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Performing Arts Series
Special Event

An Evening of Poetry, Jazz and “Harp”Beats with Kuf Knotz and Christine Elise, Robert Pinsky, Digba Ogunbiyi Quartet and Gregory Schwartz

Join us for an evening of an evening of Poetry, Jazz and “Harp”Beats featuring – Kuf Knotz and Christine Elise’s hip-hop poetry with bluesy beats supported by the harp, New Jersey native and former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky’s “PoemJazz” with a reading and performance of poems in concert with a variety of jazz improvisations. Also featured on the evening’s bill are the Digba Ogunbiyi Quartet playing original compositions that are deeply rooted in Ogunbiyi’s Nigeria roots, yet highly informed by his years of studying Jazz; and an opening set by Gregory Schwartz, former recipient of the Poet Laureate of Asbury Park award.

This event is part of the Monmouth University Summer Music and Arts Festival 2022.


Kuf Knotz and Christine Elise
Since the 2018 release of “Higher Grounds,” their first album, Kuf Knotz and Christine Elise have brought their unique blend of hip-hop, soul and classical traditions to various communities. Releasing their highly anticipated second album “Ké m yōōnədé” (2021), Kuf and Christine’s music explores themes of unity, spirituality and the infinite possibility of creating a better world. They fuse hip-hop poetry with bluesy beats supported by the harp. And, you can dance to it. They recently have been featured on NPR Music and WHYY.  Kuf Knotz and Christine Elise offer motivational creative arts workshops and performances at various settings such as hospitals, schools and community centers. Their mission is to use the power of music, personal experience and empathetic relation to help individuals grow to meet their fullest potential.

Robert Pinsky
New Jersey native Robert Pinsky (United States Poet Laureate 1997-2000) has devised a collaborative program which showcases his two great passions: poetry and jazz. Pinsky presents the human voice — the reading and performance of poems – in concert with a variety of jazz improvisations. In PoemJazz, Pinsky’s rich and textured voice takes on a role like that of a horn or wind instrument in conversation with melody and rhythm, creating an exchange between the sounds of poetry and of music. “In jazz, as in poetry,” says Robert Pinsky, “there is always that play between what’s regular and what’s wild. That has always appealed to me.”  Robert Pinsky has performed with Grammy-winning pianist Laurance Hobgood and other celebrated jazz musicians, including Vijay Iyer, Ben Allison, Bobby Bradford, and Stan Strickland.

Digba Ogunbiyi Quartet
The Digba Ogunbiyi quartet is a musical group that consists of Drummer Chris Paredes, Bassist Bill Moring, Alto saxophonist Jalin Shiver and pianist Digba Ogunbiyi. The quartet which is led by Digba Ogunbiyi started while he was a student at the New Jersey City University. As a pianist from Nigeria, he is obsessed with exploring sounds that are informed by his childhood experiences in Lagos. This is evident in his 2020 debut album “Ade’digba” which has been described as a “sound of hope for the African jazz community. ”With his quartet, Digba stretches the boundaries of genre often playing original compositions that are deeply rooted in his roots yet highly informed by his years of studying Jazz.

Gregory Schwartz
Gregory Schwartz, a former recipient of the Poet Laureate of Asbury Park award (2007), has been a resident poet at the MC Skate & Surf Break contest and the 2010 Bamboozle Festival. He has also been featured on the front page of the Asbury Park Press (2002, 2009, 2012), appeared in Steve Forbert’s music video “Sandy” and is a writer for Asbury Park Vibes.