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Angel Bat Dawid’s Disarming Musical Intimacy

A few years ago, the Chicago composer Angel Bat Dawid began recording pieces of music using her phone’s built-in memo function. Those home recordings, featuring her multitracked voice, keyboards and clarinet, became The Oracle, an album almost frightening in its intimacy. The atmosphere picked up by the small microphone on Dawid’s phone gave the album a lo-fi yet close personal ambiance, as if eavesdropping on someone’s private moments.

Dawid returned the next year with a live recording featuring her band, The Brotherhood, and the tone is demonstrably different; it opens with a loud exploration of Sun Ra’s “Enlightenment,” with horns and drums on full blast. And yet the album’s most mesmerizing moments remain two slow, intimate songs from The Oracle, both pedal-point evocations of Blackness: “What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black” and the afrofuturist mantra “We Are Starzz.”

At Saturday’s show in San Francisco, Dawid performs solo, bringing along material from her recent Hush Harbor Mixtape Vol. 1 Doxology, a series of songs dedicated to Escrava Anastacia, the enslaved African woman venerated as a saint in Brazil. It’s a rare chance to see a star of Chicago’s new jazz avant-garde on the West Coast, and it’s sure to be unforgettable.

Angel Bat Dawid performs Saturday, Aug. 14, at the Lab in San Francisco. Details here.

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