All That Jazz
Class of 2005 already has met James McBride, who was wearing
his author hat at the time. Back in 2001, they read his autobiographical
tribute to his mother, The Color of Water, for their
Introduction to College Life class.
On Wednesday, February 5, they and the rest
of the Moravian community will see James McBride in his other
hat, which belongs to a virtuoso of the jazz saxophone.
Actually, hell be wearing both hats
at the same time, for his performance at Foy Hall will include
excerpts from The Color of Water and from his novel,
the newly published Miracle at St. Anna, complemented
by the music of a 12-member ensemble that includes some of
the fastest-rising stars in the jazz firmament.
The book is about identity, coming of
age, and the value of education, says April Vari, dean
of student development, and it had something to say
Kate Laczynski 05, Pearl River, New
York, remembers it as a story of someone growing up
who didnt have a perfect lifeand no one I know
has had a perfect life.
McBrides discovery that his mother,
whom he had thought was African-American, was actually Jewish,
didnt seem exotic to Kate: I have a friend whose
father is African-American and mother is Jewish, she
says, and she told me I am black, and she
is just the whitest person! So I told her she had to read
Their experience did not end with reading,
however. As part of the common reading program, we bring
the author to campus, April says. It adds richness
to the experience.
McBride told the students that he had written
The Color of Water partly in Bethlehem, while visiting
Leander Bien, then an artist-lecturer in piano in the Music
He came here for a few weeks one summer
and stayed at Leanders apartment so he could be in our
quiet Bethlehem and do some writing, says Judith Bernd,
secretary in the Music Department. Yes, he is a very
good friend of Leanderhe was best man at Leanders
The group making music with McBride is not
the small ensemble with which he usually records. Its
a hand-picked band that has come together for a documentary,
The Process, about the creative lives of jazz musicians,
being filmed by Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs).
The players include Sarah Jane Cion (piano)
and Laura Dryer (alto sax and flute), who have already released
solo CDs; Myra Casales (percussion) from Cuba, who tours with
Regina Carter; Calvin X Jones (bass), a colleague
of Cassandra Wilson; Patrick Face Rickman (bari
sax) of Winard Harpers band; and Monte Croft (vibraphone),
one of the best in his field. Vocals are by songwriter Dana
Crowe and his daughter Chelsea, 17.
The performance includes music from The
Process, and a CD will be on sale in the lobby.
8:00 p.m., Foy Hall. $10, $5 seniors/students.
McBride will sign both books earlier that
day at the Moravian Book Shop--610 866-5481 or www.moravianstar.com.