Peter Seymour to come home to the J, Feb. 26, for Jewish BookFest Jr.
By Deb Silverthorn
J is for jazz, the JCC and welcoming a jazzy JCC alum — Peter Seymour — to the Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer Dallas Jewish BookFest Jr. as a guest author. At 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26, Seymour will come home to the J to present his “Giants of Jazz from A to Z.” The program, open to the public, is one of the J’s “Doing Jewish” events and is co-sponsored by the Aaron Family JCC and Central Market.
“I’m so excited to welcome Peter home to Dallas, to the J and to share this very special book with our families of all ages. Teaching is an art, and my son has mastered that through his music, his heart and now on the pages of this beautiful book to which he brings both,” said Laura Seymour. Laura is Seymour’s proud mother, Aaron Family JCC camp director emeritus, Jewish experiential learning director and TJP columnist.
“Giants of Jazz from A to Z,” Seymour’s first book, is a passion project that came to be over the course of the pandemic. When his PROJECT Trio’s touring schedule was all but canceled, he decided to create a children’s tribute that can be appreciated by all ages. The pages of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and more are illustrated by Rahil Najafabadi and the layout and design set by Allen Adon Jr.
Born and raised in Dallas, Seymour is the second of Laura and Jeff’s three children. Like his siblings, Rachel and Ted, Seymour grew up at Congregation Tiferet Israel and in the halls of the J, performing in musical theater productions of “The Bar Mitzvah,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Grease” and many more.
In the sixth grade, Seymour learned to play the bass, an instrument his mother had wanted to learn but never did. He was a member of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra and the jazz combo at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts from where he graduated.
Seymour earned a bachelor’s degree in music from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a master’s in bass performance from Rice University. He performed extensively with Miami’s New World Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra for a year before relocating in 2006 to Brooklyn, New York, where he, flutist Greg Pattillo and cellist Eric Stephenson founded PROJECT Trio.
PROJECT Trio has taken its sounds of classical, jazz, hip-hop and more to events benefiting more than 600,000 students. They’ve performed in classrooms and concert halls in 25 countries, on four continents and in 43 of the United States. In 2007, the group, which has more than 113,000 subscribers and 100,000,000 views to its PROJECT Trio YouTube channel, performed at the J’s ArtsFest at the Meyerson Symphony Center.
In 2010, Seymour met Elizabeth, then a law student at NYU, on a subway ride and the two were married three years later. They are the parents of Naomi and Evie. Elizabeth is now the deputy chief of the Post-Conviction Justice Unit at the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
Seymour’s creativity wanting to expand had no time for the book project that was in the back of his mind yet at the front of his heart. Then, as the pandemic rose and his group’s touring schedule came to a halt, there was time.
“We were locked in and I used the time to be creative in a new way. We’d been reading books to our daughters since they were born; after a while, it was the same stories over. I knew I could introduce the next generation to the musical legends who influenced me and I wanted it to be for more than just our girls. I hosted a crowdfunding campaign, people supported me and now I’m out sharing it,” said Seymour.
During the last three years the musician, who also used the time to earn his real estate license, performed virtual concerts from home, where he also produced a video and study guide of “Carnival of the Animals” commissioned by Strings School Days. The collaboration brought together 12 musicians from around the country, an illustrator and filmmaker sharing compositions of Camille Saint-Saëns and Seymour’s new original music.
One of the benefits of the pandemic has been time with family; for the Seymours this was not only on the East Coast but in a never-could-have-imagined three-month visit to Dallas in 2020. During that time, Naomi and Evie became Camp Chai campers. The girls have returned for two more summers and they’ll be back, in 2023, to the camp their grandmother “built”; their daddy, aunt and uncle “lived”; and where they now call home too.
“‘Giants of Jazz From A to Z’ engages us in the phenomenal artists whom we celebrate year-round and in this Black History Month. From Julian Edwin ‘Cannonball’ Adderley to the double Zs in Dizzy Gillespie, Peter has created a beautiful book. We’re excited for what we know will be a very special afternoon,” said Rachelle Weiss Crane, the J’s director of Israel engagement and Jewish living and BookFest producer.
The afternoon will be an interactive one of family fun, crafts, a live musical performance and reading of Seymour’s book.
“‘Doing Jewish’ is something we can all do each day, no matter how young or old we are, and part of that ‘doing’ is honoring others around us, giving kavod to those who expand the beauty of our lives,” said Laura.
For more information, or to register ($20/person includes a copy of “Giants of Jazz from A to Z”), visit tinyurl.com/JCC-BookFest-Jr-
Giants-of-Jazz. To watch “Carnival of the Animals,” visit