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Festival 22 Idit Shner and Mhondoro
August 20, 2022 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm$5 – $20
Mhonodoro, meaning the lion spirit in Shona, a language of Zimbabwe, formed spontaneously, melding Zimbabwean folk and American jazz traditions.
For a month during the summer of 2019, Idit Shner quietly listened from her side of the backyard fence to her neighbor, John Mambira, jamming with Ratie Dangarembwa and Gilbert Zvamaida. Idit knew them from the music scene in Eugene, Oregon, but she hadn’t played with them before. She gathered the courage to invite herself over. And listen. She’d removed the fence from between them, but she kept herself to the role of audience member. Then, one day as the jam session broke, she asked: “Next time, is it OK if I bring my saxophone over?” They burst out laughing. “Finally! We thought you’d never ask!” Half a year later, and the pandemic brought John and Idit together in a “parent pod” as their children attended online school together, rotating houses. Torrey Newhart, who lived walking distance up the hill, joined the pod. Idit asked Garrett Baxter and Ken Mastrogiovanni to join the backyard sessions and the group whiled away the lockdown hours writing and playing music (and drinking lots of beer).
When the Montavilla Jazz commissioned Idit to compose an original piece for Call + Response (the organization’s own pandemic-influenced project), she knew who she would turn to to get the piece done. They got together in Torrey Newhart’s living room to record the track “Fingerprints”. “The result was artistically thrilling and so earnest,” Idit said. “Since there is no way to have any separation or editing when everyone is in the same space, there is wonderful honesty in recording this way.” That one song, this terrible pandemic, that summer in the backyard before anyone knew what changes were coming… This set something in motion, and the quintet decided they could absolutely not stop at that one composition. 7 more tunes were recorded, culminating in Heat Wave, MHONDORO’s debut album on OA2 Records, melding Zimbabwean traditional music and American jazz with an unmistakable Pacific Northwest vibe thrown in for good measure.
Lineup: Idit Shner, alto saxophone, bass clarinet; John Mambira, percussion, vocals; Torrey Newhart, piano, vocals; Garrett Baxter, bass; Ken Mastrogiovanni, drums