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Emerson Hunton Quintet with Greg Ward & Russ Johnson, Fabu

June 1 @ 8:00 pm


Emerson Hunton

On Friday, June 1, 2018, at 8 pm, Arts + Literature Laboratory presents Emerson Hunton’s new quintet with Greg Ward, Russ Johnson, Ben Cruz and Charlie Kirchen. Angular, long-form composition, spacious improvisation, and high energy free-bop with a veteran horn section. Opening the evening will be a book launch and poetry reading by Fabu, who will read from her latest books, Remember Me: Mary Lou Williams in Poetry and Sacred Mary Lou, with her last piece being read over a jazz piece by the quintet Emerson Hunton Quintet.

$12 advance tickets are available online or $15 at the door. Online ticket sales end one hour before the show. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.



Poet Fabu has been on a decades long quest to shine light on the contributions of Mary Lou Williams, the under-recognized but highly influential jazz pianist-composer-bandleader-educator whose career spanned nearly the entire history of jazz in the 20th century, and who Duke Ellington described as “Perpetually contemporary.” Fabu served as the artistic co-director of Madison’s year-long Mary Lou Williams Centennial Celebration in 2010.

Fabu, Madison’s poet laureate from 2008-2012 was selected as one of UW Madison’s Outstanding Women of Color for 2016 for her work with poetry and her advocacy for the memory services for people of color. In 2017 she co-hosted a poetry program, Sunday Speaking, with Rob Dz at Café CODA on Sundays. She is the creator/presenter (with Catrina Sparkman and Sherry Lucille) of Hidden Voices: African American Writers in Wisconsin, which draws connections between early African American writers in Madison and contemporary African American writers in Madison. They presented Hidden Voices at 13 libraries in Dane County (2017-2018). She is the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets 2019 Calendar editor.

Her earlier books are Poems, Dreams and Roses; In Our Own Tongues; Journey to Wisconsin: African American Life in Haiku, which won a Wisconsin Library Association award; and Love Poems Again. You can hear poet Fabu reading selected poems at

Emerson Hunton is a drummer and composer based in Chicago, Illinois. His musical approach prizes space and texture, while pulling from a wide array of musical traditions. His creative output has been supported by grants and residencies through STEIM (Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music), Conservatory van Amsterdam, the CIGSIE board (Oberlin College) and Avaloch Farm Music Institute.

Hunton has performed nationally and internationally with collaborative jazz quartet Junior Ranger, an ensemble that challenges its members to rethink the boundaries of orchestration and instrumentation, compositional structures, and free improvisation. Junior Ranger recorded and released their debut recording, Monster Masks, in 2015.

Hunton grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory of Music. At Oberlin, he studied with master drummer Billy Hart, and made music with Ingrid Jensen, Gerald Clayton, Jonathan Blake, Abraham Laboriel Sr., Billy Drewes, Dave Douglas, Gonzalo Grau and Jamey Haddad, among others.

Ben Cruz

Ben Cruz is a soon-to-be Chicago-based guitarist, originally from New Jersey.

Charlie Kirchen

Charlie Kirchen is a Chicago-based bassist, composer, and improviser whose work can be heard with Rooms Trio, The Few, Sfyria Trio, and a quartet under his own name.

Greg Ward is a saxophonist and composer currently based in Chicago after several years living in New York. Ward has had the opportunity to perform and record with a varied groups of artists like Prefuse 73, Lupe Fiasco, Tortoise, William Parker, Andrew D’Angelo, Nicole Mitchell, Hamid Drake, Chris Cheek, Ingrid Laubrock, Occidental Brothers Dance Band International and Mike Reed. Ward’s trio approaches original compositions and standard jazz repertoire with exciting modernity and has been featured in the U.S. and Europe on various stages.

Trumpeter Russ Johnson is a recent Midwest transplant after spending 23 years as an important member of New York City’s jazz community. He has seven recordings as a leader or co-leader and performed on more than 75 recordings as a sideman. Johnson has worked alongside many of the legendary figures in jazz including Lee Konitz, Steve Swallow, Bill Frisell and Joe Lovano. In addition, he has recorded and/or performed with a long list of the most prominent musicians currently on the international jazz scene, including Myra Melford, Ken Vandermark and Tony Malaby. Russ has performed in more than 40 countries across the globe. His groups have recently performed at the NYC Winter Jazz Fest and the Bergamo, Italy, Jazz Festival.

His most recent recordings, Meeting Point (Relay Recordings) and Still Out To Lunch! (Enja Records), received 4 1/2 & 4 stars, respectively, from DownBeat magazine and appeared on many “Best Recordings of 2014/5” lists including DownBeat, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, NYC Jazz Record and Magnet magazine. A new recording by his “Headlands” Quartet is expected in 2018.

Johnson is also active as an educator/clinician, having taught at colleges and universities across the U.S. and Europe. He currently serves as director of jazz studies at UW-Parkside, where he won the university-wide “Stella Gray” Teaching Excellence award in 2016.

Arts + Literature Laboratory is a nonprofit community art space that showcases the work of visual, literary, and performing artists. We aim to bring creative individuals together and spark innovative collaborations.


June 1
8:00 pm
Event Category:


Arts + Literature Laboratory
2021 Winnebago St.
Madison, WI 53704 United States
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