Thursday, August 1, 2019

Durham’s local jazz scene gets a dedicated stage at The Fruit on select Monday nights

[Mavis Swan Poole performs with the Brian Horton Quartet on September 16th at The Fruit as part of a jazz-infused "support local" campaign highlighting the talents of established and emerging artists with Durham roots.]

DURHAM, NC — On Monday, August 12, 2019, a concert series dedicated to spotlighting locally grown (or based) masters of the jazz idiom kicks off at The Fruit in downtown Durham. The series will celebrate local jazz talent in a setting that mirrors a metropolitan jazz club, on select Monday nights. Titled straightforwardly, Local Jazz reimagines The Fruit to stage concerts that encourage distinguished bandleaders, rising stars, and ambitious students to explore new and original material, record live performances, and/or release albums locally before launching regional or national tours.

Despite Durham’s abundance of talent, many local jazz standouts weather the rite of passage that is low-paying gigs at area bars and eateries — where crowds talk loudly over their masterful playing or peek sparingly at them between bites. Once they’ve outgrown that tedious ceremony there’s little else that pays, save for opportunities at the intimate and beloved Sharp 9 Gallery. As a result, the demand for larger, more attentive audiences has grown and a series that offers opportunities for burgeoning and established local jazz musicians to evolve and expand their reach is much needed.  
Given Durham’s long-standing love affair with jazz, it’s unsurprising to note the incomparable talents who have honed their craft here (Stanley Baird, Alvin Atkinson, Chip Crawford, and Eve Cornelious), or the renowned icons that have made the city their home (Branford Marsalis, Nnenna Freelon, Kate McGarry, and Joey Calderazzo). Add the unrivaled Jazz Studies program at North Carolina Central University and the result is a deep — and continually replenishing — pool of local talent deserving of a space to showcase their ability.
The series will be hosted by much-loved singer-songwriter and cellist, Shana Tucker. Upcoming concerts include:

8/12 — 99 Brass Band ($15)

An extemporized reunion of veteran bandleaders and notable NCCU alumni has morphed into an eight-piece outfit of masterful players with a distinctive lilt that calls to mind the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The spirited good-time is a time-traveling adventure that reinterprets years of New Orleans brass band magic and expands the idiom’s lexicon. 

On August 17, 1959, jazz giants turned their back on standard chord progressions and introduced the understated warmth of modality to a world that would be forever changed. The release of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue — the most important, influential, and best-selling jazz record of all time — represented an instantly successful and universally acknowledged masterpiece, revered as much by rock and classical music fans as by jazz lovers. Kind of Blue is not only regarded as the seminal work in Davis’ remarkable catalog, but the “painterly masterpiece” is regularly included in debates as the greatest album of all time (Rolling Stone). 

Renowned for his tenure as a member of Prince’s peerless New Power Generation, Grissett’s trumpet playing is near-mythic. Boasting a spellbinding tone and pitch-perfect soloing, Grissett has earned countless awards that have propelled him into the musical company of Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Branford Marsalis, Maceo Parker, Larry Graham, Liv Warfield, Trombone Shorty, and others. Along the way, he’s performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Montreux Jazz Festival, The Arsenio Hall Show, and Essence Festival.

8/26 — Annalisa and Zen Poets ($15)

Annalisa is a lauded saxophonist, composer, arranger, and founder of the euphonious force that is Zen Poets. Her prodigious playing is matched by an uncanny ability to pen imaginative, fiery, and yet, sweet-sounding jazz that has earned her the praise of DownBeat magazine and national notoriety as a forward-looking composer. Together with Zen Poets — drummer Jasmine Best, bassist Aaron Gross, and guitarist Gabriel Dansereau — remarkable originals are buoyed by likeminded and accomplished players with the shared intention of familiarizing ears with the exquisiteness of unanticipated phrases.

9/9 — Ernest Turner Trio ($20)

A brilliant career spanning twenty years recently surged ever higher with the release of My Americana: a courageous ode to the African-American songbook that imbues Turner’s contemplative flair into Stevie Wonder’s “If it’s Magic” and Thomas A. Dorsey’s “Precious Lord,” and homes them next to inspired originals. The result is an unquestionable masterpiece from a virtuosic pianist who has played alongside or recorded with Raphael Saadiq, Delfeayo Marsalis, John Legend, and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra.

Distinguished by the honeyed hum of his inimitable playing, Dr. Horton’s cerebral compositions are regularly cited by ethnomusicologists, featured in films by notable documentarians, and studied by aspiring jazz masters. A peerless composer and saxophone maestro, Dr. Horton thoughtfully crafts warming melodies that make him a favorite of purists and casual listeners alike. Dr. Horton is joined by Mavis Swan Poole, the revered vocalist that legendary trombonist Curtis Fuller unequivocally deemed “Little Ella.”

10/21 — Shaquim Muldrow Quartet ($15)

A rising star whose emotive playing is colored by a velvet tone and ingenious phrasing, Shaquim Muldrow embodies Sonny Rollins’ effortless cool and Don Byas’ buoyant stride. The dazzling tenor saxophonist freewheels through improvised solos with a mesmeric flair, interspersing technical prowess and nonconformist ideas throughout. By all accounts, it won’t be long before the star is aligned with his trajectory.

Shana Tucker & Brian Horton reimagine the quintessential ballad jazz recording John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman with a full-length retelling that embraces definitive standards including “Lush Life,” “They Say it’s Wonderful,” and “My One and Only Love.” With Tucker deftly navigating the iconic balladeer’s romantic baritone, and Horton’s signature warmth striding in step as a modern-day Trane, the idyllic pair add nuance to one of love’s essential soundtracks.

Christian Tamburr is an internationally renowned vibraphonist, pianist, composer, and arranger with an awe-inspiring resume spanning sixty-seven countries and regular performances at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and Newport Jazz Festival. The stellar vibraphonist is a five-time “Critics Choice Top Rising Star” who DownBeat magazine has honored with its “Outstanding Solo Jazz Performance” award. Tamburr’s astonishing career includes tenancies as Musical Director and Pianist for Latin vocal legend Julio Iglesias, Cirque du Soleil in Macau China, Landau Eugene Murphy, and Penn & Teller; playing vibraphone alongside pianist Dave Brubeck and as a featured solo percussionist with Michael Feinstein; and performing live at private events for Michael Jordan and Julia Roberts.

After two Grammy nominations (2019 and 2009) for Best Jazz Vocal Album and six critically acclaimed releases, Kate McGarry is widely recognized as an incomparable jazz artist whose voice is “heartfelt, intelligent, and unforgettable” (All About Jazz). Her many extraordinary accomplishments include appearances on Piano Jazz, All Things Considered, Jazz Set with Dee Dee Bridgewater, performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Birdland, Newport Jazz Festival, Berlin Jazz Fest, and Jazz Baltica. Along the way, McGarry’s outsized talent has empowered her to perform, record, or tour with a host of lauded jazz luminaries including Hank Jones, Clark Terry, Archie Shepp, Fred Hersch, Kurt Elling, Maria Schneider, John Hollenbeck, and Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown.

11/11 — Ariel Pocock Quartet ($18)

Ariel Pocock is a pianist, vocalist, and composer who has achieved international acclaim headlining performances at Montreal International Jazz Festival, the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, the Rochester International Jazz Festival, the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, the 2014 Jazz Cruise, the Tokyo Jazz Festival, the Quebec City International Jazz Festival, and the Stanford Jazz Workshop. The 25-year-old’s original compositions draw inspiration from an impressive array of sources that demonstrates her sprawling musical lexicon: Cuban and Brazilian folk music, the Great American Songbook, modern jazz composers such as Chick Corea and Brad Mehldau, and songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, and Paul Simon. On the young talent’s sophomore release Living In Twilight, Pocock surrounds herself with some of the jazz world’s foremost A-listers and crafts “an all-embracing set that simultaneously marks her as a reflective and questioning soul with an open mind and an artist with a confident and strong vision of self” (All About Jazz).

Doors open at 7pm. Shows start at 7:30pm.

All concerts are general admission. Tickets are ONLY available online & in advance.

Tickets to all shows are on sale now. For program updates please visit Local Jazz and/or The Fruit.
Presenting partners include: WNCU, Ruggero Piano, The Fruit, and Studio Harbor.

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