Dear Friends of the Jazz Nativity,
It was the summer after I met Bob that the Rev. John Garcia Gensel asked me to write The Jazz Nativity. It was Bob's deep, passionate sound I heard in my head when I decided to start the show in the dark with Bob on his tenor saxophone hauntingly playing "Silent Night."
Bob's contributions to the show were great. He sat beside me at the piano and dictated the blazing arrangement of "The First Noel" for our saxophone playing shepherd Phil Woods, (replacing my nice but not very exciting bossa nova,) the Latin section of the Three Kings for Tito Puente and of course, his song, "Bending Towards the Light" written for a show at Camp Dudley where he was musical director for many years. I just re-wrote Henry Timm's lyric to make it a Christmas song ... and "BENDING TOWARDS THE LIGHT" became the title of the show!
We went through a lot together ... making the CD (when no label wanted it) from the extraordinary recordings made each year by John Uhl, my friend from Pennsylvania who is now head of sound for Jazz at Lincoln Center. The TV possibilities: among them the BBC, live streaming, and yes, a heartbreaking turn down from PBS (a top producer, Tito, Hamp, Brubeck ...!) The bumps in the road ... the transit strike when we were uptown at Symphony Space, the double snowstorm when the show went to Trenton ... and, of course, the endless search for funding ... just to cover the costs of the show and to break even!
It's been thirty years, but I wouldn't give up any one of them. It has been an unbelievable experience to be right in the midst of the glorious sound being made by the greatest jazz players in the world and feeling their joy, love and respect for each other. And then, of course, the joy on the faces of the audience! How often I heard "I didn't think I liked jazz but if this is jazz, I love it!"
So, as Clark Terry, our dear King for so many years said, "You gotta keep on keepin' on." And so we are!
The wonderful thing that happened last year is that Leonarda Priore, Artistic Director and co-founder of Chelsea Opera suggested they co-produce the show with Kindred Spirits as it really is a jazz opera! And they will again this year. We will again present Bending Towards the Light ... A Jazz Nativity at Christ and Saint Stephen's Church, 120 W. 69th St., NYC on Sunday, December 18th, 2016.
I think the best way to honor Bob is to keep The Jazz Nativity going and your fully tax-deductible gift will help us keep both his spirit and the music alive.
THE JAZZ NATIVITY BOB KINDRED MEMORIAL FUND
Please consider a tax deductible gift in Bob's honor and send your check payable to:
Or make a secure on-line at: www.NYCHARITIES (Kindred Spirits).
I hope to see you all in December.