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"What do music do? It keeps the world turning. If there wasn't no music, this world would be a sad place to live." - John Lee Hooker
 Wednesday, 27 May 2015
"Jazz and the Music of the Americas" Anchors 2015 Healdsburg Jazz Festival E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   


It’s no longer a well-kept secret that the northern California town of Healdsburg holds one of the finest small jazz festivals in the nation. Tucked into the picturesque vineyards of Dry Creek, Alexander Valley and Russian River in Sonoma County, Healdsburg welcomes a diverse array of internationally acclaimed and locally prominent musicians every summer, scattering performances around restaurants, hotel lobbies, small theaters and winery grounds, usually over the course of ten days. With two weekends of prime-time performances and a week of engaging jazz related activities in-between, the 2015 festival gets underway this weekend, with music and more, May 29-June 7, curated by long-time Artistic Director and festival founder, Jessica Felix.

The Phenomenal Rachelle Ferrell Returns to the Dakota, May 27-28 E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   

Rachelle FerrellŠAndrea Canter

“The songwriter translates emotion into words. The singer's job is to translate the words back into emotion." – Rachelle Ferrell

When he announced the return of Rachelle Ferrell, Dakota owner Lowell Pickett noted that "there are no words to describe her." Perhaps he is right, or perhaps all words describe her. She has a six-octave range and can sing in “whistle register” like Minnie Riperton. That sounds amazing enough, but hearing Ferrell in person is another-worldly experience. You have to hear her for yourself, and fortunately there are four opportunities coming this week, May 27-28 with sets at 7 and 9 pm each evening.

Real Jazz, Free Music: It's Happening in Detroit, September 4-7 E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   


"This weekend, for me and everyone I've spoken with, was the epitome of how a jazz festival can feel, with an entire city and international audience bringing their love and positively together with an expansive family of musicians... and it was all real jazz." — Benny Green

"So often I have heard the complaint from fellow critics and assorted curmudgeons: ‘Why can’t an American city put on a festival as efficiently run, impressive and FREE as the Montreal International Jazz Festival?’ Note to colleagues: It’s already happening in Detroit.” — Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes

If Detroit is not the first American city you think of in terms of civic pride, cultural offerings and jazz centric music.... maybe you need to reconsider. At least you need to reconsider your plans for Labor Day Weekend 2015. The 36th Annual Detroit Jazz Festival will showcase Motor City at its best, September 4-7 in the heart of downtown Detroit (Camp Mauritius) and along the river front (Hartt Plaza), boasting Artist in Residence Pat Metheny on all four stages (JP Morgan Chase Main Stage, Carhartt Amphitheater Stage, Mack Avenue Waterfront Stage, and Absopure Pyramid Stage) along with an impressive list of headline artists. As always, the DJF will include a "Homecoming Series" of native Detroiters, exciting new artists, legends, and student ensembles, all presented through coordinated programming that provides unique musical experiences that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world--and it is all free!

George Cables Trio at the Village Vanguard, 5/26-31 E-mail
Written by Ronaldo Oregano   
George Cables ŠAlan Nahigian

Jazz pianio legend George Cables is a significant voice in modern jazz. In addition to composing and arranging for his own albums, George Cables has contributed to recordings by Dexter Gordon, Art Pepper, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Bobby Hutcherson and many others. He is noted for his fresh Interpretations of classic compositions and for his innovative style of writing. He will appear with his trio feturing Victor Lewis and Essiet Essiet at the Village Vanguard on Tuesday, May 26th through Sunday, May 31st.
"Home" for the Summer: Kristin Sponcia at Jazz Central, May 22 and 28 E-mail
Written by Andrea Canter, Contributing Editor   

Kristin SponciaŠAndrea Canter

Former McNally Smith instructor and a seasoned performer on piano and vocals, Kristin Sponcia is taking a break from graduate studies at the University of Illinois to spend some time back home in the Twin Cities this summer. She launches her "vacation" with two gigs at Jazz Central -- leading her quartet on Friday, May 22, and singing in a trio with pianist Phil Mattson and bassist Tom Lewis on "Vocal Jazz Night," May 28. Following the May 22nd gig, Jazz Central will sponsor a Concert for Nepal featuring Javi Santiago, Pawan Benjamin and Miguel Hurtad, raising funds to support communities impacted by the recent earthquakes.

Spotlighting Women in Jazz: The 2014 Wall Street Jazz Festival E-mail
Written by Sheila Horne Mason; Photographs by Kevin R. Mason   

Wall Street Jazz Festival

Marking the end of summer 2014, the 11th Annual Wall Street Jazz Festival was held on Saturday, August 30.  The festivities took place on a beautiful evening in the picturesque town of Kingston, in upstate New York. Earlier in the day, the sky had been overcast, but luckily, the rain that had been threatening never appeared, and the weather was perfect for this wonderfully laid-back festival.  People packed the sidewalks and the blocked-off section of Kingston’s Wall Street, shopped at the boutiques, ate at the restaurants and delicatessens, and enjoyed a great evening of free music, whether they were relaxing to the groove or dancing in the streets!

The aim of the festival, from its inception, has been to spotlight women in jazz. The festival slogan is, “Where the traditions meet the progressives, and all the leaders are women!” Because all the music was presented on one stage, people had the chance to visit with friends between sets, grab snacks and drinks, and generally chill out, without missing any of the music.

Steve Johns' "Family" (StrikeZone, 2015) E-mail
Written by Glenn A. Mitchell, LA Jazz Scene   

 “Steve Johns is a master drummer and bandleader. His bass playing son Daryl Johns and saxophonist wife Debbie Johns are amazing.  Stellar debut and Steve proves drummers are musicians, and pretty good producers too.  Great musical family.” --Lenny White

“A tight knit modern quartet with great feel, original tunes, arrangements and soloists.”  --Randy Brecker


Master drummer Steve Johns has been in the creative jazz world for better than three decades.  He met his wife, tenor and soprano saxophonist Debbie Keefe Johns, at the New England Conservatory of Music in 1979.  They started out their career journey in New York City and both have many, many memorable credits.  Their new CD Family is a celebration to capture their music as a family before son Daryl, an upcoming dynamic bassist, goes off to studies at the Manhattan School of Music.  Daryl Johns plays both acoustic and electric bass.   They are joined by special guests, guitar great Dave Stryker (who produced the CD) on five tracks and electric guitarist Bob Devos on four tracks. 

Esperanza Spalding Presents "Emily's D + Evolution" -- Rocking at the Independent E-mail
Written by Ken Vermes   


On May 5, a packed club in San Francisco, the Independent, was about to see jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding present her new music and stage presentation,  Emily’s D + Evolution. Quite a number of the listeners that night had either never seen her, or were vaguely familiar with her music through videos or word of mouth. What they couldn’t have known was that the transformation of one of the world’s highest profile jazz bass player was about to take place in a way no one could have predicted.


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