2021 Jazz In The Valley returns with Javon Jackson, Curtis Brothers, Lakecia Benjamin and more
Jazz in the Valley (JITV) returns on Sunday, August 15, 2021, from noon to 6:00 p.m., with a celebration of the legacy, history and future of jazz. Presented by TRANSART & Cultural Services, Inc., the one-day festival features its artistic director Javon Jackson and his quartet and celebrates the future of jazz with four young musicians – the Curtis Brothers, Lakecia Benjamin, Julius Rodriguez and Samara Joy – who are taking the jazz tradition to the next level.
âAfter the pandemic has taken its toll on the music industry and the world at large, we are delighted to return to Waryas Park to celebrate our 21st year of Jazz in the Valley,â said Greer Smith, Founder and festival producer. âThe support from our festival family, sponsors, city, county and state over the past year has been overwhelming and we know, without a doubt, that jazz is alive and well and in demand. here in the Hudson Valley. Based on the love we have shown, we know there is no better way to celebrate our return than to present a special tribute to the future of jazz. “
JITV celebrated its 20th anniversary last year as a virtual production, due to the pandemic. This year’s edition features the return of live music, with a diverse assemblage of world-class and emerging jazz musicians performing in the spacious nine-acre Waryas Park, located in downtown Poughkeepsie in the Valley Historic Hudson River in New York, just 90 miles north of New York City.
While there will be some changes to help protect the audience, musicians, vendors and festival staff, TRANSART looks forward to another exciting musical day. Tent spots will be limited this year, and producers are encouraging those who want a tent spot to arrive early to claim a spot. Seating on the lawn will have improved sound and participants are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets. Due to evolving pandemic protocols, JITV will announce any additional security procedures as the event approaches.
The siblings have been swinging since the birth of jazz, as evidenced by the Ammons, Montgomery, Adderley and Marsalis clans, among others. Hailing from Hartford CT, the Curtis Brothers, bassist Luques and pianist Zaccai are the latest in this tradition. Both masters of straight and Afro-Caribbean jazz, they have worked and recorded with over 100 musicians, including Eddie Palmieri, Stefon Harris, Christian Scott and on the late drummer Ralph Peterson, Jr.’s latest recording, Raise Up Off Me . They have recorded five CDs, including their latest, Algorithm, and they are co-owners of a label, Truth Revolution Records. Curtis is a graduate of Berklee College of Music, received his MA from Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts, and studied privately with the late Fort Apache bassist Andy Gonzalez. Zaccai is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, won the ASCAP competition for young jazz composers, served as a jazz ambassador for the State Department, conducts his own Afro-Cuban jazz quartet, and was commissioned to compose “A New Jazz Work “by Chamber Music America in 2017.
Last year, Zaccai Curtis was a sideman at a concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center for alto saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin, who performed clips from his third and latest CD, Pursuance: The Music of the Coltranes, his passionate tribute and propellant to John and Alice Coltrane. A triple threat as an instrumentalist, singer and rapper, this Manhattan native is an alumnus of the famous LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts in New York and New School University. Mentored by Gary Bartz, Reggie Waters, Buster Williams, Joe Chambers and Billy Harper, Benjamin has amassed a dancing and diverse resume as a sidewoman that includes working with pop stars Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder and The Roots, and the jazz legends Clark Terry, Charles Tolliver and Gregory Porter. Simply put: Ms. Benjamin is a rising star in the jazz galaxy.
Another New Yorker, via White Plains, the Haitian-American multi-instrumentalist Julius Rodriguez – alias Orange Julius – is, as they say in hip-hop, “Something Like a Phenomenon”. A virtuoso of keyboards, drums, bass and guitar, Rodriguez enrolled at the age of 12 in the pre-university division of the Manhattan School of Music and studied at the Juilliard School. Although he has a lot of credibility in jazz, through his concerts with Carmen Lundy, Jazzmeia Horn, Wynton Marsalis and Roy Hargrove, he has also supported R&B and hip-hop artists including Meshell Ndegeocello, A $ AP Rocky and members of the Wu- Clan Tang. He makes all these musical genres swing on his latest CD, Blues at the Barn. Rodriguez is simultaneously a harbinger of musical things to come and is a throwback to the early musicians of New Orleans who always pierced the veil between popular and fine art.
Jazz singers have also fused folk and fine art, and New York-born Samara Joy is ready to join this proud pantheon of musical magicians. She was literally born to sing. Her father toured with legendary gospel greats Andre Crouch, and her Philadelphia grandparents formed the pioneering gospel group Les Savettes. Joy grew up in a household that played George Duke and Stevie Wonder. She sang in her high school jazz group, Fordham High School for the Arts, and won the award for best jazz singer in a jazz competition at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington. After signing up for SUNY Purchase in their jazz program, she scored a resounding victory by winning the 2019 Sarah Vaughan International Singing Competition. She performed with pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist Christian McBride, trumpeter Jon Faddis, guitarist Pasquale Grasso and drummer Kenny Washington. Grasso and Washington, along with bassist Ari Roland, play on Joy’s upcoming debut CD. As his appearance at the festival will show, there is nothing more exciting than catching a rising jazz star.
Samara Joy will also be the guest of Colorado-born tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson, artistic director of JITV. A former member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Jackson has worked as a sideman with Hank Jones, Thad Jones, Curtis Fuller, Charlie Haden, Freddie Hubbard and Ron Carter, and as a frontman with over 15 CDs to his name, including his released in 2018., For you. Jackson currently directs the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the Hartt School at the University of Hartford.
“After more than a year of COVID-19-related room closures, the deaths of so many jazz legends and the slowly receding pandemic, there is nothing quite like the invigorating good vibes of Jazz in the Valley to remind people of the healing power of the improv arts, âSmith said.
Over the past few years, JITV has featured many jazz greats, Grammy winners and NEA Jazz Masters including Randy Weston, Ron Carter, Roy Hargrove, Hugh Masekela, Kevin Mahogany, Bill Charlap, Cedar Walton, Curtis Fuller, Mulgrew Miller, Jimmy and Percy Heath, Eddie Palmieri, Arturo O’Farrill, Steve Turre, Michelle Rosewoman, Roy Ayers, Houston Person, Ray Mantilla, Lou Donaldson and Ahmad Jamal.
TRANSART & Cultural Services, Inc. is a non-profit arts organization based in West-Park, NY dedicated to promoting awareness of the art, history and popular culture of people of African descent . The origins of the festival can be traced back to an afternoon of music in 2000, when TRANSART received funding from the New York State Council on the Arts to commission Ahmad Jamal to write an original composition for the organization. Jamal composed “Picture Perfect”, inspired by the scenic beauty of the Hudson Valley, which he performed in concert. In addition to music, JITV also offers films and other programs designed to increase dialogue dealing with jazz music, musicians and audiences. The festival also includes Behind the Beat: Intro to Jazz Programs, a series of workshops, master classes and traditional drum instruction. The festival can also be heard on WKNY, 107.9 FM, 1490 AM, www.radiokingston.org.
The festival is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts. Additional support is provided by Dutchess County Tourism, the Town of Poughkeepsie and its media partners, the Poughkeepsie Journal and Metro North Railroad.
Early bird discounted tickets are $ 45 until August 1. General admission thereafter is $ 55 and $ 65 at the door. The cost for students with valid ID is $ 20. Tickets can be purchased online at the festival website (jazzinthevalleyny.org) or in person at Blue-Byrds Mercerie & Music (320 Wall Street, Kingston, 845-339-3174). For group ticket sales, directions and more information on Jazz in the Valley, contact TRANSART at [email protected], (845) 384-6350, or log on to www.jazzinthevalleyny.org. For a combined ticket and round-trip bus trip from New York City, call (917) 345-1357 or (646) 643-3035.