John Blake, Jr. and Afro Blue Bring Jazz Influenced African American Spirituals to Berklee
February 10, 2011
Berklee College of Music presents The Spiritual Song with the John Blake Quartet and Afro Blue on February 10 as part of a collaborative effort between Berklee’s American Roots Music Program and Berklee’s Africana Studies Program. Blake, his quartet, and Howard University alumni from the school’s renowned vocal jazz group Afro Blue will perform works from Blake’s newest album, Motherless Child. The album, released last spring, represents Blake’s first journey as an arranger into the African American spiritual songbook, putting an original jazz twist on the classic inspirational works. Audiences can catch the jazz legend perform on Thursday, February 10, at 8:15 p.m. at the Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. General admission tickets are $10 and are available at the box office, at ticketmaster.com or by calling 617.931.2000. For more information, call 617.747.2261 or visit berkleebpc.com. One of the world’s leading jazz violinists for over four decades, Blake is an improvisational pioneer who gained global recognition in the mid-1970s as a touring member of Grover Washington, Jr.’s popular “crossover” jazz band. Originally a classically trained musician, Blake is often credited as one of the first musicians to gain recognition in the jazz community on an instrument typically associated with classical and folk music. In addition to performing regularly, Blake serves on the faculty of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and of the Manhattan School of Music. Blake is the co-author of the definitive string jazz method book, Jazz Improvisation Made Easy. Joining Blake on stage at the Berklee Performance Center will be his quartet members, pianist Sumi Tonooka, bassist Boris Kozlov, and Blake’s son, drummer Johnathan Blake III. Alumni members of Howard University’s award-winning vocal jazz group Afro Blue, named Best College Jazz Group by DownBeat magazine in 2003, will bring dynamic voices to the stage. The John Blake Quartet and Afro Blue played on the recording for Motherless Child. The Spiritual Song with John Blake and Afro Blue is co-presented by Berklee’s American Roots Music Program, a focused area of study that explores America’s musical and cultural heritage directed by Matt Glaser. The February 10 concert is also part of the annual Africana Studies Concert Series, produced by Bill Banfield, director of Africana Studies, and students and faculty. The series includes performances and lectures by Ernie Isley, Honeyboy Edwards, Bobby McFerrin, Patrice Rushen, and Nnenna Freelon, among others.