Just a few weeks ago I had the honor of playing with the Afro-Semitic Experience at the opening plenary session of the Biennial conference of the URJ, the Union of Reform Judaism. We played a brief set just before the keynote speaker, Reverend William J. Barber. The performance was streamed and recorded and here’s a link to our performance:
The Afro-Semitic Experience Live at the URJ Biennial 2017: https://youtu.be/lZgT2cF-x_M
Here’s a link to something I think is also of importance and value, Reverend Barber’s speech. His words that evening were a call to action and a powerful reminder that there is still much to do in our nation to achieve equality and equity for all our citizens. I hope you will take some time to watch or at least listen to what Reverend Barber said that evening. I do believe that our message and our music harmonized with Reverend Barber’s prophetic words at the URJ Biennial.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber - Biennial 2017: https://youtu.be/lmr7f3XoHPE
Our performance was only the beginning of a great experience for me as over the next four days I attended services, concerts, and learning sessions where I got to meet many rabbis, cantors, professionals and lay people who are involved in trying to make a positive difference in the struggle for social justice. The learning sessions on criminal justice and racial justice were among the high points of my experience. I heard from so many people who are involved in the fight for social justice in their communities, sometimes winning, sometimes losing, but always striving. As I observed and participated in these sessions and services I felt moved and I felt empowered.
week, on Friday, January 12, the Afro-Semitic Experience will mark its 20th anniversary by sharing our music at an interfaith service to celebrate and honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year we’ll be sharing our music at Congregation Mishkan Israel in Hamden, Connecticut, it’s the synagogue where we first started our project twenty years ago. This year is Rabbi Herbert Brockman’s last year leading the service as he will be retiring from Mishkan Israel in June. So this is a service that will be emotional and intense on many levels as Rabbi Brockman has always served as a beacon for social justice in the New Haven area and while we welcome change, in this case it will be bittersweet. The service is at 7:30 pm, but we will be giving a short pre-service concert beginning at 7:00 p.m. I hope you can join us for the entire evening as it sure to be one filled with hope and tears. Congregation Mishkan Israel is located at 785 Ridge Road in Hamden, Connecticut.
This Sunday, January 7, I will be playing at the jazz brunch at the Elm City Market with my group Bassology. For this performance, I’ll be joined by Warren Byrd on piano, Saskia Laroo on trumpet and Jesse Chevan on drum set. Music begins at 10:30 and goes till 1:30 p.m. Also, musicians are welcome to bring their instruments and sit in. Come on down to get some groceries, eat some brunch and dig some sounds.