Coming Attractions: Jazz Week Special Edition

By J. R. Carroll

Coming Attractions in Jazz for April 2010 unfortunately was washed away by the Waters of March (“It’s the mud, it’s the mud”), but we couldn’t let this year’s Jazz Week slip by without highlighting a few of the numerous events taking place in the Boston metro area from Friday, April 23, through Sunday, May 2.


Jazz Week is a big tent that covers every sort of jazz venue, from cozy, local pubs and cafes to upscale dining establishments, as well as the more familiar clubs and concert and recital halls. While the major focus, naturally, is on live music, there will also be photo exhibits, interviews and discussions, jazz-inspired cuisine, screenings of documentaries and filmed performances, and even the national anthem (sung by Dominique Eade) at Fenway Park (Red Sox vs. Orioles, April 23).

Here are a few of the highlights:

– Kicking off Jazz Week, past and present directors of the New England Conservatory’s Jazz Studies Program collaborate when pianist Ran Blake joins Ken Schaphorst and the NEC Jazz Orchestra for a free concert in Jordan Hall.

– At Scullers on Saturday, April 24, vocalists Rebecca Parris and Paula West join pianist George Mesterhazy for STORMY WEATHER: The Life & Times of Lena Horne, a tribute to this groundbreaking performer featuring narration by Horne biographer James Gavin.

– Sunday means jazz brunch, here, there and everywhere, but for something a little different on April 25, try a full evening at the Lily Pad in Inman Square, starting at 5pm with Brazilian vocalist Valdisa Moura and wrapping up with drummer Joe Hunt at 10pm.

– At 6pm on Monday, April 26, in the Boston Room of the Boston Public Library, Russ Gershon, Darrell Katz, John Kordalewski, and Mark Harvey–leaders, respectively, of the Either/Orchestra, the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra, the Makanda Project, and the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra–ponder the challenges of composition and performance for large ensembles.

– Vocalist Judi Silvano brings her Cleome project (and her longtime collaborator, reedman Joe Lovano) to Ryles at 8:30pm on Tuesday, April 27.

– Saxophonist Florencia Gonzalez and her Big Band–all 22 of them–come to the Beehive at 8pm on Wednesday, April 28.

– On Thursday, April 29 at 6pm, again in BPL’s Boston Room, Mark Harvey moderates a discussion by jazz historians Gunther Schuller and Richard Vacca about Duke Ellington’s many connections with the Boston area. (Do the names Harry Carney, Johnny Hodges, and Paul Gonsalves ring a bell?)

– On Friday, April 30, jazz historian and video collector Hal Miller offers a pair of programs at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, MA, featuring rare footage of musicians associated with Boston and of other famous musicians who performed here over the years.

– Pianist, composer, and, above all, teacher, Charlie Banacos passed away last December, joining the sad litany of legendary educators who have departed the scene in recent years (including George Russell and Joe Maneri just last year). Few ever got to hear Banacos in public performance, but if, at any time in the past three decades, you walked up to a Boston jazz musician and asked about him, they almost certainly knew who he was, and odds were better than 50/50 that he or she had studied with him. Bassist Bruce Gertz has organized a tribute that brings saxophonists Bill Pierce and George Garzone, along with many other former Banacos students, to the Boston Public Library’s Rabb Lecture Hall at 2pm on Saturday, May 1.

– Born and educated in Boston, multi-instrumentalist Makanda Ken McIntyre died in 2001, but the Makanda Project has dedicated itself to the preservation and performance of Makanda’s rich body of compositions. Joined by featured soloist saxophonist Oliver Lake, the Makanda Project will present a free concert of Makanda’s music at the Boston Public Library’s Dudley branch at 7pm on May 1.

– Although it closed up shop nearly four decades ago after a 20-year run, Lennie’s on the Turnpike has acquired almost mythical status within local jazz lore. Owner Lennie Sogoloff, although long retired and in frail health, is still with us, and baritone saxophonist Danny Harrington will be leading a tribute to him and his legendary club on Sunday, May 2 at the Chianti Tuscan Restaurant in Beverly.

And Boston, Brookline, Cambridge and Somerville aren’t the only places to hear live jazz. Whether you live in Acton, Concord, Framingham, Malden, or Sherborn, there’s music right around the corner.

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