Tomas Fujiwara is a Brooklyn-based drummer and composer. Described as “a ubiquitous presence in the New York scene…an artist whose urbane writing is equal to his impressively nuanced drumming” (Troy Collins, Point of Departure), Tomas is an active player in some of the most exciting music of the current generation, with his bands Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up (with Jonathan Finlayson, Brian Settles, Mary Halvorson, and Michael Formanek) and The Tomas Fujiwara Trio (with Ralph Alessi and Brandon Seabrook); his collaborative duo with cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum; the collective trio Thumbscrew (with Halvorson and Formanek); and a diversity of creative sideman work with forward thinking peers like Matana Roberts and Nicole Mitchell. In The New York Times, Nate Chinen writes, “Drummer Tomas Fuijwara works with rhythm as a pliable substance, solid but ever shifting. His style is forward-driving but rarely blunt or aggressive, and never random. He has a way of spreading out the center of a pulse while setting up a rigorous scaffolding of restraint…A conception of the drum set as a full-canvas instrument, almost orchestral in its scope.”
In describing Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up, Jim Macnie of The Village Voice says, “The drummer has named his latest band appropriately. Ensembles can go anywhere if the intra-group chemistry is cooking…Fujiwara sounds like he’s got his mates on speed dial.” Featuring trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, tenor saxophonist Brian Settles, guitarist Mary Halvorson, and bassist Michael Formanek, the band’s first record (Actionspeak, 482 Music) was named one of the best debuts of 2010 by the New York City Jazz Record and received a four-star review in Downbeat. The group’s second album (The Air is Different, 482 Music) “continues upon a course, teeming with unanticipated shifts in strategy, but not executed in shock-therapy mode. With a superfine support system of revered improvisers, Fujiwara reaps the benefits of a distinctly fresh musical climate. With off-kilter patterns, cunning geometric architectures and sudden paradigm shifts, the band merges a search and conquer tactical component with an acutely balanced mix of structure and free-form dialogues.” (Glenn Astarita, Jazz Review). The band’s third album (After All Is Said, 482 Music), “layered and cohesive, rhythmically diverse, with a lean but muscular sound that defines Fujiwara’s distinctive approach to melody and harmony,” (Terrell Holmes, New York City Jazz Record) was released in April, 2015.
Tomas’ duo with cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum has produced three critically acclaimed albums: True Events (2007, 482 Music), Stepwise (2010, NotTwo Records) and Through Foundation (2014, Self-released). “The playing is not just typically excellent, it’s conversational and buoyant, engaging the listener not through forceful attention-grabbing but rather coherence and seductiveness” (Trevor Hunter, NewMusicBox).
The collective trio Thumbscrew (with Mary Halvorson and Michael Formanek) released it’s debut album (Thumbscrew, Cuneiform) in 2014. The Village Voice writes, “the barrage of riffs are both epic and melodic, the low end beefy and the percussion massive. Expect nothing less than magic from these three avant purveyors.” Thumbscrew received a 4 1/2 star review from Downbeat and was included on a number of Best-of-2014 lists including NPR, The Wire, All About Jazz, and El Intruso.
Born and raised in Boston, MA, Tomas studied with legendary drummer and teacher Alan Dawson for eight years before moving to New York at the age of 17. He is currently a member of ensembles led by Bynum, Halvorson, Matana Roberts, Mike Reed, Nicole Mitchell, Matt Bauder, Josh Sinton (Ideal Bread), and Tomeka Reid, in addition to projects with artists such as Anthony Braxton, Michael Formanek, Ben Goldberg, Benoit Delbecq, and Briggan Krauss and has performed at festivals and venues across North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East. Tomas also has many experiences outside the jazz realm, including a five-year run with the Off Broadway show Stomp and performances with the Tony Award winning Broadway musical Fela!, featuring Patti Labelle and members of Antibalas.
Daniel Marcellus Givens is a Chicago born, New York based sound/visual artist, writer, poet, DJ, and performer. His work is the collision of space and humanity with subject matter which abstracts and comments on the cross section of race, gender, sexuality, and class in the African diaspora and its interaction with the world at large. He has recorded several albums for the Aesthetics label, including his debut, Age, which won best album of 2000 from Italy’s Blow Up magazine. He has toured Europe several times, most recently performing with Danish band Efterklang along with the Sonderjyllands Symfoniorkester. He has collaborated with members of the A.A.C.M. & Black Rock Coalition, various choreographers, musicians, and artists. He wrote, directed, and stared in the full length musical play First Dark Drama which premiered at Richard Foreman’s Ontological Theater. He currently lives in Harlem.