Princeton University Jazz Festival returns April 27-30

Jazz at Princeton University, led by renowned saxophonist/composer Rudresh Mahanthappa, announces the return of the Princeton University Jazz Festival. Presented in conjunction with Jazz Appreciation Month, the event, which takes place from Wednesday April 27 to Saturday April 30, features guest guitarist Gilad Hekselman and saxophonists Seamus Blake, Tony Malaby and Alexa Tarantino performing with the stellar student ensembles at Princeton University.

a?? Wednesday April 27 – Jazz Vocal Collective led by Trineice Robinson-Martin.
The JVC is a small jazz ensemble featuring solo vocals and a rhythm section to create a collaborative musical experience. The 7:30 p.m. performance takes place in the Taplin Auditorium, Fine Hall. Free entry. Please visit for the latest safety requirements. For more information, go to

a?? Thursday, April 28 – Guest saxophonist Alexa Tarantino joins Small Group Z; guest guitarist Gilad Hekselman performs with Small Group X. The 7:30 p.m. performance, conducted by Matthew Parrish, is at Taplin Auditorium, Fine Hall. FREE ENTRANCE. Please visit for the latest safety requirements. For more information, go to

• Saturday 30 April – Tenor Saxophone Titans
A celebration of International Jazz Day, the concert features Princeton’s Small Group I with guest saxophonist Tony Malaby and Small Group A joined by guest saxophonist Seamus Blake. The 8 p.m. show will take place at the Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall. Tickets $15, students $5. Please visit for the latest safety requirements. For more information, go to

“We are thrilled to have the Princeton University Jazz Festival back,” said Mahanthappa. “In a trio of concerts during Jazz Appreciation Month, accomplished guest artists perform alongside our remarkably talented students, creating a truly special synergy that feels especially significant given the reduction in live music we have all known in recent years

New York saxophonist/composer Seamus Blake is recognized as one of the finest exponents of contemporary jazz. Seamus was born in December 1970 in England and grew up in Vancouver, Canada. At 21, while still a student at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, he was asked to record with legendary drummer Victor Lewis. After his studies, he moved to New York, where he quickly established himself on the New York jazz scene. In February 2002, Seamus won first place in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. As a winner, he performed with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. His music is known for its sophistication, daring improvisations and “pure swagger”. John Scofield, who hired Seamus for his “Quiet Band”, called him “amazing, a total saxophonist”. Throughout his 24-year career, Seamus has received critical acclaim for his masterful playing, excellent songwriting skills, and ease as a leader. Since arriving in Paris in February 2018, Seamus has been invited to perform music from his CD Superconductor with a number of European jazz bands, including Latvian Radio Jazz Band, Trondheim Big Band and Sibis Alumni Big Band. In 2017, Seamus brought together a new quartet, The French Connection. The band (Seamus, Tony Tixier on piano, Florent Nisse on bass and Gautier Garrigue on drums) recorded their first CD in Paris in November 2017 and toured France and Spain. As a leader/co-leader, Seamus has released over a dozen albums. He is presented as a sideman on more than 70 releases. He has performed and recorded with Bill Stewart, Kevin Hays, David Kikoski, Alex Sipiagin, John Scofield’s Quiet Band, Dave Douglas, Eric Reed, Ethan Iverson, Chris Cheek and Matt Penman, among others.

Gilad Hekselman is one of the most important voices in jazz guitar. Only a few years after arriving in New York in 2004, this Israeli-born was already sharing the stages with some of the greatest artists on the scene including Chris Potter, Eric Harland, Mark Turner, Anat Cohen, Ari Hoenig, Esperanza Spalding, Jeff Ballard, Ben Wendel, Gretchen Parlato, Ben Williams, Avishai Cohen, Tigran Hamasyan, Aaron Parks and Becca Stevens among many others. In May 2019, Hekselman presented his quartet at legendary New York venue The Village Vanguard. He has also played at major jazz clubs including Blue Note, Jazz Standard, Dizzy’s Club and Smalls. He tours internationally and has performed at jazz festivals and venues including Montreux, North Sea, Montreal and SFJazz. Hekselman has released nine critically acclaimed records as a bandleader, many of which have appeared on “best of the year” lists in The New York Times, DowBeat, All About Jazz, and numerous other publications. His tenth album, Far Star, will be released on Edition Records in May 2022. It is an entirely original album in which Hekselman plays many instruments, and it features special guests such as Eric Harland, Shai Maestro, Ziv Ravitz and more. . The release of the record will be celebrated with a week-long engagement at the Village Vanguard in 2022. Gilad is the recipient of several prestigious awards and accolades. In 2017, Gilad placed first in DownBeat’s Rising Star category. In 2018, Gilad was invited by guitar legend Pat Metheny to perform at his NEA Awards ceremony at the Kennedy Center, alongside some of Metheny’s other favorite young guitarists. Gilad is also the winner of the 2005 Gibson Montreux International Guitar Competition, which led to a series of performances, including opening for guitar legend Paco de Lucia with his trio at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2006. In 2009, Gilad recorded three titles for Walt Disney. Records, one of which was included in the record Everybody Wants To Be a Cat (2011). The album features versions of Disney songs performed by a range of top musicians including Dave Brubeck, Joshua Redman, Esperanza Spalding, Diane Reeves, Roy Hargrove, Kurt Rosenwinkel, The Bad Plus and many other jazz musicians.
In his two decades as an integral member of New York’s improvised music community, saxophonist and composer Tony Malaby has established himself as a truly unique and singular voice. DownBeat’s “80 Coolest Things in Jazz” article read, “[Malaby] is a tremendously accomplished soprano and tenor saxophonist with an enviable sound and an endless source of compelling ideas [who] takes his music far from perfection” and “his considerable melodic gifts tend to surprise you.” JazzTimes called him “the hero of today’s improvised music scene.” These accolades are not surprising given the number of projects Malaby has been involved in since arriving in New York in the early 1990s. , Chris Hoffman and Bob Stewart, Paloma Recio with Ben Monder, Eivind Opsvik and Nasheet Waits, and an improv trio with Angelica Sanchez and Tom Rainey. Malaby worked as a sideman in Paul Motian’s Electric Bebop Band, Liberation Music Charlie Haden’s Orchestra, Fred Hersch’s Quintet and the Walt Whitman Project, Mark Helias’ Open Loose, Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth, Eivind Opsvik’s Overseas, Ches Smith’s These Arches, Michael Formanek’s Elusion Quartet and Kris Davis’ Diatom Ribbons quintet. His latest album The Cave of Winds (Pyroclastic Records, January 2022) features Malaby’s Sabino Quartet with Ben Monder, Michael Formanek and Tom Rainey.

Alexa Tarantino is an award-winning and dynamic young jazz saxophonist, wind dubber, composer and educator. Alexa’s “high octane” [performance]” (Jazziz Magazine) and “a direct jazz well traced but gracefully released [compositions](The New York Times) establishes her individual voice that shines as a dynamic performer and educator. Tarantino was recently named one of the “Top 5 Alto Saxophonists of 2019” by JazzTimes Critics’ Poll and nominated as “Rising Star – Alto Saxophone” by DownBeat Magazine Critics’ Poll 2021 and 2020. She has appeared with a wide variety of ensembles including the Wynton Marsalis Septet, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Cecile McLorin Salvant Quintet, and ensembles OGRESSE, Ulysses Owens Jr.’s Generation Y and Big Band, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, and conducts the Alexa Tarantino Quartet Firefly, Alexa’s third record for Posi -Tone Records was released in April 2021, reaching #6 on the JazzWeek charts. His previous album, Clarity, peaked at #9 on the JazzWeek charts and landed at #54 on JazzWeek’s Top 100 Records of 2020. Tarantino is currently professional jazz sister at Lincoln Center’s Youth Programs (High School Jazz Academy, Let Freedom Swing/Jazz for Young People) and represents the organization as a clinician and educator for various schools, festivals and workshops. She holds a master’s degree in jazz studies from the Juilliard School and a bachelor’s degree in jazz saxophone performance and music education from the Eastman School of Music. Alexa is founder and director of the Rockport Jazz Workshop in Rockport, Massachusetts and co-founder of A Step Ahead Jazz with pianist Steven Feifke. In February 2021, Alexa launched its new community-style virtual jazz education platform, The Alexa Approach. Alexa Tarantino is a Vandoren artist and a Yamaha performer. Learn more about her at

Jazz at Princeton University serves to promote this quintessentially American music as a contemporary and relevant art form. Its aims are to convey the vast musical and social history of jazz, to establish a solid theoretical and stylistic foundation in improvisation and composition, and to emphasize the development of individual expression and creativity. . Program offerings include academic courses, performance ensembles, masterclasses, private study, and independent projects. They also have the opportunity to participate in academic courses in the music department program that encourage the study of historical, social, theoretical, stylistic and creative issues related to the idiom of jazz.

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