Token Creek Chamber Music

Program I

Jazz at Token Creek

Tuesday, August 24, 5:00 P.M.
Wednesday, August 25, 5:00 P.M.

Tickets: Café Seating $45 · Balcony $40


Chamber jazz in an intimate club setting.

The TCF House Band performs music of Irving Berlin, classics like “Cheek to Cheek” alongside less familiar but no less alluring songs from this master tunesmith. The program also includes jazz standards by our resident duo—John Harbison, piano and Rose Mary Harbison turning in her Stuff Smith violin stylings. A guest appearance by the JSH&M Quartet closes the program with tight, modern arrangements of well-known tunes.

Program Notes

From 2004 to 2013 the Token Creek Festival presented jazz every year. It had been brewing for awhile ‐ late night jam – sessions with visiting jazzers, discoveries of jazz interest among our audience ‐ all leading to a “warmup” event in 2003: a lecture – concert involving the eventual core of our players.

The lecture idea was immediately dropped, in favor of concerts with minimal talk and maximum space for improvised music. We often programmed around the great songwriters of the ‘20s to ‘40s, composers of the timeless standards that are the heart of the jazz canon. We were very keen to present the words of these wonderful songs along with the melodies, requiring the welcome presence of vocalists Annette Sanders, Nicole Pasternak, Ricky Richardson, and in 2013, half of MIT’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble.

But production values were high, and after ten years we took a break. The Jazz Club returned in 2019, our last live season before the pandemic. And here it is again, back, intact. This year, in focusing some attention on the fabulous variety of Irving Berlin, our jazz program keeps all routes open, since this songwriter has the greatest variety of any pop writer in our history, both in the storylines in his lyrics, and in his musical forms. His music includes near art-songs like “Supper Time” and hard swingers like “Got the Sun in the Morning and the Moon at Night.” Just the rhythm of those words has a feel for American language that was with him from the start.

Berlin, like his colleague Cole Porter, wrote all his own lyrics. They were mutual admirers, in spite of the fact that their output had little in common. In the course of a long career Berlin managed to write every kind of song, from the most refined—”Let’s Face the Music and Dance”— to the most raucous—”Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better.” Trying to pin down his style results only in extreme admiration, he is always writing the song you never thought he would write. Any collection of his songs, like the one we will offer, ensures a wide reach, an expansive definition of what an American popular song can be.

— Notes by John Harbison
Artistic Co-Director, Token Creek Chamber Music Festival