About: The Afro Yaqui Music Collective
The Afro Yaqui Music Collective (AYMC) is a 12-piece outfit which descends from the ensembles of Guggenhiem award winner Fred Ho, whose work was influenced by West African, global Indigenous and East Asian musics. The Afro Yaqui Music Collective has been acknowledged by the New York Times as “furthering [Ho’s] musical legacy,” and the band plays at an eclectic set of venues over the country including through Lincoln Center and Red Rooster in New York City, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Free Library of Philadelphia, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Vermont, as well as several venues in Mexico and Cuba.
The AYMC is co-led by Gizelxanath Rodriguez, a Mexican operatic vocalist of Yaqui indigenous descent who is an internationally performing soprano and activist, and the recipient of a 2014 ACE Award. The band is also led by her partner Ben Barson, the 2018 Johnny Mandel Prize Winner in composition from ASCAP. Barson is Fred Ho’s Baritone saxophone protege who “he felt has the heft and sound to represent [Ho’s] assertive approach (The New York Times)” and recipient of compositional awards from ASCAP. The band has included as guest artists Min-Xiao Fen (whom The New York Times has called “a pipa player like no other,”) Aaron Johnson (Trombonist and alumni of Aretha Franklin’s groups) EmCee Nejma Nefertiti, and poet and playwright Magdalena Gomez.