Review: Discovery Artist in The Kennedy Center Jazz Club: Elena and Samora Pinderhughes

Siblings Elena and Samora Pinderhughes are young, both in their early 20s. Samora is a composer and pianist and sister Elena is a vocalist and flutist. Despite their youth, the pair has been creating music for years, with a socially conscious bent. Together, they create atmospheric sounds that can be mostly categorized as Jazz although they draw heavily from other genres such as classical, hip hop and R&B. It is safe to say that the creativity bound within the two gives way to wonderfully powerful music.

Elena and Samora Pinderhughes. Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.

Samora’s composition style is strong, determined, packed with the will of a revolutionary force. Elena’s beautifully measured and feminine voice, along with her melodic flute serves almost like a counterpoint, showcasing both the fire within and the human frailty in the heavy subjects that they both tackle on through their music. From immigration, to the difficulties of connecting while in love; the brother and sister use their talents in a focused, measured manner. Early on, Samora described his overall distaste for the current administration’s immigration policies, and asked the audience to protest whenever possible.

Last night at The Kennedy Center’s Theater Lab Elena and Samora performed a wide variety of music, from their own compositions, to covering the greats such as Thelonious Monk. The pair was accompanied by Joshua Crumbly, who played the bass and Corey Fonville in the drums section. Together, this foursome delivered wonderful Jazz music in the intimate feel of the KC Jazz Club. If you haven’t been, the feel in there has truly the vibe of a Jazz club, complete with soft lighting and small bar tables that fill up quickly. These are assigned seat tables, which makes it easier to not get lost in there. The stage feels closer than any other stage at The Kennedy Center, definitely an intimate environment but with great sound.

The young musicians delivered a high caliber of Jazz and gave a wonderful performance that highlighted why they are considered rising stars in the Jazz world. The comfort these musicians feel with each other is obvious and one felt the love when they performed a song called “Abayomi,” composed by Elena for her brother whose middle name is Abayomi. The mostly instrumental song was calm then melodically sped up with some gorgeous flute sounds in between. It was almost as if we were getting to know parts of Samora reserved for his closest loved ones.

By the end of the performance, the group seemed like they could’ve kept going on for awhile. Instead, they asked the audience to wait and meet them after the show. They all came out to the other side of the venue and were happy to talk to all audience members, take selfies and continue to give of themselves. A remarkably precise and beautiful performance, which was matched by their kind giving spirit.

Running Time: 75 minutes, with no intermission.

Samora Pinderhughes on his composition The Transformation Suites:

Discovery Artist in The Kennedy Center Jazz Club: Elena and Samora Pinderhughes was a one-night only performance on March 10, 2017 at The Kennedy Center’s Theatre Lab – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets to future events, call the box office at (202) 467-4600 or Toll-Free at (800) 444-1324, or purchase them online.


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