NO TEARS SUITE, commissioned by OXFORD AMERICAN performed today at Little Rock Central High School

In September 2017, Oxford American premiered a 60-minute jazz composition entitled No Tears Suite, written by Little Rock jazz pianist Chris Parker and vocalist Kelley Hurt. The duo created the work in honor of unity on the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Central High School desegregation crisis.

In this reprisal, Parker and Hurt will again be joined by five exceptional jazz artists, including GRAMMY-winning jazz drummer Brian Blade, who played in the original 2017 ensemble, in addition to fifteen members of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra who will premiere the new, expanded symphonic arrangements of the No Tears Suite written by GRAMMY-nominated arranger, composer and bassist Rufus Reid.

This FREE performance starts at 3pm in the Roosevelt Thompson Auditorium at Little Rock Central High School.  Tickets may be reserved here.

The artists include:
Geoffrey Robson, conductor
Kelly Hurt, vocalist
Chris Parker, piano/composer
Rufus Reid, bass/arranger
Brian Blade, drums
Bobby LaVell, tenor saxophone
Marc Franklin, trumpet
Chad Fowler, alto and baritone saxophones

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NO TEARS SUITE, commissioned by OXFORD AMERICAN being performed tonight

In September 2017, Oxford American premiered a 60-minute jazz composition entitled No Tears Suite, written by Little Rock jazz pianist Chris Parker and vocalist Kelley Hurt. The duo created the work in honor of unity on the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Central High School desegregation crisis.

In this reprisal, Parker and Hurt will again be joined by five exceptional jazz artists, including GRAMMY-winning jazz drummer Brian Blade, who played in the original 2017 ensemble, in addition to fifteen members of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra who will premiere the new, expanded symphonic arrangements of the No Tears Suite written by GRAMMY-nominated arranger, composer and bassist Rufus Reid.

The program starts at 8pm tonight at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, 501 W 9th Street.  Tickets may be purchased here.

The artists include:
Geoffrey Robson, conductor
Kelly Hurt, vocalist
Chris Parker, piano/composer
Rufus Reid, bass/arranger
Brian Blade, drums
Bobby LaVell, tenor saxophone
Marc Franklin, trumpet
Chad Fowler, alto and baritone saxophones

Today at Noon – Panel Discussion of “NO TEARS SUITE” commissioned by OXFORD AMERICAN

Today (March 1) at noon – a free panel discussion presented in collaboration with the National Park Service and Clinton School of Public Service will be held at Central High School National Historic Site.

Featuring  Rufus Reid, Kelley Hurt, and Bobby LaVell, the panel will be moderated by composer Chris Parker. The goal is to facilitate discussion on the ongoing work of social equity in the United States from the perspectives of people living in different communities and what role music and the arts play in affecting change in our society today.

Additional partners on the project include University of Central Arkansas College of Fine Arts & Communication, Central High National Historic Site, Kay Kelley Arnold, Mid-America Arts Alliance, National Endowment for the Arts, Arkansas Arts Council, and Mosaic Templars Cultural Center.

This project is generously funded by the Stella Boyle Smith Trust, Mid-America Arts Alliance, the National Endowment for the Arts and the state arts agencies of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

Performances of “No Tears Suite” will take place on Saturday at Mosaic Templars Cultural Center and Sunday at Central High School.

Chris Parker and Kelley Hurt headline tonight’s Local Live at South on Main

chris_parker_web.jpg.190x140_q60_cropThis week’s installment of the free Local Live concert series features Chris Parker and Kelley Hurt! Presented by the Oxford American magazine with support from sponsor Landers FIAT of Benton, Local Live showcases the best of local and regional music talent. Call ahead to make your reservations at South on Main to ensure a table.

A native of Arkansas, Chris Parker’s first training came from a line of great Southern pianists, including Charles Thomas, James Williams, Gene Rush, Robert Talley, Art Porter Sr., Bob Steele, Lee Tomboulian, and Michael Bates. Though his training was primarily in jazz, his teachers always included the study of classical music. In 1991, Chris moved to Memphis to work on his undergraduate degree in jazz performance at the University of Memphis. There he continued his studies with teachers from both the school and from the surrounding region, including Eugene Rush, Daniel Fletcher, Sam Viviano, Herman Green, Fred Ford, Calvin Newborn, Bill Mobley, Alvin Fielder, Kidd Jordan, and Vernel Fournier. Chris also lived in New York City for several years where he studied under masters like Benny Powell, Chris Anderson, Walter Perkins, Barry Harris, Sonelius Smith, Harold Ousley, Warren Smith, and Bill Fielder. In 2008, he received a Masters degree in Jazz from the U of M. During this degree he also studied with Victor Asuncion (classical piano) and Jack Cooper (jazz comp./arr.).

Chris has worked all over the United States, particularly in NYC and the Southeastern region. He has also performed in Brazil, France, Portugal, Austria, and Germany. Artists that Chris has worked with include: Delfeayo Marsalis, Harold Ousley, Benny Powell, Art Jenkins, Kidd Jordan, Alvin Fielder, Bob Stewart, Frank Lowe, Warren Smith, Wendell Harrison, Frank Lacy, John Stubblefield, Kiane Zawadi, Herman Green, Calvin Newborn, J.R. Mitchell, George Braithe, Fred Ford, Bill Mobley, and Jimmy Vass. In more informal situations, Chris has worked with Rashid Ali, Frank Gant, Sonny Simmons, Frank Foster, and others.

Kelley Hurt’s musical accomplishments include winning the Phillips Award for Best New Artist from the Memphis chapter of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. She was a lead vocalist for the band DDT—a jazz fusion and funk band featuring Luther and Cody Dickinson, Paul Taylor, Jim Spake, and Chris Parker.

In addition, Kelley has worked with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, recording the song “Could Woulda Shoulda” which was produced by Jim Dickinson at Phillips Recording Service. She has toured Italy with the Memphis Blues Revue and has also performed internationally with Bruce Willis and the Accelerators.

The rich musical legacy of Memphis has had a big influence on Kelley but she also listened to such national performers as Shirley Horne, Diane Reeves and Cassandra Wilson. Kelley writes her own lyrics, sings the melody, and then adds the chords. On Raindance she wrote “The Art of Love and War”, “I Can Come To You”, “Black Widow”, and “How Can I Let You Go”.