Thursday, September 2, 2010

Asia Fajardo-Wright Homegrown Denver Talent

Someplace in between Post-bop, Latin jazz, free jazz and the continuation of the Denver Chicano Movement from the 60’s is Denver Native Asia Fajardo-Wright. 26-year-old Latina composer/saxophonist and Aztec dancer, Asia Fajardo-Wright, is the composer and director of an avant-garde tribute to the divine feminine Omecihuatl Rising. Omecihuatl Rising debuts at D-Note October 2, 2010 at 6:00 PM for $8.00 (7519 Grandview Avenue Arvada, CO 80002) and the Aurora Fox Theater October 21, 2010 at 7:00 PM for $10.00 (9900 E. Colfax Aurora, Co 80010). Tickets are sold at the door,, and at

Fajardo-Wright grew up eating beans and chili on her great-great aunt’s porch in the “West Side” (Denver Baker neighborhood). She attended Aztec dance ceremonies at the Inner City Parish through her youth, and had “philosophical” conversations with Denver’s world-renowned flamenco guitarist Miguel Espinoza, Chicano metaphysical painter Stevon Lucero, and African drum master Bob Hall. In high school she studied with Denver Piano Jazz legend Ted Alexander. Her family has been in Denver for the past 70 years. Before Denver, her people came out of the coalmines in Trinidad, Colorado and were ranchers in the San Luis Valley. Originally, her family is from the Picuris Pueblo in New Mexico

Fajardo-Wright is a jazz musician rooted in her indigenous heritage. Omecihuatl Rising is a reflection of her Aztec/Mexica up bring. Omecihuatl, is the Aztec/Mexica name for the Devine Feminine energy (which is not male or female). Fajardo’s purpose is to create dialogue about the Devine Feminine and womanhood, initiated through a contemporary indigenous viewpoint. One of Fajardo’s pieces is a tribute to the Mexican historical figure La Malinche, and uses her controversial image to speak about modern issues of sexism, racism, and classism. The artwork of Stevon Lucero is featured in this piece.

Avant-garde historically refers to the section of the army that goes into battle first, the ones who push the boundaries. Omecihuatl Rising crosses artistic boundaries, as it is a union of jazz, free jazz, classical, world-percussion (Japanese Taiko, Native American hand drums, Mayan water-drums, Aztec /Mexica Hue Hue), modern dance, painting, and poetry. Free-form movement and structure are intertwined. Through the fusing of these elements, the countless representations of the Devine Feminine and womanhood are explored.

Dancer/Vocalist Eutimia Montoya joins Fajardo on the stage, and also follows the “Denver Linage”. Her family has been in Denver for 70 years, and came from the Picuris Pueblos. She also grew up as Aztec/Mexica Dancer. They have known each other for 19 years. Now in their 20’s they have joined creative forces for Omecihuatl Rising, and are demonstrating what it means to be a modern indigenous female artist.

A diverse set of musicians and performers make up Omecihuatl Rising. Multilingual vocalist/recording artist Amy “Aju” Iwasaki born in Tokyo and raised in San Luis Valley after age 11 joins the stage. Also taking stage is Taiko drummer Courtney Ozaki, indigenous percussionist Kimama Littlecloud, violinist Jen Sarkela, writer Kali Fajardo, dancer/painter Avalon Fajardo, actor/dancer Sarah Shavel, jazz bassist Toni Clair, percussionist Tohbias Juniel, pianist Mike Smith, jazz/reggae trumpeter Randy Runyan.

Fajardo-Wright holds a BS in Music from the University of Colorado-Denver. Fajardo is the leader of Asia Jazz Project, and a member of the Latin reggae band Mono Verde. In September 2009, Fajardo released “Sacred Paths” with hip-hop duo Molina Soleil and Aju. She performs with Japanese Tiako ensemble Mirai Diako and singer /songwriter Melissa Axel. Her composition “Moon Stars” is on the documentary “Return of the Corn Mothers”. Fajardo-Wright has performed at Dazzle, Cherry Creek Arts Festival, Chac Art Gallery, Chili Harvest Festival, Lakewood Cultural Festival, Arvada Center, Herman’s Hideaway, Quixotes, Tenn Street Coffee, Denver Pavilions, D-Note, Aurora Fox Theater, and Metro State College of Denver.