Trumpet virtuoso Wallace Roney, guitar legend and bandleader John Scofield, and a constellation of jazz luminaries from across the continent will converge in Danbury from April 25 through 27 to perform in three public concerts during the 18th annual Western Connecticut State University Jazz Fest.
The 2013 festival will offer a special dedication to the 20 children and six educators who died in the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Proceeds from ticket sales and donations at the three evening performances during Jazz Fest will benefit My Sandy Hook Family Fund, established for the purpose of providing immediate and continuing assistance to the 26 families who lost loved ones in the tragedy.
Roney, a celebrated trumpeter who learned his craft from jazz greats including Miles Davis, will perform as guest artist with the WCSU Jazz Orchestra at 7pm on Friday, April 26, in Ives Concert Hall in White Hall on the WestConn Midtown campus, located at 181 White Street in Danbury. The concert program will feature Roney’s interpretations of jazz classics including “ABC Blues” by Bob Brookmeyer, “El Viento” by Maria Schneider, and “This I Dig of You” by Hank Mobley.
John Scofield, acclaimed as one of the foremost jazz guitar performers and composers of the past half-century, will be joined by drummer Bill Stewart and bass player Steve Swallow in concert as the John Scofield Trio at 7pm on Saturday, April 27, also in Ives Concert Hall. This concert, closing out Jazz Fest 2013, will mark a Danbury reprise for Scofield, who previously visited WestConn in 2009 to teach master classes and perform with the university Jazz Combos.
Saxophonist, bandleader and composer Jimmy Greene, who became a WestConn faculty member in August 2012 as assistant professor of music and assistant coordinator of jazz studies, will join Western music students and faculty and an impressive array of professional artists acclaimed in international jazz circles to present the opening Jazz Fest public concert, “Friends of Jimmy Greene,” at 7pm on Thursday, April 25. Among the jazz artists to be featured during the concert are pianist Xavier Davis, saxophonist Kris Allen, drummer Quincy Davis, trombonist Steve Davis, and trumpeter, arranger, and composer David Weiss with other members of his David Weiss Sextet.
General admission will be $15 for the Friday and Saturday evening concerts, with a fee of $10 for seniors, students with valid ID, and children 12 and under. Admission for the Thursday concert will be $10. Donations also will be accepted at the door for My Sandy Hook Family Fund. Ticket information and reservations are available at (203)837-TIXX or wcsu.edu/tickets. Sponsors include the Western Department of Music and the Student Government Association.
This year’s Jazz Fest dedication holds especially powerful meaning to Greene and his wife, Nelba Marquez-Greene, who lost their six-year-old daughter Ana Grace in the tragedy. In the face of such profound and traumatic loss, Greene said his family has drawn strength from the healing support of his colleagues and students at Western, the Newtown community, and his wide circle of friends in the jazz world. He recalled the advice given by a psychologist to the Greenes’ young son, also a student at Sandy Hook:
“She told us that, for now, what is most necessary is to continue to provide him our support and keep a loving environment in our home,” Greene said. “What we have come to understand from our pain is that the antidote to trauma is love. That love is what’s being shown by all my friends and colleagues who are joining us for Jazz Fest.”
Jamie Begian, chair of the WestConn Department of Music and director of the jazz studies program, said his hope is that the Jazz Fest dedication will focus attention on the need to address problems exposed by the tragedy, and provide a means for taking constructive action. “I will be reminding our students that this year’s festival is not a party but, at the same time, that it is a celebration of music and life,” Begian said.
Scofield’s formative experiences early in his career also included tours and recordings with Miles Davis in the 1980s, as well as performances with Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Charles Mingus, the Billy Cobham-George Duke band, and the Gary Burton quartet
Roney, a musical prodigy whose early mentors in jazz performance included Clark Terry and Dizzy Gillespie, forged a life-changing relationship as student and protege of the legendary trumpet player Miles Davis from 1983 until his death in 1991, including an invitation to join Davis in a historic performance at the 1991 Montreux Jazz Festival. An all-star group including Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter, and Tony Williams invited Roney to join them as featured trumpeter after Davis’ death for an international tour and Grammy-winning album recording, A Tribute to Miles. He has performed as bandleader on 17 albums released over the past 25 years and as a sideman with jazz greats including Art Blakey, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, and Curtis Fuller.
Scofield’s formative experiences early in his career also included tours and recordings with Miles Davis in the 1980s, as well as performances with Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Charles Mingus, the Billy Cobham-George Duke band, and the Gary Burton quartet. Over the past 35 years, Scofield has set the standard for jazz guitar performance with his distinctive sound, skillful improvisation, and stylistic diversity, even as he has emerged as one of the most influential jazz bandleaders and composers of his generation. His collaborations in performance and recording have featured a wide array of legendary artists including Hancock, Carter, Williams, Joe Henderson, Charlie Haden, Eddie Harris, Bill Frisell, Mavis Staples, Joe Lovano, Phil Lesh, Dave Holland, and Terumasa Hino. Scofield also continues to mentor young artists as an adjunct professor of music at New York University.
Greene, a Hartford native and graduate of the University of Hartford’s Hartt School and Boston University, previously served on the music faculty at the University of Manitoba in Canada. He has been described by WestConn Dean of the School of Visual and Performing Arts Dr. Daniel Goble as “one of the most highly regarded young tenor saxophonists in the world.” Greene is a prolific recording artist and has toured widely as a concert performer, also establishing a reputation as a sought-after sideman for leading jazz groups and an innovative composer of original jazz scores. Named in 1999 as one of Down Beat magazine’s “25 Young Rising Stars in Jazz,” he has released a series of acclaimed albums and received numerous honors including the commission to compose and perform “Anthem of Hope” in honor of jazz legend Ornette Coleman.
His collaborators in the “Friends of Jimmy Greene” concert will feature a wealth of talent and diversity in jazz performance:
Xavier Davis, described by Greene as “my pianist of choice” for recurring collaborations during the past 15 years, is leader of the Xavier Davis Trio, an accomplished composer and arranger, and a music educator at the Juilliard School in New York. His performance and recording collaborations span a wide range of jazz greats from Tom Harrell and Carl Allen to Freddie Hubbard and Sonny Fortune; he is a past member of groups led by vibraphonist Stefon Harris and violinist Regina Carter.
Named in 1999 as one of Down Beat magazine’s “25 Young Rising Stars in Jazz,” Green has released a series of acclaimed albums and received numerous honors including the commission to compose and perform “Anthem of Hope” in honor of jazz legend Ornette Coleman.
Greene’s relationship with Steve Davis, whom he regards as “one of the world’s great jazz trombone players,” harks back more than two decades to his days as a student of Davis at the Artists Collective in Hartford and at the Hartt School, where Davis has served on the music faculty since 1991. The acclaimed trombonist has performed with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra, and many jazz legends including Blakey, Chick Corea and Benny Golson.
Saxophonist Kris Allen’s friendship with Greene began in their middle-school years, and both pursued studies at the Artists Collective — where both were mentored by jazz alto saxophonist Jackie McLean — and at the Hartt School. Allen has performed and recorded with a wide range of established and emerging jazz artists, leads his own quintet, serves as artistic director of the Hartford Jazz Society New Directions Ensemble, and has been a music educator since 1999.
David Weiss’ renown as a jazz trumpeter is matched by his reputation as one of the foremost jazz arrangers and composers of his generation. He founded the New Jazz Composers Octet in 1996 from a group of aspiring young New York jazz musicians committed to “passionate rendering of thoughtful arrangements and firm rooting in tradition,” his biographical notes observe. In 2000 he formed the David Weiss Sextet, a group that also features post-bop jazz innovators Marcus Strickland on saxophone and his twin brother E.J. Strickland on drums. He also is the founder and leader of the Point of Departure Quintet.
Innovative jazz drummer Quincy Davis arrived on the New York jazz scene in 2000 and swiftly made his mark as a member of the Benny Green Trio and the Tom Harrell Quintet and a sought-after sideman for jazz musicians such as Wynton Marsallis, Frank Weiss, Paquito D’Rivera, and Paula West. He joined Greene on the music faculty of the University of Manitoba in 2010, and currently balances successful careers as a jazz educator and performer.
The 2013 Jazz Fest also will provide the opportunity for student musicians from area middle and high schools to participate in performance clinics on the Midtown campus offered by members of the WestConn music faculty. Visiting jazz artists will also hold clinics reserved for Western music students.
“For many of our students, they’ve only heard Wallace Roney on recordings, so to see him in this setting is a special experience,” Greene said. “They will see Wallace in a clinic where they can interact with him, ask questions, pick his brain and learn from him. They will experience what it’s like to perform with a professional like Wallace, which is the best thing you can give to a student.”
For more information, contact Jamie Begian, WestConn Department of Music chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Office of University Relations at (203)837-8486.