As another weeks comes to an end, so does the premiere – these past few days we’ve had the chance to explore other sounds courtesy of different acts from all over the world and today is no exception as we are pleased to team up with Giant Steps Music for the exclusive premiere of their amazing, somewhat epic yet minimalistic single “Run”.
About the song, Drew Foxman comments
Over 30 years of ethnic discrimination that led to the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi people in Rwanda caused millions of deaths—and a loss of identity and belonging. Being Rwandan in exile became taboo, forcing many people to change their names simply to access basic services, like education and healthcare. This song is a reflection of Teta’s life journey as an exiled, orphaned Rwandan—a metaphotr and message for millions of Rwandans—who has gained her freedom through music.”
A love of jazz, learning and a strong desire to make a difference in other people’s lives can manifest itself in many different ways. For Drew Foxman, the choice was clear: he knew he wanted to create awareness via the world’s greatest method of connecting human beings: music. “Historically, slavery, oppression, forced migration, all played a prominent role in music’s evolution and in fact led to many of the western world’s music genres, especially jazz and reggae. Music has also been a huge catalyst in all the human rights movements—whether it’s the civil rights movement in the US, apartheid, the fall of the Eastern Bloc, or the Arab Spring.”
Foxman was reared on jazz, with his father one of the world’s foremost collectors of pre-bebop jazz, the musical background to Drew’s childhood. He played jazz piano, which took a backseat in his teen years, but was re-embraced after a friend gave him a copy of John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, which was a moment that “defined my personal and career trajectory ever since.” After years performing and studying abroad, studying for a Bachelor of Music in San Francisco, a Graduate degree from Columbia and running The San Francisco Jazz Festival educational program at aged 24, Drew eventually enrolled in Middlebury College’s Frontier Market Scouts training program, which readies people for a career in impact investing and social enterprise. Incredibly determined, Drew left with an investment from one of the instructor’s companies and the tools to launch Giant Steps, an establishment where music and social innovation collides.
The seed for Giant Steps was planted during one of Foxman’s final projects at San Francisco Jazz. Partnering with the award-winning literary organization Youth Speaks, SFJAZZ was commissioned to write socially conscious music. Foxman created a yearlong program where he selected the most talented composers from the SFJAZZ’s youth ensemble program and had them work with masters in composition as well as study with people versed in social issues. The kids then worked together to compose music based on what they’d learned. The premiere performance sold out and was broadcast live on KPFA.
Giant Steps became the natural progression to synthesize all of the work Foxman wanted to do. Their mission statement is; Giant Steps aims to build a field for “social impact music,” where songs can take its rightful place in society as a catalyst of transformative change. As such, Giant Steps has launched Music Lab 1.0, a social impact incubator for musicians. Comprised of a global network of musical innovators who work together to design solutions and create new music in service of a better world, their first project by the Music Action Ensemble will be released on May 12 in the form of a compilation called. Foundation Says Foxman, “Musicians age 20-30 from around the world were invited to participate in the first Lab through an open call for submissions. Nine musicians were selected from a pool of 98 applicants across 22 countries through a highly competitive application process—based on their unique combination of artistic excellence, demonstration of community leadership, and social entrepreneurship potential. Each Lab will produce one album that will have a specially designed educational curriculum to teach and spread the message of the music. Through the Music Action Lab, Giant Steps Music is creating a catalogue of social action recordings through a new global musical language exclusively dedicated to social good.”
Once the Lab started, the musicians were immediately encouraged to be collaborative. They met every day for a half-day of gaining social change leadership knowledge through a unique curriculum where they learned from leading guest faculty from the social impact sector. The second half of the day was spent in the band room to compose and rehearse, informed and inspired by the morning sessions.
In just three weeks of composing and recording, the result is ten boundary-breaking tracks, infusing hip-hop, Afropop, Pakistani folk, and Brazilian rhythms with jazz, contemporary, Arabic music and more. Every song a collaboration, every song focusing on a position of change, be it how we see beauty, find love or explore the idea of self. “Foundation is the result of this process of artistic and social innovation. We chose this title because the music explores and examines the shared human values that underlie and support social justice work,” says Foxman, “the album is about laying down the necessary foundation before launching full-throttle into social justice work and social movements.”
Music Action Ensemble – Players
Drew Foxman, Founder & Chief Creative Officer
Farhan Bogra, rubab, Pakistan
Teta, vocals, Rwanda
Aisha Fukushima, vocals, rap, USA/Japan
Amen Viana, guitar, vocals, Togo
Icaro Sá, percussion, Brazil
Derek Beckvold, saxophone, tabla, USA
Will Magid, trumpet, USA
Owen Clapp, bass, USA
Tyler Nam Berg, drums, USA
Foundation Track Listing