Great Art for Good Works
Seed Artists presents adventurous jazz, creative-music and arts programming that serves five primary goals:
enrich and broaden the cultural fabric;
inspire the next generation to be curious, creative and self-confident;
encourage engagement in the arts;
build community through collaboration;
foster inter-generational and cross-cultural exchange.
Seed Artists was founded in 2005, in Brooklyn, by renowned drummer Pheeroan akLaff; his wife, Luz Marina Bueno; and Roy Frasier and Gillian Frasier, Esq. Artist and scholar Dr. Charles Martin soon joined them. The goal: Use music to bridge gaps between generations and cultures, promote community involvement, and provide music education to underserved youth.
In its first few years, with a grant from The Community Round Table of L.R.E.I., Seed Artists created a series of grassroots projects: Music instruction with high-school and middle-school students, who then performed choral concerts at nursing homes, hospices and community gardens. A music workshop at a women’s homeless shelter. Concerts in public spaces. The Re: Fresh concert series at Kampo Bahal Gallery in SoHo, which presented a slate of international creative musicians.
When akLaff and Bueno moved to Montclair, New Jersey, in 2010, Seed was dormant for a couple of years. Then akLaff met Chris Napierala, Seed’s Creative Director, at a yard sale. They started to talk music, the Montclair arts scene, and the socioeconomic landscape in town, and plans to revive Seed Artists soon followed.
In late 2013, finding no tribute for the upcoming 50th anniversary of the death of Eric Dolphy, Seed decided to create one. Thus emerged Eric Dolphy: Freedom of Sound, a wildly ambitious project given that Seed had no funds, no paid staff, no office, and no experience producing a major event. Truly DIY.
Over the next several months, Seed both conceived and organized a major two-day arts festival and began to build an organization—a new Board of Directors, volunteers, a vision. The core group: akLaff, Napierala, Bueno, Diane Moser, Michael Schreiber, William Scheckel, Trae Bodge, Kamillah akLaff and Veronica Nunn.
Freedom of Sound and Beyond
In May 2014, Eric Dolphy: Freedom of Sound indeed made history with the debut of previously unheard Dolphy compositions, which now reside in the Library of Congress. A world premiere important enough to rate the Arts cover of The New York Times. And a remarkable slate more than 40 musicians, artists and scholars, from legends to young innovators. New works dedicated to Dolphy, reworkings of Dolphy classics, Dolphy set to vocals, dance, poetry. And a symposium featuring the eminent Gunther Schuller.
That’s the great art. The good works? From festival proceeds, Seed helped to fund two very worthy nonprofits—the Jazz Foundation of America, and the Montclair Academy of Dance and Laboratory of Music.
Thus Seed began to build a year-round slate of adventurous music and arts programming that will enrich the community and inspire the next generation. And we’ll keep supporting programs that inspire us and make the world a better place. We hope you will join us.
Founder of Seed Artists, Pheeroan akLaff is an internationally renowned drummer, composer, bandleader and educator. He has performed and recorded with legendary artists since his arrival in New York in 1975.
Mr. akLaff has taught American Drum-set at Wesleyan University for 22 years and leads music workshops worldwide.
Through Seed Artists he has mentored youth, produced musical events in homeless shelters, hospices, community gardens, and university forums.
For more than 20 years, Chris Napierala has worked as a criminal-mitigation and alternatives-to-incarceration expert, primarily in New York City. As Founder and Director Sentencing Alternatives and Defense Advocacy Services, he has advocated on behalf of defendants in state and federal courts, diverting hundreds of adolescent, addicted, mentally ill and developmentally disabled clients to rehabilitation programs.
Chris previously served as Editor and Senior Advocate at The Osborne Association. His work has been presented in front of the United States Supreme Court. In 2005, in conjunction with the Center for Appellate Litigation, his work contributed to New York State’s sole prisoner clemency in three years.
Board of Directors
We are enormously (enormously) grateful to the volunteers who give their time, energy and ideas to help us create and produce our programming. From setting up chairs and taking tickets at concerts to fundraising, social media, Storybuilding Camp for kids and collecting books for jailed teens, our volunteers make it possible for Seed Artists to realize our mission: Great Art for Good Works.
Whether you have a couple hours to spare once a week, a month or a year, we can use the extra hands and minds. Click here to let us know what you can do and when!