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 Monday, 01 September 2014
Javon Jackson's We Four, Celebrates the Music of Coltrane in San Francisco, Santa Cruz and L.A. PDF Print
Written by Ronaldo Oregano   
Sunday, 23 October 2011
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John Coltrane
We Four, Javon Jackson’s project focusing on Coltrane-associated compositions feartures four veteran masters. Jackson first gained attention with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the early ‘80s and had memorable stints with molten drummer Elvin Jones, a member of Coltrane’s “classic” quartet. Since emerging from these apprenticeships, Jackson has transcended his “young lion” status to become a noted composer and bandleader, heading up a dozen acclaimed sessions for Blue Note, Criss Cross and Palmetto. Drummer Jimmy Cobb collaborated with Coltrane during their years as Miles Davis sidemen, appearing together on the epochal album Kind of Blue. Still going strong at 82, Cobb continues to lead his own hard-charging bands. After pianist Mulgrew Miller spent six years in the ferocious mid-80s quintet led by drummer Tony Williams, he became a potent leader himself, with nearly two dozen albums to his credit since. And Nat Reeves is a brilliant scholar and veteran bassist whose career includes long-term associations with altoists Jackie McLean and Kenny Garrett. The We Four tour swings into California on Thursday, October 27th at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, and on Friday, October 28th presented by SFJAZZ at the YBCA Forum in San Francisco, and on Saturday, October 29th at  the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles.as part of the Jazz Bakery Movcable Feast.
Javon Jackson © Andrea Canter
Javon Jackson came into international prominence as a member of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. As a member of Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Javon toured and made many recordings with the legendary drummer. In addition to Blakey, Jackson has toured and recorded with Elvin Jones, Freddie Hubbard, Betty Carter, Cedar Walton, Ron Carter, Donald Byrd, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Richard Davis, Bobby Hutcherson, Curtis Fuller and Stanley Turrentine.

As a recording artist, Jackson has appeared on over 125 recordings. Additionally, he has developed a formidable career as a leader, recording and touring throughout the world. Javon’s current musical group, The Javon Jackson Band, incorporates many styles including jazz, funk,R&B and rock.

His latest recording, Once Upon a Melody, finds Javon returning to acoustic jazz after a series of popular jazz-funk recordings. In addition to two originals, Javon includes tunes by the legendary Sonny Rollins and Wayne Shorter. In addition, Jackson covers music from the songbook of artist Corinne Bailey Rae. Joining him on Once Upon a Melody are Eric Reed on piano, Corcoran Holt on bass and drummer Billy Drummond.

As an addition to the current tour schedule, the Javon Jackson Band will be joined by special guest Les McCann, the iconic soul jazz pianist, vocalist and composer. Known as one of the godfathers of soul jazz, Les is recognized as a founding force for the genre known as funky jazz established in the mid 1960’s. This collaboration of the young along side the legend is not to be missed. Also look for Javon as a special guest with Cedar Walton.

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Jimmy Cobb © Andrea Canter
An accomplished accompanist and soloist, NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Cobb is best known for being a key part of Miles Davis' first great quintet in the late 1950s.  Largely self-taught, Cobb spent his younger days in his hometown of Washington, DC, playing engagements with Charlie Rouse, Frank Wess, and Billie Holiday, among others. He left DC in 1950, joining Earl Bostic, with whom he cut his first recordings, before finding work with Dinah Washington, Pearl Bailey, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie, and Cannonball Adderley.

In 1957, Cobb began playing with Miles Davis, eventually becoming part of a formidable rhythm section that included Paul Chambers on bass and Wynton Kelly on piano. Between 1957 and 1963, Cobb played (along with saxophonists John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley) on some of Davis' most noted records: Kind of Blue, Sketches of Spain, Someday My Prince Will Come, Live at Carnegie Hall, Live at the Blackhawk, and Porgy and Bess, among others. In 1963, Cobb left the Davis band to continue working as a trio with Chambers and Kelly. The trio disbanded in the late 1960s, and

Cobb released his first CD (and music video) for the A&E network in 1986; it featured Freddie Hubbard, Gregory Hines, and Bill Cosby. In 2006, Cobb was produced by Branford Marsalis for the Marsalis Music Honor Series, recorded around Cobb's 75th birthday. In the last few years, he has released several albums as a leader -- New York Time, Cobb's Corner, and West of 5th -- playing with stalwart musicians such as pianists Cedar Walton and Hank Jones and relative newcomers such as bassist Christian McBride and trumpeter Roy Hargrove.

Jimmy Cobb continues to play music in New York City, where he lives with his wife and two children. He now leads the Jimmy Cobb "So What" Band, celebrating 50 years of Kind of Blue and the music of Miles Davis, and travels the international circuit. Cobb currently teaches master classes at Stanford University's Jazz Workshop and has taught at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, the University of Greensboro in North Carolina, the International Center for the Arts at San Francisco State University in California, and international educational institutions.

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Mulgrew Miller © Andrea Canter
Mulgrew Miller was picking out melodies on the piano by ear at 6, taking lessons at 8 and going on gigs with his older brother by 10. As a teen, he soaked up every kind of music available in his small Southern hometown - blues, country & western, gospel, R & B, classical - but not until he heard his first jazz record by Oscar Peterson did he find a focus for his passion. “I was blown away,” he recalls. “It was a life changing event. I knew right then that I would be a jazz pianist.”

So in a world where some of the brightest talents burn out early, and some of the most gifted musicians get lost in the jazz life, Miller chose the “easy does it” approach at age 15, focusing on careful attention to craft, impeccable choices in the musicians to surround himself with, and a balanced life that included a stable home and vegetarian lifestyle. He found mentors like James Williams and Donald Brown at Memphis State University who taught him to listen to the greats, saxophonist Bill Easley who got him his first professional gig, and Ray Charles sideman Rudolph Johnson who introduced him to Eastern spirituality. These influences, combined with the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. and the lessons of the civil rights movement integral to his Greenwood, Mississippi, childhood, shaped him as both a person and an artist.

And so he has worked steadily as a musician, including three years with Woody Shaw’s Quintet, three with the Mercer Ellington Orchestra and over six years with the Tony Williams Quintet. He’s featured on over 400 recordings total and has composed nonstop. In 1985 Miller made his first recording as a leader for producer Orrin Keepnews’ former label, Landmark, and later recorded on the RCA Novus label. He tours throughout the world and in 1997, was invited to tour Japan with an assembly of some of the most prestigious names in jazz piano – a group of ten pianists called “100 Gold Fingers” including Tommy Flanagan, Ray Bryant and Kenny Barron. Miller is also a member of the Contemporary Piano Ensemble, a unique group consisting of four pianists performing simultaneously on four grand pianos with a rhythm section. Other innovative projects include his duos with Danish jazz bassist, Neils Henning Orsted Pederson, his commission to compose a special work for the Dayton Dance Company and his student workshops.

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Nat Reeves © Andea Canter
In 1982 Nat Reeves traveled for the first time out of the US to Japan with Sonny Stitt. It was Sonny’s last tour and an experience Nat will never forget. At the same time, Nat moved to Hartford, Connecticut and started working with Jackie McLean, to this day the most important musical influence in his life. Nat began teaching at the University of Hartford and the Artists Collective. Jackie McLean was the major inspiration in the jazz program at The Hartt School and he and his wife, Dollie, founded the Artists Collective, an arts organization in the city. Nat found a calling in teaching and developed musical skills while traveling throughout the world performing and recording with Jackie and other living jazz legends.

In 1994, Nat started touring and recording with Kenny Garrett. He and Kenny first met in the late seventies in New York City. Performing with Kenny allowed Nat to further expand his soloing skills and taught him the importance of diverse musical collaborations in an ever-changing setting of musicians and venues. Out of a mutually respectful musical relationship, there developed a friendship that exists today.

It was in 2001 that Nat decided to focus full-time on his teaching career at The Hartt School. By this time, the University of Hartford had renamed the African American Music Studies Program to the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz. Nat continued to perform, but not as intensely as in the past twenty years. And, most importantly, he continued his personal and professional relationship with mentor Jackie McLean.


The Kuumbwa Jazz Center is located at 320-2 Cedar Street in Santa Cruz. Call  (831) 427-2227 or visit  www.kuumbwajazz.org for ticket information.

The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (Forum Building) is located at 701 Mission Street at 3rd St., San Francisco, 94103. For tickets call: 866-920-JAZZ or visit sfjazz.org.

Nate Holden Performing Arts Center is located at 4718 West Washington blvd, Los Angeles, CA 9 or further information call 310.271.9039 or visit jazzbakery.org .


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