Apura: Improvised Music for the Revolution

By Karl Alfonso Evangelista

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What Is Apura?

Filipino-American guitarist/composer Karl Evangelista is allying with Asian Improv aRts to create Apura (Tagalog for “Very Urgent”), a thrilling new composition meant to explore the relationship between jazz-based musical improvisation and social transformation in an era of worldwide political upheaval.

Apura uses original musical content, live projection, and spoken word components to tie the revolutionary music of the past to the activist music of the present day, touching on American, South African, and Filipino musical traditions. 

Apura unites two veteran musicians, legendary South African drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo (his first visit to the US West Coast since the 1980s!) and Asian American Jazz icon Francis Wong, with firebrand pianist Alexander Hawkins (UK) and experimental music powerhouse Evangelista.

(UPDATE: 2/4/20, due to unforeseen circumstances, Louis has had to withdraw from these dates. We're excited to announce that we're working on bringing the great Andrew Cyrille to cover drum duties.)

The support we’re seeking would serve to facilitate two Bay Area performances in May of 2020—one on May 21 at the San Francisco International Arts Festival and another on May 22 at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley. To ensure that this project is heard by everyone both near and far, our plan is to document both concerts. 

(An album featuring a UK version of this project, also featuring master improviser Trevor Watts, is slated for release in April of 2020.)

Why Now?

This project fulfills an important cultural mission for the San Francisco Bay Area of 2020. First, Apura is a grassroots attempt to stage an ambitious new work of jazz/improvised music featuring an international, multigenerational cast of musicians. Projects of this nature are exceptionally rare, and we’re looking to bypass traditional institutional support to present this work directly to the communities of activism and artistic daring that it is meant to serve.

Second, Apura offers local audiences an extremely rare opportunity to hear and learn from the contributions of the great Louis Moholo-Moholo and his frequent collaborator Alexander Hawkins. International artists of this caliber are seldom invited to the Bay Area, but we’ve confirmed the personnel and are making preparations.

Lastly, at a time when people from all walks of life are looking for inspiration, optimism, and a way forward, it is imperative that we foster bonds between the present day and those who fought the good fight in times past. Let’s celebrate the legends of revolution and improvised music while they’re still here. The time for action is now!

Help Us Make It Happen

We’re seeking funds to help offset travel expenses (including, but not limited to, visa fees and airfare), accommodations, and artist fees for our visiting artists. Visa fees alone cost roughly $4,500, and additional travel costs for visiting musicians amount to over $2,500.

Lest it go unsaid, the bureaucratic and financial hurdles to completing this sort of project are significant, but we are deep into the process of preparation and fundraising. What we’re asking for is $5,000 to push Apura across the finish line.

One Final Word

This project is for all of us. In an era of unheralded difficulty for collaboration between artists of different nationalities, we’re so proud to present a composition that celebrates the indomitability of creativity and community. It’s our hope that by convening this timely dialogue of musical voices, we may offer an uplifting, socially resonant, and truly unique moment for everyone. 

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Team Members

Karl Alfonso Evangelista

Francis Wong