Passion for Bach and Coltrane

Fri. Feb 8, 2019 8:00pm - 9:45pm EST
All Ages
$20.00 - $80.00
All Ages
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Event Stats
$20.00 - $80.00
All Ages
Event Description

Imani Winds
Harlem Quartet
Alex Brown, piano
Edward Perez, bass
Neal Smith, drums
A.B. Spellman, Poet and Orator
composed by Jeff Scott

PASSION is a work for wind quintet, string quartet, piano, double bass, percussion and orator. It was inspired by the poetry of A.B. Spellman, from his book of poems Things I Must Have Known, (c) 2008 Coffee House Press. The poetry speaks to the musical mastery of J.S. Bach, John Coltrane and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, as well as religion and mortality.

I have long desired to set poetry to music and was particularly drawn to that of A.B. Spellman because of his strong references to both jazz and classical music as well as the question of faith. The tradition of Passions or musical settings of the Gospel narratives dates to the 4th Century. Bach wrote several though only two have survived. Here the premise of the Passion is explored rather than the actual Biblical accounts. Orated poems in lieu of the intoned Gospel. Bach, Coltrane, Rubalcaba and Spellman in lieu of the traditional Biblical characters.

Though the work is original, it is anchored by this poetry with reference to two significant works by Bach and Coltrane, The Goldberg Variations and A Love Supreme, works written at the pinnacle of their maturation. Passion explores the influence of spirituality on the art of these masters and asks the inevitable question, what if J.S. Bach and John Coltrane might chance to meet? It challenges the performer and listener to be comfortable with the seemingly polar opposites of the musical spectrum presented as equals. --Jeff Scott

Since 1997 Imani Winds, the Grammy-nominated wind quintet, has taken a unique path carving out a distinct presence in the classical music world with its dynamic playing, culturally poignant programming, adventurous collaborations, and inspirational outreach programs. With two member composers and a deep commitment to commissioning new work, the group is enriching the traditional wind quintet repertoire while meaningfully bridging American, European, African and Latin American traditions. From Mendelssohn to Astor Piazzolla to Wayne Shorter and Stravinsky, Imani Winds seeks to engage new music and new voices into the modern classical idiom. 

Starting in the fall of 2016 through 2018, Imani Winds has been appointed as the University of Chicago's Don Michael Randel Ensemble-in-Residence. This multi-faceted residency includes in depth collaborations with wind students, the chamber music department, composition majors and the Hyde Park community and will also feature world premieres on the "UC Presents" Series, the presenting arm of the University. 

Imani Winds’ touring schedule has taken them across the globe. At home, the group has performed in the nation’s major concert venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Disney Hall, to name a few. In recent seasons, the group has traveled extensively internationally, with tours in China, Singapore, Brazil, Australia and throughout Europe. Fall 2017 will include a tour of New Zealand. 

The group continues its Legacy Commissioning Project, in which the ensemble commissions and premieres new works for wind quintet written by a variety of composers of diverse musical backgrounds. Recent commissions include works by Vijay Iyer, Simon Shaheen, Jason Moran, Mohammed Fairouz and Frederic Rzewski. Recently, a concert-length new work by Imani Winds' member, Jeff Scott, was written for the group, jazz trio and string quartet entitled The Passion, which musically explores the idea of a fictitious meeting between JS Bach and John Coltrane. 2017 – 2018 will include premieres by Valerie Coleman, Reena Esmail, Nkeiru Okoye, Courtney Bryan and Pulitzer Prize winner Henry Threadgill.

In the summer of 2010 the ensemble launched its annual Chamber Music Festival. The program, set on the campus of Mannes School of Music, brings together young instrumentalists and composers from across North America and beyond, for an intense exploration and performance of traditional and new chamber music compositions. Now in it's 7th year, the participants have gone on to successes around the world, ranging from winning positions in orchestras, expanding entrepreneurial endeavors, founding their own music educational programs and forming their own chamber music ensembles. 

Imani Winds has five releases on E1 Music, including their 2006 Grammy Award nominated recording entitled The Classical Underground. They have also recorded for Naxos and Blue Note and released "The Rite of Spring" on Warner Classics which was on iTunes Best of 2013 list.

Their 8th commercial recording was released in the fall of 2016.

New York-based Harlem Quartet, currently serving a three-year residency at London’s Royal College of Music, has been praised for its "panache" by The New York Times and hailed in the Cincinnati Enquirer for “bringing a new attitude to classical music, one that is fresh, bracing and intelligent.” Since its public debut at Carnegie Hall in 2006, the quartet has thrilled audiences in 47 states as well as in the U.K., France, Belgium, Brazil, Panama, Canada, Venezuela, and South Africa. Harlem Quartet’s mission is to advance diversity in classical music, engaging young and new audiences through the discovery and presentation of varied repertoire that includes works by minority composers. Passion for this work has made the quartet a leading ensemble in both educational and community engagement performances. Alongside its regular activities as a chamber ensemble, Harlem Quartet performs a variety of works written for solo string quartet and orchestra. With the Chicago Sinfonietta under Music Director Mei-Ann Chen, the quartet gave the world premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story as arranged for string quartet and orchestra by Randall Craig Fleischer, and recorded that arrangement, along with works for string quartet and orchestra by Michael Abels and Benjamin Lees, for the Cedille Records release Delights and Dances. The quartet’s recording career began in 2007 with Take the "A" Train, a release featuring the string quartet version of that jazz standard by Billy Strayhorn. A second CD, featuring three string quartets by Walter Piston, was released in 2010 by Naxos. The quartet’s third recording, released in early 2011, is a collaboration with pianist Awadagin Pratt and showcases works by American composer Judith Lang Zaimont. More recently the quartet collaborated with jazz pianist Chick Corea in two recording projects, including a Grammy-winning Hot House album that included Corea’s "Mozart Goes Dancing," which won a separate Grammy as Best Instrumental Composition.

Poet and writer Alfred Bennett (A.B.) Spellman was born in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. He earned a BS in political science from Howard University, where he also attended law school. He published his first book of poems, The Beautiful Days, in 1964 while working as a jazz music reviewer. His second book, Things I Must Have Known (2008), received an honorable mention from the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award and was nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry. 

Spellman has written essays and poetry for Rhythm Magazine and taught at Morehouse College, Emory University, Rutgers, and Harvard University. In 1975, he became director of the Arts in Education Study Project for the National Endowment of the Arts, where he held a series of positions, culminating in his role as deputy chairman for the Office of Guidelines, Panel and Council Operations. Spellman retired from the NEA in 2005; his service to the organization is honored by the A.B. Spellman Award for Jazz Advocacy. In addition to writing, Spellman has served on a number of arts panels, including the Advisory Group on the National Museum of African American History and Culture of the Smithsonian Institution.

All performance dates, artists and programs subject to change. Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable.


  • DOORS OPEN at 7:15 PM for a 8 PM concert start time.

  • LATE SEATING is at the discretion of the House Management. Latecomers may be asked to remain in the back of the church until there is a break in the program, so as not to disturb the performance or other audience members.

  • WILL CALL is available when the doors open at 7:15 PM inside the main doors of the church.

  • CHILDREN seated in an adult's lap do not need a ticket. Children seated in a chair or pew do need a ticket.

  • We no longer offer tickets for sale or any ticket pickup at the Parish House Reception desk.

  • Audio and/or video recording and flash photography are not permitted during performances.


  • The Church of St. Ignatius Loyola is wheelchair/walker accessible via the ramp entrance on 84th Street (between Park and Madison Avenues).

  • The restrooms are NOT easily accessible by wheelchair. The most easily accessible restrooms are in the Parish House (980 Park Avenue). There are two steps down from the street level into the Parish House and there is a restroom on that ground floor.

  • For reserved seating concerts, there is available seating for wheelchairs and companions. Please look for the Wheelchair and Wheelchair Companion tickets when purchasing. For general seating concerts, follow the directions of the ushers. Please call ahead (212-288-2520) to discuss any special seating requirements.


  • Street parking can be difficult to find, but there are a number of parking garages nearby. There are garages on 83rd Street (between Park and Lexington Avenues) and 84th Street (between Park and Lexington Avenues), as well as near the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


  • There are a number of fine and casual eating establishments located nearby on Madison Avenue (one block west of the church), Lexington Avenue (one block east of the church), Third Avenue (two blocks east of the church) and Second Avenue (three blocks east of the church).


  • The Church of St. Ignatius Loyola is easily reached via the 4, 5, and 6 subway lines (86th Street station), or buses on Madison, Lexington and Fifth Avenues, and on 86th Street.


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Church of St. Ignatius Loyola 980 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10028
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