Jazz up your Holidays & lose your Humbug Blues in a special family Holiday kickoff Concert to help the Hampton Food Pantry featuring award winning musicians TJ Wheeler & Ayan Imai- Hall on Thursday, Dec. 10 from 6:30 – 7:30 PM at the Lane Library. The concert is free, but audience members are asked to bring a non-perishable food item or a free will donation to support the Hampton food pantry.
Think you've heard every possible variation of the Holiday classics? Think again. Tj & Ayan have their own distinct Jazz & Blues interpretations of a wide diversity of classic songs which is both a visual as well as an audio treat. Ayan Imai-Hall at 22 is a nationally respected tap dancer, and Tj Wheeler is an internationally respected Blues & Jazz Guitarist / vocalist / educator. As well as old chestnuts (so to speak) like The Christmas Song, sing-alongs like an Otis Redding infused version of Deck the Halls, or a Louis Armstrong Christmas Time in New Orleans, they will also include more recent favorites from the Polar Express. We hope that entire families will attend this concert, as it is truly an ALL-ages event.
The two performers are also celebrating their 10th year of musical partnerships. Ayan started performing with TJ when he was only 12 years old, and Wheeler was ...well let's just say old & wise enough to know a rising talent when he saw one. Three years ago the two received and completed a yearlong grant in the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Award category from the NH State Council on the Arts . During that period as well as working on new perspectives for tap improvisations, they concentrated on creating a additional ensemble role for tap as a supportive percussionist. Ayan commented on the process “The traditional role of the Jazz tap dancer; only being featured for a number or two and then leave the stage to the rest of the musicians, in a way marginalized taps musicality as well as its versatility” Wheeler added “When I'm soloing, or simply stating the melody vocally or instrumentally, Ayan is backing me up as I do for him when he's being featured. He's on stage with me at all times just as a drummer would be.” Another heightened characteristic that the two employ to its full advantage is improvised, and imaginative interplay. That interplay is in the moment and never quite the same way twice, which gives each performance its own unique place in time.
Ayan has performed at many area festivals include NE Tap in the Boston Beantown Festival, Tappy Holidays and Tap City in New York, Something to Tap About, Tapped, and Boston Celebrates Tap. Within those four years, Ayan gained opportunities to travel to major cities such as NYC and Washington D.C. in order to study with some of the greatest tap dancers today including Jason Samuels Smith, Michelle Dorrance, Derick Grant, and Cartier Williams. In 2011 Ayan joined the Boston Tap Company under the direction of Sean Fielder and performed at the D.C. Tap Festival. Later that same year, Ayan became a member of the nationally touring company Tap Kids, performing from California to Canada in major cities throughout North America. Just a few months before his graduation from high school, he toured with the Irish step dancer Brian Cunningham in Atlantic Steps, a brand new show that integrates the old fashioned Irish step dancing of Sean Nós, with North American native tap dancing. Ayan has had plenty of influences in his life that shapes his tap dance, and he's quickly tapping his way into his own unique style, while keeping the traditions stepping forward.
TJ Wheeler is a two time winner of the prestigious, NH State Arts Council outstanding Individual Artist Award, the Granite State Award from the University of NH, the “Keeping the Blues Alive Award” from the International Blues Foundation, and the Paul Robeson Diversity award from the United State Post Office. The 2015 -16 school year marks the 25th anniversary of his concert/ workshop in the school program "Hope. Heroes' & the Blues." The program has reached over 500,000 students across 5 continents. He recently returned from a 6 week concert/ workshop tour of Missouri.
Have a cool yule and head down for this family event!