by Anna Bratulic
During a conversation with
legendary jazz musician Yusef Latef over a decade ago at the University
of Massachusetts, Jeri Brown realized that she needed to rediscover her
Latef, whose contemporaries include such musicians as Randy Weston, Charles
Mingus and Horace Silver, wrote music with a strong black church element
and focused heavily on jazzs African roots. His conversation with
Brown developed into a discussion of their own roots.
Does this mean that there are parts of my past that Ive taken
for granted? Brown asked herself, and decided the answer was probably
yes. Shortly afterwards, Brown came to Concordia, where she is now Director
of Vocal Studies in the Music Department.
Her self-discovery has included writing a musical every year to be performed
by her students. This year, some 40 members of Concordias Jazz Choir,
Jazz Vocal Repertoire Class and Jazz Vocal Studio will perform 936 Laurel
Place: A Jazz Revue on December 7 and 8.
The title is the address of the house where Brown grew up in St. Louis,
Missouri. In her neighborhood, two sources of communal expression stood
in uncomfortable proximity. There was a church, from which emanated the
sounds of a gospel choir and next door to the church was a disco.
Sometimes, both types of music would flow out of open doors and windows
and could be heard in the streets, competing for listeners, at the same
Later, it occurred to me that this was a very rich location because
it was symbolic of the music that came out of the black community. Both
settings provide an opportunity for people to express themselves vocally,
she said. Its important that I try to trace some of my whims
and musical ideas to that time when I was growing and becoming a musical
The musical has a short story line, written by Brown. The first act features
the music of the 30s and 40s, with material from Duke Ellington and others.
The second act explores the black music of the mid-1970s, with a particular
focus on Quincy Jones.
936 Laurel Place: A Jazz Revue will be performed at the Oscar Peterson
Concert Hall on December 7 and 8 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at the
door for $5; students enter free. A portion of the ticket sales will go