Mark Bloom and Geoff Jones have been working together for many year, but their newest musical collaboration is a product of a turbulent world.
The Jones and Bloom Culture Zoom, which plays at KJ’s Hideaway in St. Paul on July 28, is a musical endeavor that is dedicated to celebrating and musically expressing commonalities between African- and Jewish-American communities. The group combines genres from Black and Jewish experiences, promoting cooperative alliances, fellowship, and mutual respect.
“We’ve been developing it for two years,” Bloom said. “It’s not your typical thing, because it’s obviously a musical project, but it’s also involved with social justice and other elements of our society.”
Jones said the desire to have difficult conversations seems to be more possible now than they have been in the past.
“With all the things going on right now, it seems like there’s more of an appetite for this conversation,” Jones said. “We’re close to having courageous conversations, and closer to having authentic conversations on a level that we have not been having.”
Bloom and Jones have worked together before, when Jones’ Sounds of Blackness musical ensemble and Bloom combined under the name Harmonic Convergence and led gospel Shabbat services.
“I’m not your typical Jewish musician, meaning that I’ve got a pretty diverse background, and I’ve always appreciated the music that comes through or transcends the African-American community,” Bloom said. “Music is the window that should hopefully provide the opportunity for different ethnic groups to appreciate and realize the alliances that are there, and not turn to the discourse of being dysfunctional and apprehensive of being with people that is a stranger to their community.”
Jones said the two have enjoyed playing and creating music together, but were hoping to get a little more out of it.
“We’re both passionate about people kind of getting more than just musical pleasure,” he said. “Let’s do a little musical exploration to promote dialogue between diverse groups, cultural conversations, and that sort of thing.
Bloom said the Culture Zoom music will range from current, funk, standard R&B and swing.
“I have lots of original songs, but we’re not going to do those as of yet,” he said. “We just want to whet the appetite for a program of music that involves this cross fertilization between African-American and Jewish-American community.“