Grammy-recognized jazz players coming to First Baptist this month

Press release from First Baptist Church:

Gregory Tardy, a member of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra and University of Tennessee associate professor, has brought together top musicians from the jazz and classical worlds to perform an epic musical journey based on “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan.

The special performance will be held at First Baptist Church, located at 5 Oak St., at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29. Tickets for the concert are available on Eventbrite:

Originally published as “The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come” in 1678, the work is considered one of the most significant religious allegories in the English language.

“This story is important, especially now, during a pandemic,” Tardy said. “I feel that we need compassion for one another as we move through life, and ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ helps illustrate the human struggle. I wanted to capture that in music. I once heard an older musician say, ‘It is better to be felt than to be heard.’ I never forgot that. That is my approach to playing any style of music.”

The assembled group features trombonist Michael Dease; trumpeter Alex Norris; flutist Maria Castillo; clarinetist Tom Johnson; violinists Kimberly Simpkins and Bethany Hankins; pianist Taber Gable; bassist Sean Conly; and drummer Dave Potter. The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra also is involved, and two performances are scheduled in Knoxville on March 28 and March 30.

Tardy, who teaches jazz saxophone at UT, received a South Arts/Jazz Road Creative Residencies grant to compose and perform the suite. Artists who have performed on Grammy Award-winning productions joined the project.

The performances are made possible with the support of Jazz Road, a national initiative of South Arts, which is funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with additional support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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