With the warm response to the series opener in October, this vibrant performer and Kennedy Center artist has raised over $2,500 to benefit the BEL Center, which helps disadvantaged families in southern Fairfax County. The BEL Center, part of United Community Ministries, provides affordable childcare, and supports an affiliate program, Project Opportunity, helping teen mothers stay in school.
World Wind and Percussion draws on traditions of people throughout the ages to use rhythms and horns in reaching out to a higher power. The title also describes the instruments. Tom joins forces with two collaborators who explore ancient ways of music making, bringing new depth to familiar holiday tunes. Trombone player John Jensen also plays didgeridoo and conch shells, and trumpeter Chris Battistone plays shofar.
The didgeridoo, which native Australians made from a tree trunk or branch hollowed out by termites, creates a deep drone, punched with rhythm breaks tongued by the player. The didg" and Tom's multi-layered rhythms interact with the shofar, a trumpet made from a ram or ibex horn. Its clear sound has called to the Hebrews since Biblical times. The group adds in the conch horn's low, warm tones, first created by island peoples thousands of years ago.
Listening to holiday tunes performed with real animal horns may seem a bit unconventional, but Tom often takes time out during performances to talk about the instruments. Perhaps it's his frequent work with students that makes his approach so accessible. He has a rare gift for being innovative and audience-friendly at the same time. Over a dozen children sat in rapt attention on the carpeted floor during the first BioRhythms concert.
I suppose all musicians would like to imagine that their music has some sort of healing property and serves a greater good," Tom explains. I have been searching for a way for my music to have a direct impact on my community in addition to whatever aesthetic value it may have." True to his word, Tom and his wife Linda are donating to BEL a $500 sponsorship, half of all proceeds from the entire series, plus a portion of the CD sales from the series performances. Other businesses and individuals have followed the Teasley's lead, giving over $1,500 in sponsorships so far.
The third and last performance on March 26, 2006, will feature Tom's longtime collaborator and friend Charles Williams. They will present their popular program, Word Beat, combining spoken poetry and songs with a generous dose of percussion. Tickets to each concert in the series are $15.00 and are available at the door, by calling 703-721-0336, or contacting BELBenefit@mvuc.org.