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Selby Avenue JazzFest: Free music and fun
The multi-talented jazz bassist Gerald Veasley headlines the 9th Annual Selby Avenue JazzFest at the intersection of Selby & Milton in St. Paul on Saturday, September 11, 11 am - 7 pm. The free event promises to be a great day of music, food and community.
Each year, this festival grows and continues to attract jazz fans of all ages.
In addition to presenting local and national artists, state fair food with a soul- food twist and local artists' booths will be on tap.
"This one has a little of everything...big band, a little funky bass slapping and a history lesson," says Mychael Wright, JazzFest founder and owner of Golden Thyme Coffee Café, about this year's lineup, which includes the following:
Dick and Jane's Big Brass Band
Think New Orleans: For 14 years this band has brought the Twin Cities its own rendition of New Orleans Street, or Second Line music. The group also plays samba, mambo, klezmer, funk, and dixieland, among other styles. Founded by the husband and wife team Dick Danaher (saxophone) and Jane (percussion), the ensemble has performed at May Day celebrations and other events.
Entertaining Twin Cities audiences since 1997, the 44 musicians that make up the Brio Brass are considered a nontraditional rockin' brass band.
Festival-goers can expect to hear Brio Brass' own arrangements written specifically for its members. Their broad repertoire features a wide spectrum of musical styles.
Walker West Music Academy
A Minnesota nonprofit organization founded by Reverend Carl Walker and Grant West, the academy is a bridge to the community, fusing the present with the founders' pasts and the community's future. The school is well-known for its artistic excellence in all styles of music including classical, gospel and jazz. (www.walkerwestmusicacademy.org)
John Penny and Globafo
As a performer, Penny has performed with the late Captain Jack McDuff, harmonicists Howard Levy and Mike Turk, and drummers Bernard Purdie and Eric Kamau Gravatt. He describes Globafo as "original music for contemporary folk culture, driven by a passion for developing memorable excursions into the heart of human experience." (www.myspace.com/johnwpenny)
Led by Gram'my- and Latin Grammy-nominated Cuban pianist and vocalist Viviana Pintado and international Cuban conga player Frank Rivery, Salsabrosa has become one of the Midwest's premier salsa acts.
The band's Afro-Cuban rhythms, vocal harmonies and horn solos are likely to get festival-goers movin' and groovin'. (www.myspace.com/salsabrosa)
Jazz Heritage Showcase
The showcase (directed by actor/singer T. Mychael Rambo) gets back to basics with a little history and soul. Expect tributes to jazz greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Billly Eckstine and Joe Williams. The showcase will present the best jazz vocal talent the Twin Cities has to offer with each performer portraying a jazz legend of the twentieth century.
Bassist Veasley is a respected artist, composer, producer, and educator.
He is also on the faculty of the Philadelphia's University of the Arts as a master lecturer and the co-founder and artistic director of the Bass BootCamp, an annual seminar for bass players of all levels from around the world.
Veasley's been voted "Best Electric Bassist" by Jazziz and recognized in both Downbeat's Critic's and Reader's Polls.
Collaboration has been an important feature of Gerald's musical career. He has collaborated, toured and recorded with Grover Washington, Jr. and Joe Zawinul.
Veasley has also worked with Pat Martino, Pieces of a Dream, and the Jaco Pasorius Big Band, among others. He's created concert events featuring contemporary jazz artists including Kirk Whalum, Najee, Kim Waters and Bobby Lyle.
Veasley has also worked with jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon, the late Gerald Levert, soul legend Teddy Pendergrass and the legendary McCoy Tyner among others. His 2008 release, Your Move (Heads Up), includes his most recent collaboration with award-winning guitarist Chuck Loeb.
"There's a multiplicity of decision making in the game of chess, and there are consequences to every action," says Veasley. "In a lot of ways, making music is like that too. There are so many choices, especially in jazz, where the situation is never the same twice. That's always exciting to me.
You're creating new scenarios at every turn - every time you step in front of an audience, or every time you step into the studio.
"That's what drew me to this kind of music in the first place - the idea that it was always fresh, there was always an opportunity and a new challenge.
Unlike chess, though, winning in jazz doesn't mean someone else has to lose." (http://geraldveasley.com)
For more information, call Golden Thyme Coffee Café at 651-645-1340 or go to www.selbyavejazzfest.com.
Robin James welcomes reader responses to jamesonjazz [at] spokesman-recorder [dot] com.
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