Remembering Jazz at the Philharmonic

By Becca Newell

MontyAlexanderPhotoByAlanNahigian

Monty Alexander
Photo By Alan Nahigian

Each year at the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, the eponymous headliner selects a different theme for his Saturday evening performance at the Avalon Theatre. This weekend attendees will see Alexander “Remembering Ray Brown and Milt Jackson and Norman Grantz’ Jazz at the Philharmonic.”

“Or ‘Remembering Jazz at the Philharmonic’ for short,” Alexander adds, laughing. “It’s me reflecting on or remembering my association with some great artists that came from a world called ‘straight-ahead jazz.’”

The concert will honor these musicians that the jazz pianist collaborated with in the late ‘60s. Along the way, Alexander will invite the audience into his past performances with Vibraphonist Milt Jackson and Bassist Ray Brown through story-telling. It’s his hope, he explained, that the concert will educate as well as entertain.

Still, the main focus will be the music—a “wild jam session,” as Alexander describes it.

“One that harks back to the days of the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, when jazz was fun, enjoyable, and swingin’,” he adds.

The concert will be somewhat divided into two programs—a tribute of sorts to Brown and Jackson, and a modern take on Jazz at the Philharmonic. Alexander invited two drummers to join him on stage: Obed Calvaire and Jason Brown, a fixture in Alexander’s trio. Bassist Hassan Shakur, the third musician in the trio, will also join them.

“They’re going to be accompanying horn players,” he says, before listing the trumpeters and saxophonists who will be gracing the Avalon stage.

Saxophonists Sharel Cassity and Ron Blake, along with trumpeters Dominick Farinacci, who stars in his own performance Saturday afternoon, and Jon Faddis, who shared the bill with Alexander at Live At Montreux-1977, will also perform. Additionally, Alexander invited vibraphonist Chuck Redd, who kicks off the festival Friday evening, to join.

“He’s going to play vibes in the spirit of Milt Jackson,” he says.

The festival’s headliner is a concert fit for all lovers of jazz; it’s authentic—a performance reflecting on the spirit of what jazz music was and how it helped to develop jazz into what it is today.

“It’s not just a clever idea. I like the idea of doing things that I was involved with over the years,” Alexander says. “This is something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Monty Alexander’s “Remembering Jazz at the Philharmonic” begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, September 3rd at the Avalon Theatre. For tickets, call 410-819-0380 or visit Chesapeakejazz.org.

Categories: Jazz, Press Releases