2021/22 FALMOUTH JAZZ ARTISTS
Whether playing jazz classics or one of his own compositions, Abate is known for his hard-driving and energetic approach. Known as the “Prince of Bebop” throughout the club scene, reviewers describe him as an “absolute powerhouse” and his music as having a “feverish intensity,” full of “verve and swagger”. One reviewer described his sound as “the distillation of swing’s easygoing vibe and bop’s more animated groove. Abate studied at the Berklee College of Music and then played lead alto saxophone for the Ray Charles Orchestra for two years. In 1978, he founded the sextet Channel One, performing across New England and New York. From 1986-1987, he played tenor sax with the revived Artie Shaw Orchestra under the leadership of Dick Johnson. In the 1990s, he ventured out as a post-hard bop soloist, playing festivals, jazz societies and jazz clubs throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, the U.K. and Russia. Abate has more than 18 acclaimed recordings. His most recent release, Kindred Spirits: Live at Chan’s, pairs him and Phil Woods with the Tim Ray Trio. Abate was inducted into the Rhode Island Musical Hall of Fame in 2016. He performs around the globe, touring 225 days per year and has been a New England favorite for more than 25 years. He is an adjunct professor of Jazz Studies at Rhode Island College and leads jazz clinics in the U.S. and abroad, sponsored by Conn-Selmer. Greg’s just released album, Moondance: the Music of Kenny Barron, featuring Barron on piano, has risen to #1 on the JazzWeek charts.
Italian-born Daniella Schächter makes her first appearance in Falmouth. Starting her classical musical career at a young age, she was already performing in Sicily, Italy as well as doing session work by her mid-teens. After her classical studies, Ms. Schächterr received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music. Studying with Phil Wilson, Joe Lovano, Hal Crook and Joanne Brackeen. She went on to win a host of competitions including the Betty Carters Jazz Ahead competition in 2002. She has performed throughout the United States and internationally including the Umbria Jazz Festival, the Cape May Jazz Festival, and at the Kennedy Center to name a few. She has performed with Regina Carter, Christian McBride, Shirley Horn, Quincy Jones and other notables on the jazz circuit. Ms. Schächter has been an Associate Professor of Music in the voice and piano department at Berklee College of Music since 2008. She is dedicated to teaching and performing the American songbook while transforming these jazz standards into more contemporary arrangements that appeal to a younger audience. Her repertoire includes both familiar and original compositions. Bassist John Lockwood and drummer George Schuller join Ms. Schächter for her performance at West Falmouth Library.
Grammy nominated pianist Judy Carmichael is one of the world’s leading interpreters of stride piano and swing. Count Basie nicknamed her “Stride,” acknowledging the command with which she plays this technically and physically demanding jazz piano style. Ms. Carmichael has performed her music on radio and TV and presented private recitals for everyone from Rod Stewart and Robert Redford to President Clinton and Gianni Agnelli. In addition to her international virtuoso career, she is celebrating her 15th year producing and hosting Judy Carmichael’s Jazz Inspired, a Public Radio Show broadcast on over 170 stations throughout North America and abroad. Bringing along her favorite guitarist, Chris Flory, this musical evening in the Simon Center for the Performing arts at Falmouth Academy is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Paul Jost and his quartet will make you think. When he starts to sing you’ll wonder where he’s going. Then the song becomes clear. He sings with such passion – he’s riveting to watch. He does such challenging things with his voice. You’ll wonder how he’ll make through the show. This is perfect music for our sophisticated audience. Paul will stretch your jazz mind. He and his stellar group are consummate musicians playing the highest level of contemporary jazz.
SAMARA JOY DUO
With a voice as smooth as velvet, SAMARA JOY’s star seems to rise with each performance. Now 22 years old, she was just rated the #1 new artist by Downbeat. Following her winning the 2019 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, began recording her debut recording featuring Samara backed by the Pasquale Grasso Trio… Within the album’s liner notes, veteran writer Will Friedwald comments that Samara Joy is “a fantastic collection of highly original new arrangements, beautifully sung by a rising talent, and a very impressive first album. People are forever using the word ‘timeless’ as if it were the greatest praise ever, but in a way, Samara’s voice and her music seem to belong to all time, like she’s connected to the entire history of jazz all at once – as if she were existing in every era simultaneously, she sounds both classic and contemporary.” Winning the Vaughan award was transformational for Joy. “I was suddenly on the jazz radar. It’s still bizarre to think of how fast things have progressed.” Samara has already performed in many of the great jazz venues in NYC, including Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, The Blue Note, and Mezzrow, in addition to working with jazz greats such as Christian McBride, Pasquale Grasso, Kirk Lightsey, Cyrus Chestnut, and NEA Jazz Master Dr. Barry Harris.
Bassist and educator Nat Reeves has performed with some of the jazz world’s greatest players including Jackie McLean, Benny Golson, Donald Byrd, Pharoah Sanders, George Coleman, and Steve Davis. He was a longtime member of altoist Kenny Garrett’s group, and he has performed as a sideman on over 50 CDs. As a bassist, he is regarded as a precise accompanist, known for his impeccable time, deep tones and great earthy, organic sound. A native of Lynchburg Virginia, he was introduced to music by his musician grandfather who bought him an electric bass for his 16th birthday. He played soul, rock and pop as a teenager before switching to acoustic bass and developing an interest in jazz. Mr. Reeves moved to New York in the late 70’s. He played in many groups and went on saxophonist legend Sonny Stitt’s last tour. It was in the early 80s that Mr. Reeves met the great alto player, Jackie McClean, who became a close friend and mentor. He began full time teaching at the Hart Scholl in 1981, where the African American Music Studies Program had been renamed the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz. He recently retired to devote full time to his performing and recording projects.
Pianist Rick Germanson won the Grand Prize at the American Pianist Association jazz competition before moving to New York where he was awarded a Best of New Talent designation by All About Jazz NYC in 2004. He has performed with jazz stars such as Jimmy Cobb, Grady Tate, Pat Martino and George Coleman. Mr. Germanson has appeared on over 40 albums and has released four under his own name. He met Mr. Reeves at the Hart School where both were professors.
Ms. Zuraitis blends clever songwriting skills, an effervescent presence and a dazzling voice in a consummate package. She is the vocalist for the world-famous Birdland Big Band and the Dan Pugach Nonet, the winner of the New York Coffee Music Project Songwriting Competition, ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award recipient and was a finalist in the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition. Her 2017 Album HIVE MIND won Best Jazz Album in the International Music and Entertainment Awards and she was awarded the Johnny Mercer and People’s Choice Award in the American Traditions Competition. Ms. Zuraitis and her drummer Dan Pugach were co-nominated in the 2019 Grammy awards for their arrangement of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”. Her quartet includes Pugach on drums, Idan Morim on guitar and Alex Smith on bass. She recently won a gold medal in the 2001 American Traditions Vocal Competition.
“EVIL GAL” MICHELLE WILLSON AND HER FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA
Known for her strong, distinctive voice and deep knowledge of the blues, Ms. Willson has been singing the blues around Boston for over 40 years. Like many blues and gospel artists, she grew up learning to sing in church. The Boston native had early career success, winning a battle of the blues bands competition in Boston, and ultimately earning a spot in the national blues finals in Memphis. Her career took off when she put together a tribute show to the music of Dinah Washington, Etta James and Ruth Brown, three iconic vocalists who created music that told women’s stories with wit and humor. Ms. Willson adopted the stage name “Evil Gal”, a reference to the song “Evil Gal Blues” made famous by Dinah Washington and Aretha Franklin. What started as one set became five Evil Gal albums, performances in 16 countries, and appearances on many other recordings, including the title track of the Anthony Geraci’s 2016 Handy Award nominated Fifty Shades of Blue on Delta Groove. The Evil Gal Orchestra is comprised of top Boston blues musicians who have performed with Ms. Willson for decades. When she’s not touring or performing, Michelle is the host of Morning Vibe Time, a jazz and blues program on WICN Public radio.
Mr. Allen is generally acclaimed as one of the leading swing players in jazz today. While other saxophone players have adopted the contemporary sound of John Coltrane, Mr. Allen has remained true to swing with a sound reminiscent of Stan Getz, Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster.
He has over 40 recordings under his own name, including three that have won Gold Disc Awards from Swing Journal Magazine. He has appeared on countless other recordings with jazz and pop legends such as Tony Bennett, Dave McKenna, John Pizzarelli, James Taylor, Ray Brown, Tommy Flanagan, Sheryl Crow, and Kenny Barron. Pianist Mike Renzi won seven Emmy awards for his music direction and composition on Sesame Street and One Life to Live. He has performed with jazz stars Peggy Lee, Mel Torme, Gerry Mulligan and Frank Sinatra over his decades long career. Bassist Paul Del Nero is a full Professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He has performed with a wide range of stars including Mel Torme, Dave McKenna, Mose Allison, Vic Damone, Robert Goulet and many others.
Over her distinguished three-decade career Ms. Byrne has performed at top jazz venues including Scullers Jazz Club in Boston, Blues Alley in Washington, D.C., and the Blue Note in New York. She has eight solo CDs and has recorded with top jazz artists such as Bucky Pizzarelli, Scott Hamilton, Harry Allen, Dave McKenna and Herb Pomeroy.Ms. Byrne’s return to Falmouth is made even more special because she is bringing her quartet of stellar musicians – Tim Ray on piano, Marshall Wood on bass, and Jim Gwin on drums, each a jazz star in his own right. All three have most recently been working with Tony Bennett.Tim Ray, country star Lyle Lovett’s long-time pianist, has appeared on over 70 recordings with artists as diverse as pop stars Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt, and Soul Asylum, jazz luminaries Phil Woods, Scott Hamilton and Esperanza Spaulding. He has performed as a solo artist with Gunther Schuller, the Boston Pops and the Boston Classical Orchestra. Mr. Ray has performed at Carnegie Hall, the White House and the Kennedy Center. Bassist Marshall Wood, who is also Byrne’s husband, has toured, recorded and appeared on countless television programs with jazz legend Tony Bennett. His work with Bennett includes two Grammy-winning albums. Wood’s thirty-five year career has included performances with jazz legends Anita O’Day, Big Joe Turner, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Nelson Riddle, Tommy Flanagan, Marion McPartland, Phil Woods and pop star Lady Gaga.Versatile drummer-percussionist Jim Gwin was named drummer for the Boston Pops Orchestra in 2003 and has performed with pop artists James Taylor, Elton John, Bono, Patti Labelle, Kristen Chenowith, Steven Tyler and Yo Yo Ma. He has also performed and recorded with jazz stars Chick Corea, Scott Hamilton, Karrin Allyson, Gary Burton and many others.
Internationally acclaimed Boston-based jazz pianist and composer Laszlo Gardony is one of the most expressive and technically skilled pianists working in jazz today. “A formidable improviser who lives in the moment” (JazzTimes), Laszlo Gardony has performed in 27 countries and released 13 albums on the Sunnyside, Antilles, Great American Jazz Piano Competition, Gardony has been noted for his “fluid pianism” by The New York Times, and the legendary Dave Brubeck called him “a great pianist.” aszlo Gardony’s recordings and performances convey the joy of inspired creation; they draw on a deep well of emotions, a prodigious technique, and a playful curiosity that thrives on creating music that is truly alive in each unique moment. Gardony’s critically acclaimed 2019 live solo piano album, “La Marseillaise” features his originals, his personal takes on standards and a classic Italian song, his re-imagination of an iconic French revolutionary song, and spontaneously created pieces. The New York City Jazz Record says of the album: “’La Marseillaise’s is a grand organic take on creating music in the moment.” JazzTimes states: “The improvised pieces are bright and majestic examples of on-the-fly creativity at its most developed.” Jazzwise, UK says: “[Gardony] mastered the sound of surprise. Laszlo’s previous solo album, “Serious Play” (Sunnyside) was named one of the Best Jazz Albums of 2017 by DownBeat Magazine: “Serious Play combines spontaneity and intent…there’s a stillness at the center of his music, a distinctive amalgam of central European folk strains, majestic classical piano and improvisational fearlessness.” “Serious Play,” and Gardony’s 2015 live sextet album “Life In Real Time” were named by the Boston Globe as one of the 10 Best Jazz Albums of 2017 and one of the 10 Best Jazz Albums of 2015 respectively.
He never learned to read music. Yet he has a repertoire of some 1500 songs. He honed his craft in Alabama and Saint Louis playing gospel and R&B before moving to New York. A rising star on the New York Jazz scene in the early 80s, he was one of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and performed with jazz stars like Clark Terry and Milt Jackson. He opened for Oscar Peterson at Carnegie Hall. But personal tragedy and health issues led him to leave New York and he disappeared from the lime light for several decades. He returned to New York about ten years ago, and he has been winning over a new generation of fans ever since.
He’s a regular at well-known clubs like Smalls and Mezzrow, and every Saturday night he holds court at the famous Harlem jazz club Smoke where he plays the midnight show, inviting famous jazz musicians in the audience to join him on the stage. At Oscar Peterson’s recommendation, Mr. O’Neal was cast in the role of Art Tatum in the 2004 Oscar-winning film, Ray about Ray Charles. He is known for his light touch on the keys and prodigious swing technique. Mr. O’Neal sings scat and his raspy voice turns ballads into heart-warming experiences. His performance will include jazz standards, the Great American Songbook and interpretations of pop songs.
Italian-born pianist Rossano Sportiello started classical training at the age of nine, and graduated from the Conservatory in 1996. He began performing professionally in the Milan area at just 16 years old. He eventually joined the historic “Milano Jazz Gang” in 1992, touring with the group until 2000. Sportiello’s musical influences include Fats Waller, Art Tatum, Count Basie and other great jazz masters. A regular at Switzerland’s Ascona Jazz Festival, Sportiello received the 2009 Ascona Jazz award in recognition of his mastery of stride piano. Stride is a style rooted in Ragtime (think Fats Waller) – where the root note of a chord is played way down on the keys with the left hand then “ strides” up to play the rest of the chord – no easy task! Sportiello is touted by his friend and mentor, Barry Harris, as “the best stride piano player” he has ever heard. Sportiello’s musical influences include Fats Waller, Art Tatum, Count Basie and other great jazz masters. A regular at Switzerland’s Ascona Jazz Festival, Sportiello received the 2009 Ascona Jazz award in recognition of his mastery of stride piano. Stride is a style rooted in Ragtime (think Fats Waller) – where the root note of a chord is played way down on the keys with the left hand then “ strides” up to play the rest of the chord – no easy task! Sportiello is touted by his friend and mentor, Barry Harris, as “the best stride piano player” he has ever heard. Sportiello has played with many of the world’s finest jazz luminaries – Slide Hampton, Clark Terry, Bucky Pizzarelli, Harry Allen, Scott Hamilton, Houston Person, and Dick Hyman to name a few. He has performed at major venues such as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the United Nations as well as jazz clubs like the Blue Note, Birdland, Feinstein’s, Café Carlyle, Smalls and Mezzrow. He appears at jazz festivals throughout the world. Sportiello’s prolific output tracks 40 albums to date, including both classical and jazz performances and six solo albums. That’s It!, his latest album, incorporates elements of bebop, stride piano, classical and swing into something entirely new and different. With warmth, charm and prodigious piano playing, Rossano Sportiello is a favorite of Falmouth Jazz. We are delighted to welcome him back.
Vocalist Lucy Yeghiazaryan grew up in post-Soviet Armenia and began listening to her father’s once-contraband collection of jazz records at a early age. Electricity was intermittent so these sessions listening to jazz standards were rare. Yet so captivated was the young girl that she meticulously mimicked the sounds and styles of the likes of Ella and Sarah Vaughan before she could even speak English. Economic hardships eventually forced her family to emigrate to the United States when Lucy was twelve. The talented young vocalist won a scholarship to NJPAC’s Jazz for Teens program and began performing while earning a college degree in world history. She also became a skilled a classical violinist. She was a top ten finalist in the 2015 Thelonious Monk Competition and She is now recognized as an up and coming vocalist in the world of straight ahead jazz. She is a recipient of grants from the Doris Duke Foundation, Chamber Music and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She has shared the stage with Grant Stewart, Harold Mabern, Houston Person, Bernadette Peters, Rodney Whitaker, Arto Tuncboyaijian, Steve Williams and many more. With the release of her debut album Blue Heaven ( Cellar Live Records, 2019), critics and musicians agree that a new vocal force has arrived on the scene.