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Mtafiti Imara, Ph.D.

Music, School of Arts

Saxophonist & Composer

Only rarely does a musician come along who has successfully combined elements of artistry, spirituality, and folk accessibility. In the words of M'tafiti Imara, "It Only Takes a Lifetime". With roots in classical African Diaspora idioms of the blues, gospel, R&B, and jazz - M'tafiti began his performing career in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area, and has since performed in Europe, Africa, Brazil, India, and throughout the U.S. He has composed for a wide-range of musical medium - including dance, choral, and opera - as well as for traditional "jazz" settings. His debut recording Mwafrika brings together, and challenges the improvisational chops of some of the finest San Diego area musicians. The recording Faun's Dance was released October 2009.

Performances with Jimmy McCracklin, Bobby Blue Bland, Agbeokuta, Ancestral Wisdom, The Nova Ghost Sectet, The African Roots of Jazz, Ed Kelly, Splorb Saxophone Quartet and Fred Lonberg-Hol

Commissions and collaborations with dance companies/choreographers: Linda Goodrich (CitiCentre Dance Company), Deborah Vaughn (Dimensions Dance Theater); Mills College Dance Series; Nontsizi Cayou (Wajumbe Cultural Ensemble); Leon Jackson (Experimental Group Young People’s Theater)


Ph.D. Music Composition, Michigan State University; MA Music Theory & Composition, Mills College; BA Philosophy and Religion, San Francisco State University; San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Private Study: David Sheinfeld, David Rosenboom, Mark Sullivan, Jere Hutchinson, Joe Henderson, Anthony Braxton, and Marcus Belgrave

Office: ARTS 308
(760) 750-8007