Resounds: Bending Towards the Light . . . A Jazz Nativity
Bending Towards the Light . . . A Jazz Nativity had its Bozeman premiere on November 30th and December 3rd. The plot is a traditional Christmas story told through the medium of jazz. The show has been performed in New York City and other cities in the US since 1995 and has a lengthy history going back to 1985, with a parade of jazz greats having played the parts of shepherds, angels, and kings.
Dave Brubeck, Tito Puente, Lionel Hampton, Clark Terry, Al Grey, Jon Faddis, Phil Woods, Paquito D'Rivera, Candido, the tap-dancing Kings, Harold Nicholas, and Jimmy Slyde have performed at Avery Fisher Hall, The Lambs Theater, Orchestra Hall in Chicago, Birdland, B. B. King’s, and The Stephen Wise Free Synagogue.
The show in Bozeman was a community collaboration with MSU and Grammy Award winner Ryan Matzinger and his MSU One O'Clock Concert Jazz Ensemble. Producer Beth Ann Kennedy said the intention in future years is to have this event as an annual event not only in Bozeman but around the state and to do that I need to get the word out.
Anne Phillips is the conductor, creator, writer, and arranger of Bending Towards the Light. Beth Ann Kennedy is the producer, organizing the event and lining up dozens of area musicians, singers, and a host of community sponsors.
The costumed performances of the Shepherds, the Kings, the Angels, and Mary and her dancing Spirit are played by singers, dancers, and jazz musicians, including a ten-piece all-star jazz ensemble. The story captivates the audience with its straight from the heart theatrical performances from the opening moment when Silent Night is hauntingly played in the darkness on tenor saxophone, to the thrilling moment when the orchestra strikes up We Three Kings to announce the arrival of the three Jazz Kings.
The Celebration begins the show’s second half, with Dave and Iola Brubeck’s God’s Love Made Visible, and then a rousing Deck the Halls, when the Kings and members of the jazz ensemble share the stage with guest jazz artists who come up from the audience to join in the celebration. The Host returns to the stage for The Closing, which leads to the finale: a lively Dixie version of Joy to the World!