“BETWEEN A SMILE AND A TEAR” – A TRIBUTE TO TOOTS THIELEMANS
This tribute to the great TOOTS THIELEMANS features Toots’s heir apparent on the harmonica, GRÉGOIRE MARET, and Toots’s longtime pianist KENNY WERNER, in duo or in quartet with bass and drums. Grégoire and Kenny already did such a tribute with great success at SFJAZZ, shortly after Toots retired. As those who followed Toots’s long career know, he wanted to play with musicians who had their own identities and who challenged him to continue to grow musically until the end. Toots took a special interest in Grégoire because Grégoire had his own sound and style, and while influenced by Toots, never sought to copy him. Accordingly, his and Kenny’s tribute will feature SONGS TOOTS LOVED TO PLAY, including his standard Bluesette, of course, but in their own way, with new harmonies, rhythms, and arrangements. As Grégoire puts it, they will “try to find new places where HIS SPIRIT IS TRULY HONORED but his music is being played through a new prism.” IF YOU LOVED TOOTS, I’M SURE YOU’LL LOVE THIS TOO.

DOUG CARN & his WEST COAST ORGAN BAND Doug came to fame in the 70s with a series of recordings for the Black Jazz label with his then wife Jean Carne, then took up residence in Florida where he worked steadily but mostly off of the national stage. Now he’s back with Free For All, featuring a soulful, high-energy band that knocked me out, with Doug on the B-3, the contrasting tenor saxophone stylings of Teodross Avery and Howard Wiley, and Dezron Claiborne on drums. This is a perfect festival band – in fact you can hear them live at the Monterey Jazz Festival this year.

EDMAR CASTANEDA & GRÉGOIRE MARET – In addition to Grégoire’s Toots Tribute with Kenny, he now has another duo project, Harp vs. Harp, with Columbian- born harp virtuoso Edmar. The combination of Grégoire’s mouth harp with Edmar’s Lianera harp sounds so natural and compelling that it’s hard to believe no one thought of it sooner. Edmar’s technical prowess brings out rhythmic and textural possibilities that often make it seem like there are more than two instruments playing. And if you think of the harp as an ethereal instrument, just try to keep your body still while you listen to these guys. This duo is unique and affordable, so get in touch while the latter is still true.

IN THE SPIRIT OF RASHIED ALI – Shied’s bassist Joris Teepe has put together a great Tribute with Lawrence Clark and Wayne Escoffery on sax, Freddie Bryant on guitar, and Matt Wilson on drums. Rashied tended to be pigeonholed as avant-garde because of his work as John Coltrane’s last drummer, but his own music is a lot more accessible than late Trane. Joris’s CD really does capture the energy of Rashied’s Quintet that I booked. Give me a call and I’ll send you a soundcloud link so you can check it out for yourself.

SORROWS AND TRIUMPHS – I’m representing this glorious new Chamber Jazz project by Venezuelan pianist Edward Simon simply because I was blown away by the music.  Commissioned by Chamber Music of America and influenced by Edward’s Buddhist practice, his aim was to “bring joy to the listener, to be direct and accessible, with singable melodies.” Given the depth and complexity of his writing, the fact that he attains his goal so apparently effortlessly is nothing short of extraordinary. 

Featuring Edward’s longtime quartet Afinidad along with the acclaimed chamber quintet Imani Winds, with guest artists including vocalist Gretchen Parlato, this is a special musical event for your concert hall, and can fit into either a Jazz or Chamber Music series. I guarantee it will be a highlight of your season.

SYMPHONY LOUNGE – Who knew that Chaise Lounge bandleader Charlie Barnett is also a classical composer of substance and depth? Well, anyone who heard the Chaise Lounge concerts several years ago at DC’s Atlas Theater with the Capital City Symphony certainly knows. The first half of the program featured the Symphony playing Charlie’s composition The Tarot, and the second half, available on the live CD Symphony Lounge, featured the sextet doing a dozen of their most popular tunes, backed by the Symphony playing Charlie’s original orchestrations. Now Chaise Lounge has released an equally impressive new CD, Live with the Pan American Symphony Orchestra.  If you have an orchestra in your town, consider a Symphony Lounge concert. This program has something for everyone who likes music, period.  

TRIO 3 – I’m now also representing the explosive big bands of Andrew Cyrille and Oliver Lake. Andrew’s 21st Century Big Band Unlimited features his original compositions arranged and orchestrated by Mark Masters of the American Jazz Institute, and the Oliver Lake Big Band, which focuses on Oliver’s arrangements of his own compositions, has two great recordings out and has already played festivals in Pittsburgh, DC, and New York. These are two of my favorite big bands working today, and they want to play, so let’s make a deal to get one to your venue this year. If you can’t afford to bring the band but have a great local big band, bring Andrew or Oliver and their charts.