Wynton’s Blog

Memorial Hall was filled with a very spirited audience

Last night was a rare second night in the same venue. Memorial Hall was filled with a very spirited audience. Two great saxophonists, Chad Eby and Stephen Riley, came out. Chad brought his 11 year old son, Spencer (who can make it through all of his major scales), and Stephen drove 2 and a half hours to hear us. Ralph Rodgers, Damyan Crews, Yaya Corbett, and Kevin Johnson came as a trumpet section representing North Carolina Central, and the great composer/educator Dr. Anthony Kelly came with a radiant and eclectic group of about 20 students from Duke.

Today we will hear from both a member of the JLCO and the leader of Chorale Le Chateau, Damien Sneed. First from the JLCO, someone who has mastered an encyclopedic variety of styles, approaches and sounds….and all with soul, Mr. Kenny Rampton:

Yesterday was day two of the tour and a luxury to sleep in after a few very busy weeks (Ahmad Jamal rehearsals/concerts, Harvard rehearsals/lecture, tour rehearsals, long travel day, soundcheck and gig Thursday night).

Last night, as we were all standing on the side of the stage waiting to go on, I was speaking with a few of the choir members. One of them said that it doesn’t feel like two different groups playing together but feels so much like we’re all part of the same energy, truly a collective. I couldn’t agree more. This particular JLCO collaboration has a feeling of unity and oneness.

The choir shows sincere appreciation and support for the band… and we appreciate and respect the passion, talent and depth that Chorale Le Chateau and Damien Sneed bring to the table. This feeling of unity is largely due to the dedication, spirit and love of everyone involved, but also due to the incredibly inspired music written by Wynton and the subject matter of this music…a celebration of ‘togetherness in worship’ through the form of a Baptist church service.

The basis of religion is, after all, spirituality and ONEness. That feeling really seems to be coming across through the music. Congress could learn A LOT from this concept…who knows, maybe some of them will show up at the Kennedy Center gig in a couple of days and learn something about working together (they could definitely use a little enlightenment)!

Playing with this choir is a very powerful and positive experience. On stage, The Spirit of Music is shining through each one of us, and the music is really starting to come off the paper. I’m looking forward to seeing how the piece will develop, grow and evolve over the next few weeks!!!



Demonstrating the broad educational impact this tour is having outside of the concert hall, let’s hear from the leader of Chorale Le Chateau, Damien Sneed:

Yesterday, I lectured at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for a Radical Communities in U.S. Religious History class, within their American Studies department. This course teaches the Civil Rights movement and visions of the “Beloved Community” through exploring how the music and rhetoric of the Black Church emphasized Christianity’s radical tenets as the framework for achieving racial integration. Twenty five currently enrolled students were in the seminar and attended our Thursday evening performance. I was accompanied by 10 singers from Chorale Le Chateau.

We sang movements from the Abyssinian Mass and answered many questions from the students about what the music means to each of us on an individual and personal level. Within 15 minutes of the class, many of the students and the instructor were moved to tears as they felt the power of God and were able to connect to the message in the music. It was extremely gratifying.



Tonight, we will perform in Norfolk at Chrysler Hall, presented by the Virginia Arts Festival. For the past 17 years, the Festival has brought world class artists to the region in April and May with eclectic events ranging from a Tattoo Festival to diverse musical presentations. We are performing as part of the Festival’s Gospel and Jazz Celebration Weekend, which includes our good friends Carla Cook, who performed Friday night, and Rene Marie, who performs on Sunday with the Roy Muth Big Band. As Education is an integral part of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s mission, we partnered with the Festival’s Education Director, Christine Foust, to coordinate a gospel workshop led by artist and educator Karla Scott with the Hampton University Choirs. We are grateful to Omar Dickenson, Director of the Hampton University Choirs, for welcoming Karla.


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