Google+

9

 

“MT4

 


Welcome to Philadelphia Jazz Project




Watch Night At The Cathedral

WatchNight1

Watch Night

New Year’s Eve – Sunday, December 31, 2017 4:00pm

The Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral

19 South 38th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19104

 

In a new initiative inaugurated in response to the alarming increase in racist violence and injustice over the past year, the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral will host a New Year’s Eve event called Watch Night for Racial Justice – An Evening of Jazz at the Cathedral. The event celebrates the tradition of “Watch Night” which began on New Year’s Eve 1863 in black churches throughout the nation awaiting the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1864.

 

A family-friendly event, the evening will start at 4:00pm at the Cathedral with three hours of performances by leading area jazz musicians, including vocalists Ruth Naomi Floyd, DeVonne Gardner, and Lourin Plant, pianists Jay Fluellen and Sumi Tonooka, drummer Kimpedro Rodriguez, and the Clef Club Student Ensemble directed by Lovett Hines.

 

WatchNight 3The event will also be a fund-raiser to benefit two social justice efforts: 1. POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild) which is Pennsylvania’s largest faith-rooted, racial and economic justice organization and 2). The Episcopal Cathedral Table Ministries which meet the immediate material needs of food, clothing, and social services of the people of West Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

 

Two key players in the development of this event are musicians, Thomas Lloyd and Jay Fluellen. PJP spoke with Thomas Lloyd about his work and this very special event.

 

PJP: Can you tell us a little about your creative direction and your work as a artist or producer?

 

Thomas Lloyd: I am a classically trained choral conductor, singer, and composer. I have directed music programs in church, community, and academia. Collaborations have long been an important part of my work. I believe music can be a bridge between people in overcoming longstanding social and cultural divides. My expectations of this work are realistic. But I do believe that once people from different cultural traditions have sung each other's music together on an equal basis, it becomes much more difficult to demonize or dehumanize people from that tradition going forward.   

 

WatchNight 4PJP: Why is Watchnight for Racial Justice important?

 

Thomas Lloyd:  We believe it is important to honor the tradition of many black churches to celebrate "Watch Night" as it was first observed 155 years ago on the eve of the Emancipation Proclamation, especially in a year that has seen a dramatic increase in racial violence and the attempted normalization of hateful ideologies of white supremacy by elected officials and large segments of our society. Part of the Cathedral's mission is to provide a public safe space in Philadelphia for interfaith gatherings affirming shared values of racial, social, and economic justice across religious traditions.  Out of respect for congregations that have their own Watch Night tradition, we are holding ours early in the evening. We also hope this will make it easier for people to come out early with their families to celebrate the tradition. For this reason, we are especially pleased that the young musicians of the Clef Club Student Ensemble will be able to join us.

 

PJP: Tell us about the people / artists working with you.

 

Thomas Lloyd: I began imagining and planning this event last spring with composer/pianist Jay Fluellen and composer/vocalist Ruth Naomi Floyd following a concert featuring them that I conducted with the Bucks County Choral Society. WatchNight0They are dear friends and close colleagues with whom I have collaborated in the past.  DeVonne Gardner, an original Ellington Sacred Concerts soloist who is considered jazz royalty by many in our city but is too infrequently heard here, is also an old friend who has taught me much about the Sacred Concerts through a number of performances with my choral groups over the last 20 years. Lourin Plant is a classically trained singer on the voice faculty at Rowan University who has a special affinity for the solo arrangements of the Spirituals.  Sumi Tonooka is a close colleague of Jay Fluellen and a highly respected jazz pianist with a unique voice of her own. Kimpedro Rodriguez is a wonderful jazz drummer who has worked frequently with Jay Fluellen and with most of the other artists on the program.  The Clef Club has had a long association with most of our artists - DeVonne Gardner in particular speaks fondly of her history with them, and Clef Club Artistic Director Lovett Hines is eager to share the talents of his outstanding young musicians as well as to give them exposure to an important tradition.

 

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

 

Thomas Lloyd: Since the Watch Night tradition comes from the African-American community, it was essential that the music also come from that tradition. As to why jazz rather than any number of other African-American musical genres, I have had a long passion for jazz in general and sacred jazz in particular as a listener, scholar, and performer, and already had some deep ties with area jazz musicians, so it was the logical place to start for me personally.  I have always wished I had training as a jazz musician, and envied jazz musicians' improvisatory command of complex melodic and chord structures. As a choral conductor I discovered the rich tradition of sacred choral jazz that started with Ellington, and that gave me the opportunity to work closely with highly fluent jazz musicians - the next best thing to being able to sit down at the piano and improvise from a chart myself.  (I made sure my son got the training I missed, and he has gone on to make a career for himself as a pop musician in a jazz-inflected 'electro/R&B' style he created as Marian Hill (Jay Fluellen's twins are big fans!))

 

WatchNight 5But just speaking of the music itself, jazz is a genre that uniquely combines freedom and structure, sophistication and the common touch - an especially elevated form of musical expression perfect for probing both suffering and hope, freedom and determination, the individual voice and community collaboration - and so perfect for a Watch Night celebration.

 

It's unusual for me to be involved in producing an event that I'm not also involved in as a performer, but it's hard to pull a choir together for a New Year's Eve performance, though next year we may try! I see this as an extension of my role as director of music at the Cathedral in furthering its mission of providing a safe space to celebrate and proclaim God's passionate desire for freedom and justice for all people.

 

Watch Night

New Year’s Eve – Sunday, December 31, 2017 4:00pm

The Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral

19 South 38th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19104

 

*Free parking in the open lot across from the Cathedral (between Market and Ludlow, 38th and 39th - cars enter on 39th)

 

Follow PJP, like us, or just check us out at our pages on these social media platforms...

 

FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTubeTumblr

 

 

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

 

<< Go back to the previous page

Tags : Philadelphia EpiscopalCathedral NewYear’sEve WatchNightforRacialJustice EmancipationProclamation 1864 Faith Church RuthNaomiFloyd DeVonneGardner LourinPlant JayFluellen SumiTonooka KimpedroRodriguez ClefClub StudentEnsemble LovettHines.POWER PhiladelphiansOrganizedtoWitness-Empower&Rebuild TableMinistries DukeEllington SacredConcerts PhillyJazz

9

 

“MT4

 

Philly Jazz Quotes

If it hadn't been for him, there wouldn't have been none of us. I want to thank Mr. Louis Armstrong for my livelihood.
                    Dizzy Gillespie

Other Info

9

 

PhillyCAM Sessions

9

PhillyCAM Sessions


Jazz News



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