Sponsored in part by the Anthony E. Perrotti Great Performances Endowment
With beginnings in Uganda, and the seed sown there of a lifetime of interest in global cultures, it is no surprise that Stephen Kent has traveled the world, living at various times in Africa, England, Spain, Australia and, for the last 15 years, The San Francisco Bay Area. In Australia, in 1981, as music director of Circus Oz, he first connected with Australian Aboriginal culture and the Didjeridu (also known as a Didj, Didge, or Didgeridoo).
Inspired by the power of the land, and the support the group gave to Aboriginal issues, he learned circular breathing and wrote music for brass instruments, sounding unmistakably like the Didjeridu.
While he has always had great respect for Aboriginal people and their culture Stephen has never tried to imitate traditional styles on the Didjeridu.
Instead he has pioneered his own unique style, with the Didjeridu at the center of his many compositions in contemporary music. Widely regarded as one of the pioneering innovators in the modern world of the Didj, he was a founder of the groups Trance Mission, Lights in a Fat City, Beasts of Paradise, and Furious Pig and has made five solo CDs, with more imminent releases concentrating on the Didj forthcoming. A recurring presence throughout Stephen’s recording career from *Lights In a Fat City” to “Oil & Water,” has been producer Simon Tassano. His new project, “Living Labyrinths (Family Tree),” a live recording, is a record of his first-time meeting with a computer (programmed by Greg Kuhn) in Oakland’s Chapel of the Chimes, on the Summer Solstice. This is the first of a new trilogy of solo Didjeridu releases he is working on.
Musical collaborations are at the heart of Kent’s work. Some of his more recent collaborations include artists as diverse as Tuvan throat singers Chirgilchin, Korean Samulnori Drummers, frame drum wizard Glen Velez, Japanese Taiko luminary Leonard Eto, Markus James & the Wassonrai, flute legend Paul Horn, Airto Moreira, multi-media group Magnetic Poets at the Torino Olympics, and vocalist Eda Maxym’s new band Imagination Club, in which he plays guitar & other instruments, as well as the didj. He also spent a day opening for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, at Stanford University.
Past projects and collaborations of note include, Zap Mama, Habib Koite & Bamada, Megadrums, Omar Sosa, Badi Assad, Herbie Hancock & Wayne Shorter, Steve Sheehan, Mino Cinelu, Michel Portal, Boukman Eksperyans, and the legendary ex-Doors drummer, John Densmore, among many others. He continues to perform all over the world.