Pitt's Kuntu Repertory Theatre Presents Rob Penny's Clean Drums

The University of Pittsburgh's Kuntu Repertory Theatre will present "Clean Drums" from Jan. 22 through Feb. 7, as Kuntu continues its season of plays by the late Rob Penny, Kuntu's playwright-in-residence for many years and a Pitt associate professor of Africana studies. Penny passed away in 2003.

All performances are in the Seventh-Floor Auditorium of Alumni Hall, 4227 Fifth Ave., Oakland. They run Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 4 p.m. and a matinee at 1 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 5.

"Clean Drums" will feature a cast that includes some of Pittsburgh's finest jazz musicians. Vernell Lillie, Pitt associate professor emeritus of Africana studies and Kuntu's founder and producing artistic director, will direct.

A drummer who began performing in his early teens, Harris played with the likes of bebop master Dizzy Gillespie as well as Pittsburgh jazz legends Billy Eckstine and Erroll Garner. In the 1950s, he was a member of the house band at the Apollo Theater. He performed internationally for many years before retuning to his native Pittsburgh in the 1990s.

Penny once wrote about "Clean Drums": "It's biographical mainly because I wrote about Joe Harris. The glue that holds it all together is the spirit of the music and the male and female musicians who give the music its force and meaning. Color, sensibilities, and sounds flow from the conflictual consciousness of the younger musicians, who represent what they call 'free form' playing and the older musician, Joe Harris, who represents the classical jazz tradition of Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday, and Sara Vaughen."

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