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Living on Dreams

Kent Heyward and his band Living on Dreams are all about contemporary jazz that creates positive feelings. With Heyward on saxophones, vocals by Marcella Ruikis, Larry Cavalier on piano and Richard Meyer on electric bass and violin, the group follows its namesake and presents music and lyrics that push past boundaries.

"It's about not limiting yourself," Heyward says. "It's written with a humanistic approach and not burned by politics or trivial matters."

Living on Dreams will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, at 4 Daughters Irish Pub, 126 W. Main St., Medford.

"We also like to play songs that will highlight Marcella's vocal talents," Heyward says. "She does a lot of songs by Etta James, Billie Holiday, Madeleine Peyroux and other jazz singers."

Heyward is the founding member of Living On Dreams. He took the name from a performance art piece that he and his brother Carl, along with poet Quincy Hand, penned in 1988. It became the foundation for a series of collaborations on visual, dance and music projects.

Heyward was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Atlanta, Ga. He studied music at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., and later with jazz innovators Joe Henderson and John Handy at San Francisco State University.

From the mid '70s to the late '80s in San Francisco, Heyward became caught up in world beat music and began mixing funk and rock into his compositions. He recorded and performed with artists Taj Mahal and conga master Armando Perazza during that time.

As a saxophonist he can be heard on recordings by Mandinka, Next Alliance, Mapenzi, Asante, Las Malandras, Main Squeeze and Zulu Spear.

Many of the performances he made with groups at music festivals in San Francisco were recorded and distributed freely in protest of South African's former Apartheid government's incarceration of leader Nelson Mandela. He also appeared on politically inspired recordings by DeDe Williams and Ekemode.

Today Heyward's music is more about the realization of a vision than the problems of the world.

"We try not to get bogged down by all that," he says. "We're just trying to create."

He and his band are working on a compilation of tunes for a new CD. They work at Heyward's home studio.

"Many of the songs I have written in the past," he says. "I'm in the process of rearranging them, updating them to a more contemporary style."

Cover for the show is free. Call 779-4455.

Kent Heyward is not as politically inclined as he was in the days he performed with artists Zulu Spear and O.J. Ekemode. - livingondreamsband.com