Six incredible performances are lined up for the Starrlight Jazz 2019/20 Season including centennial acts and music legends. With something for every jazz lover, subscriptions are available now and this series is one not to miss.
FreddY Cole Quartet – Tribute to Nat “King” Cole Centennial
(Four time Grammy nominee, 2019 Grammy Nominee for Best Jazz Vocal Recording)
Freddy Cole is one of American popular music’s great performers. Like pop icon Tony Bennett, Freddy is a beloved musician and a living link to the Great American Songbook.
While there are certain unmistakable similarities in timbre to his brother Nat, his voice is raspier, smokier, jazzier even. In truth, his phrasing is far closer to that of Frank Sinatra or Billie Holiday than that of his brother, and his timing swings even more. His vocals – suave, elegant, formidable, sometimes spoken and articulate – make him the most respected lyrical storyteller in jazz.
Cole’s career continues to ascend as he has moved into the front ranks of America’s homegrown art form with a style and musical sophistication all his own. While evoking the suave styling of Earl “Fatha” Hines and Teddy Wilson, Cole is very much his own man, whose toe-tapping forays recall the bluesy minimalism of Count Basie, the urbane sophistication of George Shearing and the uptown swagger of Duke Ellington.
“Gorgeous autumnal baritone, expressive phrasing and pitch-perfect feel for jazz standards, pop tunes and love ballads.”
– People Magazine
Jason Marsalis Quartet
Jason Marsalis is the youngest sibling of Wynton, Branford and Delfeayo. Together, the four brothers and their patriarch Ellis, comprise New Orleans’ venerable first family of jazz. By age six, not only had Jason gotten his first real drum set, but he was also taking lessons from the legendary New Orleans drummer James Black. At age seven he was sitting in with his father’s jazz group, as well as playing with his trombonist brother, Delfeayo.
Throughout his high school years, he continued to hone his skills by playing gigs with his father and brothers, as well as studying orchestral percussion techniques. Shortly after graduation in 1995, Jason ascended to the drum throne of the group lead by virtuoso pianist Marcus Roberts. In 1998, he co-founded the Latin-jazz group Los Hombres Calientes. Jason left the Los Hombres group to attain more focus with the Marcus Roberts trio in 2000. It was around that time the Jason started to play the vibraphone on gigs in New Orleans. This evolved in yet another chapter in Jason’s career as he recorded on the vibes while starting to lead his own band. In 2009, the Marsalis Family would receive the NEA Jazz Masters award and later that year, Jason would release his first new albums in nine years and his debut album on vibes Music Update.
With each passing year Jason Marsalis continues to grow and develop as both a composer and performer. With a fire in his heart and a passion for the music, his will to swing has never been more resolute.
Catherine Russell is a native New Yorker born into musical royalty. Her father, the late Luis Russell, was a legendary pianist/bandleader/arranger/composer and Louis Armstrong’s musical director. Her mother, Carline Ray, was a pioneering bassist/guitarist/vocalist and holder of advanced degrees from Julliard and Manhattan School of Music, who performed with International Sweethearts of Rhythm and Mary Lou Williams. Not surprising considering her pedigree, Catherine is a one-of-a-kind musician and vocalist. A graduate of American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Russell has toured the world, performing and recording with David Bowie, Steely Dan, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Feinstein, Levon Helm, Paul Simon, Rosanne Cash, Wynton Marsalis, Dr. John, Vince Giordano and many others, appearing on over 200 albums.
Since the 2006 release of her debut album, Cat, Russell has released six acclaimed and chart topping albums have followed. In 2012, Russell won a Grammy Award for her appearance as a featured artist on the soundtrack album for the HBO TV series “Boardwalk Empire.”
Russell is that rarest of entities – a genuine jazz and blues singer – who can sing virtually anything. Her voice is full blown femininity incarnate; a dusky, stalwart and soulful instrument that radiates interpretive power yet remains touchingly vulnerable. Her repertoire features a selection of gems from the 1920's through the present; vital interpretations, bursting with soul and humor.
Fred Hersch Trio
A 12-time Grammy nominee, Fred Hersch has garnered jazz’s most prestigious awards, including the 2016 Doris Duke Artist, 2016 and 2018 Jazz Pianist of the Year from the Jazz Journalists Association and the 2017 Prix Honorem de Jazz from L’Acádemie Charles Cros. The trio, in which Hersch has been joined by bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson for the last decade, was voted the No. 2 Jazz Group in the 2018 DownBeat Critics Poll. Recognizing the trios unique ability to traverse a wide range of styles and approaches while maintaining profound depths of emotion and the exhilarating spark of invention is what leaves audiences craving more. In 2006, Hersch became the first artist in the 75-year history of New York’s legendary Village Vanguard to play a week long engagement as a solo pianist.
For two decades, Hersch has been a passionate spokesman and fund-raiser for AIDS services and education agencies. He has produced and performed on four benefit recordings and in numerous concerts for charities.
Art Blakey Centennial - The Messenger Legacy Band
Art Blakey was often called the father of hard bop. He was responsible for producing and developing more jazz talent than any other band leader of his era. During his more than six decade career, Art Blakey’s band The Jazz Messengers was considered the quintessential forum for musicians who wished to hone their talent and leave their own mark on the jazz scene. Trumpeter Terrance Blanchard said, “No one has brought more to jazz than Art Blakey.”
The Messenger Legacy is an elite line-up of alumni members of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, each now a longtime leader on his own and considered among jazz’s most accomplished players. The current configuration is Bobby Watson (alto sax), Essiet Essiet (bass), Geoff Keezer (piano), Brian Lynch (trumpet), Bill Pierce (tenor sax) and at the drums, the last drummer chosen by Art Blakey to play at his side in the Jazz Messenger 2-Drummer Big Band, Ralph Peterson.
This group of musicians wishes to preserve, protect and honor the legacy of a man who was much more than a bandleader to all of them. This group has helped launch renewed appreciation for one of the most important institutions of apprenticeship in American music history. The list of jazz musicians who came through Blakey’s Jazz Messenger band numbers well over 200 and includes icons like John Coltrane, Benny Golson, Chick Corea, Benny Green, Branford Marsalis, Bud Powell, Cedar Walton, Chuck Mangione, Horace Silver, Jon Hendricks, Keith Jarrett, Lee Morgan, Wynton Marsalis and Yusef Lateef!
Arun Luthra's Konnakol Jazz Project with Selvaganesh
Arun Luthra is one of the premier saxophonists and composers on New York’s jazz scene, and is one of the small group of American jazz musicians of Indian heritage who have continued to explore to possibilities of fusing the modern post-bop sound with elements of Indian classical music, as well drawing from a wide variety of modern and classic musical influences to create a vibrant new sound and style. He has performed the music of his Konnakol Jazz Project worldwide and throughout the United States. As a performer he has shared the stage and recorded with many of the greatest jazz, Afro-Cuban, Brazilian and pop artists in the world including Bobby Short, Eddie Henderson, Mike Stern, Kenny Garrett, Charli Persip, The Temptations and Frankie Valli. Luthra is also a faculty member at the renowned School of Jazz in The New School’s College of Performing Arts.
Joing Luthra’s ensemble will be Selvaganesh Vinayakram. Preferring to go by his first name, Selvaganesh is the son of T.H. “Vikku” Vinayakram, the legendary Indian percussionist best-known for his ghatam work in the pioneering acoustic fusion group Shakti with guitarist John McLaughlin. From 1999 to 2013, Selvaganesh performed in Remember Shakti, a successor to the original group, together with McLaughlin, tabla master Zakir Hussain and vocalist Shankar Mahadevan.