Culture | POC artists to watch: Kalmunity Jazz Project

Crafting welcoming spaces, one improvisation at a time

If you live in Montreal and don’t know Kalmunity, you’re welcome, because I’m about to tell you about them. The first time I saw Kalmunity play live was shortly after I moved to Montreal, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to be introduced to this city’s music scene. The show literally pumped life into me – I’m not kidding. If you’re feeling stressed out for whatever reason, I highly recommend their invigorating jazz improvisations as a solution.

Kalmunity is collective, formed in 2003 and jamming weekly ever since. The collective isn’t strictly jazz either. Funk, soul, afrobeat, and hip hop artists frequently mix different genres of Black music live onstage for inimitable show-stopping performances.

As many of you probably know, moving away from home to go to university can be an emotional roller coaster. On one hand, you’re super excited to leave behind all of your parents’ nagging and finally live the life of independence you always knew you were destined to live, but on the other hand, you’re completely terrified that you will fail miserably, end up alone, and live your worst nightmare instead. That second possibility definitely was the one that dominated my thought process. If you’re like me, and you regard music as the sole saviour of life (apart from your mom), then you will understand how important it is to find that special musical connection in such desperate times of need. I’m nostalgic for the feeling of inclusion and safety in such a music setting as I saw that night, but I haven’t really felt it since. I don’t know what exactly it is about Kalmunity that brings people so closely together, but what I do know is that other artists should take note, figure it out, and do the same.

Kalmunity came to me in my time of need and damn, did they ever do so in style. First of all, they were nothing like I had thought they would be. I had only ever listened to jazz a handful of times before, and frankly didn’t care too much for it because I found it, well – boring. I immediately regretted my previous judgements when they started playing: this was anything but boring. Suddenly I found myself dancing in my seat, and eventually on the dance floor, to their jazz-meets-funk-meets-rap musicality. I forgot all my worries and insecurities, and just focused on the soul of the music at that moment. It was truly beautiful, but perhaps what was more beautiful was the diversity that oozed out of every corner of the room. People from different backgrounds, different interests, and different styles were all gathered around and listening to the same melody and experiencing the same euphoria. I was so happy, yet so amazed, because in comparison to my alienating experiences in the punk rock scene that I usually frequent, Kalmunity creates a welcoming space for people of colour.

To experience this space, hit up Les Bobards on Tuesday nights or Café Resonance on Sunday nights.

Talk Black is a column that seeks to engage in anti-racist culture writing, addressing art, music, events, and more. Jedidah Nabwangu can be reached at

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