Following on from his groundbreaking jazz opera Bridgetower jazz pianist Julian Joseph, with librettist Mike Phillips, are set to unveil their latest collaboration, an opera set in the world of American baseball.
Joseph gave a sneak preview of Shadowball to an invited audience last week in the august surroundings of the Treasury Office at the Inner Temple, the heart of London’s legal world.
Shadowball, tells the compelling story of the struggles, triumphs and challenges facing black athletes in the USA during the 60 years they were excluded from major league baseball while also tracking the influence and development of black jazz music at the time.
Singer Cleveland Watkiss, who celebrates his 50th birthday with a special concert at the London Jazz Festival later this week, with Julian on piano, gave a flavour of the opera which is commissioned by the award-winning Hackney Music Development Trust.
An extensive educational programme throughout 2010 leading up to the 2012 Olympics will introduce hundreds of young people in over 20 schools to the sport of baseball and to the music. The premiere of the jazz opera in July 2010 will include young people from the participating schools.
– Charles Alexander
Pictured: Julian Joseph with Cleveland Watkiss