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Music & Words for All God’s People

An Interfaith Concert at Second Presbyterian Church
Thursday, February 28, 7 pm [FREE CONCERT]

As a celebration of the World Day of Prayer and recognition of God’s deep love for all people, Second Presbyterian Church will host a very special FREE concert: “Music & Words for All God’s People”.

Called to be faithful to God and to be good neighbors with one another, we gather together to celebrate with great music and meaningful words from various faith traditions. Joining us will be Rabbi Andy Gordon from the Bolton Street Synagogue, Shahab Qarni, from the Greater Baltimore Muslim Council, and Reverends Amy Carlson and Dr. Tom Blair from Second Presbyterian Church.

Featuring the Todd Marcus Jazz Orchestra

Todd Marcus

Our musical concert will come from bass clarinetist Todd Marcus and his 10-piece ensemble the Todd Marcus Jazz Orchestra. The performance will present Middle-Eastern inspired music composed by Marcus that reflects an embrace of his Egyptian heritage. These include arrangements from his album Blues for Tahrir that portrayed Egypt’s 2011 revolution with a suite of compositions capturing the movement’s different phases, and selections from In the Valley that offer unique new directions in jazz that seek to portray both ancient and modern landscapes in Egypt. 

“I’ve been interested in incorporating Middle Eastern musical influences as a way to pull something unique from my culture and fuse it with my music.” Marcus explains. “It’s been challenging because jazz and Middle-Eastern music are so different. While jazz uses a lot of rich harmony, Middle-Eastern music tends to be a lot of unison playing or over drones and if you try to add chords, it diminishes the Middle-Eastern feel of the music. So it’s taken a lot of experimenting to find ways to make this fusion of the two musics work.” All selections composed and arranged by Todd Marcus.

Todd Marcus – bass clarinet
Greg Tarday – tenor sax
Russell Kirk – alto sax
Brent Birckhead – flute & alto sax
Alex Norris – trumpet
Darius Christian Jones – trombone
Helen Sung – piano
Blake Meister – bass
Eric Kennedy – drums
Irene Jalenti – vocalsA

Orchestra Bios

Todd Marcus (bass clarinet) – Bass clarinetist/composer Todd Marcus is one of the few jazz artists worldwide to focus their work primarily on the bass clarinet. The New York Times writes, “Mr. Marcus is probably the most inventive bass clarinetist working in straight-ahead jazz today…[and] lives in Baltimore, where he is a guiding light on the city’s jazz scene who doubles as an activist and organizer.”

Self taught in jazz theory and composition, Marcus’ compositions draw largely on straight-ahead jazz and classical influences but over recent years have also increasingly explored the Middle-Eastern sounds from his Egyptian-American heritage. He has worked with other jazz artists such as Gary Bartz, Bennie Maupin, Don Byron, Larry Willis, Gary Thomas, Joel Frahm, Tim Warfield, and Ralph Peterson.

Based in Baltimore, MD, Marcus actively leads his jazz orchestra and small ensembles such as the Todd Marcus Quintet, Quartet, Trio, and Duo. Marcus’ performances include national and international touring. He was a featured artist in 2017 Jazz Tales Festival in Egypt, 2015 Cairo Jazz Festival in Egypt, and in 2005 at the 1st World Bass Clarinet Convention in Rotterdam, Holland.
Marcus balances his music career by running Intersection of Change, a nonprofit addressing poverty related issues in his Baltimore neighborhood. The organization runs a community arts program for children & adults, a recovery program for women overcoming drug addiction, an urban farm, and has achieved significant community revitalization by renovating abandoned building and vacant lots.

For more information visit: toddmarcusjazz.com and intersectionofchange.org

Greg Tardy (tenor saxophonist) – Originally from New Orleans, Tardy began his musical career studying classical clarinet and preparing for a symphony career. At the prodding of his older brother however, Tardy explored the music of John Coltrane and became determined to be a jazz musician. He would go on to be hired by Coltrane’s drummer Elvin Jones and spent many years as a mainstay in both New Orleans and New York City. His work includes extensive performances and recordings as a leader and sideman with artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Steve Coleman, Betty Carter, James Moody, Bill Frisell, Rashied Ali, & Andrew Hill. He currently resides in Knoxville where he teaches at the University of Tennessee. More at: gregorytardy.com

Russell Kirk (alto sax) – A Baltimore native and graduate of Peabody Conservatory with a masters degree from New York University, Kirk has performed and recorded with a widely diverse and celebrated list of musicians and orchestras including The Baltimore Symphony, George Clinton’s Parliament Funkadelic, The Soulful Symphony, The Cab Calloway Orchestra, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Sam Rivers, Terri Lyne Carrington, Dennis Chambers, Michael Formanek, Kenny Werner, Gary Thomas, & Kevin Mahogany. More at: russellkirklive.com

Brent Birckhead (flute/alto sax) – Originally from Baltimore, Birckhead has been a mainstay on the Washington, DC music scene since his college studies at Howard University. He currently resides in New York City and balances an active performance schedule there and in DC along with teaching at Morgan State University in Baltimore. He has graced the same stage as performers including Benny Golson, Joe Chambers, McCoy Tyner, Geri Allen, Andrew Cyrille, George Duke and many more. More at: brentbirckheadjazz.com

Dr. Alex Norris (trumpet) – Originally from Baltimore and based in NY, Norris has worked with many noted jazz musicians such as Slide Hampton, Ron Carter, Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Chris Potter, Eric Alexander, John Patitucci, and the Woody Herman Orchestra. Norris is also very active in Afro-Cuban jazz having worked with Andy and Jerry González, Paquito D’Rivera, Hilton Ruiz, Giovanni Hildago, Poncho Sanchez, and Chico O’Farril. Additionally, in the Pop/R&B world, Norris has toured and/or recorded with Incognito, US3, Philip Bailey, Steve Winwood, Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine, and Jon Secada. Norris received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Miami Frost School of Music and holds a strong commitment to education with regular clinics and teaching at Peabody Conservatory. More at: alexpopenorris.com

Darius Christian Jones (trombone) – Originally from Baltimore, Jones moved to New York and received his Masters degree from New York University where is currently an adjunct instructor. Performances include the David Murray Big Band, Allison Park, Jimmy Clanton, Nasheet Waits, Alan Ferber, Stefon Harris, Darcy James Argue Secret Society, Crack The Sky, Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey, The Harrisburg Symphony Pops Orchestra, and Peacherine Ragtime Orchestra. More at: dariusjonestrombone.com

Helen Sung (piano) – An award-winning classical pianist before jazz intervened, Houston, TX, native Helen Sung went on to graduate from the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance and win the Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Jazz Piano Competition. Since establishing herself in New York City, she has worked with such luminaries as Clark Terry, Ron Carter, Steve Turre, the legendary Wayne Shorter, and MacArthur Fellow Regina Carter; and, in addition to her own band, can currently be seen with fine ensembles including the Mingus Big Band & Dynasty Band, the T.S. Monk Group, and Terri Lyne Carrington’s Grammy-winning Mosaic Project. More at: helensung.com

Blake Meister (bass) – Blake Meister has performed and recorded with renowned musicians including Gary Thomas, Larry Willis, Marc Copland, David Kikoski, Gary Bartz, Steve Davis, Warren Wolf, Ahn Sook Sun, Buddy Wachter, Paul Bollenback, Eddie Henderson, Ingrid Jensen, Jeremy Pelt, Jack DeJohnette, Ralph Peterson, and Dennis Chambers. He was a finalist in the 2014 Bass Europe competition and a semi-finalist in the 2015 International Society of Bassists competition and has received several awards and grants in performance and composition. For more visit: innercirclemusic.com/Blake-Meister.html

Eric Kennedy (drums) – Based in Baltimore, Kennedy is also a prolific composer (with over 500 compositions), vocalist, and educator who has performed, toured and recorded with Bobby Watson, Gary Bartz, Larry Willis, Curtis Fuller, Curtis Lundy, Richard Wyands, Yusef Salim, Charles Davis and Ronnie Mathews to name a few. As an educator he has taught all ages in the classroom, workshops, clinics and private lessons both in the US and overseas during years spent living Europe.

Irene Jaleni (vocals) – Originally from Italy, Jalenti grew up in a family of musicians where her father introduced her at an early age to the beauty of jazz. In 2010 she traveled through Italy, France and United States, and eventually to Baltimore, MD to perfect her musicianship at the Peabody Conservatory of Music with vocalist Jay Clayton and saxophonist Gary Thomas. She currently lives in Washington, DC. More at: irenejalenti.com