New documentary on Marsalis performance premieres in Charlotte, N.C. – Knight Foundation

New documentary on Marsalis performance premieres in Charlotte, N.C.

This week WTVI PBS Charlotte will premiere a new documentary that tells the story of Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s 2013 performance of the Abyssinian Mass in Charlotte. Below, Knight Vice President for Arts Dennis Scholl, one of the film’s directors and producers, writes about the experience.

When Knight Foundation heard it had the opportunity to bring the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the 80-member Chorale le Chateau to Charlotte, a community with such a rich jazz tradition, we knew right away that this was a project we wanted to be involved in. Related Link 

Then we found out the performance was going to be at one of Charlotte’s greatest houses of worship, the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, and we knew it was a project that would bring the community together. Anyone who watches the film will see how engaged the audience was.

It was an important enough event that U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, Charlotte’s former mayor, came—and brought his mom—to hear the combination of jazz and gospel that Marsalis weaves into the piece he wrote to honor the 200th anniversary of Harlem’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church. Following the form of a mass, Marsalis uses a range of traditions, from jazz to Spanish flamenco and the Muslim call to prayer, to emphasize the universality of music and humanity.

To hear, see and feel the gospel choir raising the roof was one of the most profound experiences I’ve had in my time at Knight Foundation.

We knew we wanted to capture that energy, and we were fortunate that both Marsalis and Conductor Damien Sneed were willing to give us their time. We’re thrilled to launch “Everyone Has a Place” where it was created, in Charlotte, and we hope to bring it to PBS markets across America, particularly in Knight communities and the cities where the Abyssinian Mass tour visited.

Here’s the schedule for the broadcasts on WTVI:

9 p.m. Feb. 3, 12:30 a.m. Feb. 5, 11:30 p.m. Feb. 9, and 11:30 p.m. Feb. 20.