” and is a collaboration between UJF and Queens Village, which works with Cradle Cincinnati and is described as a “supportive community gathering of powerful Black women who come together to relax, re-power and take care of ourselves and each other.” 

The lineup for the event includes local favorites Lauren Eylise, Jennifer Simone, MC Jori An Cotton and DJ Apryl Reign, as well as New Orleans’ Tank and the Bangas, the widely acclaimed band that won the 2017 Tiny Desk Contest and has become a high-profile touring act, appearing recently on The Tonight Show. The event will also feature poetry from the In Her Voice North College Hill Poetry Crew.

Tickets for the In Her Voice show ($15) are available at eventbrite.com. (Most of the UJF events are free.)

Taking place at various venues across Cincinnati, here are some of the other 2019 UJF happenings:

click to enlarge Marc Cary - Photo: marccary.com
Photo: marccary.com
Marc Cary

May 17 at The Woodward Theater: Twice the First Time, a multimedia performance piece about 19th-century celebrity conjoined twins Millie-Christine McKoy, featuring Napoleon Maddox and renowned NYC-based pianist Marc Cary.

May 19 at MOTR Pub: fo/mo/deep, Vibe-One, Eddy Kwon, Stephen Patota, Ziyad Tooles and Napoleon Maddox.

May 21 at Elementz: According to the description in promo materials: “DJ Apryl Reign hosts a discussion with special guest (French beatmaker) Sorg and other artists about the complexities of preserving one’s mental health while being an artist in the age of social networking.”

May 23 at Elementz: Sorg, LaFrae Sci (NYC), Napoleon Maddox and others.

May 24 at MOTR Pub: IsWhat?! with LaFrae Sci and more.

May 25 at MOTR Pub: Sons of Silverton, Mike Wade’s Nasty Nati Brass Band and more.

UJF will also incorporate Maddox and Kim Gory’s Mobilization of Congo Square project, a series of “pop-up concerts” across the city meant to share and educate about music’s roots, connections and meaning. Described as a way to “bring an under-appreciated aspect of Jazz to an underexposed audience, aiming to champion freedom of expression and possibility,” the project is funded by a People’s Liberty grant. 

For a complete rundown, visit osnronin.com. Visit the UJF Facebook page (facebook.com/underworldjazzfest) for the latest updates.


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