Jazz musician returns to his roots Saturday

CONYERS - Although Rockdale County native Marcus Printup has carved out a unique and successful career as one of the world's most gifted jazz trumpeters, he has never forgotten where he first came to love music.

A key member of Wynton Marsalis' award-winning Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and a noted bandleader

himself, Printup's introduction to music came courtesy of the spirited, spiritual singing he heard growing up at Peek's Chapel Baptist Church on Old Salem Road.

"I'm a professional jazz musician, but gospel music speaks to my heart," said Printup during a recent interview from his New Jersey home. "In many ways, I love gospel more than jazz, because gospel influences the way I play jazz."

Printup will be making his first local appearance in several years at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Rockdale Auditorium in Olde Town Conyers, but he won't be playing jazz at the concert.

Instead, he'll take part in a gospel-influenced, Peek's Chapel-sponsored Father's Day tribute, complete with a 100-voice choir that will include his mother, Annie.

"This is something I've always wanted to do. I'm totally supporting the choir," he said. "I play behind them, just like I did in high school and college when I'd come home and play in church. I think people see me playing at my best when I come home to church. That's where my soul began to develop. I'll sit next to my mom and toot my horn and try to make people happy and God happy with what I'm doing."

A member of the Lincoln Center ensemble for 16 years, Printup has recorded eight albums (including this year's London Lullaby) and has worked with such luminaries as Marcus Roberts, Madeleine Peyroux, Dianne Reeves, Wycliffe Gordon and Betty Carter. Not long after his Conyers appearance, Printup will embark on a monthlong tour of Europe with the Lincoln Center group and will later record a new Marsalis-composed work called "Vitoria Suite."

Printup said he was inspired to contribute to the gospel show by Aretha Franklin, whom he backed up recently at Lincoln Center.

"This has been a great month in terms of spiritual things happening," he said. "I got a call to play with Aretha, who has always been one of my idols. The recording she did of "Amazing Grace' in 1971 or 1972 has always stayed with me. She was a pop star, but her roots were in the church. That's the way I feel - my roots are at Peek's Chapel.

"I was interested to see whether she'd do pop or gospel songs, and she did a few gospel tunes and it tore down the house. To do a gospel show after playing with my gospel idol is very special."

The show will be recorded for release on CD, and all proceeds from the concert and CD sales will go toward the church's building fund.

"I wanted this concert to be recorded because I want people to know what it sounds like at a Southern Baptist gospel church," he said. "This is not a recording session - it's a worship service. I want to capture the authenticity that makes it special. This is more than a recording for me - this is a catharsis from a spiritual standpoint.

"They're building a new church at Peek's Chapel and this is my contribution to that cause. All proceeds will go toward the building fund. This is my extended tithe to the church."

Printup said he's also pleased that the concert falls the day before Father's Day, so he said he's able to honor his mother, father, Willie Printup, and his church.

"My performance will be dedicated to Peek's Chapel and my mom and my dad," he said. "What they've done for me has touched the deepest part of my soul."

Tickets for the concert are $20 and can be obtained by calling 678-342-3620, 706-476-0047 or by visiting www.peekschapel.org.