The 14th Annual Baby Grand Jazz Series, sponsored by The Charles H. Kaman Charitable Foundation, opens January 8 and runs through April 30. The free, hour-long concerts are held in the Center for Contemporary Culture on the main floor of the Downtown Library at 500 Main St. They are presented in partnership with the Hartford Jazz Society and WWUH 91.3 FM.
The CCC has a seating capacity of 240. When the auditorium is full the doors will close. The CCC will open at 1 pm. HPL will livestream the concerts and post them for later viewing on its website, www.hplct.org.
Hartford Public Library seeks submissions for the 2018 season of Baby Grand Jazz, which runs 16 Sundays from January through April, 2018. These popular free concerts have been a staple of Hartford Public Library since 2004. Concerts run 3:00-4:00 pm, and the Library live-streams all performances on our website. Ensembles must include a pianist who will play the Library’s grand piano.
Jazz musicians looking to submit for participation in the Baby Grand Jazz series will need to provide: music samples (video encouraged), a list of all ensemble members, and a high-resolution image for publicity purposes. Submit at hplct.submittable.com/submit.
JAMES WEIDMAN APERTURISTIC TRIO – January 8
Pianist James Weidman was playing organ at age 14 in his father’s jazz band in Youngstown, Ohio. He earned a degree in classical music from Youngstown State University, earning his keep behind the keyboard, heeding his father’s advice: “Keep the time, stay out of the way, and tell a story." He moved to New York City band worked as a jazz musician, and has worked with Abbey Lincoln, Cassandra Wilson, Kevin Mahogany, and Joe Lovano.
James Weidman: piano
Harvie S: bass
Steve Williams: drums
SHERRY WINSTON– January 15
Connecticut’s Sherry Winston is a jazz flutist who has led her own jazz fusion band for almost 30 years. She has released several albums, performed with Stevie Wonder, played for two U.S. presidents and been Director of Jazz Promotion at Columbia, Arista, GRP and Elektra Records.She has performed in many of the major concert halls throughout the U.S. including Carnegie Hall, Constitution Hall, Lincoln Center and at the Kennedy Center.
Nick Bariluk: keyboards and piano
Steve Clark: bass
ORICE JENKINS – January 22
Orice Jenkins is a Hartford native. He has been performing since he was a teen and recently released his first album, Soar, which includes his interpretations of Stevie Wonder’s Golden Lady, the gospel favorite Lift Every Voice and Sing, and the jazz standard Body & Soul. His original compositions are But It’s Not Me, My Heart, and Anatolian Sunset. Orice studied voice with Shawnn Monterio, Kevin Mahogany, and Sheila Jordan. He is a student at the Hartt School of Music.
Orice Jenkins: vocals, piano, guitar
Nathan Davis: trombone, piano
Frank Brocklehurst: bass
Jocelyn Pleasant: drumset, percussion
HESHIMA AND OFRECIMIENTO: Walking In the Footsteps of the Masters– January 29
Heshima Moja is an internationally renowned bassist, vocalist, and composer who has performed with some of the most important artists in modern music. Heshima and his band combine Afro-Latin music styles to take audiences on a journey throughout the African diaspora. Heshima has shared the stage and/or recorded with Avery Sharpe, William Cepeda, Patti Labelle, La India, James Carter, Guru, Quest Love (of the Roots),
Heshima Moja: vocals and bass
Haneef Nelson: trumpet and flugelhorn
Damian Curtis: piano
David Allan Rivera: congas
Jocelyn Pleasant: drums
AFRO-SEMITIC EXPERIENCE – February 5
The Afro-Semitic Experience was co-founded by African-American jazz pianist Warren Byrd and Jewish-American jazz bassist David Chevan in 1998. The group celebrates the musical and cultural heritage of the African and Jewish disasporas. Their CDs include Jazz Souls on Fire, which pays tribute to some of the Afro-Semitic Experience's favorite composers, including Leon Thomas, Duke Ellington, Hank Mobley, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.David Chevan: bass and vocals
Warren Byrd: piano and vocals
Alvin Carter, Jr. drums
Abu Carter, Sr. percussion and vocals
Will Bartlett: sax and clarinet
Stacy Phillips: violin, dobro, and lap steel
Saskia Laroo: trumpet
JIMMY MACBRIDE – February 19
Jimmy Macbride, is a drummer/composer who played in West Hartford’s elite Hall High Jazz Band, now lives in New York City. He has performed with Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, Wynton Marsalis, Kenny Barron, Nir Felder, and Adam Rogers. Jimmy is a recent graduate of The Juilliard School, where he studied privately with Carl Allen, Billy Drummond and Kenny Washington. He is a regular at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Smalls, The Jazz Gallery, and The Blue Note. He performed with Jimmy Greene on the 2015 Hartford Jazz Society’s popular Riverboat Cruise.
Macbride toured Europe with trumpeter Terence Blanchard, Asia with Nir Felder, and Japan with pianist Frank LoCrasto. He has played at the Montreal and Newport jazz festivals.
Jimmy Macbride: drums
Miki Yamanaka: piano
Phil Donkin: bass
GREG ABATE – February 26
Greg Abate is a veteran jazz musician who plays saxophone and flute, composes and leads a band. He is a Rhode Islander who graduated from the Berklee College of Music, played lead alto sax in the Ray Charles Orchestra, and tenor sax in the Artie Shaw Orchestra conducted by Dick Johnson.
His most recent recording is Kindred Spirts: Live at Chan’s, with Phil Woods and the Tim Ray Trio.
Greg Abate: saxophone
Matt DeChamplain: piano
Lou Bocciarelli: bass
Ben Bilello: drums
ATLA AND MATT DECHAMPLAIN: Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald – March 5
Pianist Matt DeChamplain grew up in Wethersfield. Matt attended the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts studying with Jimmy Greene and Dave Santoro. He earned his bachelors degree from the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the Hartt School in 2010 and his masters from the University of Toledo in Ohio in 2012.
Matt is joined by his wife, vocalist Atla DeChamplain. Atla specializes in vocalese (made famous by Lambert Hendricks & Ross) and scat singing in the style of Ella Fitzgerald. Matt teaches at the Hartt School of Music, and Atla teaches at Western CT State University and Capital Community College. As performers and educators, they tell anecdotes about the music, composers and American history, to add an educational aspect to their concerts.
Atla DeChamplain: vocals
Matt DeChamplain: piano
Matt Dwonszyk: upright bass
Ben Bilello, drums
THE AMANDA MONACO THREE – March 12
Friends since high school (at the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven), pianist Noah Baerman and guitarist Amanda Monaco formed the group Playdate in 2008. Their debut CD was released on Posi-Tone Records, and the group continues to perform their blend of original jazz compositions and contemporary jazz standards in the tri-state area, as the Amanda Monaco Three.
Amanda Monaco: guitar
Noah Baerman: piano
Henry Lugo: bass
THE O-TONES – March 19
The O-Tones trio features Mary Witt on vocals, Wayne Roberts on bass and Chris Haynes on piano.
Mary Witt, founder and leader of The O-Tones Swing and Motown band, sings jazz standards, blues, R&B, and Motown tunes. She grew up singing harmonies with her sister and formed The O-Tones in the early 1990s to play at weddings, parties and dances. Chris Haynes, music professor at Springfield College, plays piano and accordion and has produced Mary's two latest albums, Dance with Me and Groove Duets. He graduated from Berklee College of Music and received his Master’s from Ithica College. Wayne Roberts studied at New England Conservatory of Music and received a Master’s from Juilliard School. He is Visiting Lecturer at Westfield State University and runs Ellingtonia Youth and Adult Jazz Workshops at Community Music School of Springfield.
Mary Witt: vocals
Wayne Roberts: bass
Chris Haynes: piano
NITA ZARIF – March 26
Nita Zarif is one of Hartford’s best-loved vocalists. She was mentored by the legendary Betty Carter and Connecticut’s own “Kitty” Catherine Riley. Nita counts Angela Bofil, Dionne Warwick and Hartford’s own Nikki Mathis among her influences.
Nita was born and raised in Hartford, attended Weaver High School and graduated from Livingstone College with a degree in Performance. She pursued her career in Colorado and returned to Hartford in the 1990s. Her collaborations include Hartford pianist and educator Emery Austin Smith, pianist and composer Kalim Zarif, pianist Donny DePalma and performances with People of Goodwill, Orquestra Espada and Excursion.
Nita Zarif: vocals
Warren Byrd: piano
Doug Long: bass
Saskia Laroo: trumpet
Alvin Carter Jr.: drums
EUGENE UMAN'S CONVERGENCE PROJECT – March 26, 3 PM
The Convergence Project is Eugene Uman’s vehicle to present his original compositions along with music that has influenced him. The ensemble includes Michael Zsoldos, saxophones; Jeff Galindo, trombone; Uman, piano; David Picchi, bass (electric and acoustic) and Jon Fisher on drums.
After spending several years in Colombia, South America, Eugene Uman found a niche blending the rhythms of Colombia such as cumbia, bambuco and pasillo with jazz harmonies. While living in Antioquia, Uman was commissioned by the Big Band of Medellín to write for their 20-piece orchestra. He composed Blues para Urabá, a tribute to the strength of the common people of Urabá who were in the midst of a civil war. The rousing climax of that composition used a rhythm from the Atlantic coast called currulao. After that powerful experience, Uman continued to investigate the rhythms and forms of the music of his newly adopted homeland, internalizing a small handful of the immense and richly varied catalog of Colombian rhythms.
Eugene Uman: piano
Michael Zsoldos: saxophones
Jeff Galindo: trombone
David Picchi: bass
Jon Fisher: drums
EARL MACDONALD/FELIPE SALLES QUARTET – April 2
Earl MacDonald is a composer, arranger, pianist and educator specializing in jazz. Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, the former musical director for Maynard Ferguson is now the Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Connecticut. MacDonald earned a bachelor of music degree in jazz performance at McGill University and a master of music degree at Rutgers, where he apprenticed with Kenny Barron.
Earl MacDonald: piano
Felipe Salles: tenor saxophone
Ben Bilello: drums
Henry Lugo: string bass
NICKI MATHIS: Afrikan American Jazz– April 9
Nicki Mathis is probably best known in Hartford for The Many Colors of a Woman showcases, which began in 1987. Mathis runs the organization and its concerts to promote women and their contributions to jazz.
Nicki's career in Hartford began when she stepped up to sing with Emery Austin Smith’s band in the old Mad Murphy’s bar downtown. She formed the Afrikan American Jazz Resurgence Band and made her debut album in 1986.
Nicki Mathis: vocals
Paul Arslanian: piano
Jim Daggs: bass
Jocelyn Pleasant: drums
THERESA WRIGHT – April 23
Theresa Wright is a jazz vocalist who performs R&B, blues, and gospel. Wright was honored be selected by CT Now as the Best Gospel Vocalist in Connecticut for 2016.
She grew up in Utica, NY, and learned to sing in her father’s church. Her mother was her first music teacher.
Jazz is her first love, and she has twice performed at the Hartford Jazz Festival. She has worked as a background vocalist for Jeff Pitchell, J Giles, Phil Lesh, Michael Allman, Charles Neville, Ray Charles, Claudette King and has also worked with Jaimoe of the Allman Brothers Band.
Theresa Wright: vocals
Brad Rickert: piano
Steve Clarke: bass
ALVIN CARTER PROJECT: CONFLUENCE OF INFLUENCE IV – April 30
Alvin Benjamin Carter, Jr. is a husband, father, and educator and is a mainstay in the Greater Hartford art community. As a performer, he has been the drummer with the Afro-Semitic Experience, the Kenny Hamber Show, Tony Harrington and Touch, Charmagne Tripp, People of Goodwill, and many others. He currently leads LEGACY: The Keepers of Tradition and The Alvin Carter Project.
Known as “Babafemi” to his friends, his diverse music experience includes jazz, R&B, blues, Latin jazz, gospel, and world beat. He is also a lead drummer for Sankofa Kuumba Cultural Arts Consortium, where he plays west Afrikan and Afro-Caribbean drums. Alvin is also an in-demand stage and production manager working for The Litchfield Jazz Festival, The Wesleyan Folk Music Festival, The Legends Show of Baltimore Maryland, The Sigourney Square Festival, Family Day at Keney Park, and The Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz.
Alvin Carter Jr. on drums
Chris Casey on piano
Morris Trent on bass
George Blackman Jr. on tenor sax
Photo credit: Maurice Roberston
Baby Grand Jazz is sponsored by the Charles H. Kaman Charitable Foundation.
LOCATIONS & HOURS
500 Main Street Hartford, CT 06103 860-695-6300
Monday through Thursday,10 am to 8 pm Friday and Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm Sunday (November through April) 1 pm to 5pm