The Local 913: Afro Yaqui Music Collective

 
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"Music can change the world and it has always changed the world. That’s why we make music – everyone can understand it!" That’s Gizelxanath Rodriguez from the Afro Yaqui Music Collective – a music and theater hybrid from Pittsburgh. Composer and saxophonist Ben Barson, along with the massive ensemble of musicians, dancers, and singers, embraces the ambitious nature of the project. "We were interested in mixing some of the Latin American music that Gizel knows inside and out with Native American indigenous music – she has Yaqui heritage – and mixing that with funk and free jazz and seeing what happens," he says. "Here we are a few years later and we just released an album."

Mirror Butterly: The Migrant Liberation Movement Suite is much more than an album, though. Inspired by the Mayan parable – The Story of the Sword – the project tells a story of Mayan resistance through a tree, a stone, and water. It’s music with a purpose and music meant to challenge. "We did this thinking that we have to get outside of our boxes and try to see how indigenous people see the world," says Rodriguez. "They are the ones that have been protecting their lands for thousands of years and they’ve done it successfully."

You can learn more about the Afro Yaqui Music Collective – and read the full libretto – here.

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