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World: World Fusion Moods: Type: Live Recordings Spoken Word: Poetry

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Plum Dragoness and the Elements

Plum Dragoness/Gabrielle de Burke- a native of West Philadelphia is a multi--talented thespian, dancer, poetess and writer who has been involved with the performing arts since childhood. In 2000, she earned her BA in Theater from Temple University (Philadelphia, PA), with an exploratory concentration in African Dance, World Music & Jazz Voice. Since 1999 (while in college), she studied/trained/performed as apprentice in Chinese Internal/Martial Arts with the Spirit Wind Internal Arts Society in (Philadelphia, PA). This interest in the healing arts further helped lay the foundation from which she learned to extract & create theatrical works that express her passion & strength for writing, directing, choreographing & performing her work. She is well known for her poetic style, vocal performance and choreographic flair throughout the Philadelphia area & abroad. In addition to her solo work, Gabrielle was a founding member and core performer from 2001 to 2006 in the theater company ArcheDream (now known as Archedream for Humankind). As a core member she performed, choreographed, created costumes, initiated the ongoing annual fundraising drive/auction/performance events, as well as acting as assistant-artistic director which led to her choreography & performance being featured at prestigious local venues such as the Kimmel Center, the Whittaker Center, the Annenberg Center for the Performing arts & the Kennedy Center in Washington. D.C. In 2007 she began forming the live world music & spoken word/poetry project known as “Plum Dragoness & the Elements” (often featuring live VJ/visual projectionists). In December of 2010, the debut studio Album “Renaissance of a Poetess” was independently released by “Plum Dragoness & the Elements” with compositions & sound engineering by Emmy Awarding Winning Music Producer Rodney Whittenberg of Melody Vision studio. Currently the band working preparing for the release of the album of live recordings called “Live @ the Rotunda” scheduled to be released in the February of 2012 (Year of the Dragon). The Elements/Musicians in the project currently involve Elliott Levin (Animus), Larry Connely (One), Larry Toft (West Philadelphia Orchestra), Jon Espo (The Rockers) & Ali Richardson (Text Rich).

Highlights from Plum Dragonesses’ early tour history includes featured solo & group performances at; the Global Roots Festival in Toronto, Ontario, locally by the Philly Fringe Festival for the event “Hip-Hop to da Head” at the Painted Bride & “Extracted Measures”, plus in Baltimore, Maryland w/ the Mesa Pegasus theater at the Ultraworld festivals, collaborations with ArcheDream theater company on “the Shamyn’s Breath” which toured from 2003-2004 & her role on tour with live music collaboration of “One Dream” from 2005-2006, in the annual AIDS Benefit event for Keystone Hospice at the FUMCOG with J’ai Alvin Chestnut in 2005, at WXPN’s World Café for the Women’s Fest in 2006. In 2007, she began a performing arts residency at the Rotunda in West Philadelphia where she books artists, organizes & performs in the ongoing season performance series “Poet-tree en Motion.”


ELLIOTT LEVIN- As an artist, he creates compositions & performances through flutes, saxophones & words. Born and based in Philadelphia., Pa., he pursued early studies with Michael Guerra (legendary saxist/clarinetist of Phila. Orchestra under Stokowski); and composer/flutist Claire Polin (collaborator with flute innovater William Kincaid). Studied music and creative writing at the University of Oregon. His later studies took place with masters-pianist/improvisor/composer Cecil Taylor; and then with saxophonist/improviser/composer Odean Pope-that led to long time relationships of performing and recording with their ensembles. As a member of many groups in Philadelphia/NYC area over the past 30 years, he has continued to work with his own ensembles as well including INTERPLAY Ensemble, NEW GHOST, The PHILADELPHIA PHENOMENA to name a few...(collaborating with artists such as Rick Iannacone, Ed Watkins, Ron Howerton, Keno Speller, Marshall Allen, Tyrone Hill, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Calvin Weston, and many others).

LARRY TOFT (a.k.a. Tofty)-the Trombone Player, has the ability to quickly adapt to each musical moment puts him in high demand as one of Philadelphia’s ubiquitous trombone players. He is well versed in Traditional Jazz, Bebop, Avant-Garde, Salsa, Reggae, Rhythm and Blues, Funk, Classical and Balkan Brass Band styles.
He is a graduate of Temple University’s Esther Boyer College of Music where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education with a Jazz Concentration.
He studied with Tyrone Breuninger (formerly Associate Principal Trombonist of the Philadelphia Orchestra) as well as Don Collins and Luis Bonilla.
Larry has performed with Johnny Pacheco, Jimmy Heath, Lalo Rodriguez, Jon Faddis, Johnny Rivera, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Steve Coleman, and Freddy Bell.
He has performed in various casinos in Atlantic City, NJ and Niagara Falls, Canada. Larry has also traveled and performed in numerous countries in Europe including Germany, France, Austria, Czech Republic, Serbia, and Bosnia.
He is currently a member of Bobby Zankel’s Warriors of the Wonderful Sound, West Philadelphia Orchestra, Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society, Combo Melaza, Cultureal, Puzzlebox, John Vanore and the Abstract Truth, New Pony, Extreme Fishkin, Nu Directions Chamber Brass, Napoleon Dolemite and the Signifyin’ Monks, Soul Fuego, Perseverance Jass Band & Plum Dragoness & the Elements. He also composes/arranges for his group, the Life Nektar Ensemble.

LAWRENCE CONNELLY (a.k.a. Larry Connelly)–This dynamic Philadelphia, Pa. based drummer, husband, father of two, singer, teacher, eternal student hones his drum-skills playing live Drum and Bass, dub-step, electronica, world, reggae, rock, alt. rock, & hip hop beats. He plays drum set, djembe, congas, dumbek, darbuka, dohlak & all styles of music. Larry has been playing drums for over 20 years. He’s studied with Buddy O. in Levittown Pa. Played in many bands in the Philadelphia area including "one"," Architects of Acoustics", "Mind Ova Matter Soul Under God" (a.k.a. "MOM SUG DOJO")," Solar System", "Ryan Olah", “Plum Dragoness & the Elements” & many more including a few Emmy Winning Artists.

ALI RICHARDSON (a.k.a. Text Rich)-He was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, Ali Richardson is an MC, Musician & Arts Educator. He currently resides in West Philadelphia, a vibrant and diverse community which serves as his home-base for teaching, creating, and performing music. As a co-founder of CODA Program, Ali is also lead facilitator for the Hip-hop Jazz Musicology and The Drum Circle workshops. Musically and artistically, Ali blends Hip-hop, Jazz, Blues, and World Music into his performances and plays several musical instruments, including guitar, drums, bass, keyboard, and percussion. Mr. Richardson enjoys teaching and working with all ages and academic levels in efforts is to create a world where youth and elders can sing together, learn together, and teach together. Ali has worked in collaboration with numerous talented international & local Philadelphia artists, some of whom are featured in his most recent solo music project & the debut CD “Acoustic Truth” under the stage name “Text Rich” where he beat boxes, plays guitar, sings & rhymes!


JONATHAN ESPOSITO (Jon Espo) He is a multi instrumentalist best known for his work on bass guitar. He has played with many local Philly (PA) groups including musicians from across the globe learning indigenous and modern styles. A lover of all styles mainly, hip hop, funk, jazz, rock, electronica, afro-beat, reggae & all else in between. He has been a performer all his life. Before getting a bass at 13 he was doing dance performances for his family. He also plays synth, drums and percussion, guitar, flutes, vocals, melodica, ukelele and whatever he can get his hands on kitchen sinks included:) He has worked with local groups: Plum Dragoness and the Elements, Mighty Paradocs, The Thirst Quenchers, Jojolo, Ragastones, Unity Push, Local Dub, Infinite Giants & new projects on the horizon. He can be found playing at jam sessions, performing onstage, recording in the studio, sometimes out deep in the woods or in someone’s kitchen. Jon lives for music!

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