Jazz Fest Artists
We’re hard at work putting together a stellar lineup for the 7th Annual Manchester CT Jazz Festival. But for now, check out some of the amazing artists from pervious years!
Raised in poverty in Pennsylvania’s coal-mining country, Jordan began singing as a child and by the time she was in her early teens was working semi-professionally in Detroit clubs. Her first great influence was Charlie Parker and, indeed, most of her influences have been instrumentalists rather than singers. Working chiefly with black musicians, she met with disapproval from the white community but persisted with her career. She was a member of a vocal trio, Skeeter, Mitch And Jean (she was Jean), who sang versions of Parker’s solos in a manner akin to that of the later Lambert, Hendricks And Ross.
Karrin Allyson, 5-‐time Grammy nominated jazz vocalist, pianist, and songwriter is widely recognized as one of the most gifted voices of her generation. With fifteen albums under her belt, she has built a mastery of The Great American Songbook, blues, pop, be-bop, Brazilian, and French chansons, to name a few.
Born in Great Bend, Kansas, Allyson now lives in New York City. Since moving to New York, Allyson’s band has consisted of such players as Bruce Barth, Ed Howard, James Williams, Adam Cruz, Steve Wilson, Miro Sprague, Jerome Jennings, and Jeff Johnson.
Sharpe was born in Valdosta, Georgia and his first instrument was the piano. “I started playing when I was eight years old,” he recalls. “My mother is a piano player in the Church of God in Christ, and she gave lessons to every-body in the family. I’m the sixth of eight children, but it didn’t stick until it got to me.” He moved on to accordion and then switched to electric bass in high school.
Sharpe enrolled at the University of Massachusetts, where he met the jazz bassist Reggie Workman, who encouraged him to learn the acoustic bass. Sharpe adapted quickly to the big instrument, and within a few years he was performing with such notables as Archie Shepp and Art Blakey. In 1980, Sharpe auditioned with McCoy Tyner and won a spot in the pianist’s group. He worked with Tyner almost continuously for 20 years, playing hundreds of live gigs and appearing on more than 20 records.
Boasting a warm, finely burnished tone and a robust melodic and harmonic imagination, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander has been exploring new musical worlds from the outset. He started out on piano as a six-year-old, took up clarinet at nine, switched to alto sax when he was 12, and converted to tenor when jazz became his obsession during his one year at the University of Indiana, Bloomington (1986-87).
At William Paterson College in New Jersey he advanced his studies under the tutelage of Harold Mabern, Joe Lovano, Rufus Reid, and others. “The people I listened to in college are still the cats that are influencing me today,” says Alexander. “Monk, Dizzy, Sonny Stitt, Clifford Brown, Sonny Rollins, Jackie McLean, Joe Henderson–the legacy left by Bird and all the bebop pioneers, that language and that feel, that’s the bread and butter of everything I do.”
Willie Jones III
With an unparalleled style of rhythmic expression, drummer Willie Jones III is one of the world’s leading jazz drummers. In addition to honoring his monumental influences – the late greats Philly Joe Jones, Art Blakey and Billy Higgins – Jones’ bold articulation and constantly innovative sense of swing are results of his life-long musical experience.
Born in Los Angeles, California on June 8, 1968, Jones’ earliest exposure to music was through his father, Willie Jones II, an accomplished and notable jazz pianist. Dedicated to the further development of his skills, the younger Jones spent years working diligently with acclaimed drummers and music instructors and began performing with distinguished musicians by the time he was in his teens. Before he was a semifinalist in the 1992 Thelonious Monk Jazz Drum Competition, Jones co-founded jazz band Black Note. Influenced by the rich soulful energy of the West Coast bop movement, Black Note’s hard-swing sound propelled them to first place in the prestigious John Coltrane Young Artist Competition in 1991.
John Patitucci was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1959 and began playing the electric bass at age ten. He began performing and composing at age 12, at age 15 began to play the acoustic bass, and then started the piano at age 16. He quickly moved from playing soul and rock to blues, jazz and classical music. His eclectic tastes caused him to explore all types of music as a player and a composer.
As a performer, John has played throughout the world with his own band and with jazz luminaries Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Stan Getz, Pat Metheny, Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Michael Brecker, McCoy Tyner, Nancy Wilson, Randy Brecker, Freddie Hubbard, Tony Williams, Hubert Laws, Hank Jones, Mulgrew Miller, James Williams, Kenny Werner and scores of others.
Valery Ponomarev worked with Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers for 4 years. With the Messengers, he performed at major concert halls, clubs, and festivals all over the world and recorded eleven record albums. He also made numerous television appearances with the Messengers in Europe, Japan, and Brazil. In the United States he has made television appearances on “To Tell The Truth,” on the PBS network, National Geographic Today, and CNN. He performed at the Clifford Brown Memorial Concert in Wilmington, Delaware, 1991, which featured the music of the legendary Max Roach/Clifford Brown Quintet with Max Roach (leader) on drums, Harold Land, tenor sax, George Morrow, bass, Sam Dockery, piano, and Valery Ponomarev, trumpet.
As a solo artist, Mr. Ponomarev has completed two tours of Australia, China and numerous European tours, including a special tour with Harold Land featuring the music of Clifford Brown. He was also featured as a European superstar at the Charlie Parker in Paris Festival.
It was once written in the New York Times by jazz columnist Peter Watrous, “If Abraham Burton were to be drawn in a caricature, there would be flames coming out of his horn…” Approaching three decades as a prominent figure on the jazz scene, world-renowned saxophonist and educator Abraham Burton’s passionate sound can still ignite a room filled with patrons.
In recent years, Abraham’s interest has broadened to teaching and sharing his musical knowledge and experience with future generations. In 2013 Abraham was awarded the prestigious Ralph Bunche Fellowship at Rutgers University where he received his Masters Degree in Music. Abraham also has joined the faculty at both the Jackie McLean institute of Jazz (University of Hartford) and Rutgers University where his classes are in high demand.
Chris and Dan Brubeck have been making music together practically all their lives. Drummer Dan and bassist, trombonist, and composer Chris cut their first record together in 1966—nearly a half century ago. They’ve subsequently played a variety of styles in a number of different groups, as well as with their father, jazz giant Dave Brubeck, and with their own Brubeck Brothers Quartet. With Dan and Chris as the foundation, guitarist Mike DeMicco and pianist Chuck Lamb, complete this dynamic quartet.
They perform at concert series, colleges, and jazz festivals across North America and Europe including the Newport, Detroit, Montreal, Playboy/Hollywood Bowl, and Monterey Jazz Festivals. The Quartet’s last cd, LifeTimes was a hit on the Jazz Week radio chart where it made the Top Ten list as one of the most played jazz recordings of the year.
Johnathan Blake, one of the most accomplished drummers of his generation, has also proven himself a complete and endlessly versatile musician. Blake’s gift for composition and band leading reflects years of live and studio experience across the aesthetic spectrum. Heralded by NPR Music as “the ultimate modernist,” he has collaborated with Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane, Tom Harrell, Hans Glawischnig, Avishai Cohen, Donny McCaslin, Linda May Han Oh, Jaleel Shaw, Chris Potter, Maria Schneider, Alex Sipiagin, Kris Davis and countless other distinctive voices.
DownBeat once wrote, “It’s a testament to Blake’s abilities that he makes his presence felt in any context.” A frequent presence on Blue Note records over the past several years, Blake has contributed his strong, limber pulse and airy precision to multiple leader releases from Blue Note artists including Dr. Lonnie Smith’s Breathe (2021), All in My Mind (2018) and Evolution (2016) and Kenny Barron’s Concentric Circles (2018), the latter whose trio Blake has been a vital member for nearly 15 years.
As a young musician in Tel Aviv, Yotam Silberstein was quickly recognized as a prodigy and was invited to perform with many of the nation’s top musicians. At 21, he performed at Italy’s renowned Umbria Jazz Festival, released a critically acclaimed debut album and set out on an extensive tour of Europe.
Upon receiving a scholarship to the prestigious New School, Yotam Silberstein moved to New York in 2005. He was a finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Guitar Competition in 2005 with one critic noting: “Yotam’s tones are exquisitely old school but his playing fresh, fiery and bursting with joyful exuberance, and musically he is one heavy cat.” Jazz Times noted that Yotam has “made an impact on the scene with his precision bebop lines and fleet fingered improvisation”. All About Jazz saw a resemblance between his 2009 release, “Next Page” and “the heyday of Blue Note Records”, adding that Yotam is “forging his own path with skills and style.”