MONTY ALEXANDER BRINGS JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER TO EASTON, MD
For Immediate Release: August 8, 2014
Contact: Don Buxton 410 819-0380 or Amy Steward 410 829-0436
For the 5th Anniversary of the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival in Easton, MD, the Festival’s artistic director, legendary jazz pianist Monty Alexander will celebrate his musical roots. As a child in native Jamaica, he listened to Nat King Cole records and saw him perform live. In the early 60s when 18-year old Alexander was playing in a Miami jazz club, Frank Sinatra and his best friend Jilly Rizzo admired Alexander’s talent and invited him to play in their famous jazz club, Jilly’s in New York City. The rest is history.
Alexander, whose illustrious career has spanned 50 years, recalls, “What happened to me is what dreams are made of. It was the most incredible time of my life.”
In 2011, Alexander explored his musical heroes in a performance, Jazz at Lincoln Center. To celebrate this landmark year for the Jazz Festival, he hopes to recreate that concert with his performance on Saturday night at 8 p.m. at the historic Avalon Theatre in Easton. Alexander has invited some of the country’s jazz greats, including vocalists Allan Harris and James DeFrances, and tenor saxophonist Houston Person. The “New York Times” calls Harris a “baritone crooner,” while DeFrances, a rising big band vocalist, has been praised for his Frank Sinatra-style voice. Houston Person will bring his soulful jazz to the mix, joining Alexander’s trio – Hassan Shakur on bass and Dennis Mackrel on drums, along with legendary guitarist Frank Vignola.
Since 2010, the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival in Easton, MD has grown from two concerts to six over the Labor Day Weekend. Hundreds of Shore residents, who never considered themselves jazz enthusiasts, now support the Festival as benefactors and patrons and the Festival is drawing a growing number of jazz lovers from states near and far.
The Festival kicks off on Thursday, August 28 at 8 p.m. at the Academy Art Museum with recording and touring artist Frank Vignola, whose spectrum of guitar music ranges from classical to jazz, rock, pop and even rhythm and blues. Vignola has recorded and/or toured with Madonna, Leon Redbone, Ringo Starr, with famed trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, and has performed with the Boston Pops.
Trumpeter Etienne Charles will charm audiences on Friday, August 29 at 8 p.m. with his unique and sophisticated sound as he headlines the Avalon Theatre with his quintet. With a rich musical history in jazz and the music of the Caribbean, this native of Trinidad brings a Creole flavor to his music that ranges from subtle to unavoidable, weaving a variety of stories with panache.
The Festival will continue on Saturday, August 30 at 11 a.m. with a free New Orleans jazz concert featuring the Conservatory Classic Jazz Band at Thompson Park on the corner of Washington and Dover Streets in downtown Easton. The band will then lead a second line parade to the Tidewater Inn where a lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m., preceding the afternoon showcase.
This year’s Saturday afternoon concert at 2 p.m. at the Avalon Theatre will feature a special salute to the legendary jazz pianist and composer, Dave Brubeck, who passed away in 2012. The salute will be led by Bobby Militello, who became Brubeck’s alto saxophonist after the death of Paul Desmond. Brubeck, on the cover of Time Magazine in 1954, vaulted jazz to the apex of the music world with his hit, Take Five.
Wrapping up the weekend on Sunday afternoon, August 31, at 2:00 p.m., is returning jazz and gospel virtuoso, Dee Daniels, who brings audiences together with her unique blend of spirituals, gospel and jazz. Dee Daniels will be joined by the Jana Leslie Singers and the Alive at 5 Band of Christ Church Easton.
The Avalon Theatre’s intimate setting and the lineup of world class artists make The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival an Eastern Shore destination for Labor Day weekend. The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, presented by Jazz on the Chesapeake, is a program of Chesapeake Chamber Music. Festival passes are going fast. To purchase tickets, visit ChesapeakeJazz.org.