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Taji Nahl - On Facing East

sun rise- script

July 14th, 2016, 8:00pm

Facing East: Islamic Influences In Jazz

International House

3701 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

 

Tickets: $15 in advance, more at the door

Purchase Tickets Here

 

Philadelphia Jazz Project In collaboration with The New Africa Center, present Facing East: A concert celebrating Islamic influences and Islamic experiences in Jazz. The story of Islam in America is an interesting one, an understated one.... a journey. The tales of Jazz and how its Islamic influences emerge are just as fascinating.

 

The concert will feature musical compositions by artists like... John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Yusef Lateef, Ahmad Jamal, Rashied Ali, Art Blakey, Abdullah Ibrahim, Kool & The Gang and others. It will present an all star musical ensemble led by pianists and co-music directors, Alfie Pollitt and Bernard Samuel.

 


Serving as host for the event is Taji Ra'oof Nahl, a Philadelphia based, interdisciplinary artist whose vocabulary delves into social commentary, via a historical and futurist aesthetic. Installation, video, performance art, sculpture, painting, are utilities that embody poetic & abstract narrative for his oeuvre. His work has been exhibited at institutions such as, The Italian Palace - Tangier Morocco͵ The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College, Ice Box Project Space in Philadelphia, Kelly Writers House at University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine ArtsFisher Brooks Galley and the Averill & Bernard Leviton Gallery at Columbia College of Chicago. Taji also spearheads 2Spiral Art Collective, which collaborates with artists of various disciplines to develop art that explores the transformative elements of compassion, freedom, justice and activism.
 

 

Taji 1PJP recently spoke with Philadelphia-area, interdisciplinary artist, Taji Nahl about his work as an artist, the upcoming Facing East project and his role in it.

 

PJP: You have your own Islamic roots. Tell us about them.

 

Taji Nahl: In 1972, at age 12, as I was introduced to the Nation of Islam, through my two uncles. My mother's brothers. Soon, I attended The University of Islam. In 1975, I converted to Al-Islam under the leadership of Imam Warith Deen Muhammad. I became Islamic chaplain in South Jersey in the 1980's- 90's. I made Hajj (Pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca) in the year, 2006. Now, there are four generations of indigenous of Muslims from my family here in America.

 

Taji 2PJP: Can you briefly describe your direction as an artist and your role as a collaborator in this project?

 

Taji Nahl: Part of my artistic practice is to immerse my actions into the subject, so that clarity and light to historical current international social relevance become evident. With this project (Allah willing), the people will  witness a visual picture of those specific time frames where the music was created. More than just nostalgia, we want address the artistic cannon, so the true contributions from the Muslim community can be realized.

 

PJP: What and whom are pivotal influences on your creative approach as an artist?

 

Taji Nahl: My influences... The Bauhaus School, Jean Arp, Paul Robeson, Terry Adkins, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Isamu Noguchi, Art Blakey, the Jazz band known as Weather Report, Alexander Calder and David Bowie amongst others.

 

PJP: Tell us about the music for the show and how you connect with it.

 

Taji Nahl: Facing East springs forth from the establishment of the direction for prayer (Qiblah ). As humans we need direction an this idea symbolizes the need for solidarity & order in all aspects of our lives. It is our belief this greater purposes is establish thru G'd Consciousness. The Generous Quran States: "It is not righteousness to turn your faces Towards east or West; but it is righteousness- to believe in Allah( G'D ) & the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Scriptures , and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the G'D-Conscious."  Chapter 2: Verse 177

 

PJP: What advice would you give to your audiences to assist with greater understanding and enjoyment of this project?

 

Taji Nahl: What I'd need to enjoy something is.... an open mind & heart. I'd need something uplifting, contemplative. Something empowering, comforting and spiritual. Something professional presented and ...striving for excellence. Facing East should provide all of these.

 

Participating Facing East Artists:

▪ Alfie Pollitt - Piano / Music Director
▪ Bernard Samuel - Piano / Music Director
▪ Abdur Rashid - Piano
▪ Tony "TNT" Jones - Bass
▪ Alan Nelson - Drums
▪ Marion Salaam - Alto Sax & Vocals
▪ Umar Raheem - Tenor Sax
▪ Harun Akbar - Tenor Sax & Flute
▪ Mikal Shabazz - Tenor & Baritone Sax
▪ Samir Berry - Trumpet
▪ Matthew Stewart - Trumpet
▪ Saudah Al Akbar - Vocals
▪ Tara Middleton - Vocals
▪ Siedah Abdellah- Vocals
▪ Taji Nahl - Host


 

July 14th, 2016, 8:00pm

Facing East: Islamic Influences In Jazz

International House

3701 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

 

Tickets: $15 in advance, more at the door

 

Purchase Tickets Here

 

Stay connected with Taji Nahl's adventures and creations via his Facebook or Twitter or Instagram pages.


Original SunRise In Philadelphia Photo Credit: Bruce Turner

 

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

 

 

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