NYC Jazz power duo Kazemde George and Sami Stevens incorporate influences ranging from Hip-Hop/RnB to Cuban Rumba to 70’s Singer-Songwriter to classic Bossa Nova. Collaborating for the past ten years, when they met at the New England Conservatory of music, the pair have worked together extensively; releasing two albums, an EP, a few singles and a short film. They also happen to be newly married. Their latest release is titled I Insist; and was written and led by Kaz on tenor saxophone, with vocals by Sami.
Kazemde George is an African American jazz saxophonist, composer, and beat-maker based in Brooklyn who exhibits a gift for streamlined, emotionally direct melodies, articulated with a warm tone and a certain guiding restraint. Raised by Caribbean parents in Berkeley, California, Kaz was exposed to a wide range of musical styles, and has been playing Piano, Saxophone, and Percussion from an early age.
During high school, Kazemde developed a passion for Jazz while studying the oral tradition under the tutelage of Khalil Shaheed, Charles McNeal and Susan Muscarella. He also began to make electronic music under the moniker “KG,B”. KG,B’s beats are inspired by Hip-Hop producers such as J Dilla, Madlib, and Flying Lotus, who he sees as modern the counterparts of early Jazz innovators.
In 2007, Kazemde moved to Boston to attend school, and in 2014, Kazemde completed the Harvard/New England Conservatory (NEC) Joint program, receiving his Bachelors in Neurobiology (Harvard) and his Masters in Jazz Composition (NEC). At NEC, Kazemde studied privately with Jerry Bergonzi, Cecil McBee, Donny McCaslin, John McNeil, Jason Moran, Danilo Pérez, and Miguel Zenón. In 2012, he received Harvard’s George Peabody Gardener Fellowship to study traditional music in La Habana, Cuba for ten months. Through his travels, Kaz has expanded his focus from Hip-Hop and Jazz to the full spectrum of musical styles which blossomed from the African Diaspora, including Afro-Cuban, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Brazilian, and African-American traditions. As he sees it, the study of these musical styles serves as a way to regain cultural histories that where lost through the processes of African-American Slavery.
Today, his focus is aligned towards music, but Kazemde is also a biologist at heart, and his quest to understand this wide breadth of styles is driven by an analytical mind with a scientific approach.
In October 2021, Kazemde released his debut album, I Insist, on Greenleaf Music by Dave Douglas.
Kazemde has performed with Solange Knowles and Saint Heron, David Murray, Román Filiú, and Jason Moran, at venues and festivals such as, Dizzy’s Coca-Cola Club, Zinc Bar, The Jazz Gallery, Irving Plaza, Yoshi’s, Black Cat, Cafe Stritch, The David Rubinstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, Panama Jazz Festival, Made In America Festival, AfroPunk, and Panorama NYC Music Festival
NYC artist Sami Stevens harnesses Jazz and Singer-Songwriter influences to create truly intimate original music. In writing songs, singing and accompanying herself on keyboard, she crafts a musical world based in silence, delivering dynamic, personal performances. Though performing solo is where she takes complete control of the stage, Sami is also an avid collaborator. Her latest releases include I Insist by Kazemde George, And I’m Right by Sami Stevens and the Man I Love, the Make Your Mind EP with producer KG,B, and Amore Per Tutti with Tredici Bacci. She is also anticipating the spring 2023 release of a solo album entitled Morning.
A graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, Sami’s performance and recording career has transcended genre. She has performed with jazz pianist and Genius Grant recipient Jason Moran, collaborated with acclaimed avant-garde composer and saxophonist John Zorn, recorded with “King of Treme” Shannon Powell, and DIY legend Gary Wilson, toured opening for Indie Rock/Emo favorites Pinback, performed with jazz pianist and 6-time Grammy nominee Fred Hersch, opened for Grammy nominated folk singer Greg Brown, Rachael Price of pop-soul band Lake Street Dive, and legendary Black Star MC Talib Kweli, sang for psych/garage rock artist Ty Segall’s “Emotional Mugger” premiere, and appeared on various film and TV soundtracks, including Archer (FX; J.G. Thirlwell) and Sesame Street (PBS). Her projects have been lauded by Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Downbeat, and the New York Times, and featured on various official Spotify playlists, including “Best Vocal Jazz of 2021.”
Sami has toured North America, Europe, and Australia with various projects, appearing at NYC venues the Cutting Room, Brooklyn Bowl, Smalls, The Jazz Gallery, Roulette, and National Sawdust, and at music festivals Sydney Fest, SXSW, O+ Festival, Phoenicia Intl. Festival of the Voice, and Meltasia. Stevens has led the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra, and sang the national anthem at Fenway Park at age 16. She also served as producer and host of Space is the Place, a music and science radio program on Silent Barn’s Bel-Air Radio.
Sami studied privately with Dominique Eade and John McNeil at the New England Conservatory of Music, where she graduated with a BM in Vocal Jazz Performance in the fall of 2014. The same year she received a BA in Psychology from Tufts University. Sami grew up in East Winthrop, Maine, and is currently living in Brooklyn, NY.