Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Live Music This Week and This Fall (Firehouse 12!)

August is already upon us but the Festival season has not slacked off.  This coming weekend (8/10-12), the Litchfield Jazz Festival returns to the Goshen Fairgrounds (yes, in Goshen CT) with a lineup that is sure to please fans of many different styles of jazz.

The festivities open on Friday night with The Four Freshmen (7:30) followed by a live "Auction" at 8:30.  The headlining act is Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks and they take the stage at 9:30 p.m. 

Saturday's full day of music begins at 12 noon with the Helen Sung Trio featuring the indispensable bassist Reuben Rogers and the fine young drummer Obed Calvaire. At 1:45, the Sojourner Truth Project, a tribute to the 19th Century free African American women created by bassist Avery Sharpe, brings a most accomplished group to the stage including pianist Onaje Alan Gumbs and saxophonist Craig Handy. Following them at 3:30 p.m. is the brilliant young trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire (pictured above) .  and his Quintet featuring saxophonist Walter Smith III. Saxophonists Gary Smulyan (the baritone player is this year's Artist-in-Residence) and Eric Alexander will be joined by fellow saxophonists Jeff Lederer, Kris Allen and long-time Festival Music Camp director Don Braden in a "Salute to George Coleman" at 5:15.  The rhythm section boasts of bassist Marcus McLaurine, drummer Matt Wilson and, in a quick turnaround, pianist Gumbs.  Mr. Smulyan gets right back up on stage at 7 p.m. as part of pianist Benny Green's Quartet (supported by the superb rhythm section of bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington.) The evening closes on a high note (most assuredly a whole slew of high notes as well as many well-placed low notes) in the form of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.  The New Orleans-based septet hits the stage at 8:45 p.m.

 The fine sounds do not let up on Sunday.  Harmonica virtuoso Gregoire Maret opens the afternoon of music at 12 noon with a Quartet featuring the excellent rhythm section of drummer Clarence Penn and bassist James Genus as well as the young pianist Federico Pena.  Saxophonist Donny McCaslin makes his Litchfield Festival debut with his "electric" Quartet, showcasing drummer Mark Giuliana, bassist Tim Lefebvre and the fine keybaord work of Jason Lindner.  They do their "thing" at 1:30 to be followed at 3:30 by the classic sounds of flutist extraordinare Hubert Laws and his Quintet.  At 5:15, the Miguel Zenón Quartet takes over the stage - the fine composer and alto saxophonist (pictured above) is joined by his longtime crew of Luis Perdomo (piano), Hans Glawischnig (bass) and the splendid young drummer, Henry Cole. The Festival comes to a rousing finale with Kevin Mahogany & Dave Stryker's "Kansas City Swing." The vocalist and guitarist lead a band that features organist Jared Gold, drummer McLenty Hunter and Connecticut native Mike DiRubbo on alto saxophone. The last set starts at 7 p.m.

Great lineup - for more information, go to litchfieldjazzfest.com or call 860-361-6285.

On Saturday (August 11), JazzHaven presents the New Haven Jazz Festival on the New Haven Green from 4:30 - 9 p.m.  The event, free and open to the public, features Co-Op and High School Jazz Band of New Haven, young alto saxophonist Godwin Louis & his Quartet, percussionist Annette Aguilar's Latin Jazz Sextet and is headlined by the T.S. Monk Sextet. The son of the great iconic pianist/composer, T.S. Monk (pictured left) has worked very hard keeping his father's legacy alive as well as creating his own music from behind the drum kit.  He's played jazz and blues, soul music and r'n'b and brings a fine sense of rhythmic excitement to the stage.  For more information about the concert, go to jazzhaven.org where you will find the listings for many events in the Elm City area - you can also choose to support the ongoing efforts of the jazzhaven folks.

Firehouse 12 in New Haven has just announced its Fall 2012 Jazz Series and, as expected, there are 13 fine concerts planned for the recording studio/performance space. Over the course of 13 Fridays (starting September 14 and running through December 14, with a week off for Thanksgiving), Nick Lloyd has brought back some favorites such as the Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet (December 7) and cellist Daniel Levin's Quartet (December 14) as well as fine young musicians such as pianist Dan Tepfer (his Trio will be in town on October 12), vibraphonist Tyler Blanton with saxophonist Joel Frahm (October 5) and drummer E.J. Strickland, who opens the Series. Among the surprises are the Fred Hersch Trio on October 26 (undoubtedly celebrating the release of their splendid new 2-CD set, "Live at The Village Vanguard" coming in September from Palmetto Records) and, on September 28, pianist Jamie Saft with his New Zion Trio (the Connecticut native has played twice in the past as a member of saxophonist Jeff Lederer's ensembles) will play a unique blend of reggae, jazz, trance music and Jewish mysticism.

There's more, so you should go to firehouse12.com and look at the rest of the offerings (for instance, Donny McCaslin comes back to CT on November 16.)  The consistency of this series and the wide variety of artists from across the creative music spectrum that comes to New Haven continues to impress audiences that come from across the state and its borders.  Just seeing the lineup gives me hope of getting through the continuing election madness and the incessant craziness in the world.

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