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Arts & Culture

A Jazz Piano Christmas: 2020

Pianist Kenny Barron performs as the audience looks out at the Opera House at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C..
Pianist Kenny Barron performs as the audience looks out at the Opera House at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C..

This year's edition of A Jazz Piano Christmas almost didn't happen.

But with the cooperation of the Washington, D.C. city government, the staffs of both NPR Music and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts went forward with the show.

Amidst the strictest socially distancing protocols, a small yet enthusiastic masked audience of 50 people sat 30 feet from the performance stage and we all sat on the immense stage of the Kennedy Center's majestic Opera House.

It was a stunning backdrop for what became an intimate gathering to share the healing powers of music.

Our pianists this year included the up and coming talent REDWOOD (Sequoia Snyder), the piano and voice of Cory Henry, and the elegant presence of Kenny Barron.

There was an undercurrent of reverence to this year's performances. Seems the weight of the world wide pandemic — as well as the emotional movements for social justice — fueled many heartfelt moments of quiet contemplation, not to mention the soul-stirring vocals that seemed to cry out for a collective, heartwarming hug to fend off the real world challenges we all face.

It's not a stretch to say this year's show was unlike any other. Everyone involved with this production hopes that this music finds its way to ears and souls that are safe and healthy.

SET LIST

REDWOOD

  • "Sleigh Ride"
  • "Holiday Feeling" (REDWOOD)
  • Cory Henry

  • "Christmas With You" (Cory Henry)
  • "Misty Christmas" (Cory Henry)
  • "Someday At Christmas" (Stevie Wonder)
  • Kenny Barron

  • "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"
  • "Silent Night"
  • "Little Town of Bethlehem"
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