Last night we played at the University of Georgia Performing Arts Center
Last night we played at the University of Georgia Performing Arts Center. Our presenter, (a man of jovial and deep erudition) Dr. George C. Foreman, and I reminisced about him presenting us in Danville, Kentucky almost 12 years ago (at which time we played three and a half hours for an unsuspecting but very accepting audience in order to record the band).
The great Tim Adams, veteran of the Pittsburgh and Indianapolis Symphonic Orchestras, chairs the percussion department here. He and his beautiful wife, Kimberly, graced us with their presence. I met a lot of deeply engaged young musicians and especially trumpet players (always a bonus of touring), many with stories of having seen me some too many years ago somewhere when they were 10 or 12 and now they’re 19 or 22 or something that makes me feel much older.
Today, we will hear from a man I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a section with for 20 years. He has a most unique sound and approach, can be depended on to come through in the most difficult circumstances, and is the most stalwart of friends and collegial of colleagues. He is a great teacher and also has one of the most eclectic group of friends in the world. Because he is all heart, we love him. Mr. Marcus Printup:
HOME SWEET HOME!!!!
I was excited to perform in Athens for several reasons. In no particular order, I am an AVID Georgia Bulldog fan. Can’t wait to see them WHOOP Missouri Saturday!! More importantly, Athens is 50 minutes from my home town of Conyers, GA. I rented a car to drive and experience the nostalgia of the place where I honed my life skills.
Simeon and Elizabeth met me at the local Target Superstore off HWY 138. They are building Jazz at Lincoln Center’s YouTube channel and doing a masterful job capturing images and nuances from the home towns of several orchestra members.
We visited my childhood home and then found my Alma Mater, Heritage High School. There we took footage of the gridiron where much of my sweat was shed playing football. We even went to Stone Mountain to interview my sister, Angela, and then visited my home church, Peeks Chapel Baptist Church.
Having them visit my father’s gravesite with me was surreal. We also visited the pool where I was baptized at 8 years old. So many beautiful memories…… The fiery gospel music my parents sang. The intense sermons the Pastor preached. The fans waving in the non-air conditioned southern heat. Ahhh…..very fond memories. The foundation of my spirituality was formed in this building and I am extremely grateful, humble and proud to call it home.
We then went to visit my mother at the nursing home. My mother was the head of the youth choir for over 35 years and sang in the senior choir for over 40 years. She will always be my favorite gospel singer. Now, she has Alzheimer’s and is incoherent most of the time. It sucks, but I know that a power higher is in charge. I call him God.
After visiting with mama, I felt rejuvenated and energized to play this incredible music with these stellar musicians and this amazing choir because I got a much needed dose of where I came from – soul, integrity, faith, hope, prayer and love.
Playing this piece every night can be taxing, but many of its lessons, I was taught in my youth. “Everyone has a place in the house of God”, “God is great and worthy to be praised”, “The Lord’s Prayer”, “I’m going up to heaven just to see my Lord”, to name a few. Seeing my mother, feeling my father, and breathing the air of my youth put a sense of authenticity in my heart and made me REALLY embrace the music. This music touches people of ALL cultures because it is sincere.
I love the fact that there is a girl from London (Emily Dankworth) who payed her way to the US to perform this piece with us again. I love hearing Elliot Mason from Norwich, England roaring on his trombone like a seasoned deacon. I love hearing Martin Bakari, who is of Filipino descent, exclaim “AND GIVE THEM JOY” like a Southern minister.
It gives me great joy to know that this bit of Afro-American culture is being masterfully proclaimed by ALL races and heard by ALL races.
It gives me even greater pride in the fact that I was raised with this music and it runs warm in my veins. Thank you Bobby and Ann Printup.
Blessings everyone….and GO DAWGS!!!!!
Let’s now hear from the leader of Chorale Le Chateau, Mr. Damien Sneed:
I met Emily Dankworth last year while traveling back and forth to London, UK for rehearsals in preparation for our pre-Olympic performance at the Barbican. Emily is an amazing musician and is known as one of the UK’s rising vocal stars. She comes from a long lineage of musical talent at the highest level. She is the grand-daughter of John Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine. It is a pleasure to have Emily as a part of Chorale Le Chateau as she brings an international flair and a fresh approach to our music. Let’s hear from Emily:
Two nights ago, we were invited to the beautiful home of 91 year-old Lee Anderson. She hosted Wynton’s septet some 21 years ago, and invited some of us for a home cooked dinner prepared by her family and friends. Being in the presence of such humble, generous and relaxed company was an experience I will never forget. Everyone was very natural and at home. They were saying it was like extended family, and it was….after 21 years!
Last night was our first acoustic concert of the tour, with only the soloists using microphones. I overheard David, our sound engineer, saying he decided to use the warm, intimate sound of the venue and have both the band and the choir without amplification. The audience surrounded us, 360 degrees. And the layout of the stage encouraged us to project around the room making our stomps, claps and whistling more effective than ever. I could see the people in the front row with their jaws open, amazed at how a group of people could sound so much like a glory train going straight up to heaven! The choir was energetic and the band’s sound was deep.
Last night’s highlight for my ears and soul was the Offertory. This part of the Mass features the band and consists of 3 parts; The Father (word), The Son (action) and The Holy Ghost (thought). In the third part, the trumpets play a four note theme with plunger mutes. They whine, “The Ho-ly Ghost” scooping the last note up to the sky. In our last concert, I saw Wynton mouth to the other trumpeters, “They weren’t ready to come in yet”. He was referring to the improvised way that the trombones and saxophones cue themselves in. I love watching them as they judge the mood, try to find balance, and be free like the spirit of the Holy Ghost. Tonight they were ready for it without hesitation and played it like there would be no tomorrow.
At one point, during his brief solo on the Holy Ghost, Marcus Printup quoted a vocal line from another part of the Mass. This provoked members of the choir up onto their feet almost over to his chair, responding to his strong communicative playing. When all of the horn sections play together at some points during the Mass, they create shivers through your body. Wynton’s solo on the ‘Son’ section took you soaring high from the very first phrase. It was heated, making you concentrate and ponder. It possessed a special energy.
This was our 6th standing ovation in a row and I feel very privileged to be touring with people who are all so talented, energizing and welcoming. Also, I truly appreciate the unique and expressive conducting style of Damien Sneed. He is wholly unpredictable and purely inspired. And of course, when Wynton gives us a spur of the moment lesson during sound check, that’s when I realize all the things I will be taking away with me after this tour. I know this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am living every second like a blessing.
Tonight is sure to be extremely special as we perform at Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Augusta, GA, the home church of our own Damien Sneed. We look forward to interfacing with his family and friends and would like to thank Reverend Clarence Moore for welcoming us into his home.