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Baby Grand Jazz Returns January 5, 2020
 

The 17th Annual Baby Grand Jazz Series, sponsored by the Kaman Foundation, opens January 5 and runs through April 26. The free, hour-long concerts are held at the Downtown Library at 500 Main St from 3-4 pm. They are presented in partnership with the Hartford Jazz Society and WWUH 91.3 FM. 
 
The first and last performances (January 5 and April 26) will take place in the Atrium. All other performances will take place in the Center for Contemporary Culture on the main floor. The CCC has a seating capacity of 240. When the auditorium is full the doors will close. The CCC will open at 2 pm.  Overflow crowds can watch the livestream of the concerts in Classrooms 140-141, down the hall from the CCC.
 
View the concert live on Sundays from 3-4 pm on the Library's Facebook page.
 

Darrell Green Sextet  JANUARY 5  

The Darrell Green Sextet performs original works influenced and inspired by the likes of jazz greats Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Art Blakey, Archie Shepp, Don Cherry and Elvin Jones. The band is a collaborative ensemble consisting of rising young jazz talents exploring endless musical possibilities. Each member is a contributing composer and arranger.

Darrell Green— drums
Wallace Roney Jr— trumpet
Jordan Young— alto sax
Elijah Easton— tenor sax
Tom di Carlo— bass
Keith Brown— piano


Ed Fast & Conga Bop  JANUARY 12  

Afro-Cuban influenced rhythms and hard-bop harmony fused to create unique, soulful originals and creatively arranged jazz standards. Ed Fast has become a celebrated figure in town through his band’s many well-received appearances in Hartford, including its soulful, sizzling sessions at The Firebox Restaurant.  As a versatile, Hartt School-trained percussionist, Fast is also right at home sitting-in on occasion with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, touring with premier Broadway road shows throughout Russia, China, Japan and South Korea, or gigging in backup bands at Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun accompanying big-name, casino favorites like Aretha Franklin and Paul Anka.

Lineup TBD



Dakota Austin Quintet JANUARY 19

Saxophonist, composer, arranger and bandleader, Dakota Austin, hailing from Burlington, Connecticut is a particularly profound, cultured, multifaceted thinker, whose playing reflects the intense mentoring that he received from Rene McLean, Jimmy Greene, Kris Allen, Andrew Beals and many other key figures over the years. While attending the Litchfield Jazz Camp/Festival, he had the opportunity to share the stage with the illustrious composer, Dave Brubeck, at the age of 12. A few years later, Dakota traveled to the White House in Washington, D.C. to perform for then First Lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama, as a part of an ensemble from The Artists Collective in Hartford, Connecticut. Recently graduating from Western Connecticut State University, Dakota continues to further his education at, The Hartt School, and develop a musical voice that is truly his own, both as a saxophonist and composer. Dakota Austin's quintet is a vibrant young group made up of a few of Connecticut's young bulls. Testing the boundaries of jazz, taking a global approach, combining modern and electric elements.

Dakota Austin— Saxophone
Matt DeLeon—Trombone
Mike Carabello— Piano
Conway Campbell Jr. — Bass
Avery Collins— Drums


Saskia Laroo Band  JANUARY 26

Amsterdam trumpet player Saskia Laroo does not only present her new album "Trumpets. Around The World" with her band, she also celebrates three anniversaries. Laroo turns 40 “stage years”-old, has run Laroo Records for 25 years and the Saskia Laroo Band has existed for 25 years. The "Lady Miles Davis of Europe" – dubbed so by the press and public in America --is one of the few women on trumpet in the international stage four decades at top level and leader of her own band for so long. She is known for her improvisational purity, music to which she's given her own twist, flavored with influences from all over the world. It is music with the mystical elusiveness of jazz improvisation, packed in modern grooves, beats, vocals and rap.Seats might be set aside on her new album release tour performances, because interaction with the audience is an important element of Laroo’s energetic live performances. The "Dutch Lady of Jazz" plays with her bands all over the world on large and small festivals, in concert halls, clubs and more; this year so far in Thailand, Burundi and the United States. Her music, in kind, sounds like a musical journey with not just pure jazz, but also influences from hip-hop, dance and world music - as if those styles have always belonged together. 

Saskia Laroo— trumpet, vocals
Warren Byrd— piano/keyboard, vocals
PremeAlom— spoken word, vocals
Tang Sauce— spoken word
Doug 'Basszilla' Long— bass
Woody Floyd— drums


Matt Chasen's "This is Our Music" Ensemble FEBRUARY 2

Matt Chasen is a saxophonist and vocalist, who grew up in Simsbury, Connecticut.  Through the years, he has been mentored by and had the opportunity to work with the likes of Kris Allen, René McLean, Steve Davis, Nat Reeves, Chris Casey, Rich Goldstein, Peter Woodard, Ed Fast, Esteban Arrufatt, Jesus Pagan, Damian Curtis, Dezron Douglas, Ray McMorrin, Lummie Spann, Kris Jensen and a litany of other iconic musicians from around The Northeast and beyond.  Music has taken Matt throughout New England and The Tri-State Region, as well as to the island nation of Puerto Rico and the country of Ireland.

Matt Chasen - vocals
Haneef Nelson - trumpet
Drew Plourd - trumpet
Brian Simontacchi - trombone
Damian Curtis - piano
Danny Torres - bass
Corey Garcia - drums
Nelson Bello - percussion
Bobby Torres - percussion

 

The Unity Quintet – FEBRUARY 9

The Unity Quintet is a group made up of young musicians from the Central MA, and Hartford Ct areas. Consisting of Matthew Pearl on Tenor Sax, Benjamin Simmons on Alto and Tenor Sax, Cameron Campbell on Piano, Conway Campbell Jr. on Bass, and a currently rotating drums chair, The group specializes in playing original compositions, and jazz music from the 1960s to present day.

 

*Ben Simmons - Tenor/Alto Saxophone
*Matthew Pearl - Tenor Saxophone
*Conway Campbell Jr. - Upright Bass
Cam Campbell - Piano/Wurlitzer
Ryan Sander - Drum

* attend the Hartt School of Music

Emilio Solla Tributango – FEBRUARY 16

With a career that spans 35 years now, Grammy nominated, Argentina born and New York based pianist and composer Emilio Solla got his degree in Classical Piano at the National Conservatory of Music in Buenos Aires and his MA in Jazz Composition at Queens College in New York. Solla has released ten albums as a leader and more than forty as producer/arranger and is recognized by peers and press as one of the most outstanding and personal creators worldwide in the Tango-Jazz genre, a blend of Argentine tango and other Latin American rhythms with the freedom and improvisation of jazz music. He has performed all around Europe, Japan, the US and Latin America to outstanding reviews in many of the most important jazz houses and Festivals.

Emilio Solla— piano
Javier Sanchez— bandoneon
Pablo Aslan— bass


Nathan Davis Sextet – FEBRUARY 23

Nathan Davis graduated from The Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz within The University of Hartford's Hartt School in May of 2016 with a Bachelor's of Music Degree in Jazz Studies. This past September he started as part of the inaugural class in the Master's of Music in Jazz Studies Degree Program within the same institution. Nathan has recently been performing with acclaimed drummer and percussionist Jocelyn Pleasant and her band "The Lost Tribe", alongside saxophonist Karim Rome, saxophonist Richard McGhee III, guitarist Doug Wilson and a number of other fan favorite local musicians such as producer/bassist Joel Hewitt and djembe player Seny Tatchol Camara. Nathan is also a faculty member at The Artists Collective, Inc. in Hartford, Connecticut." The Band will perform selected Jazz Hits as well as original compositions that are inspired by the Jazz tradition that has flourished in the Greater Hartford area.

Nathan Davis - Trombone
Dakota Austin - Saxophones
John Hasselback - Trumpet
Michael Carabello - Piano
TBA - Bass
TBA - Drums

Ron Smith Quintet – MARCH 1

Ron has been in the New England Area since 1988 performing and developing music programs in public and private schools. Currently, the band director at private school (Northfield Mount Hermon ). In his career music span, Ron has performed with such artist as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Nat Adderley, Wynton Marselis, B.B. King, Paul Winter. Jazz is my music foundation, which I fuse into all cultures. Prepare to be entertained, educated, and embraced at any of my performances.

Ron Smith— Saxophones
Dara Adams-Smith— Trumpet 
Eugene Uman— Piano
James MacDonald— Bass
Jacob Smith— Drums


Afro-Semitic Experience – MARCH 8

The Afro-Semitic Experience is an American roots band with a difference--they merge Jewish and Afro-diasporic melodies and grooves, combining the core concepts of ase and shalom - power, action, unity, and peace. As legendary jazz critic, Nat Hentoff wrote “...never before have I heard this lyrically powerful a fusion of Jewish and jazz souls on fire...”   The Afro-Semitic Experience's music is described by critic Carlos Ramos as "a whoopin', hollerin', testifyin' celebration of multicultural soul music. Imagine Charles Mingus sitting in with a Klezmer band, playing Gospel music set to the polyrhythmic pace of congas and bongos."  Imagine a band that smoothly and creatively merges Klezmer and hard bop in the same piece.  Imagine musicians who have found a way to play with the feel of both a synagogue and an African American church.  This is true roots music-- soul jazz meant to move you as they make a joyful noise!

Will Bartlett— saxophones, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet & percussion
Warren Byrd— piano and vocals
Alvin Carter, Jr — drums and vocals
David Chevan— bass and vocals
Saskia Laroo— trumpet and vocals
Jocelyn Pleasant— percussion


Iris Ornig Quartet– MARCH 15

Iris Ornig ‘Pilgrim’, is an expression of women’s collective voyage over historical time towards greater autonomy and independence, creativity, leadership, and self-realization. The project represents a new beginning. The compositions—open and flowing are a change in style, a new inspiration and a fresh direction. The goal is that women everywhere can relate to the steps of this pilgrimage in their own way. The music is tender yet strong, it expresses a growing faith in humanity and one’s inner resources along the voyage.  Bassist & composer Iris Ornig is one of the most original female voices on today's New York jazz scene. Since her arrival in New York City in 2003 from Germany, she has played with an impressive roster of some of the most influential contemporary jazz musicians in New York including Gretchen Parlato, Ambrose Akinmusire, Joel Frahm, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Mike Rodriguez, Rebecca Martin, Allison Miller, Sachal Vasandani, Helen Sung, Marcus Gilmore, Dan Tepfer, among others. 

Kenny Warren— trumpet
Gregg Belisle— guitar
Iris Ornig— bass/composition
Michael Davis— drums


Haneef N. Nelson Quartet– MARCH 22

Haneef holds a Bachelor’s of Music in African-American Music Study from the Hartt School and is in the process of attaining his Master’s Degree in Jazz Composition and Arranging at UMASS Amherst (May 2020), he also curates the Jazz Monday’s event at Black Eyed Sally’s in Hartford, CT, which is in its 12th year.

Haneef N. Nelson— trumpet/flugelhorn
Ben Rice— piano 
Alec Safy— bass
Mike Camacho— drums


Ricky Olfonso Group – MARCH 29

Trumpeter and vocalist Ricky Alfonso has been a mainstay on the East Coast jazz scene since the early 1970s. A product of the modern jazz movement with a trumpet style reminiscent of Miles Davis, Clark Terry and Freddie Hubbard, Ricky has worked with many area jazz luminaries including Mario Pavone, Michael Mussillami, Bill Lowe, Ed Blackwell, Tom McClung,Tom Chapin and was protege of the late Bill Barron. Ricky also recorded and toured with R/B great Joe Cocker leading the horn section in Cocker’s return to prominence following the great Woodstock Festival of 1969 and toured with Stevie Winwood and Traffic. Ricky’s present group, The Jazz Unit, features classic and original jazz tunes, and includes the top notch rhythm section of Chris Casey on piano, Steve Bulmer on bass and Tido Holtkamp on drums.

Ricky Alfonso— trumpet, vocals, leader
Fred Scerbo— saxophones
Chris Casey— piano
Steve Bulmer— bass
Tito Holtkamp— drums


Envisage Collective – APRIL 5

Born Envisage Collective is a cooperative ensemble that was founded in 2012 by Kris Allen (alto saxophone), Chris Dingman (vibraphone), Noah Baerman (piano and organ). Along with co-founders Johnathan Blake (drums) and Jimmy Greene (tenor and soprano saxophones), these established composer/performer/bandleaders were brought together by a shared vision of socially conscious jazz music that would speak prophetically, aid practically, and inspire thoughtfully.  With each successive year the Collective (Initially known as the Jazz Samaritan Alliance) crafted all-new programs of works drawing thematic focus from and raising awareness about the important issues of hunger and food justice, domestic violence, and healthcare access, while raising funds for local charities working on the front lines of these efforts.

Kris Allen— saxophone
Chris Dingman— vibraphone
Noah Baerman— piano


The Joe Carter Samba Rio Quarteto – APRIL 19

Having performed, recorded and taught in such diverse places as Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba and Recife in Brazil, Bombay, Bangalore and Goa in India, Trossingen and Stuttgart in Germany and Paris and Corsica in France, Joe Carter has used these experiences to form a sound and style based in “Samba Jazz”, a style that combines the improvisational nature of North American Jazz with the lyrical and rhythmical aspects of Brazilian Bossa Nova, Samba, Choro, Baiao and MPB but also flavored with the lyrical and rhythmical aspects of all the places he’s played, recorded and taught. Joe Carter has recorded and performed with Jazz artists such Art Farmer, Lee Konitz, Cecil Payne, Rufus Reid and others and with Brazilian artists such as Luiz Eca, Mauricio Einhorn, Robertinho Silva, Paulo Russo and others.  In addition, he has recorded several CDs through the years, his most recent is Both Sides of the Equator, with bassist David Finck and percussionist Ze Mauricio.

Joe Carter (USA)— guitar
Felipe Viegas (Brazil)— piano
Leco Reis (Brazil)— bass
Graciliano Zambonin (Brazil)— drums


TAEKO – APRIL 26

Japan-native, Taeko, moved to New York City from Shiga, Japan in the late 90’s. She quickly garnered the nickname “Songbird” from NYC’s Jazz elite. With a stunning four octave range, she sings with deep soulfulness reminiscent of Anita Baker with sophisticated scatting a la Ella. Taeko surrounds herself with the best in the business: Pianist Sharp Radway is a Hartford-native and protégé of the late Dr. Randy Weston.  Sharp has been accompanying Benny Golson for over 10 years and has toured with renowned Jazz vocalists Diane Shuur and Nnenna Freelon. He is also the author of the book “Musicianship 101 (What They Don’t Tell You In School)”. Born in Panama, Alex Blake has a revolutionary playing style and technique distinctly his own. Alex has played with Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Sun Ra, Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, Manhattan Transfer to name a few.  Victor Jones is an internationally acclaimed drummer known for his consistent, subtle and stylish drumming. Victor has played on myriad recordings and live concerts and enjoys performing at countless venues across the world.

TAEKO— Vocal and Koto 
Sharp Radway— Piano
Alex Blake— Bass
Victor Jones— Drums


SPONSORED BY THE KAMAN FOUNDATION