Today's treasure was an unexpected gift of extraordinary musical talent.
Classes started today, and my first was the History of Jazz in Baltimore. Our instructor extraordinaire is
Gregory L. Thompkins who earned a B.S. in Jazz/Performance from Towson University in 1989. He is a recording and performing professional saxophonist and has taught saxophone privately for over 25 years. He is the Musical Director of The Baltimore Jazz Education Project. www.rolandparkjazz.com
ThIs class is one of the best I've ever taken, and I'm a life long learner! Greg combined videos (Eubie Blake, Chick Webb), CDs of Ella Fitzgerald and Chick Webb, fascinating stories, and then, as if for dessert, a duet and live performance with another local musician, Lafayette Gilchrist, a jazz pianist. We had just finished watching Eubie Blake Youtube videos, certainly a hard act to follow, but Thompkins and Gilchrist didn't disappoint. We were gifted with their energy, spirit and phenomenal talent.
Lafayette Gilchrist, didn’t start playing until he was 17 years old. He learned by himself initially, plunking around on a Steinway in the fine arts building of a school he was attending. For today's mini-concert, he played the old, beat up, out of tune console piano we use for chorus. He turned it into a different instrument. He was all over it - more like he was holding it than sitting at it. It was part of him. Amazing!!!!
Until today, I considered the best musical experience of my life my friend’s dad’s funeral at the African American Methodist church in Harrisburg, PA. The music was passionate, spirited and heart felt. They were sending the man to heaven.
Lafayette Gilchrist was actually taking us there!
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
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