The Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble presents Tyner and Timmons, April 23 & 24

The Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble presents Tyner and Timmons (TNT) on April 23 and 24 at Christ Church Neighborhood House as a part of the city’s Jazz Appreciation Month celebration. TNT is a new evening-length piece that blends tap dance, jazz music, original poetry, and vocussion to observe the legacy of these two legendary jazz composers. The hour-long concert also includes two recent works by artistic director, Pamela Hetherington: “Blue Rondo ALT,” which dives into the odd-metered composition by Dave Brubeck, and “Rolling Down a Hill,” which is set to an original composition by bassist Jim Donica. A limited number of in-person tickets are available on www.philajazztap.org and the concert will also be broadcast live on PhillyCAM during their “Live Culture” program hour.

The Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble advances the scope of American tap dance and jazz music traditions through current choreography, modern compositions, progressive performances, and accessible environments and contexts for the work. Hetherington’s choreography and arranging work has an intentionally distinctive focus on the legends that came out of this city. Some of the most accomplished and swingin’ musicians working on the scene today are a core part of the ensemble, including Mark Allen on saxophone, Tim Brey on piano, Madison Rast on bass, Anwar Marshall on drums, and Bethlehem Roberson on tap shoes, vocals, and tarima. Rounding out the ensemble are two busy East Coast tap dancers: Gina Accordino and Rosie Marinelli. Support provided by The Philadelphia Cultural Fund.

From Pamela Hetherington, Artistic Director –

“When McCoy Tyner passed away last year, like most jazzheads stuck in quarantine, I was reading retrospective pieces about his life and accomplishments. In one of those articles, I happened upon the fact that McCoy Tyner and fellow Philadelphian, Bobby Timmons, shared the same piano teacher as children – a man named Robert Habershaw, who was Timmons’ uncle. Minor trivia, to be sure. On the surface, it reinforces what we natives already know: that this metropolitan city is actually really small and often borders on provincial.

But the idea of them as kids, sharing a piano and a teacher, lingered in the back of my mind. I became curious about them as young musicians in the 1950s and 1960s, how they would have interacted with the other musicians coming up in the scene, how this city helped define their quite different voices and sounds, and then, how they ended up making two very divergent career leaps with two big-name band leaders, (for Tyner, it was John Coltrane; for Timmons, it was Art Blakey). When I listen to these two musicians, I think about how they found their own voice. How do we do the same? How do we take this music and embody it in our own daily practice? How DO we make it our own? What themes of legacy, memory and loss resonate with us, right now? When we make the compositions new and keep moving the music forward — that’s how it lives on.

A giant example of Philly jazz legacy, John Coltrane, lived in North Philadelphia from just 1952-1958, yet his presence remains large in this city, still: even as the streets gentrify from brick row houses to plywood palaces and developers literally build over his image, he’s here. I decided to focus the exploration of Tyner and Timmons’ music on the ten- year span of  1957-1967,  because it was during this time that both musicians were in the aura of Coltrane,  were coming up and joined major bands, composed some of their most recognizable standards and recorded influential albums. Tyner joined the John Coltrane Quartet in 1960 and toured with him until 1965. Timmons toured with Art Blakey from 1959-1961, and then recorded several influential albums in the 1960s, until his own death in 1974.”

The Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble advances the scope of American tap dance and jazz music through current choreography, modern compositions, progressive performances, and accessible environments and contexts for the work. Utilizing the synergistic forms of tap dance and live jazz music, the company reflects shared American history and our collective future. Our work is fueled by and connected to jazz music with a distinctive focus on Philadelphia musicians and compositions. Since its founding in 2014, The Philadelphia Jazz Tap Ensemble has been presented consistently by Jazz Bridge, Philadelphia Jazz Project, Creative Philadelphia, Dixon Place, Barnes Foundation, Allentown Art Museum, Drummers, and Symphony Space. The PJTE has been featured on the nationally-syndicated program, Articulate, and numerous jazz radio programs, due to its continued accomplishments in re-staging and performing the work of women tap choreographers. This is the company’s seventh year and has been directed by Pamela Hetherington since the beginning.

Pamela Hetherington is a tap dancer, choreographer, educator, and artistic director. A native of Northeast Philadelphia, her fascination with tap dance was recognized at an early age. She was invited to join Tap Team Two and Company as a teenager and she performed with the company for fifteen years. Philadelphia-style ‘street hoofing’ informed much of her early training, until her decade-long mentorship with Heather Cornell pushed her artistic voice into that of a singular improvisational jazz artist. For the last ten years, she has developed successful solo, small group, and concert collaborations that devise new ways to arrange tap dance to jazz music. Her invited choreography has been presented in a variety of jazz music and concert venues along the East Coast. She also enjoys working in duo collaborations and creating new ways to set tap dance choreography to live jazz music. She has an original jazz composition published in the Philadelphia Real Book and is a featured artist on the “Whitman Project” mixtape, published by The Philadelphia Jazz Project. Since 2015, she has owned Sound Space Performing Arts in North Philadelphia, where she directs forward-thinking dance programs and spearheads new initiatives that keep tap dance alive in Philadelphia.

Tyner and Timmons
Friday, April 23 and Saturday, April 24, 2021, from 7 pm – 8 pm
60 minutes, broadcast live, no intermission
Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 North American Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
$20 in-person via the link at www.philajazztap.org/tnt;
$5-$15 suggested donation for viewers watching on PhillyCAM.
Suitable for all ages.