Each year, Piedmont’s Appreciating Diversity Committee (PADC) hosts a Community Night at Yoshi’s in Jack London Square. These jazz-filled programs build community and raise money for grants that support and promote diversity and inclusiveness in our schools and community.
This year’s program, featuring the well-known Bay Area jazz band Mingus Amungus, also showcased spoken-word performances and art works by Piedmont students. Five students, all members of the spoken-word club Together We Slam, performed individual pieces addressing both personal and universal themes. Tom Jara, Bryn Lawson, Krysia Olszewska and Sara Steutz of PHS and Jenna Stein-Corman of MHS captivated the crowd with their experiences and perspectives on race, religion, failure, belonging, and other aspects of the human experience.
PADC brought the students together with Mingus Amungus in a collaborative, multi-media performance. The music was interwoven with the spoken word pieces, and digital images of student art work from PHS’s recent all-school art show scrolled across a screen next to the stage.
Band leader and Piedmont resident Miles Perkins, and the other members of the Mingus Amungus ensemble, strive to honor Charles Mingus’ musical legacy. Mingus was known for complex rhythms and tempos, and thematic compositions inspired by political events. These compositions include “Fables of Faubus,” named for Arkansas Governor Orval E. Faubus who, in 1957, used the National Guard to prevent black students from integrating a Little Rock schooll. PHS student Bryn Lawson’s spoken word piece about discrimination and social justice mixed perfectly with the music.