Just the other night, I attended a concert of love songs in an art gallery in Old City Philadelphia. Many of the songs were composed by Michael Biello and sung and played (on the piano) by his partner Dan Martin. Dan was joined by Robin Burdulis on percussion and Tony Pirollo on Cello. It was a truly magical evening.
Robin is an old friend – and through her my partner, Barbara, and I, have become acquainted with Dan and Michael’s moving theatrical and musical work over the decades.
Just last year, I joined a church for the first time in my life. This prompted a few long term acquaintances to remark, “Janet? Janet joined a church?” One was talking to my partner who later rolled her eyes at me and said “I wonder why she said that?” Guilty as charged. I was one of the seven percent of Americans raised without religion. So why ruin a good thing? I wanted to learn about the nature of belief — plus it’s a great community — truly diverse. It’s a Unitarian church — specifically Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration in East Mt. Airy. I’ve met lots of people from various religious and a-religious backgrounds — agnostics, atheists, Buddhists, Christians, Jews. One thing we all have in common is that we are all thinking and questioning people. I’m even in the company of some long-time fellow travelers.
One of the activities that I’ve been involved with is the Jazz Vespers series. This last month featured “Pluto is a Planet,” a LGBT jazz group that played original compositions and jazz standards by LGBT greats, including Billy Strayhorn who composed the popular standard “Take the A Train.” The concert prompted me to look up Strayhorn. Here’s what I found on LGBT History dot com:
Strayhorn, 1915 – 1927, was best known for his collaborations with Duke Ellington. According to LGBT History Month dot com, Strayhorn was openly gay. There has been speculation that his sexual orientation prompted him to avoid the spotlight. He was active in the U.S. civil rights movement.
“Although Strayhorn and Ellington collaborated on numerous piece, Strayhorn remained fairly anonymous and was rarely credited or compensated for his work,” according to LGBTHistory.com.
Below are some photos that I took of Pluto is a Planet.
To learn more about the Jazz Vespers series at UUCR, click here