Feb. 17, 2005 • Volume 13 Number 11

Hour of Return for BC's David

When JoJo David takes the stage at Robsham Theater tonight, he'll be doing something that only a few years ago was just a dream, cruelly out of reach.

David, an associate campus minister and vocal coach for the BC bOp! student jazz ensemble, and pianist Adam Birnbaum '01 will perform selections from their recently issued CD of ballads, "Small Hours." The show will begin at 8:15 p.m.; tickets are $15.

Tonight's concert will be David's first official public performance since his miraculous recovery from a life-threatening bout with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma several years ago that had left his vocal cords paralyzed - permanently, his doctors told him. But after undergoing months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, and a bone marrow transplant that saved his life, David slowly regained his singing ability.

"I've been singing in church, but this is something quite different," said David in a recent interview. "It's great that I will be able to get up and sing for the first time in the place which supported me through such a difficult period.

"The focus of this event is to say, 'Hey, I'm back, our CD's out, and thanks for everything.'"

Strengthened as he was by the support of his family and friends, David says, battling cancer can be a lonely struggle, and recording "Small Hours" was a way for him to evoke that solitude. The mood is quiet and reflective, even poignant, mixing the more classic style of ballads like "Here's That Rainy Day" and "Imagination" with pop standards such as The Beatles' "Golden Slumbers" and John Hiatt's "Have a Little Faith."

The duo's collaboration goes back to Birnbaum's undergraduate years at BC, during which the Brookline native played with BC bOp! - the group dedicated their performances at the 1999 University of Nevada at Reno's Jazz Festival to David, who by then had begun his treatment. "Adam and I kept in touch even after he graduated and moved to New York City," said David. "When I knew I was going to do an album, I couldn't think of anyone else who I wanted to accompany me."

Birnbaum has earned honors such as the American Pianist Association's Cole Porter Fellowship for 2004 and the 2000 Reno Jazz Festival "Outstanding College Rhythm Section Performer" award. He also received an artist's diploma as a member of the inaugural class in the Juilliard Institute for Jazz Studies.

"Adam is very fluid, very clear, and he takes the same kind of internal rhythm and harmonic approach on the piano as I do in my vocals. He definitely adds to the mood."

Only weeks after "Small Hours" was completed last fall, David and his wife, Ann Marie, liturgy music coordinator for the Institute for Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry had another reason to celebrate: the arrival of their first child, a daughter.

"Yeah, we had those two things happen, plus the Red Sox and Patriots," he laughed. "It's been quite a year."

For more information, see -Sean Smith

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