When he’s not tending to his flock as the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Clarks Summit, Rev. Bill Carter enjoys reading, cooking, spending time with his family — but jazz music has a special place in his heart.
He has become an accomplished jazz pianist, a talent that will be on display at the church’s final Arts at First Presbyterian show for this season on Sunday, April 23, at 4 pm. The art series got its start in 1999.
Carter has had a love of jazz music since childhood.
“I grew up in a home that listened to jazz on a regular basis and my school district had a fine education program,” Carter said. “There was also an annual concert series in my home town of Owego, New York, that featured free concerts by big bands such as Woody Herman, Stan Kenton and Count Basie. My mother had a collection of original recordings by Fats Waller and Benny Goodman and told of hearing Louis Armstrong in concert when she was a young adult.”
At the concert on Sunday, audience members will hear rare compositions by jazz legend Dave Brubeck. The concert is open to the public and is free of charge. A good will offering will be taken and a reception will follow the concert.
Carter and his wife Jamie spent a week at the Brubeck archives last June. The archives are on the campus of the of the University of Pacific in Stockton, California, Brubeck’s alma mater, where he met his wife Iola.
“My wife and I discovered a trove of video and audio recordings as well as original handwritten scores of Brubeck’s music,” Carter said. “There was a special interest in 13 sacred oratorios, of which only a few are commercially available. “There were also significant pieces of the Dave Brubeck Quartet with great historical significance.”
Brubeck almost lost his life in diving accident in 1951. Shortly after, he formed the Dave Brubeck Quartet with saxophone player Paul Desmond.
The concert will feature many of Brubeck’s lesser known compositions. He was inspired by Bach and Chopin and wrote hundreds of pieces. The concert will include “Sahra” written for Brubeck’s granddaughter, “Two Part Contention,” “Tritonis” and piece from “The Desert and the Parched Land.”
Brubeck’s music career has spanned six decades. He has been designated as a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress. He is also one of the most active and popular musicians in both jazz and classical music and was named a jazz master by the National Endowment of the Arts in 2000. The American Classical Music Hall of Fame inducted him in 2003. The Kennedy Center honored him with the Living Legacy Jazz award in 2007. President Barack Obama bestowed on him the Kennedy Center Award in 2009. He has also been honored with international awards.
Carter, who has been pastor of First Presbyterian for 26 years, is the leader of the Presbybop Quartet. Other members of the quartet who will perform are Al Hamme and Mike Carbone on saxophone and Ron Vincent on drums. Steve LaSpina will appear on bass as a special guest and Dr. Jennifer Cogwill will provide vocals.
“The audience can expect 90 minutes of interesting and engaging music presented by outstanding musicians,” Carter said. “It promises to be an afternoon of great music for all ages by an amazing composer.”
Rev. Bill Carter