David Amram is a modern day Renaissance man. He’s written and performed jazz, classical and movie music and has explored world and folk genres as well. He has authored two memoirs and is a sub-culture icon for having pioneered the art of jazz poetry with Jack Kerouac. At 77, he’s still upbeat, energetic and on the road, both literally and philosophically. And, as WFIU’s David Brent Johnson found out, that road leads all the way back to his childhood in Pennsylvania where he was highly influenced by seeing the legendary early 1940’s Duke Ellington Orchestra.
Amram is currently working with Angela’s Ashes author Frank McCourt on a new work for narrator, chorus and orchestera titled “Missa Manhattan.” The work will celebrate the many cultures that have immigrated to New York City over the past three hundred years, including the Native Americans who were there to greet them.