The 2022-23 Mix at Six series will feature a diverse range of artists and genres: Indian classical violinist Ambi Subramaniam; the UK’s Kingdom Choir; singer-songwriter Meklit’s electric stage presence and innovative, deeply personal Ethio-jazz songs; jazz drummer Nate Smith + KINFOLK; and cellist and composer Seth Parker Woods in a new multidisciplinary work entitled Difficult Grace.
Mix at Six, the series the Chicago Tribune says “ups the cultural ante considerably,” is known for offering some of the theater’s most provocative and innovative work, with a price point and format that make it one of the most accessible and engaging performance series yet.
Beginning at 6:00 p.m., Mix at Six features high-energy, engaging programs with opportunities for audiences to meet featured performers and each other, in an informal and welcoming setting. All Mix at Six performances are about 60–75 minutes in length.
Nate Smith is a drummer, composer, and producer from Chesapeake, Virginia. His visceral, instinctive, and deep-rooted style of drumming has led to three GRAMMY nominations and work with esteemed artists including Pat Metheny, Dave Holland, Brittany Howard, Van Hunt, The Fearless Flyers, Norah Jones, and Somi. Smith fuses his original compositions with an eclectic mix of music, including everything from jazz to R&B to hip-hop to pop. In recent years, Smith’s viral videos have been viewed by millions of people, underscoring his popularity as one of the most influential drummers of his generation.
Smith's latest album, Kinfolk 2: See The Birds (released September 2021 on Edition Records) is the highly anticipated follow up to his 2017 GRAMMY Award-nominated album, Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere. Smith sees Kinfolk as a trilogy that charts his evolution as musician. The first touched upon his childhood in Chesapeake, Virginia, and the music that he absorbed in his home. Kinfolk 2 continues that narrative, offering an impressionistic portrait of him during his teen years when he made the decision to become a musician. During this time, he was checking out a lot of music associated with the Black Rock Coalition such as Living Colour, Fishbone, and 24-7 Spyz, in addition to other pioneering acts such as Bad Brains, King’s X, Prince, and Sting. Smith was also listening to a lot of hip-hop as well as the emerging neo-soul that flowered in the 1990s.
Kinfolk 2 is no throwback album, however. Smith reconciles his influences from his teen years with the modern jazz sensibilities that he’s demonstrated with not just his solo material but as a sideman with a roster of jazz titans that includes guitarist Pat Metheny, bassist Dave Holland, and saxophonists Ravi Coltrane and Chris Potter.
The new album boasts a slightly different lineup for its core ensemble than its predecessor. Saxophonist Jaleel Shaw and bassist Fima Ephron return, while Smith welcomes guitarist Brad Allen Williams and keyboardist Jon Cowherd to the combo.
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