Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Lou Caputo's Not So Big Band live in NY, March 6

Join us for another spectacular evening of swinging jazz you'll never forget this coming Tuesday evening, March 6 at the John Birks Gillespie Auditorium in the New York City Baha'i Center at 53 East 11th Street (between University Place & Broadway), when saxophonist Lou Caputo brings his swingin' Not So Big Band to the stage.  There are 2 shows: 8 and 9:30 p.m.

Lou Caputo, a native of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has been a professional musician for over thirty years. He has done almost every kind of job that a musician can be asked to do. A superb reedman (saxophones, clarinets and flutes), he has performed in show bands with the likes of Lou Rawls, Frankie Valli, Shirley Basey, Jack Jones, Bobby Short, Frankie Avalon, and a host of others. As well as the many of the famous Motown acts like the Temptations and the Four Tops. Aside from this he has performed along side of Salsa legends like Candido, Bobby Sanabria and Lou Perez.

However, playing jazz is really closest to Lou's heart. He has had the opportunity to perform with people like trumpeter Richard Williams, pianists Duke Jordon and Jaki Byard, drummers Walter Perkins and Mousey Alexander (in his short-lived big band), vocalist Joe "BeBop" Carroll and Dakota Staton, bassist Chris White (including a Carnegie Hall appearance).  He has spent time in the Glen Miller band under the direction of Clem DeRosa as well as the Harry James Big Band.  He has had the good fortune to record with jazz legend Dr. Billy Taylor on guitarist Ray Rivera's album Night Wind.

Lou has had the pleasure of performing in the Richie Cole Octet. Another high point is playing Birdland with the Ellington Band under the direction of Paul Ellington and Jack Jeffers. Through the years Lou has appeared in many of the area's leading jazz clubs as both a leader and side man.  He also played for former President Bill Clinton on the occasion of Clinton's 50th birthday.

Admission is 15.00, 10.00 for students.
Tickets will be sold at the door, or call 212-222-5159 for reservations and information.
For more about the NYSAJE and other acts at "Jazz Tuesdays", check out

Jazz Tuesdays in the John Birks Gillespie Auditorium
The New York Baha'i Center
53 East 11th Street (between University Place & Broadway)
Two shows: 8:00 and 9:30 p.m.

Jazz Tuesdays is funded in part from the Wilbur, Dorothy, and France Rose Davis Family Fund; the Hunt Family Fund; the DeChristopher Family Trust; and Dr. Margie Baker, Jazz Vocalist and Educator.
Lou Caputo (Alto, Soprano & Baritone Saxophones, Clarinet, Flute and Alto Flute)
Geoffry Burke & Virginia Mayhew (Saxophone)
John Eckert & Dave Smith (Trumpet)
Jason Ingram (Trombone)
Dale Turk (Tuba)
Bill Crow (Bass)
Joel Perry (Guitar)
Don Stein (Piano)
Mike Campenni & Rudy Petschauer (Drums)
Warren Smith (Vibraphone)
Eddie Montalvo & Leopoldo Fleming (Percussion)

Monday, February 26, 2018

Tomorrow: Laurie Antonioli in concert with guest Theo Bleckmann @ California Jazz Conservatory

Come celebrate the opening of the new performance hall and campus expansion at the California Jazz Conservatory! 
Laurie Antonioli In Concert - Friday, March 2nd, 8pm 
California Jazz Conservatory (2040 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA)

One of the world's greatest jazz vocalists in the contemporary scene, Laurie Antonioli will be joined by Matt Clark, Dan Feiszli, Jason Lewis, Sheldon Brown, Dave MacNab and very special guest CJC Artist-in-Residence Theo Bleckmann!
(Theo Bleckmann)

"Singer Antonioli is a rare talent, too rarely seen beyond the Bay Area." - Don Heckman, The International Review of Music 

Spanish Harlem Orchestra celebrates 15 years with "Anniversary," out in April

The 2x GRAMMY® Award winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra will be celebrating fifteen years with the release of their aptly titled sixth album "Anniversary," due out on April 16th on ArtistShare.

The release show will be Le Poisson Rouge in NYC on April 4.

Other dates include:
May 25-26 at Yoshi's Oakland, CA
June 21-24 at Dimitrious Jazz Alley, Seattle, WA
June 25 at Vancouver International Jazz Festival
June 26 at Victoria International Jazz Festival

On "Anniversary," the powerhouse 13-piece all-star salsa big band demonstrates why they are the "the leading light of the salsa reconstruction movement" (Newsday) by doing what they do best: hard-hitting, no-holds-barred New York salsa that is both contemporary and reverent to its rich musical history.

Since their inception 15 years ago, Spanish Harlem Orchestra (SHO), under the direction of pianist, composer and arranger Oscar Hernández, has earned its reputation as the true voice of the barrio with intricate arrangements and pulsating rhythms that are steeped in the authentic salsa tradition. Their high-energy performances have delighted audiences across the globe from Asia to Australia, from Latin America to Europe.

Grounded in the past, but with a focused eye on the future, Spanish Harlem Orchestra continues to play an integral role in ensuring salsa dura ("hard salsa") is not just alive, but a thriving musical force. "Over the course of 15 years, the consistent thread in each of our records has been the hardcore rhythm, sophisticated arrangements and a lot of care toward producing quality music with high integrity for our genre," says Hernández.

Each member of Spanish Harlem Orchestra has a significant connection to the authentic salsa tradition. It begins with Hernández, who has long been considered one of the most prominent musicians on the Latin, salsa and Latin-jazz music scene. Hernández's musical legacy can be traced back to the 1970's, a time in which he performed with a who's who of salsa legends including Tito Puente, Machito, Celia Cruz, Ray Barretto, Rubén Blades, Conjunto Libre, and Willie Colon. Later, Hernández went on to become the Musical Director for Paul Simon as well as the orchestrator and arranger for Gloria Estefan.
Along with showcasing the vocal prowess of long-time members Marco Bermudez and Carlos Cascante, Anniversary displays the talents of one of Latin music's most promising up and coming stars in vocalist and flutist Jeremy Bosch. On his recording debut for SHO, the 27-year-old talent contributes, in the words of Hernández, an "instant new dynamic and energy to the band". One of Bosch's brightest vocal moments can be heard on the album's second offering "Yo Te Prometo" and his virtuosic flute playing can be heard on "Goza El Ritmo".

While SHO's previous album featured jazz greats Chick Corea and Joe Lovano, Anniversary allows the band to speak for themselves over the course of 13 lively tracks. Standout moments include the album opener "Esa Nena", which swings to no end while highlighting SHO's signature sophisticated arrangements, and Hernández's "Goza El Ritmo", which will instantly bring listeners to their feet.

Other noteworthy flashes include three modern arrangements of salsa classics: the bolero "La Media Vuelta" is reworked in a salsa style featuring 3-part harmonies and a simmering brass section, while "Y Deja" (Ruben Blades/Willie Colon) and "Guaracha Y Bembe" (Joe Cuba/Cheo Feliciano) are given contemporary updates with a fresh flair. On all their recordings, SHO includes some Latin Jazz. This time jazz trumpet legend Randy Brecker is a featured guest on Hernández's original song "Somos Uno".

Produced by Hernández and co-produced by SHO trombonist and 2018 GRAMMY® Nominee Doug Beavers, "Anniversary" builds on the dynamic legacy built by their previous five releases, which have garnered four GRAMMY®  nominations and two wins (in 2004 for sophomore album "Across 110th Street" and again in 2010 for "Viva La Tradicion"). Considered "virtuosic journeymen who are one of New York's great musical resources" (The New York Times), SHO has expanded greatly from their home turf of Harlem to some of the world's premiere stages including the Sydney Opera House, the Playboy Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, and many others.

To celebrate the release of Anniversary, Spanish Harlem Orchestra will be performing on Wednesday, April 4th, at Le Poisson Rouge located at 158 Bleeker Street in New York City. More information, including booking, can be found at

Tonight only: Gilad Hekselman live @ Zinc, NY

Rob Clearfield's "Wherever You're Starting From" coming out today!

Woolgathering Records, the label headed by bassist & composer Matt Ullery, announces the February 26, 2018 release of "Wherever You're Starting From," the fourth album by imaginative and innovative pianist Rob Clearfield. Wherever You're Starting From is available for order now on

On the Chicago native's second solo piano endeavor, Clearfield explores his fascination for a compositional approach to improvisation, which is highlighted through the albums distinct and dynamic sonic landscape. "My hope is that some of the music sounds through-composed, some sounds like simple songs, and all of it sounds spontaneous."

Clearfield's compositions have been strongly influenced by his friend and colleague Makaya McCraven, the great Chicago-based drummer whose 2015 double LP "In The Moment" (International Anthem) is comprised of excerpts from live improvised performances. While touring together, Clearfield and Makaya had an in-depth discussion about an intriguing and innovative new approach to composing; improvising complete pieces by focusing more on individual moments.

"If a beginning or ending is slow to arrive, but a fully-formed spontaneous idea is captured in the middle, it's a success!"

This new idea gave way to a renewed sense of freedom, both in the studio and during the editing process by allowing Clearfield to develop a strong ear for the elements of a piece that worked, and to then utilise, edit and produce them to a high standard, regardless of the other parts that didn't make the cut. As a result, two tracks off the album begin with a fade-in, and one ends with a fade-out, highlighting short pieces which were originally inside larger pieces. The prologue and epilogue of the album were also chosen with this unique improvisational production approach at the forefront. Clearfield introduces and closes "Wherever You're Starting From" with two takes of the same song.

Clearfield's progressive and virtuosic compositional skill is rooted in both classical and jazz influences. Since the release of his debut album A Thousand Words in 2009, the established composer spent a considerable amount of time studying the canon of classical piano music, particularly the romantics (Brahms, Chopin, Rachmoninoff) and the impressionists (Ravel, Debussy).

"Their influence, particularly in regards to the textural palette of the piano, is at the forefront of the sound of this record."

This 12-track opus includes two freshly interpreted tracks by two of Clearfield's musical heroes: Johannes Brahms and John Coltrane. The inclusion of their music in this project represents the varied musical traditions Clearfield has spent his life studying: classical and jazz, composition and improvisation, solo piano and group playing, European music and Black-American music. While the Brahms piece is played in a straightforward manner, sans improvisation, Coltrane's "Giant Steps" is only faintly recognizable at first; the melody doesn't enter for several minutes, and the rhythm is stripped away almost completely.

Called " of [Chicago's] most enjoyably unpredictable players" by Neil Tesser, Clearfield has taken part in a number of highly creative and genre-bending releases since his emergence on the scene over a decade ago. They including several releases with Matt Ulery (including 2016's Festival, with Ulery's Loom/Large, 2014's In The Ivory, and 2006's Music Box Ballerina, to name just a few), as well as with Dan Bruce (2017's Earthshine), Adam Larson (last year's Second City), and Jon Deitemyer (2016's Tall Tales), among others. Clearfield's previous releases include Islands (2016) on ears&eyes Records, The Long And Short of It (2013), a collaborative EP with Bethany Hamilton The Beauty That We Live In (2010)  and his debut A Thousand Words (2009).

With each of his musical endeavours, Clearfield has always strived to be as expressive and as personal as possible. However, Wherever You're Starting From represents a new level of vulnerability and exposure, that until now, Clearfield had not yet experienced with any past venture.

"Ultimately, I came to view this work as an autobiography of sorts. My trio and quintet records are like works of fiction, creating new worlds and characters in my own image. This, on the other hand, is more of a documentary. What you're hearing is who I am, nothing more and nothing less."

In anticipation of the February release, Clearfield is delighted to announce a mid-west Spring tour.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Anna Mjöll live in NY, March 3!

LA-based Icelandic Jazz Princess Anna Mjöll makes her debut at FEINSTEIN'S/54Below in New York City on March 3! Hoping to see all my NY friends there! 😊
For tickets go to:

Charles Carlini Presents "Dangerous Rhythms" with T.J. English & Bobby Sanabria

Join bestselling author T.J. English as he curates a series of the best in contemporary Latin Jazz to celebrate the launch of his latest book, "The Corportaion."
Featuring Bobby Sanabria & Sexteto Ibiano @ Zinc Bar, NYC
April 5m 7pm & 8:30pm
Tickets: $20 advance / $25 day of show

Fernando Garcia CD release show for "Guasábara Puerto Rico" on March 10, NY

Fernando García Band: Guasábara Puerto Rico - CD Release Concert

Puerto Rican drummer, composer, and bandleader plans to release his third album this year. It showcases his talents as a drummer and composer, as well as his ability to unite an amazing group of energetic musicians from the New York City Latin-Jazz scene. It also features the Grammy-nominated and MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenón.

"Puerto Rico native García organically blends folkloric Bomba rhythms and Latin jazz in a myriad of satisfying ways. His simpático crew of youngbloods push the envelope on García's third album as a leader and debut for ZOHO music." - Bill Milkowski, Jazz Times

The concert will be 9 pm at Teatro Latea: 107 Suffolk St, New York, NY 10002
Cover: $15

Blues guitar legend Chris Cain live in Pasadena, tonight!

Friendly Warning to All Blues Lovers!

Come see Chris Cain tonight, Saturday, Feb 24, 2018 at Big Mama's Rib Shack in Pasadena. 
The show starts at 8 pm.  Show up any time after 7 pm for tickets at the door, or get tickets in advance at

The long-anticipated return of Chris Cain this weekend means one thing.  All three shows will may SELL OUT in advance. They expect a mob scene at each show!
Cadillac Zack Presents
*** CHRIS CAIN ***
FEB. 24, 25 & 26, 2018


R.I.P.: Glauton Campello (1960-2018)

(born on June 22, 1960;
died on February 23, 2018 in Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil)

Brazilian pianist, composer and arranger who worked with Marcio Montarroyos, Jorge Pescara, Marcelo Salazar, Djavan, João Bosco, Ed Motta, Ithamara Koorax, Gabriel O Pensador, Torcuato Mariano etc.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Dexter Payne's release concert of "Jazz For All"

Tomorrow, February 23 @ Dazzle Jazz  
930 Lincoln Street
Denver, CO, 80203
7:00 PM
$10.00 - $15.00

Dexter Payne - clarinet
Bill Kopper - guitar
Dave Willey - accordian
Victor Mestas - piano
Raoul Rossiter - drums & percussion

Brazilian music is enjoying well deserved popularity. Everyone loves infectious rhythm and melodic joie de vivre, especially with the addition of jazz solos. DPQ adds another layer - it's the conversation. Spontaneously interactive, contrapuntal give and take is a traditional element of Brazilian music, and that's what this group lives for.

Dexter Payne Quintet returns on the heels of a studio date for their 2017 Pathways to Jazz funded CD. The group's first recording, Pra Voce, won a 4 star review in DownBeat Magazine, where Payne was previously honored by inclusion in the DB Readers Poll.

Brazilian choro jazz from a well traveled student of the genre and an all-star line up:
Payne on clarinet, Dave Willey (Hamster Theatre, Thinking Plague) on accordion, Bill Kopper (UCD faculty, Guinga, Brad Goode) on 7  & 6 string guitars, Victor Mestas (CU faculty, Conjunto Colores, Latin Grammy winner) on piano, Raoul Rossiter (Ginga, Hamster Theatre) on drums and percussion.

If you have heard the Quintet on KUVO or in their short set at Five Points Jazz Festival, you'll want more. Join the party Thursday night for a great musical conversation.

- "Pra Você is a delight from start to finish. The sound of Payne's group... is light and unique.... quite joyful..." – Scott Yanow DownBeat October '14 ★★★★ (4 stars)

- "It's like a fever when you start listening to this album — the way summer gets in the brain." -Erika Frederickson (Missoula Independent) 3/27/14

- "The best of the best was the Dexter Payne Sextet. Their Brazilian jazz blew me away." - Letter to the editor Longmont Times-Call
Ranked on clarinet in Downbeat Magazine Readers Polls and International Blues Challenge winner, Payne finds musical love in many genres. A 2 1/2 yr musical odyssey through Latin America, including most of a year in Brazil, was formative for Payne's love of Brazilian music - playing with sambistas Noite Illustrada and Noca da Portela, recording with samba icon Beth Carvalho, and the beginning of a 10yr collaboration with the late maestro, composer and multi-instrumentalist Gaudencio Thiago de Mello. Add in years playing music of Africa, Turkey, Greece, Morocco, plus his recent trip to Choro Jazz Fest and music camp in Ceara, and music festival in Florianopolis and you have the voice of Dexter's clarinet.

Self taught in classical, blues, jazz and Brazilian guitar, he is the first call for studio work. Notable addition to University of Colorado faculty, his dynamic and harmonic sense is hard to match.

Veteran of Hamster Theatre, Ligeia Mare, the heartbeat of Guinga, Raoul sets the standard for rhythmic complexity and balance.

Phenomenal improvisor and composer, Willey founded Hamster Theatre (Cuneiform Records) and writes most of their material, tours in Europe with Thinking Plague, records and produces
an eclectic range of other artists including Three Mice. Most recent release is his highly acclaimed new recording of Ligeia Mare with Ron Miles: "Amplifier."

Highly respected in his native Caracas, Victor has extensive recording credits there. Renowned in Venezuela where he played on a Latin Grammy recording, his musicianship is an inspiration to all. Fast becoming known in the front range for virtuosity and joyous musicality.

Spin Cycle further refines its adventuresome sound on "Assorted Colors," set for April 6 release

One of the freshest sounding bands to emerge on the jazz scene in this or any decade, Spin Cycle follows up its critically acclaimed eponymous debut from 2016 with the release on April 6 of "Assorted Colors" (Sound Footing Records). The new recording, coming after two years of intensive touring that further refined their distinctive take on jazz, sustains the praise bestowed by DownBeat's Ed Enright in his rave review of their first album that hailed the band as "a cohesive unit that commands an exceptional stylistic range and exhibits a go-for-broke attitude."

On their sophomore release, the piano-less quartet delivers more of the "bright melodic lines, deep-seated grooves, catchy rhythmic devices and sophisticated harmony" cited by Enright, who praised them for "improvisations run wild, as soloists embrace aggressive and daring ideas from the realms of modal jazz, free-jazz, second-line and soul, not to mention good old-fashioned swing."

Founded in 2014 and co-led by drummer Scott Neumann and saxophonist Tom Christensen, who have known and played with each other in various settings for well over 25 years, Spin Cycle is rounded out by guitarist Pete McCann and bassist Phil Palombi. The four musicians are mainstays of the New York jazz scene.

The title "Assorted Colors" alludes in part to the broad and eclectic stylistic palettes Christensen and Neumann each draw upon while crafting the compositions that define Spin Cycle's musical direction. (Christensen contributed six tunes to the session, Neumann five.) "One of our aims was to develop the songs not by adding sections but by building on the form itself via solos or concepts," Neumann says. "We wrote things that got to the heart of the matter, but also were vehicles that allowed us to stretch," Christensen adds.
 (L. to r.: Phil Palombi, Tom Christensen, Scott Neumann, Pete McCann)

Spin Cycle's decision to use a guitar rather than a piano in the band enables the creation of unusual blends of airy textures that are a trademark of the band's tonal tapestries. "Guitar chords are more sparse than piano chords, they're more open sounding," says Christensen.

Among the Christensen tunes on "Assorted Colors" are the arresting minor-key "Possum Dark," in his words a "swaggering bad ass blues" named after the enforcer in the post-apocalyptic novella Ginny Sweethips' Flying Circus, and the stripped-down, minimalism-streaked "Two Pan Man," on which he lets it rip on tenor while guitarist McCann, according to the composer, "sounds almost like a second wind player."

Neumann's compositions include the sharp-angled, Monk-inspired "Break Tune," whose infectious swing and sense of fun provide a spirited introduction to the album. Neumann, who spent a week in Cuba in 2017 studying with Cuban drummers, also composed "To the Puente," an intriguing blend of the son montuno and modern mambo accents à la Chick Corea. "Affirmation" has a cool, rolling vibe recalling some of Pat Metheny's classic recordings.

Tom Christensen studied classical music and jazz at both undergraduate and graduate levels at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, and moved to New York in 1989. For eight years, he was a member of the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra, appearing on five of their albums. He also has played on such notable recordings as Joe Lovano's "Celebrating Sinatra," Rufus Reid's "Quiet Pride," and the David Liebman Big Band's "Tribute to Wayne Shorter." His 2000 debut, "Gualala," and 2002 effort, "Paths," team him with multi-reedist Charles Pillow. His other recordings include "Americana" (2003) and "Kailash" (2007), on which he joins the Kailash Trio.

Scott Neumann attended North Texas State and, before moving to New York in 1988, played with the Woody Herman Orchestra for a year. On his 2006 album, "Osage County," he led a quartet including pianist David Berkman and saxophonist Sam Newsome; he recorded "Blessed" in 2014 as part of the Neu3 Trio, with Michael Blake and Mark Helias. A busy player on the New York scene who has collaborated with such luminaries as Kenny Barron and Ben Allison, Neumann has also accrued impressive credits as a vocal accompanist, a Broadway musician, and educator (he directs the drum studies program at Lehigh University).

Spin Cycle will be performing a CD release show at Smalls, NYC, on Friday 4/13. They've also scheduled several appearances in Ohio, including a concert and master class at Youngstown State (Bliss Hall), in Youngstown, 1-4pm on 4/5; concert at Andrews House, Delaware, OH 4/6; concert with Denison University Jazz Band, Granville, 8pm on 4/7; and the Bop Stop in Cleveland, 4/7.

Photography by Dennis Connors
CD graphic design by Fanny Chiari-Gotschall
Web Site:

R.I.P.: Didier Lockwood (1956-2018)

(born 11 February 1956 in Calais, France;
died 18 February 2018 in Paris, France)

Drummer Jonathan Barber announces the release of his debut album "Vision Ahead"

"Vision Ahead" due out May 11, 2018
Release show May 10, 2018 at Rockwood Music Hall, NYC

Featuring Taber Gable (piano), Andrew Renfroe (guitar), Godwin Louis (saxophone) Matt Dwonszyk (bass), Denise Renee (vocals) & Sasha Foster (vocals)

Hartford, Connecticut-native Jonathan Barber is proud to announce his arrival with the Friday, May 11th release of his highly-anticipated debut album "Vision Ahead." Featuring pianist Taber Gable, guitarist Andrew Renfroe, saxophonist Godwin Louis, bassist Matt Dwonszyk, and vocalists Denise Renee and Sasha Foster (collectively and eponymously known as the album title), "Vision Ahead" is Barber's product of six years spent cultivating a distinct and immaculately tailored sound with like minded musicians who, together, now present themselves as an undeniable, sonically-solid unit. "Vision Ahead" serves as a showcase of the fresh prospects that can be envisioned and the greatness that can be achieved when one is forced to face unanticipated, desolating life-challenges.

Upon hearing the devastating and unexpected news of his one and only brother's death in November 2016, Barber struggled to comprehend life, and the purpose of his own, individual fore-planned and foreseen envisage slipped out of his understanding. 

"I became confused with the direction that life was taking me and numb to the new norm that instantly presented itself to me; for it was that stand still moment the words "Vision Ahead" became the theme of my next chapter in life."

Sonically, "Vision Ahead" not only paints a picture of fresh perspective but one of perseverance. Aside achieving goals through adversity, it is a creation of polished craft and art that strives to breakthrough in a music industry that lacks the attention of an intellectual artist.

"My music not only helped me through my grieving process, but sparked a fresh musical style in hopes of carrying on the spirit of this American art form; jazz."
Eight out of the twelve tracks on "Vision Ahead" were personally composed by the young musician, named Best "Up & Coming" Drummer in the 2018 Modern Drummer Readers Poll. "Think On These Things" was the first composition that Jonathan Barber wrote for the album back in 2015. At the time there were no lyrics written but Barber wanted to write a ballad that reflected upon positive thinking. Inspired by the scripture Philippians 4:8, Barber aimed to portray the message that "you are what you eat and you become what you think." After the passing of his brother the lyrics came to him.

The rhythm of the title track's intro played by Andrew Renfroe lays perfectly with the syllables of the name "Vision Ahead" (spelling out the word "Vision" and saying the word "Ahead"). As the title track lifts into solos, the band provides an open section for Renfroe to let his fiery lines ring in the air.  Towards the end of Renfroe's solo he gives a call and response cue for Godwin Louis to step up to the plate and swing over the classic chord changes of Benny Golson's "Stablemates".  Once Louis is finished telling his story he cues the band to go to the bridge of "Vision Ahead" which is looped for Taber Gable's solo. Lastly, the solo section ends with Barber soloing over the intro creating a pulsating vamp. Keeping the "Vision Ahead" theme Barber sets a whirlwind of rhythms on top of this syncopated vamp. Collectively these musicians demonstrate how to take the language played by Jazz Masters and interprets it into an original composition.     

Originally written by pianist Eldar Djangirov, the seventh track off the album, "Airport" lifts off into the sky from the start. While flying to Europe on a music tour Jonathan Barber was listening to this song played by Djangirov and his trio, and inspired by the melody played in the high register on the piano, Barber began to set lyrics to this classic gem. The lyrics have a double meaning. In one sense they shine light on the function of an airplane; flying all over the world, transporting people to various destinations and living its purpose in the sky. The second message behind the lyrics is one of encouragement, to chase dreams. "Airport" is well executed, presenting a song that expresses vision and freedom.

"Believing in the Reunion" was the last composition that Jonathan Barber brought to the band. Its initial propose was designed to be the final statement to another composition. At the time it just seemed like a blueprint. Close to the end of day one in the studio, Barber wanted to record this sketched track, just to have it on file. Still unsure of the total outcome, a plan was made at that very moment. After hearing the completion of this composition in the mixing process, Jonathan knew that this song had to be a song by itself. For 1 minute and 40 seconds these musicians challenge the concept of time; There's no time signature to this composition. This closing track is played off of the present moment. Barber began to reflect about the afterlife and what reuniting with loved ones who have passed away might sound like. Would it be confined into 4/4, 3/4 or 7/8 time? Or would it sound like this composition - no time just motion.

"Collectively we capture the deep emotion and the intention that encompasses the compositions of these songs."

This tightly-knit ensemble has successfully created an album of hope and positivity. Whether itʼs graduating from The Jackie Mclean Institute of Jazz or being natives in the State of Connecticut, the seeds that were planted in one of the smallest states in the U.S. are still growing.

Jonathan Barber was first introduced to the drums by his father and began nurturing his passion and talents at his family church. During his senior year of high school, Barber became a member of the Artists Collective in Hartford, CT founded by Jackie and Dollie McLean. There he studied with master artist, Renee Mclean, who introduced him to jazz and its African roots and rhythms; it was at that point Jonathan knew he wanted to be a musician. He furthered his studies at the University of Hartford, Hartt School of Music, Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz, where he graduated Cum Laude, receiving a B.A. in Music Performance (Jazz Studies).

Wasting no time Jonathan became an ondemand drummer in the Hartford, CT jazz scene and also began building his career in the New York jazz scene. Jonathan has had the opportunity to perform with many artists such as Jimmy Greene, Erykah Badu, Wallace Roney, Jeremy Pelt, Rene Mclean, J.D. Allen, Kenny Barron, John Patitucci, Terrace Martin, Charnett Moffett, Stanley Jordan, Harold Mabern, Steve Davis, Larry Willis, Abraham Burton, Stefon Harris, Marcus Strickland and many more. Currently, Jonathan Barber continues to tour nationally and internationally and is now stepping out as a bandleader introducing his new band "Vision Ahead".

In May 2017 Jonathan debuted in his own international tour, traveling all over Japan. In January 2018 Jonathan was named best "Up & Coming" drummer in the Modern Drummer Readers Poll. Jonathan endorses Canopus Drums, Istanbul Agop Cymbals, Evans Drumheads, Promark Drumsticks and Sunhouse Percussion.

"I recognize my God given gift. Maximizing this gift to its full potential is the best thing you can do for yourself. Operating in this gift is how you give back to the world."

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fred Rogers is celebrated by Keri Johnsrud & Kevin Bales on a new album out soon

Vocalist Keri Johnsrud and Pianist/Arranger Kevin Bales Announce the Release of "Beyond the Neighborhood: The Music of Fred Rogers" 
Featuring Billy Thornton (Bass) & Marlon Patton (Drums)
Due Out March 20, Fred Rogers' Birthday!

Chicago-based vocalist Keri Johnsrud and GRAMMY nominated pianist Kevin Bales have come together once again for the March 20th release of "Beyond the Neighborhood: The Music of Fred Rogers." With the help of an esteemed rhythm section featuring Billy Thornton on bass and Marlon Patton on drums, Johnsrud and Bales have succeeded in reimagining and rearranging the music that has been heard by numerous generations on the beloved children's television program Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

The songs, which up until now were specifically tailored for a child's ear, are now presented as reinvented gems that are wise and wistful, simple but not simplistic, and even, in some cases, a bit sultry. In this collection, Mister Rogers' songs not only relate to adults; they seem to have been written for adults in the first place.

Fred McFeely Rogers - the cardigan-wearing, sneaker-shod, quintessentially gentle Presbyterian minister known as Mister Rogers on the awards-winning children's TV show that aired for nearly 35 years - also wrote the songs he sang on his program. He wrote a lot of songs, and he wrote them well. As a kid, you might not have noticed the craftsmanship of these songs, but as an adult, you can't miss it. These songs left their mark on three generations of children who made Mister Rogers' Neighborhood part of their after-school routine.

This project began over two years ago when Johnsrud and Bales discovered that they had a deep mutual love and admiration for Fred Rogers, while having a conversation about children's programs they used to watch growing up. It was obvious to them that music played an integral part in the programming of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and were amazed at how that music remains relevant today. Most songs written for youngsters try to impart messages about love and family, friendship and sharing, belief in one's self-confidence but respect for others - messages that too many adults seem to have forgotten.

"We wanted to take these songs, which we grew up with as kids, and make them relatable - more accessible - to adults as well. We discovered that a lot of Fred Rogers' music cannot translate across the generations; those songs very much catered to children. We took the songs that could be heard as adults, the songs that he implanted in our brains when we were children and that are still poignant to us now," Johnsrud explains.

What a lot of people don't know is that Fred Rogers composed all of the music heard on his programs (The Children's Corner, The MisteRogers Show, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood). In fact, Kevin's first introduction to jazz was listening to the music performed live by pianist and musical director Johnny Costa and his trio on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. With that said, Keri and Kevin wanted to compile a list of songs that may be familiar to some and unfamiliar to others to showcase the depth of Fred's songwriting talent. The pair also wanted to arrange these tunes in a way that could appeal to all generations, so that families could listen to this music together. The beauty of these compositions lies in the simple messages found in each of his songs (those of self-worth, acceptance, and kindness) and can apply to all, whether young or old.

When Fred Rogers sang "Just For Once" it expressed the desire of two kids to explore friendship on their own, minus the meddling ministrations of parents and adults. Now, against the exotic rhythm that jazz musicians know as "the 'Poinciana' beat," Johnsrud's smoldering interpretation transforms it into a song that channels the simmering ambitions of new lovers.

Several of Rogers' compositions make the transition from friendship to chaste romance. He wrote the lovely "When The Day Turns Into Night" as a comforter, girding tots against the separation anxiety that many feel at bedtime, when the lights go out and parents leave the room; here it has the heartfelt yearning of a Cole Porter meditation on separated lovers. The hard-swinging opener, "It's You I Like," carried a basic childhood message about accepting people for who they are, rather than how they look; Johnsrud and Bales turn it into a peppy, even flirty thing, suggesting the warmth and wonder of an emergent romance. And "I Like To Be Told" comes across as a love song conveying unabashed honesty and vulnerability - even though it began life as a child's plea for respectful truth from elders.

Johnsrud credits the quality of Rogers' writing for smoothing the way on this album. "He's certainly very underrated as a composer," she says, adding that the success of these "translations" from kidspeak to adulthood owes to that. "Look And Listen" could have come from pretty much any Frank Loesser musical of the 1950s; Bales instills a New Orleans beat and then adds a terrific solo to boot. On "Find A Star," Johnsrud's graceful ease with the lyric reveals a song that would instantly improve the quality of almost any modern Broadway show. (Marlon Patton's Latin-tinged rhythm and a standout bass solo from Billy Thornton, certainly help.)

"It will be interesting to see which adults are attracted to this, and it's just refreshing to have his work out there - especially in the current climate. We'd like to introduce his music to a younger audience as well, but largely through parents listening with their children, because these messages can appeal to all generations. We hope, in some small way, to carry on the legacy of Fred Rogers through this recording. Thank you for taking the time to support this endeavor and may it be a beautiful day in your neighborhood."


A highly appealing jazz singer with a quietly expressive voice and a deep understanding of the lyrics that she interprets, Keri Johnsrud has been an important part of the Chicago jazz scene for the past 15 years. With headlining appearances at Chicago's top venues including the historic Green Mill Cocktail Lounge and Jazz Showcase, Keri has built a strong reputation and following among peers and fans, alike. While having a solid regional presence, she continues to perform across the country (including regular appearances in Atlanta and New York City) and has enjoyed singing in Iowa before a hometown audience of fans and friends.

In addition to finding success with her own group, Johnsrud also lends her voice to the critically acclaimed jazz ensemble Shawn Maxwell's Alliance. Singing since she was seven years old and born and raised in Iowa alongside professional vocalists, Keri's plans for the future are as direct and as logical as her music; "I plan to keep singing, writing, teaching and performing as much as possible and want to take the music wherever it needs to go."


By some measures, Kevin Bales was a latecomer to jazz, already 17 when he encountered the sounds and structures and became captivated by the freedom and corresponding challenges of the music. But if late to the party, he wasted no time in immersing himself in the celebration, declaring total commitment to what would be his life's work and backing his announcement by resigning his job and designated career in computer programming. Kevin could commit to jazz with a reasonable degree of expectation. He was already an accomplished pianist, with classical chops refined since the age of 10. So accomplished he was invited to audition for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, at age 16.

Kevin's initial career move was to the University of North Florida and a budding if little-known jazz program. There he met and performed with, and went on to record and tour with, a number of monumental artists, including Wynton Marsalis, Louie Bellson, Eddie Daniels, James Moody, Ben Tucker, Ira Sullivan, Sam Rivers, and Nat Adderley. He counts among his mentors bassist Ben Tucker, multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan, guitar legends Nathen Page and Jack Petersen, and the fiercely individual saxophonist Bunky Green.

His meeting with Bunky Green led to five years of tours. His encounter with guitarist Nathen Page blossomed into 15 years of spot tours and four albums. And his work with trumpeter extraordinaire Marcus Printup has become a lifetime association that has included recordings on Blue Note/Capital records. Ten years touring and recording with vocal iconoclast Rene Marie culminated in a Grammy Nominated album. Few artists have the patience for teaching - as are few teachers accomplished players. But Kevin has amassed a reputation for his prowess in both professions. While still a senior at North Florida he was drafted into a full teaching load, and continued to be an integral part of the school's jazz program for upwards of a decade.

Today, Kevin manages his own jazz program, overseeing an ambitious schedule of jazz students. Kevin has accumulated a long list of awards and a reputation as one of the finest jazz pianists performing anywhere. In 1994, less than a decade into jazz, he won the American Pianist Association's Jazz Piano Competition. In addition to nearly every important jazz venue in the South, he has performed in some of the most acclaimed clubs and festivals in America and around the world: the JVC Jazz Festival in New York, The Bakery in Los Angeles, The Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center jazz series, the Toronto and Edinburgh jazz festivals, and the Moscow Center for the Performing Arts.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Frank Vignola returns after near-fatal crash - Live @ Iridium, NY, Feb 12

Frank Vignola @ Iridium - Monday, February 12, 8pm
1650 Broadway
New York, NY 10019
(212) 582-2121

with the John di Martino Trio
Frank Vignola - Guitar
John di Martino - Piano
Nicki Parrott - Bass
Drums - Dag Markhus

"Vignola returned on Sweet Georgia Brown, exhibiting his acoustic mastery in exhilarating single string runs, complex flurries and astounding full register riffs. When speed and clarity were demanded, Vignola stunned."- DownBeat

It 's been almost a year since top guitarist Frank Vignola catapulted into a tree from an off-road-vehicle in a tragic accident that nearly took his life. After being air-lifted to a renowned N.Y. area trauma center, Frank's family learned of his extensive injuries which included four broken ribs, a broken clavicle, shoulder (in two places), and arm, which has since required multiple surgeries. Additionally, Vignola suffered two collapsed lungs and massive internal bleeding.

Enduring a long but steady recovery, Frank returns to the stage in collaboration with the John di Martino Trio performing great American popular songs by Gershwin, Porter, Van Heusen, Berlin, Bernstein and more. He is grateful, and he's excited to be back to introduce the John di Martino Trio.

Frank Vignola, born December 30th, 1965, is one of the most extraordinary guitarists performing before the public today. His stunning virtuosity has made him the guitarist of choice for many of the world's top musicians, including Ringo Starr, Madonna, Donald Fagen, Wynton Marsalis, Tommy Emmanuel, the Boston Pops, the New York Pops, and guitar legend Les Paul, who named Vignola to his “Five Most Admired Guitarists List" for the Wall Street Journal. Vignola's stellar technique explains why the New York Times deemed him "one of the brightest stars of the guitar".

John di Martino is a jazz pianist, arranger and producer, based in New York City. He has been described as a "shape - shifter", for his creativity across musical genres. John has performed and recorded with David "Fat Head" Newman, Pat Martino, Houston Person and Taj Mahal. Mr. di Martino is a sought after musical director. He has accompanied Jon Hendricks, Keely Smith, Billy Eckstine , and Janis Siegel. John's talents as arranger and pianist can be heard on recordings with Gloria Lynn, and Grady Tate. John's discography includes many Grammy nominated CDs, among those are: "Love" with Issac Delgado, "Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B", and "Live & In Clave" with Bobby Sanabria.

For further information on Frank Vignola, visit his website at
For interviews and other inquiries contact :
Jim Eigo - Jazz Promo Services

For bookings contact:
Dynamic Artists
510 - 558 - 4000

Monday, February 5, 2018

Jack Wilkins, Vic Juris, Mark Whitfield & Joe Cohn: Strings Attached live in NY, Feb 9 & 10

4 Good Reasons to Catch Strings Attached at the Jazz Forum on Feb. 9 & 10: Jack Wilkins, Vic Juris, Mark Whitfield, Joe Cohn!
Presented by Charles Carlini.

Meg Okura prepares the release of two new albums

Visionary violinist and composer Meg Okura will be releasing two new albums in the coming months. She, along with Sam Newsome and Jean-Michel Pilc, will be releasing "NPO Trio Live at The Stone" on Chant Records on March 15th. On May 13th, which is Mothers Day, Meg along with the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble featuring Tom Harrell will release "IMA IMA." The latter will be celebrated at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola on August 20th.

Okura ushers in the Spring season with two new recordings: "NPO Trio Live at The Stone," the debut album from NPO Trio, which features Okura on violin, alongside Sam Newsome on soprano saxophone and Jean-Michel Pilc on piano, out Friday, March 15, and "IMA IMA," which features The Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble with Tom Harrell out Sunday, May 13.

While "Live at The Stone" introduces the impressive tightly-knit trio, who as a group weave through musical idioms of jazz and classical - from impressionism to minimalism, blues to free jazz, "IMA IMA" successfully blends the musical cultures of East and West for a new and exciting direction in modern jazz expression. With this highly-anticipated double release, Okura showcases both her truly versatile musicality. "IMA IMA" will be celebrated at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola on August 20th.
Newly established avant-garde and world music label, Chant Records is excited to announce the arrival of NPO Trio with the release of "Live at The Stone," which was recorded by the trio, led by Meg Okura during her residency at The Stone in the East Village, New York in April of 2016. Following the 2017 release of a duo album by Sam Newsome and Jean-Michel Pilc, Magic Circle, the duo multiplied its dimensions by adding the violinist to their line-up. NPO Trio is now a dynamic group of like-minded friends celebrating freedom of expression through music and sounds. Although the music presented by these three is improvisational, listeners will also hear hints of familiar melodies including well-known Yiddish songs and even excerpts of John Coltrane.

Okura explains that she has always felt emotionally connected to Yiddish melodies. The melodies are always sad and happy at the same time (typically a minor melody with major chords), just like the Japanese expression of happy sad. Reminiscing upon her childhood, Okura recalls consoling herself by truly believing that, "...sadness is absolutely necessary for me to experience true happiness in the future. And everytime I hear Jewish songs, it reminds me of my childhood."

The entire concert at The Stone consisted of three extensive improvisational parts. The first part, which is 38 minutes in total, is divided into 6 shorter segments, each given individual titles for the purpose of this album. The melody often quoted during these first six tracks is a famous Yiddish song by Mark Warshawsky (1848-1907), "Oyfn Pripetchik". The song is about a rabbi teaching his children about the value of education and perseverance. It also mentions exodus, reminding us of the sacrifices made by our ancestors, which presents us with the freedom we have today. Track 7, "Unkind Gestures" is a shorter improvisation, which pays homage to John Coltrane's Giant Steps.
With unique instrumentation including Shinobue (Japanese flute) "IMA IMA" brings together some of New York's finest jazz artists including Sam Newsome, Pablo Aslan, Brian Marsalsa, Anne Drummond, Brian Marsella and Riza Printup as well as special guest trumpeter Tom Harrell. Hailed by the New York Times as "vibrant" and "sophisticated", Okura's Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble presents "IMA IMA" as a celebration of womanhood, particularly motherhood.

Meg Okura became an Ima (meaning mother in Hebrew) seven years ago, so along with being a tribute to Okura's grandmother, who recently passed away, it is only fitting that "IMA IMA" will be released on Mother's Day this year. Okura explains that although many refer to this period of time as an interruption, she prefers to regard it as a constant state of disruptions.  "The earliest compositions on this album being the ones from my pregnancy period only support that claim. However, I do not believe motherhood has had a negative impact on my music."

Okura explains that disruptions forced her to think more creatively and resourcefully, and so inevitably made her music stronger. It inspired the Japanese native towards integrity, and excellence in her composition, improvisation and performance. Being anything other than the first-rate was not acceptable. "The last thing I wanted to do as a mother was to use motherhood as an excuse for not being able to achieve excellence."

Ima Ima -(L'dor Vador) by The Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble was supported by New Music USA, made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, Anonymous. To follow the project as it unfolds, visit the project page:


Formerly a concert violinist, Okura made her U.S. solo debut at the Kennedy Center with the late Alexander Schneider's New York String Orchestra. She then moved to New York City and earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in classical violin from The Julliard School.  Advancing her career as a jazz violinist while at the Henry Mancini Institute in Los Angeles, Okura was soloist and the concertmaster for the orchestra backing up Herbie Hancock, Shirley Horn, Diana Krall, and Terence Blanchard, under the batons of music icons as Quincy Jones, Jerry Goldsmith, and Jack Elliot.

Okura quickly became one of the most sought-after violinists on New York City's music scene, appearing on dozens of recordings with a wide range of artists including David Bowie, Lee Konitz, Diane Reeves, Heidi Grand-Murphy, Sam Newsome, Jesse Harris, Jeremy Pelt, Ziggy Marley and many more. She has toured internationally with the late Michael Brecker, Steve Swallow, Tom Harrell, appearing at venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Barbican, Madison Square Garden, Village Vanguard, Blue Note Tokyo, Hollywood Bowl and at numerous festivals and concert halls around the world. In 2016, Okura held a week-long residency at the Stone in New York City, performing and presenting 12 concerts with her 10 different groups.

Recipient of numerous grants and awards including Metlife Creative Connections Grant (Meet The Composer), Brand Personality Award (Asia Pacific Brands Foundation), Manhattan Community Arts Fund (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council), Jerome Composers Commissioning Program (American Composers Forum), and most recently, New Music USA Project Grant, Okura has also composed/ arranged for several film and television programs such as The Congregation (documentary) and Louie (TV series), as well as, the New York Symphonic Ensemble, Sirius String Quartet, and C. Eule Dance.

She has herself also appeared on many movie soundtracks as a violinist, and erhu player, has been featured in three Cirque du Soleil productions (Varekai, Wintuk and Corteo), and has collaborated and performed with Oscar nominee actor and Columbia recording artist Terrence Howard. For the past ten years, Okura has also been a member of a Jewish/Middle Eastern band "Pharaoh's Daughter" led by ex-orthodox singer-songwriter and cantor Basya Schechter.

Jazz Club of Sarasota announces "World of Jazz" for 38th Sarasota Jazz Festival, March 7-10

Jazz, the uniquely American musical art form, was born in New Orleans in the early 20thcentury and nurtured on a lively diet of music from around the world--the blues of the American South, rhythms from Africa and the Caribbean, classical music from Europe and France, and more. It’s entirely fitting, then, that the Jazz Club of Sarasota --one of the most active jazz societies in the nation-- will present “A World of Jazz”for its 38thAnnual Sarasota Jazz Festival.

The four-day event, from March 7-10, 2018, will feature14 musicians from seven nations in four concerts, over a dozen locally based musicians for a Pub Crawl by Trolley, and the French art film Django.

In addition, at one of the concerts the Club will present its highest honor, the Satchmo Award, to a musician for “unique and enduring contribution to the living history of jazz.” Festival activities will be presented in various Sarasota venues including Marriott’s new Art Ovation Hotel, downtown Sarasota night clubs and Burns Court Cinema. Live jazz will fill the lobby before each concert, and four special VIP receptions—for those who purchase VIP ticket packages--will add to the luster of this star-studded festival.

“We’re pleased to recognize the global impact of jazz, and we’re especially honored that the celebrated Ken Peplowski, one of our audience favorites, is the festival’s music director,” said Peg Pluto, Jazz Club president. “We’re also delighted that our vice president, Ed Linehan, is managing director for the festival. Ken and Ed have both worked with our festivals before so we know we’re in good hands.

“In keeping with our theme, Ken will present the world of jazz as interpreted by internationally respected musicians and fast-rising young stars from around the world,” Pluto said. “Many of them have never played together before, and they may never share the same stage again. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event.”

Acclaimed reedman Peplowski, based in New York, will both direct the international cadre and frequently join them on stage. “These accomplished performers will play the universal language of jazz, an American language that everyone now speaks,” he said. “They’ll draw on musical influences from their homeland countries—Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Japan, Sweden and the United States—to present the exciting sound of what jazz has become today.”

Ken has designed a playbook of two sets for every concert, each with a differentmix of performers. “We’ll present unique combinations of musicians for every set with a fresh sound for each segment,” he said. He’ll also add another treat: “After each concert, we’ll bring back all of the evening’s musicians for an All-Star jam session number or two—an improvised finale that takes us right into the very essence of jazz.” 

Peplowski has been highly praised and frequently honored. “Ken Peplowski is arguably the greatest living jazz clarinetist,” said Russell Davies of BBC2. Will Friedwald(The Wall Street Journal)wrote, “Mr. Peplowski sounds the way (Benny) Goodman might if he had kept evolving … polishing his craft . . . into the 21stcentury.”

Among other credits, Ken has been a featured performer at practically every significant jazz festival, was music director of the Oregon Festival of American Music for eight years, has backed dozens of major performers, and has recorded some 50 CDs as a soloist and nearly 500 more as a sideman. He has also been a frequent performer for the Jazz Club of Sarasota, often with Dick Hyman, and in 2014 received the Club’s highest honor, its Satchmo Award, for his “unique and enduring contribution to the living history of jazz.” (Other Jazz Club Satchmo winners since 1990 have included Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Gerry Mulligan, Ella Fitzgerald, Dick Hyman, Branford Marsalis and Family, Four Freshmen, Bucky and John Pizzarelli, and Wycliffe Gordon.)

In addition to Peplowski, several other musicians will make encore appearances with the Jazz Club of Sarasota. These include Houston Person, saxophone; Diego Figueiredo, guitar; and Jeff Hamilton, drums.

The festival’s house band is the Scandinavian Jazz trio:
Writer/musician/composerKristian Leth(Denmark), drums; a DanishAcademy Award-nominated film composer and Grammy-winning recording artist who has written, performed andproduced scores for TV series, films and commercials.
Hans Backenroth (Sweden), bass; acclaimed as “one of the best bass players Sweden has developed—ever!” (Arne Domnérus, Swedish jazz legend).
Ole Kock Hansen(Denmark), piano; “one of the most significant artists in modern Danish Jazz” (Wikipedia).

“Some of our festival musicians currently reside in the United States as well as abroad. We’ve hand-picked performers who beautifully understand and represent the musical influences they bring from their countries of origin,” Peplowski said.

In addition to the Scandinavian Jazztrio, festival musicians (in alphabetical order) are:
Ehud Asherie,piano, Israel; “a master of swing and stride” (New Yorker); a jazz pianist who integrates the New York piano tradition with his inventive style.
Graham Dechter, guitar, U. S.; honored in the DownBeat Critics Poll as "Rising Star Guitar" (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017)
Sinne Eeg, vocalist, Denmark; considered the preeminent jazz vocalist in Scandinavia.

Diego Figueiredo,guitar, Brazil; a fast-rising star among the world's greatest jazz guitarists; plays with an infectious, joyful feeling.
Jimmy Greene,saxophone, U.S.; GRAMMY Award-nominated saxophonist, composer, and arranger.
Jeff Hamilton, drums, U.S; known for his versatility as a drummer, composer, arranger, and educator; leads his own trio and performs with other respected groups including the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.
Chiara Izzi,vocals, Italy; described by JazzTimesas “a talent to be heard, admired and anticipated.”
Jeremy Pelt, trumpet, U.S.; featured by Nat Hentoff in The Wall Street Journal; voted "Rising Star - Trumpet" for five years byDownBeat and the Jazz Journalists Association.
Houston Person, saxophone, U.S.; a “rock-solid, full-toned” musician, recording artist and winner of the Eubie Blake Award and the 2016 Jazz Station Awards.
Akiko Tsuruga, organ, Japan; called “Queen of the Organ”; winner of the 2017 Hothouse Magazine Jazz Award for Best Organist. 5, 2017).
Sinne Eeg, vocalist, Denmark; considered the preeminent jazz vocalist in Scandinavia.

Festival Schedule
TROLLEY rides from5:30 p.m.; JAZZ at downtown CLUBS from6-10 p.m.
Jazz lovers and club-hopperswillboard trolleys for the 20th consecutive Jazz Pub Crawl by Trolley, riding to downtown nightclubs where over 50 local musicians will swing the night away. Trolleys will run continuous loops of the venues throughout the evening. A wristband, available from the Jazz Club office* or at the trolley parking location, is required for admission to the trolley and all clubs. This is a separately ticket event, not included in Festival VIP or Combo Tickets.Wristband are$20 in advanceand $25 on the day of the event.

THURSDAY EVENING,MARCH 8: CONCERT and other events, Art Ovation Hotel, 1255 N. Palm Avenue

5-7:30, Local JAZZ MUSICIANS in lobby bar;6-7:30, VIP RECEPTION;7:30 p.m., CONCERT;10-11 p.m., VIP MEET-AND-GREET with FESTIVAL MUSICIANS.
Co-Hosts: Ken Peplowski and Mike Cornette, director of jazz & on-air host, WUSF 89.7 FM, Tampa
1st Set:Scandinavian Jazztriowith special guest vocalistSinne Eeg.
2ndSet:Scandinavian Jazztriojoined byJimmy Greeneon saxophone andJeremy Pelton trumpet. Featured performances bySinne Eeg,vocals, andKen Peplowski,reeds.
Finale:All-Star Jazz Jam with all of the evening’s musicians

10 a.m.-10:45, LIVE GYPSY JAZZ; 11 a.m., 2017 FILMDJANGO
Keven Aland(violin) andJon McLaughlin(guitar) of the Hot Club of SRQ present a Gypsy Jazz performance to set the mood forEtienne Comar’s film Django. This new film, called “a plucky historical drama that leverages a famous musician into a story about fighting fascism,” will be screened with English subtitles. The “dazzling biopic,” which had its world premiere at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival, depicts the struggles of the famous French jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt in German-occupied Paris.
Seating is limited:ALL guests must make reservations. Contact the Jazz Club office* for reservations and tickets. Admission: FREE for holders of VIP Festival Passes; $10 for Jazz Club members; $15 for nonmembers.

FRIDAY EVENING, MARCH 9: CONCERT and other events, Art Ovation Hotel, 1255 N Palm Avenue
5-7:30, JAZZ MUSICIANS in lobby bar;7:30 p.m., CONCERT;10-11 p.m., VIP MEET-AND-GREET with FESTIVAL MUSICIANS
Co-Hosts: Ken PeplowskiandWhitney James, jazz vocalist; on-air jazz host, WUSF 89.7 FM, Tampa
1st Set:Diego Figueiredo, guitar; Chiara Izzi, vocals; Jimmy Greene, saxophone.
2nd Set:Scandinavian Jazz trio; Houston Person, saxophone; Graham Dechter, guitar.
Finale: All-Star Jazz Jam with all of the evening’s musicians.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON, March 10: CONCERTand other events,Art Ovation Hotel,1255 N Palm Avenue12:30-2, Local JAZZ MUSICIANS in lobby bar;2 p.m., CONCERTCo-Hosts: Ken Peplowski and  Kayonne Riley, general manager, WUCF 89.9 FM, Orlando; host of “Middays with Kayonne Riley Mix-and-matchconcertwith Scandinavian Jazztrio; Graham Dechter, guitar; Akiko Tsuruga, organ; Jeff Hamilton, drums; Houston Person, saxophone; Diego Figueiredo, guitar; Chiara Izzi, vocals; Ehud Asherie, piano; and Ken Peplowski, reeds.

SATURDAY EVENING, March 10: CONCERT and other events,Art Ovation Hotel, 1255 N Palm Avenue
5-7:30, Local JAZZ MUSICIANS in lobby bar;7:30 p.m., CONCERT; 10-11 p.m., VIP MEET-AND-GREET with FESTIVAL MUSICIANS
Co-Hosts: Ken Peplowskiand Bob Seymour, retired director of jazz and on-air host, WUSF 89.7 FM, Tampa; honorary member, Jazz Club of Sarasota Board of Directors
1stSet:Kristian Leth, drums; Hans Backenroth, bass; Ehud Asherie, piano; and Ken Peplowski, reeds
Presentation of the Jazz Club’s highest honor, the Satchmo award, to honor a person selected by the Jazz Club for “unique and enduring contribution to the living history of jazz.”
2ndSet:Jeff Hamilton, drums; Akiko Tsuruga, organ; Graham Dechter, guitar; and Houston Person, saxophone.

Festival Finale: All-Star Jazz Jam with all of the evening’s musicians
Sarasota Jazz Festival ticket prices peak at $49, with discounts available for Jazz Club members and through several combination packages including a VIP ticket that includes admission and preferred seating for all concerts and four private receptions. Prices for the movieDjangoand the Jazz Pub Crawl are lower. Contact the Jazz Club* for Jazz Pub Crawl wristbands ($20/advance; $25/at event), information about the movie, VIP Combo Ticket Packages, and other options. To purchase general admission tickets for single concerts ($39/member; $49/nonmember), contactbrownpapertickets.comor800.838.3006.

The Jazz Club of Sarasota, founded in 1980, is dedicated to preserving, promoting and presenting jazz, America’s original musical art form.The Club has provided over 50 jazz-related events annually for more than 37 years. Chief among them is the highly respected Sarasota Jazz Festival, including the 38thAnnual Festival set for March 7-10, 2018. In addition to producing numerous jazz events, over the years the Club has granted more than $200,000 in scholarships to aspiring young jazz musicians.

*Jazz Club of Sarasota: For more information visit,, or phone941.366.1552 (Wednesday throughFriday9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Monday-Friday during Festival Week).

Saturday, February 3, 2018

"For Lew," CD Tribute to Lew Soloff by Bill Warfield Big Band, Due March 9

Bill Warfield Big Band For LewBill Warfield's career as a trumpeter was launched the moment he heard Lew Soloff's immortal solo on the Blood, Sweat & Tears hit "Spinning Wheel." "It just completely knocked me out," says Warfield, who was 18 at the time and gigging as a pianist, having given up hope of earning a living as a horn player due to dental problems. "I'd never heard anything like it. I decided at that point that I wanted to play the trumpet again."
Eventually, Warfield would get to know, study, and record with Soloff, who died in 2014 at age 71. Warfield's latest album, For Lew, set for release on March 9 by Planet Arts Records, is a tribute to his late mentor, colleague, friend, and inspiration. Compiled from material Warfield recorded with his big band between 1990 and 2014, the album includes ten selections that first appeared on New York City Jazz (1990), The City Never Sleeps (1994), A Faceless Place (2005), and Trumpet Story (2014). Two of the tracks are previously unreleased.
"Lew was such a warm, supportive human being," Warfield says of Soloff. "When he died, it took me a week to get over it. I patterned my playing after him. I wanted to do the gigs he did. I wanted to sound like him. I wanted to be like him. I wanted to be him. I patterned my whole career after that guy. He was a little nerdy guy who would put a horn in front of his mouth and became Superman. He was the guy who got me to take my writing seriously. On the second record I used him on, I used a few other people's charts. Then he pulled me to the side and said, 'Look, your writing is really special. You shouldn't include anybody else's stuff on your records.'"  
Bill Warfield 
Five tunes on For Lew are Warfield originals; six arrangements are his. While drawn from four different sessions, each made up of different players, every track is an all-star affair. Soloff is the soloist on one track, "Salsa En Mi Alma," and is heard playing lead trumpet on that song and two others. In addition to Warfield, who solos on three tracks, other world-class instrumentalists among the disc's collective personnel are trumpeters Randy Brecker and John Eckert; trombonist Matt Havilan; saxophonists Dan BlockAndy FuscoBob HanlonRich PerryChris Potter, and Walt Weiskopf; pianists Ted Rosenthal and Joel Weiskopf; guitarists Vic Juris and Dave Stryker; bassist Mike Richmond; and drummers Tim Hornerand Bob Weller.
Warfield followed Soloff's advice and over the past quarter century has created a canon of music for large ensemble that showcases his distinctive composing and arranging style. He counts Hank Levy, Fred Lipsius, Dick Halligan, Mike Abene (who would produce his first two big band albums), Michel Colombier, Charles Mingus, Thad Jones, Gil Evans, and Bob Brookmeyer, along with Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Webern, Prokofiev, and other classical composers, as influences on his arranging style.

Bill WarfieldBill Warfield was born in Baltimore on March 2, 1952. He took up trumpet in the fourth grade because, he says, "it looked cool. Because it only had three buttons, I thought it would be easier to play." By the time he was 14, he played Saturday mornings with the orchestra and brass ensemble at the Peabody Conservatory Preparatory School and Saturday afternoons with the Maryland Youth Symphony, as well as with a teenage soul band called Nina and the Marcels.
After recovering from a car accident in which he lost his front teeth, he studied for four years at Towson State with Hank Levy, an arranger noted for his charts for Don Ellis and Stan Kenton who was a key early influence.
Warfield moved to New York City in 1980 and began subbing in the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, playing and arranging for the Bill Kirchner Nonet, and copying music for Lester BowieJoseph Jarman, and others, while earning a master's from the Manhattan School of Music. He toured Europe with Ornette Coleman, having been recommended by Lew Soloff.
Warfield has spent three decades as an inspiring music educator. After stints at the Dalton School in New York, Brooklyn College, Towson State University in Maryland, and the University of North Florida, he joined the faculty at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, in 1996. He continues to teach and direct the jazz program there three days per week.
The other four days are usually spent in back in Manhattan, where he currently directs four bands: the New York Jazz Repertory Ensemble, the New York Jazz Octet (which includes tenor saxophonist Don Braden and pianist Kenny Werner), the Hell's Kitchen Funk Orchestra, and the Bill Warfield Big Band.
The Bill Warfield Big Band will be performing two sets (7:00pm/8:30pm) at the Zinc Bar in Greenwich Village to celebrate the release of For Lew

Photography by John Abbott

R.I.P.: Ndugu (1952-2018)

(born on July 1st, 1952, Shreveport, Louisiana, USA;
died on February 3, 2018, Los Angeles, CA, USA)

R.I.P.: Leon "Ndugu" Chancler (1952-2018). One of the world's greatest drummers. The man behind many hits by people like Michael Jackson ("Billie Jean" and other tracks for "Thriller" and "Bad") and Santana ("Dance Sister Dance," that he co-wrote), also played with Frank Sinatra (a poweful version of "Stormy Weather" for the "LA Is My Lady" album, produced by Quincy Jones, as we can watch on the video "Portrait Of An Album"), George Duke (some of his best sessions for MPS and Epic), Weather Report ("Tale Spinnin'"), Hubert Laws (killing on the "Family" album, on a fantastic interplay with bassist Nathan East), Patrice Rushen, The Crusaders, Lalo Schifrin, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Azar Lawrence, Joe Henderson, Alphonso Johnson, Gato Barbieri, Johnny Hammond, David Axelrod, Jean-Luc Ponty, Kenny Rogers, George Benson, and dozens of others. 

His Brazilian connection was very strong: Ndugu recorded several albums with Flora Purim ("Nothing Will Be As It Was... Tomorrow," that he produced, plus "Open Your Eyes You Can Fly," "Encounter," "That's What She Said," "Carry On") and played on Raul de Souza's "Sweet Lucy" and "Don't Ask My Neighbors," as well as on Paulinho da Costa's "Sunrise." 

He was also the drummer on all tracks of Fuse One's album "Silk" (CTI), for which he wrote the title track. "Silk" also includes "Hot Fire," a brilliant song that Ndugu originally composed for George Duke's "Reach For It." Prior to "Silk," Ndugu had recorded in some tunes for the first Fuse One project, "Fuse."  

In August 1980, when Ndugu performed at Rio de Janeiro's Maracanãzinho with an all-star band featuring George Duke, Airto Moreira, Raul de Souza, Stanley Clarke and Roland Bautista (plus guests Chaka Khan and Al Jarreau), I was there! Another fabulous all-star concert, in tribute to Duke Ellington at the Wiltern Theatre, in 1987, in LA - with Dianne Reeves, Randy Brecker, Tom Scott, Roger Kellaway etc - was documented on 2 LaserDiscs released under the title "Echoes Of Ellington." One year later, one more gem: an extraordinary concert with Carlos Santana & Wayne Shorter at the 1988 Montreux Jazz Festival, released on DVD, also featuring Alphonso Johnson, Patrice Rushen, Armando Peraza, Jose Chepito Areas, Chester Thompson. Check all of them, please. Rest in Power.
(George Duke, Ndugu, Alphonso Johnson, Flora Purim, David Amaro, Hermeto Pascoal, Airto Moreira during the recording sessions for Purim's "Open Your Eyes You Can Fly" album in 1976)
(Ndugu, Alphonso Johnson, Flora Purim, Airto Moreira, Orrin Keepnews, George Duke, Hermeto Pascoal)