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Mysterious Traveler - Elijah Thomas

Elijah Thomas 1Mysterious Traveler 3 Concert Series

April 17, 2017 - 7PM | Elijah Thomas

Parkway Central Library | Montgomery Auditorium
1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189


All events in this series are FREE.


Mysterious Travelers 3: Internal Investigations - a collaboration between The Free Library of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Jazz Project. Back by overwhelming popular demand! FREE concerts every fourth Monday night from September 2016 through May 2017 audiences will hear from veteran, as well as up-and-coming musicians who are shaping the future sounds of Philadelphia with a sharp ear to the legacies of our past. This season will directly celebrate the massive and amazing collections of the Free Library by granting our performers access to explore them as a source of inspiration for the creation of new musical works and arrangements


Elijah Jordan Thomas, a Philadelphia-born and bred flutist, saxophonist, educator and composer began his musical journey at a very young age. A graduate of Temple University, Elijah holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Arranging & Composition and a Master of Music in Music Education from the Boyer College of Music and Dance (with an instrumental concentration in flute). As an educator, Elijah has held teaching positions in Philadelphia with Temple Music Prep, Settlement Music School, Tune Up Philly of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, The Shipley School, and The Primavera Fund. Currently, Elijah works for the New York City non-profit Education Through Music Inc., for whom he works as a Pre-K thru 5th grade elementary school music teacher and Band/Choir director. Additionally, he is an avid composer, with two full-length recorded projects released with his group, The NeW Quintet, “Diversity” and “The Unity of Sound,” available on iTunes, CD Baby and all other online retailers.


Check out Elijah Thomas' performance with the historic, Another Holiday For Skins ensemble in February 2015.


Flautist, saxophonist and composer, Elijah Thomas will be our next guest artist in the Mysterious Traveler Concert Series.


PJP spoke with Elijah Thomas, about his music, approach and the new project that he will reveal in the Mysterious Traveler Concert Series.


Elijah Thomas 4PJP: Can you briefly describe your musical direction


Elijah Thomas: My musical direction is one that is diverse. At very least, it is my hope that it appears as such to those are familiar with my output of work or wish to know more about my work as a musician. I hope that what I offer through the music I make is an insight into the many cultures, ideas, trends, and innovations that the world at large has to offer us.


PJP: What and whom are pivotal musical influences on your creative approach?


Elijah Thomas: Currently, I am inspired by the work of multi-instrumentalists Bennie Maupin and Charles Lloyd, major proponents of the flute in jazz and producers of more spiritual music. In addition, I have become increasingly more drawn to Afro-Caribbean and Brazilian-styled music, for its use of percussion and dance as forms of communication and place as progenitors of various musical styles.


Elijah Thomas 4PJP: What are you going to present at the Mysterious Traveler Concert Series?


Elijah Thomas: Without giving too much away, what you will hear are vignettes depicting events of the summer of 1991. Each piece of music is original, and will attempt to paint a different story that appeared during June, July and August of that year, either a headline or a forgotten story. Some controversial, some inspiring, and some simply never heard.


PJP: Why is this theme/concept so important? Can you explain your process and the steps that led to this performance?


Elijah Thomas: I feel that people often forget the details. We become so overwhelmed with headlines that are larger than life that we overlook the things that happen around us. We forget the people and places and things that really shape our experience, especially in Philadelphia. I think these “details” need to be examined a bit more closely, to help open our eyes a bit. The process for the music was (and is) to simply write in order to tell the story, and show the details in a very real and organic manner.


PJP: How do you manage the task of creating and encouraging fresh, new, forwarding moving musical ideas while simultaneously exploring, celebrating and documenting the past?


Elijah Thomas: It is not a difficult thing for me to inform the music of the present by exploring the music of the past. I believe that it is near impossible to create in a vacuum - that the production of new sounds is highly improbable without synthesis of past tradition. I attempt to produce music that emphasizes the connection between music we have now and what music we have had for some time, and what about the two ends of the continuum make music exciting, interesting, and worth listening to at all. It’s all a matter of keeping your heart and mind open to the sounds you hear.


Elijah Thomas 2PJP: When listening to your music what advice would you give the audience to assist with greater understanding and enjoyment?


Elijah Thomas:  As mentioned, I make as great an effort as I can to highlight the diversity and importance of the musics of all times and all places, in order to appeal to any number of people who listen to what I’m doing. I would say that the audiences should try to keep their ears open for as wide a musical array as they can when listening to my music, as well pay attention to the detail that I describe my music in (I often speak on the music I perform before I actually perform it).


PJP: Why Jazz? When you could be doing anything else, Why this music?


Elijah Thomas:  To indirectly quote Wayne Shorter, “first there was the sound, then, the feeling, and then, the detail in the music and performance.” Jazz was the first music I heard that was truly its own entity. It was the first music that made me feel something inside my heart and bones and show that feeling physically, and in turn the first music that made me want to know more about the world around me. In this way, jazz gave me the freedom to make my own sounds without judgment and express how I feel without worry. Jazz made creativity circular and for me.


Mysterious Traveler 3 Concert Series

April 17, 2017 - 7PM | Elijah Thomas

Parkway Central Library | Montgomery Auditorium
1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189


All events in this series are FREE.


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Mysterious Traveler 3 - Internal Investigations Concert Series is produced by Philadelphia Jazz Project in collaboration with The Free Library of Philadelphia.


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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Wyncote Foundation.


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Tags : MysteriousTraveler3 InternalInvestigations FreeLibraryofPhiladelphia 1991 Summerof1991 ElijahThomas Flute TempleUniversity TheNeWQuintet BennieMaupin CharlesLloyd Afro-Caribbean Brazilian WayneShorter


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