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Hot Jazz, summer in the city on tap

Donna DanielsPost Independent Staff

Forget June 21, the official first day of summer. Around here the season really begins with the Summer of Jazz concerts. The first offering of the 2003 season is Joey DeFrancesco, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 4, in the band shell at Two Rivers Park.The concerts run every Wednesday through July 23.As usual there will be good eats offered by the Eighth St. Deli and Jeff’s Italian Ices. Bring a picnic, but no glass and no dogs, please.Although the concerts are free, donations are appreciated. The organizers raise money through T-shirt sales and volunteers pass donation buckets during intermission. Give generously.Bob and Mary Noone of Glenwood Springs, who launched the concert series 18 years ago, are, well, jazzed about this summer’s line up.”Week in and week out it will be the strongest lineup we’ve ever had,” he said.Joey DeFrancescoJoey plies the Hammond organ and is considered one of the driving forces behind the rekindling of organ-driven jazz. At 17 he caught the ear of Miles Davis, who brought him into his band and he appeared on two of Davis’ albums in the late 1980s. He’s collaborated with John McLaughlin, Kenney Garret, Stanley Turrentine, Grover Washington Jr. and John Scofield.Since his teens DeFrancesco has led one of the most successful organ trios in the history of jazz, with drummer Byron Landham and guitarist Paul Bollenbeck. Irvin MayfieldIrvin Mayfield has joined the ranks of New Orleans trumpeters such as Louis Armstrong, Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard and Nicholas Payton. He’s performed with Marsalis, Payton and Blanchard as well as Quincy Jones, Chucho Valdes, Ani DiFranco, Doc Cheatham and Ellis Marsalis. He’s appeared in jazz festivals and clubs in the United States, Japan, Europe, and Central and South America.Mayfield is the leader of Hombres Calientes, a modern jazz collaboration that incorporates Cuban, African and South American musical influences. Los Hombres Calientes’ debut CD won Billboard’s Latin Music Award for Contemporary Latin Jazz Album of the Year.Ben SidranBen Sidran is a major force in modern jazz. Sidran played boogie woogie piano as a 6-year-old in Racine, Wis. He played with Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs in a group called the Ardells at the University of Wisconsin in the early 60s. He moved to England appeared as a session player on Steve Miller and Box Scaggs albums, as well as Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, Spooky Tooth, Phil Upchurch, Tony Williams, Jon Hendricks, Richie Cole and Van Morrison. Joining Sidran is Bob Rockwell, saxophonist and composer. Rockwell grew up in Minneapolis and played in rock, R&B and big bands in high school. He moved to New York in 1978 and joined the seminal Mel Lewis Orchestra. He’s performed with Tito Puente, Freddie Hubbard, Ray Drummond, Billy Hart and Rufus Reid. Since 1983 he has lived in Copenhagen, Denmark.Kenny WernerKenny Werner recorded appeared on television playing stride piano at 15. In the mid-70s he performed with Charles Mingus on “Something Like a Bird” and in 1981 released his first solo album of original compositions. In the 1980s, he oined the Mel Lewis Orchestra. He’s won many performance grants to perform his own music. He’s taught jazz harmony and theory and is the artist-in-residence at New York University.Werner has played with jazz greats Bob Brookmeyer, Joe Williams, Chico Freeman, Sonny Fortune, Peter Erskine, John Abercrombie and Tom Harrell.Benny Green and Russell MaloneGuitarist Russell Malone, born in Albany, Ga., in 1963, has performed with Patti Austin, Little Anthony, Regina Belle, Peabo Bryson, Kenny Burrel and Clarence Carter. He’s played with Harry Connick Jr.’s band since 1989. He was also a featured performer in Robert Altman’s 1996 film, “Kansas City.”Also born in 1963, but in New York, Benny Green joined Art Blakey’s band in 1987, and went on to join Freddie Hubbard’s quintet in 1989. In 1993, Oscar Peterson chose Green as the first recipient of the City of Toronto’s Glen Gould Protg Prize in Music. The same year, Green replaced Gene Harris in Ray Brown’s Trio, whom he worked with until 1997. Rene MarieRene Marie left a job and 22-year marriage to become a jazz singer at age 40. In four years she made four CDs that won wide critical acclaim. “Vertigo,” published in 2001, was named best jazz vocal recording of the year by the Jazz Times Critics Poll. Her influences are varied, from Maurice Ravel to Hank Williams to Harry Belafonte. She learned harmony from Peter, Paul and Mary and the Beatles. She took classical piano lessons and sang in R&B bands. She mixes daring interpretations of such familiar standards with her own compositions.Masters of GrooveMasters of Groove is old style soul jazz with a funk edge. It’s composed of some of the best jazz, soul and R&B veterans around. Rueben Wilson is one of the great Hammond B3 players who created the ensemble. Although faded from the funk and jazz scene, in the `90s record producers tapped him to back up hip-hop albums. The group includes Clyde Stubblefield who played drums for James Brown and guitarist Grant Green Jr.Chuchito Valdes Afro-Cuban EnsembleThe band is led by pianist, composer and arranger Chuchito Valdes. Born in Havana, Cuba, his father is the renowned Cuban jazz pianist Chucho Valdes. His six to nine-piece group performs Afro-Cuban Latin jazz, traditional Cuban dances, and straight ahead jazz.


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