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Grex Album Release and Benefit for Typhoon Haiyan Relief

Grex performing
Grex performing
Hannah Savard

When Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines last November, killing more than 6,000 people, guitarist and composer Karl Evangelista wanted to do something.

“I had this conversation with a lot of musicians here,” he said. “We didn’t really know where to contribute because there can be so much bureaucratic inefficiency.”

Evangelista has a lot of family in the Philippines and decided on a medical mission that works in one of the areas most severely affected by the typhoon. His mother had met the people running the mission, which gave him confidence.

So when Evangelista’s ensemble, Grex, plays at the Berkeley Arts on Saturday, Feb. 15, in an album release party for "Monster Music," all the proceeds, including album sales, will go to the medical mission.

Evangelista’s wife, Rei Scampavia, a vocalist and keyboard player who studies biology at University of California, Davis, came up with the band’s unusual name, which is a type of slime mold. For a long time, the two of them made up Grex, but on Saturday night, drummer Robert Lopez will join them.

“Having a strong rhythmic emphasis changes the music entirely,” Evangelista said. “It allows us to open up more and gives a lot more energy.”

Grex will be the headliner for the event, sponsored by the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center. The Jordan Glenn Ensemble and Michael Jordan’s Enjoyer will also appear.

Evangelista, who has been involved with Asian Improv aRts since meeting the organization’s co-founder saxophonist Francis Wong when Evangelista was a student at University of California, Berkeley looks forward to bringing his worlds of experimental music and activism together.

“I like to find opportunities to bridge those two environments,” he said. “If I can bring creativity and social justice together, I think that’s something a lot of musicians are hungry for, and I want to be part of activating that.”

Watch a clip of Grex

Grex plays at Berkeley Arts, 2133 University Ave., on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 8pm. There’s no cover charge and all donations are accepted.

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