The Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble presents "Tyner and Timmons"
The Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble
The Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble presents Tyner and Timmons (TNT) on April 23 and 24 at Christ Church Neighborhood House as a part of the city’s Jazz Appreciation Month celebration. TNT is a new evening-length piece that blends tap dance, jazz music, original poetry, and vocussion to observe the legacy of these two legendary jazz composers. The hour-long concert also includes two recent works by artistic director, Pamela Hetherington: “Blue Rondo ALT,” which dives into the odd-metered composition by Dave Brubeck, and “Rolling Down a Hill,” which is set to an original composition by bassist Jim Donica. A limited number of in-person tickets are available on www.philajazztap.org and the concert will also be broadcast live on PhillyCAM during their “Live Culture” program hour.
The Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble advances the scope of American tap dance and jazz music traditions through current choreography, modern compositions, progressive performances and accessible environments and contexts for the work. Hetherington's choreography and arranging work has an intentionally distinctive focus on the legends that came out of this city. Some of the most accomplished and swingin’ musicians working on the scene today are a core part of the ensemble, including Mark Allen on saxophone, Tim Brey on piano, Madison Rast on bass, Anwar Marshall on drums, and Bethlehem Roberson on tap shoes, vocals, and tarima. Rounding out the ensemble are two busy East Coast tap dancers: Gina Accordino and Rosie Marinelli. Support provided by The Philadelphia Cultural Fund.
How the idea came to be:
“When McCoy Tyner passed away last year, like most jazzheads stuck in quarantine, I was reading retrospective pieces about his life and accomplishments. In one of those articles, I happened upon the fact that McCoy Tyner and fellow Philadelphian, Bobby Timmons, shared the same piano teacher as children - a man named Robert Habershaw, who was Timmons’ uncle. Minor trivia, to be sure. On the surface, it reinforces what we natives already know: that this metropolitan city is actually really small and often borders on provincial.
But the idea of them as kids, sharing a piano and a teacher, lingered in the back of my mind. I became curious about them as young musicians in the 1950s and 1960s, how they would have interacted with the other musicians coming up in the scene, how this city helped define their quite different voices and sounds, and then, how they ended up making two very divergent career leaps with two big-name band leaders, (for Tyner, it was John Coltrane; for Timmons, it was Art Blakey). When I listen to these two musicians, I think about how they found their own voice. How do we do the same? How do we take this music and embody it in our own daily practice? How DO we make it our own? What themes of legacy, memory and loss resonate with us, right now? When we make the compositions new and keep moving the music forward --- that’s how it lives on.
A giant example of Philly jazz legacy, John Coltrane, lived in North Philadelphia from just 1952-1958, yet his presence remains large in this city, still: even as the streets gentrify from brick row houses to plywood palaces and developers literally build over his image, he’s here. I decided to focus the exploration of Tyner and Timmons’ music on the ten-year span of 1957-1967, because it was during this time that both musicians were in the aura of Coltrane, were coming up and joined major bands, composed some of their most recognizable standards and recorded influential albums. Tyner joined the John Coltrane Quartet in 1960 and toured with him until 1965. Timmons toured with Art Blakey from 1959-1961, and then recorded several influential albums in the 1960s, until his own death in 1974.”
-- Pamela Hetherington, Artistic Director
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