Jazz this weekend: The Anderson Twins at the Academy Art Museum

Chesapeake Music’s Jazz on the Chesapeake 2016-2017 series concludes Saturday, May 13th with A Swinging Legacy, featuring the Anderson Twins. The New York City-based brothers, Peter and Will, are known for their unique renditions of jazz standards and innovative originals. “Virtuosos on clarinet and saxophone,” according to the New York Times, the twins’ 2012 debut album, Correspondence, was listed in Vanity Fair as one of “Four New Releases to Make You Love Jazz.” Vibraphonist Chuck Redd will join the dynamic duo in a swinging salute to the icons of big band jazz. The show starts at 8 p.m. at the Academy Art Museum in Easton. Tickets are $45. To purchase, visit Jazzonthechesapeake.com or call 410-819-0380.

Lock in the Date: Jazz on the Chesapeake Presents Ella and Louis

seikaly-redd

Lena Seikaly and Chuck Redd

Today’s talent:  yesterday’s memories. An iconic salute and then some will capture the audience at the Academy Art Museum on November 19. Presented by Jazz on the Chesapeake the concert will showcase exceptional talent evoking recollections of Ella and Louis.

Ella Fitzgerald, had she lived to be one hundred, would be celebrating her birthday in 2017. We are going to get the jump on what will be numerous centenary celebrations. While Lena Seikaly, a young vocalist from Washington has fashioned her own style, she easily prompts her audiences to imagine the peerless Ella Fitzgerald.

Byron Stripling performs new and classic music. Like Louis Armstrong he caresses and jams the trumpet and doesn’t hesitate to belt out a few songs in the inimitable style of Louis.

byron-stripling

Byron Stripling

Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald were both extraordinary musicians and great entertainers. They played for and to the audience.

Working with Jazz on the Chesapeake to present this concert is Chuck Redd who brings prodigious talent to both the vibraphone and drums. Chuck is also a master at arranging just the right mix of musicians to honor jazz legends.

The Salute will begin at 8:00 pm at the Academy Art Museum and the ticket price is $45. Seating is limited so purchase your tickets now online at chesapeakejazz.org or call Lois Campbell at 410-819-0380.

Jazz on the Chesapeake is an organization under the umbrella of Chesapeake Music.  This program is underwritten in part by the Talbot County and Maryland State Arts councils.

The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival Returns Labor Day Weekend

MontyAlexander_Photo by Alan Nahigian

Monty Alexander. Photo by Alan Nahigian

The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival is back and it’s better than ever! This Labor Day weekend visit Easton, Maryland, to see the sensational Monty Alexander, along with past festival favorites and some newcomers.

Presented by Jazz on the Chesapeake, this three-day festival offers high-caliber performances that will delight concert lovers and jazz aficionados alike. The festival, now in its seventh year, boasts an extraordinary lineup, sure to appeal to a wide range of music enthusiasts—meaning you should get your tickets now before they sell out!

The festival kicks off Friday evening with “The Magic of Gershwin,” featuring Ted Rosenthal, renowned as one of the leading jazz pianists of his generation, and accomplished vibraphonist Chuck Redd. Rosenthal’s 2014 release, “Rhapsody in Gershwin,” presented his arrangement of the American composer’s 1924 Rhapsody in Blue. The album reached the number one position in jazz sales at iTunes and Amazon. Redd’s vibraphone work—referred to by the Jazz Times as “exquisite”—in addition to his skillful drumming, has been featured on more than 70 recordings. He is currently a faculty member at The University of Maryland School of Music in College Park, Maryland.

The Jazz Ambassadors of the United States Army Field Band take festival goers into the weekend with a free concert on Saturday, September 3rd at the Avalon Theatre. The morning performance will showcase the 23-piece ensemble’s diverse repertoire, including big band swing, Latin, contemporary jazz, popular tunes, and Dixieland. The dynamic and energetic show is fit for all audiences, from young to old!

Dominick Farinacci returns to Easton for a Saturday afternoon concert. Dubbed a “trumpeter of abundant poise” by the New York Times, Farinacci is set to release his Mack Avenue Records debut “Short Stories” on June 10th. This soulful album brings together a mix of exceptional musicians, along with producer Tommy Lipuma, cultivating a unique narrative of covers and original compositions that not only spans genres, but generations, too.

Festival headliner Monty Alexander showcases “50 Years of Music – The Full Monty” on Saturday night. Considered one of the top five jazz pianists ever, Alexander’s performance celebrates more than five decades of performing across the world and recording on more than 70 releases, including 50 albums. The Jamaican-born musician is revered for his creative, dramatic style, infusing hard-swinging jazz with Caribbean sounds and blues melodies.

Closing out the weekend is pianist Cyrus Chestnut, performing in a Sunday afternoon concert. Born in Baltimore—his father the organist at his local church—the composer and producer says he’s always believed in the deep connection between jazz and God. His works unabashedly demonstrate this concept, seamlessly blending facets of jazz with elements of gospel, R&B, and classical genres. Chestnut will be joined by Afro Blue, Howard University’s premier vocal jazz ensemble.

Jazz on the Chesapeake is a program of Chesapeake Music. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 410-819-0380 or visit Chesapeakejazz.org.

The Magic of Gershwin by William Edgar

This year’s Monty Alexander Jazz Festival opens with an ensemble, led by pianist Ted Rosenthal and drummer/vibraphonist Chuck Redd, showcasing the music of George Gershwin. Like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Georges Bizet and Frederick Chopin, Gershwin died before he reached forty. Yet like these musical geniuses he managed to be prolific during his short life. Gershwin grew up in the Yiddish Theater section of New York, and cut his chops on Tin Pan Alley. He played the classical repertoire, but loved jazz.

Chuck Redd

Chuck Redd

Gershwin was such a fine pianist, that when he asked one of his heroes, Maurice Ravel, to teach him, the great French musician turned him down, with the quip, “Why become a second-rate Ravel when you’re already a first-rate Gershwin?” He composed several Broadway shows, including Lady Be Good, Oh Kay, and Strike Up the Band. His brother Ira often wrote the lyrics. His most revered work is the opera Porgy and Bess, which was inspired by a couple of visits to the Gullah people of South Carolina. His most beloved orchestral piece is Rhapsody in Blue, the jazzy symphonic poem with challenging piano sections.

The ensemble, which includes some highly talented younger instrumentalists, will draw elements from the repertoire that will dazzle and move us. Ted has a marvelous album to his credit, Rhapsody in Gershwin, where he holds a musical conversation with the American composer, and includes his arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue, which is already well-known to his audiences.

The group will highlight some of the great classics, but also some lesser-known Gershwin works. So we can expect such tunes as I Loves You porgy, I Got Rhythm and Lady Be Good, as well as the less known My One and Only. As Chuck explained to me this number was inspired by the great album Ella Sings Gershwin, to which has he listened hundreds of times since his youth. Indeed few other singers can render the tunes as could Ella Fitzgerald. In the opening song, A Foggy Day, the phrase appears, “The age of miracles hadn’t passed.” Indeed, Ted and Chuck’s Gershwin tribute is living proof of the ongoing miracle of his music.

Monty Alexander Jazz Festival Schedule of Events:

Friday, September 2nd

  • 8 p.m. – The Magic of Gershwin with Ted Rosenthal and Chuck Redd

Saturday, September 3rd

  • 10 a.m. – FREE Community Concert with the United States Army Jazz Ambassadors
  • 11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. – Brunch at the Tidewater Inn, featuring bassist Max Murray and his band

            Please make a reservation with the Tidewater Inn!

  • 2 p.m. – The Musical Universe of Dominick Farinacci
  • 8 p.m. – Monty Alexander presents The Full Monty!

Sunday, September 4th

  • 2 p.m. – The Spirit of Cyrus Chestnut, featuring Howard University’s premier vocal jazz ensemble Afro Blue

All concerts held at the Avalon Theatre unless stated otherwise

To purchase tickets, visit Chesapeakejazz.org or call 410-819-0380

 

Cool Stuff: Jazz vocalist René Marie Returns to Easton May 12

The 2016 Jazz on the Chesapeake series comes to a sensational close on Thursday, May 12th with the return of vocalist René Marie to the Academy Art Museum in Easton.

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 11.41.51 AMclassical, and country genres to produce a body of work that explores the human experience.

The combination of musical influences that create Marie’s sound is reflective of the variety of genres she listened to during her childhood. Growing up, she had little formal musical training—save for two years of piano instruction. As a teenager, she sang in a few local R&B groups, composing and performing her first original piece with a band when she was 15.

The responsibilities of adulthood, however, led to music taking a backseat in Marie’s life. Yet more than 20 years later, at the insistence of her eldest son, Marie rejoined the local music scene and, soon after, transitioned into a full-time career as a vocalist and performer.

The next two decades were a whirlwind of recordings (11 to date!) and countless stage and theater performances, cementing Marie’s reputation as not only a singer, but as a composer, arranger, actress, and teacher.

“Sound of Red,” her most recent album—to be released the day after her Easton performance—is her first work of all-original material, providing insightful glimpses into the small, yet profound turning points in one’s life.

“I wanted to make a record that people could go back to again and again to excavate their emotions,” says Marie. “We cover things over every day. We have to in order to move through the day and move through our lives. We can’t always afford to be vulnerable to things like pain, loss, confusion, hurt and frustration. I want this record to provide some kind of architecture to provide support in those moments when our emotions are not necessarily happy ones.”

René Marie will perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 12th at the Academy Art Museum in Easton. Tickets are $55. To purchase, visit jazzonthechesapeake.org.

Pianist Joe Alterman & Vocalist Lena Seikaly Bring Valentine’s Jazz to Easton

This Valentine’s Day, forget the chocolate and roses. Instead, opt for something a little more smooth and a little less stereotypical: jazz.

For the last two years, 24-year-old pianist and composer Joe Alterman has delighted audiences over the weekend of romance with his charming renditions of jazz classics. He returns Saturday, February 13th, to the Academy Art Museum in Easton, for his third Valentine’s Day concert.

Joe Alterman (Photo by Lisa Piernot)

Joe Alterman (Photo by Lisa Piernot)

Alterman will be joined by jazz vocalist Lena Seikaly, of Washington, D.C. The two performed together for the first time at last year’s show, following a recommendation from Al Sikes, founder and producer of the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival. After a few email exchanges to establish a set list, the two prepared the material separately, and met the day of the show for soundcheck—a pattern they’ll repeat this year.

“I personally like it,” he says. “A lot of times the best stuff happens at the rehearsal, so I’d rather skip the rehearsal and let our best performance happen at the concert.”

Alterman’s foray into music began when, as a five-year-old, he asked his parents for piano lessons. He immediately hated it, he says with a laugh, and by the time he’d hit double digits, his interest had shifted to the guitar. His dad agreed to let him take lessons under the condition he continue with piano lessons. But, eventually, he found his way back to the ivory keys.

“I was playing guitar in a rock band and we hired this piano player and he couldn’t really do anything, so I kept having to show him everything. After a while, I just decided to play the piano and it kind of stuck from that,” he says.

He also credits his fondness for the improvisational genre to his family. As a kid, Alterman’s dad would play blues and jazz recordings in an effort to convince his son to stick with his piano lessons.

“A lot of the music in Georgia is bluegrass and blues music, so a lot of the tunes that are considered jazz standards, I really grew up hearing them at blues festivals and such … they’re just songs I’ve always liked,” he says. “But something about playing jazz—or just improvising and playing around with the melody—is something I really like.”

Lena Seikaly (Photo by Leah Appel)

Lena Seikaly (Photo by Leah Appel)

For jazz intellectuals or those unfamiliar with the genre, Alterman’s take on it might not be what you would expect. For him, jazz isn’t quite so serious. In fact, he believes it should be enjoyed as lightheartedly as it was in the past.

“Jazz was pop music, originally. It was dance music. Then, for some reason, people put chairs in the club and everyone thought they just had to sit there and think about something,” he says, with a chuckle.

And while there are sure to be chairs at his February 13th performance, Alterman insists audience members enjoy some good ol’ foot-tapping and head-bobbing, too. After all, it’s supposed to be fun, he says.

Need convincing? Take a peek into Alterman’s non-jazz-standards repertoire on YouTube, featuring tunes like Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” and “For Once in My Life,” and The Bee Gee’s “How Deep Is Your Love.”

Still, he doesn’t forget the fundamentals.

“I know there are a lot of jazz fans [in Easton] who like the old standards … I try to pick stuff that will be familiar to them and also stuff that might be a little surprising,” he says. “It’s a mixture of familiar songs and stuff they have forgotten about over the years from composers they already know.”

A Special Valentine: Joe Alterman and Lena Seikaly begins at 8 p.m., Saturday, February 13th, at the Academy Art Museum in Easton. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased online at www.chesapeakejazz.org.

By Becca Newell

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Monty Alexander Brings Jazz at Lincoln Center to Easton, MD

For the 5th Anniversary of the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival in Easton, MD, the Festival’s artistic director, legendary jazz pianist Monty Alexander will celebrate his musical roots. As a child in native Jamaica, he listened to Nat King Cole records and saw him perform live. In the early 60s when 18-year old Alexander was playing in a Miami jazz club, Frank Sinatra and his best friend Jilly Rizzo admired Alexander’s talent and invited him to play in their famous jazz club, Jilly’s in New York City. The rest is history.

Alexander, whose illustrious career has spanned 50 years, recalls, “What happened to me is what dreams are made of. It was the most incredible time of my life.”

Pictured is legendary jazz pianist, Monty Alexander, who will perform at the fifth annual Monty Alexander Jazz Festival on Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 8 p.m. at the historic Avalon Theatre in Easton, MD.  Alexander and his trio will be joined by jazz greats, guitarist Frank Vignola, vocalists Allan Harris and James DeFrances, and tenor saxophonist Houston Person.

Pictured is legendary jazz pianist, Monty Alexander, who will perform at the fifth annual Monty Alexander Jazz Festival on Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 8 p.m. at the historic Avalon Theatre in Easton, MD. Alexander and his trio will be joined by jazz greats, guitarist Frank Vignola, vocalists Allan Harris and James DeFrances, and tenor saxophonist Houston Person.

In 2011, Alexander explored his musical heroes in a performance, Jazz at Lincoln Center. To celebrate this landmark year for the Jazz Festival, he hopes to recreate that concert with his performance on Saturday night at 8 p.m. at the historic Avalon Theatre in Easton. Alexander has invited some of the country’s jazz greats, including vocalists Allan Harris and James DeFrances, and tenor saxophonist Houston Person. The “New York Times” calls Harris a “baritone crooner,” while DeFrances, a rising big band vocalist, has been praised for his Frank Sinatra-style voice. Houston Person will bring his soulful jazz to the mix, joining Alexander’s trio – Hassan Shakur on bass and Dennis Mackrel on drums, along with legendary guitarist Frank Vignola.

Since 2010, the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival in Easton, MD has grown from two concerts to six over the Labor Day Weekend. Hundreds of Shore residents, who never considered themselves jazz enthusiasts, now support the Festival as benefactors and patrons and the Festival is drawing a growing number of jazz lovers from states near and far.

The Festival kicks off on Thursday, August 28 at 8 p.m. at the Academy Art Museum with recording and touring artist Frank Vignola, whose spectrum of guitar music ranges from classical to jazz, rock, pop and even rhythm and blues. Vignola has recorded and/or toured with Madonna, Leon Redbone, Ringo Starr, with famed trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, and has performed with the Boston Pops.

Trumpeter Etienne Charles will charm audiences on Friday, August 29 at 8 p.m. with his unique and sophisticated sound as he headlines the Avalon Theatre with his quintet. With a rich musical history in jazz and the music of the Caribbean, this native of Trinidad brings a Creole flavor to his music that ranges from subtle to unavoidable, weaving a variety of stories with panache.

The Festival will continue on Saturday, August 30 at 11 a.m. with a free New Orleans jazz concert featuring the Conservatory Classic Jazz Band at Thompson Park on the corner of Washington and Dover Streets in downtown Easton. The band will then lead a second line parade to the Tidewater Inn where a lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m., preceding the afternoon showcase.

This year’s Saturday afternoon concert at 2 p.m. at the Avalon Theatre will feature a special salute to the legendary jazz pianist and composer, Dave Brubeck, who passed away in 2012. The salute will be led by Bobby Militello, who became Brubeck’s alto saxophonist after the death of Paul Desmond. Brubeck, on the cover of Time Magazine in 1954, vaulted jazz to the apex of the music world with his hit, Take Five.

Wrapping up the weekend on Sunday afternoon, August 31, at 2:00 p.m., is returning jazz and gospel virtuoso, Dee Daniels, who brings audiences together with her unique blend of spirituals, gospel and jazz. Dee Daniels will be joined by the Jana Leslie Singers and the Alive at 5 Band of Christ Church Easton.

The Avalon Theatre’s intimate setting and the lineup of world class artists make The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival an Eastern Shore destination for Labor Day weekend. The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, presented by Jazz on the Chesapeake, is a program of Chesapeake Chamber Music. Festival passes are going fast. To purchase tickets, visit ChesapeakeJazz.org.

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Monty Alexander Jazz Festival to Celebrate 5th Anniversary

Since 2010, the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival in Easton, MD has grown from two concerts to six concerts over the Labor Day Weekend. Hundreds of Shore residents, who never considered themselves jazz enthusiasts, now support the Festival as benefactors and patrons and the Festival is drawing a small but growing number of jazz lovers from states near and far.

Monty Alexander, the Festival namesake and artistic director, comments, “We look for top notch talent and good will, good taste and positive outlook. It’s like a delectable meal. We want to be feted with outstanding and varied ingredients.”

Pictured is legendary jazz pianist, Monty Alexander, who will perform at the fifth annual Monty Alexander Jazz Festival on Saturday, August 30, 2014.

Pictured is legendary jazz pianist, Monty Alexander, who will perform at the fifth annual Monty Alexander Jazz Festival on Saturday, August 30, 2014.

The top-ranked artists visiting the Festival are the ones making waves on the New York jazz scene and often around the world. Al Sikes, founder of the Festival, talks “top-ranked quality” musicians, while his counterpart, Monty Alexander, talks “uplifting music.” This year’s 5th anniversary line-up promises both.

The Festival kicks off on Thursday, August 28 at 8 p.m. at the Academy Art Museum with recording and touring artist Frank Vignola, who’s spectrum of music ranges from classical to jazz, rock, pop and even rhythm and blues. Vignola has recorded and/or toured with Madonna, Leon Redbone, Ringo Starr, with famed trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, and has performed with the Boston Pops. The New York Times named him “one of the brightest stars of the guitar.”

The fifth anniversary Festival will open on Thursday night, August 28 at 8 p.m. and will feature extraordinary guitarist Frank Vignola in an intimate night club-style concert at Easton’s Academy Art Museum.

The fifth anniversary Festival will open on Thursday night, August 28 at 8 p.m. and will feature extraordinary guitarist Frank Vignola in an intimate night club-style concert at Easton’s Academy Art Museum.

Trumpeter, composer, educator, and bandleader, Etienne Charles, will charm audiences on Friday, August 29 at 8 p.m. as he headlines the Avalon Theatre with his quintet. With a rich musical history in jazz and the music of the Caribbean, this native of Trinidad brings a Creole flavor to his music that ranges from subtle to unavoidable, weaving a variety of stories with panache. Applauded as a “daring improviser” by Jazz Magazine, he has arranged interpretations of the complex and varied rhythms of the Spanish, French, Dutch and English-speaking Caribbean in a fresh and exciting sound that builds upon those diverse origins, yet takes jazz in a new direction. He is also planning some new compositions and arrangements for the Festival, which will surely delight Festival goers.

Trumpeter, composer, educator, and bandleader, Etienne Charles, will charm audiences on Friday, August 29 at 8 p.m. as he headlines the Avalon Theatre with his quintet.

Trumpeter, composer, educator, and bandleader, Etienne Charles, will charm audiences on Friday, August 29 at 8 p.m. as he headlines the Avalon Theatre with his quintet.

The Festival will continue on Saturday, August 30 in the morning with New Orleans jazz in Easton’s downtown Thompson Park. The band will then lead a second line parade to the Tidewater Inn where a lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m., preceding the afternoon showcase.

This year’s Saturday afternoon concert at 2 p.m. at the Avalon Theatre will feature a special salute to the legendary jazz pianist and composer, Dave Brubeck, who passed away in 2012. The salute will be led by Bobby Militello, who became Brubeck’s alto saxophonist after the death of Paul Desmond. Brubeck, on the cover of Time Magazine in 1954, vaulted jazz to the apex of the music world with his hit, Take Five.

Saturday night continues the magic of the Festival at 8 p.m. at the Avalon Theatre with the incomparable jazz pianist Monty Alexander and his trio including Hassan Shakur on bass, Dennis Mackrel on drums, and special guest Frank Vignola on guitar. Alexander continues to astonish audiences with his energy and spirit. This year’s concert promises no less.

Wrapping up the weekend on Sunday afternoon, August 31, at 2:00 p.m., is returning jazz and gospel virtuoso, Dee Daniels, who will bring to her adoring audience a unique blend of spirituals, gospel and jazz. Today, many musicians perform gospel music using a jazz style and Dee Daniels embodies this tradition. Dee Daniels will be joined by a local choral group led by Jana Leslie.

The Avalon Theatre’s intimate setting and the lineup of world class artists make The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival an Eastern Shore destination for Labor Day weekend. The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, presented by Jazz on the Chesapeake, is a program of Chesapeake Chamber Music. Tickets are on sale now for the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival. For further information, visit ChesapeakeJazz.org.

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