A Interview W/ HAGL Music Founders, Thomas Sayers Ellis & James Brandon Lewis // Qwest TV By Quincy Jones / Paris, France

“The raw and innovative saxophonist gives a one-of-a-kind interview alongside bandleader Thomas Sayers Ellis. Speaking with Qwest, they reflect on the power and purpose of their celebrated collective, the nature of avant-garde expression and its place within modern American society”.   

By Rowan Standish-Hayes / Qwest TV


The New York-based art collective was formed after the death of Amiri Baraka, the radical poet and activist who wrote about jazz, politics and the African-American experience during the Black Civil Rights Movement and after. Heroes Are Gang Leaders (HAGL) use spoken word, performance art and free jazz to reflect and reshape black art and culture as they see it, both past and present, in a way that is multifarious and idiosyncratic. They come alive on stage, delivering shows where tropes feel nameless and blended, where the audience is both beckoned and challenged. Co-founders James Brandon Lewis (saxophonist) and Thomas Sayers Ellis (poet, professor, photographer) provide a window into their project, but as is often the case with Heroes Are Gang Leaders, it is one that requires active, rather than passive, engagement.



Header Photographs By Frances Charteris / Le Rocher de Palmer, France 

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