Chassidic Jazz Project plays Art After Dark at the Norton

Led by drummer Reuben Hoch, group features all-star cast of musicians, including guitarist Tom Lippincott and viola player Debbie Spring. - Contributed by Scott Bernard

Reuben Hoch of Chassidic Jazz Project
Reuben Hoch of Chassidic Jazz Project
Reuben Hoch of Chassidic Jazz Project
Reuben Hoch of Chassidic Jazz Project

The Norton Museum of Art is delighted to present Reuben Hoch’s Chassidic Jazz Project, performing at Art After Dark for the first time.

The South Florida-based band, which has performed internationally, plays at 7 p.m. on January 7, 2016 in conjunction with the special exhibition, This Place: Israel Through Photography’s Lens.

The exhibition features fascinating photographs of Israel and the West Bank by a dozen world-class artists from nine countries.

Drummer Reuben Hoch formed The Chassidic Jazz Project in 1998 to fill a void in jazz and world beat music, and bring music of the Jewish people to a larger audience by using jazz as a vehicle for musical expression. Aside from Hoch, the current lineup includes founding member Tom Lippincott on guitar; Debbie Spring on viola; cellist Jared Cooper, bassist Don Coffman, and Carlos Averhoff on saxophone.  This combination of instruments creates a gorgeous chamber music effect, blending elements of jazz, fusion, Chassidic, and world music to create a multi-cultural sound.

Chassidic Jazz Project is the brainchild of Reuben Hoch, a pioneered in the fusion of jazz, world beat, and traditional Jewish compositions.

Hoch was urged by Dizzy Gillespie’s manager, Charles Fishman, to unfurl his Jewish heritage by applying his love of jazz to his religious background. Hoch moved to South Florida in 1996, and two years later was commissioned by the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood to create a presentation in celebration of Israel’s 50th anniversary. Hoch, who lived in Israel from 1984 through 1988, chose to perform Chassidic melodies set to jazz arrangements, as these melodies are close to his heart and part of his Jewish Orthodox upbringing. (The liturgical origin of the group’s material is clearly different from, and should not be confused with, klezmer music.)

Writer Alexander Stern explains that, “While most people today associate the Chassidim with the ultra-orthodox sect of Judaism (characterized by somber black clothing, wide-brimmed hats, and forelocks) … Chassidic music is often vigorous and celebratory. It is also deeply soulful, touching the spirit in an amazingly profound way. It is no exaggeration to say that Chassidic music is as uplifting as the gospel of Mahalia Jackson, and as reflective as the deep Mississippi Delta.” That, he says, is the effect the Chassidic Jazz Project has on listeners.

Art After Dark runs from 5 to 9 p.m. on January 7 it will also include a discussion of the Masterpiece of the Month, David Hammonds’ Untitled (Basketball Drawing), presented by Curator of Contemporary Art Cheryl Brutvan, and a tour of the exhibition, The Summer of ’68: Photographing the Black Panthers. Art After Dark is free with Museum admission.

The Norton Museum of Art is a major cultural attraction in Florida, and internationally known for its distinguished Permanent Collection featuring American Art, Chinese Art, Contemporary Art, European Art and Photography. The Norton is located at 1451 S. Olive Ave. in West Palm Beach, FL., and is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Closed on Mondays and major Holidays). General admission is $12 for adults, $5 for students with a valid ID, and free for Members and children ages 12 and under.

West Palm Beach residents receive free admission every Saturday with proof of residency. Palm Beach County residents receive free admission the first Saturday of each month with proof of residency. For additional information, please call (561) 832-5196, or visit