2023/24 FALMOUTH JAZZ ARTISTS​

GREG ABATE​

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.

JUDY CARMICHAEL​​​

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.

Sullivan Fortner

For the past decade, Sullivan Fortner has been stretching deep-rooted talents as a pianist, composer, band leader and uncompromising individualist. The GRAMMY Award-winning artist out of New Orleans received international praise as both key player and producer for his collaborative work on The Window, alongside Cecile McLorin Salvant. As a solo leader, he has released Moments Preserved and Aria to critical acclaim.

In addition to associations with such diverse voices as Wynton Marsalis, Paul Simon, Diane Reeves, Etienne Charles and John Scofield, Fortner’s frequent and longtime collaborators have included Ambrose Akinmusire, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Stefon Harris, Kassa Overall, Tivon Pennicott, Peter Bernstein, Nicholas Payton, Billy Hart, Gary Bartz, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Fred Hersch and the late Roy Hargrove. Recent collaborations include GRAMMY-nominated releases Dear Love (Empress Legacy) and Generations from leaders Jazzmeia Horn and The Baylor Project, respectively. 

A highly-sought improviser, Fortner has performed across the country and throughout the world at such cultural institutions as Snug Harbor, New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, Sweet Lorraine’s and The Jazz Playhouse in New Orleans, and Jazz at Lincoln Center, Jazz Standard and Smalls Jazz Club in New York City. He’s appeared at celebrated festivals, including Newport, Monterey, Discover, Tri-C and Gillmore Keyboard, among others. In 2019, Fortner brought his band to the historic Village Vanguard for a week-long engagement he would reprise in 2020 as a virtual performance during lockdown. His notable studio contributions include work on Etienne Charles’s Kaiso (Culture Shock, 2011), Donald Harrison’s Quantum Leap (FOMP, 2010), and Theo Croker’s The Fundamentals (Left Sided Music, 2007). 

Playing solo or leading an orchestra, Fortner engages harmony and rhythmic ideas through curiosity and clarity. Within phrases, he finds universes, and listeners often hear how he’s moved by each note he explores. Coming up in New Orleans, Fortner began playing piano at age 7, following a storied lineage of improvisers, masters of time and every iteration of the blues. He earned his Bachelor of Music from Oberlin Conservatory and Master of Music in Jazz Performance from Manhattan School of Music (MSM). A champion of mentorship, Fortner has offered masterclasses at MSM, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), Purdue University, Lafayette Summer Music Workshop, Belmont University and Oberlin Conservatory where he held a faculty position. 

Pulling distinct elements from different eras, Fortner’s artistry preserves the tradition and evolves the sound. He seeks connections among different musical styles that are at once deeply soulful and wildly inventive. Both his works and his insights have been featured in culturally iconic publications, from The New York Times to The Root. Accolades include the 2015 Cole Porter Fellowship awarded by the American Pianists Association, Leonore Annenberg Arts Fellowship, the 2016 Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists and, in 2020, the prestigious Shifting Foundation Grant for artistic career development.

Caity Gyrgy

Caity Gyorgy (pronounced George) is 2 time JUNO award winning Canadian vocalist who is known for singing bebop and swing music. She has performed at popular clubs and jazz festivals across Canada, Mexico, Japan and the USA and has worked and recorded with incredible musicians including Christine Jensen, Pat LaBarbera, Jocelyn Gould, Ira Coleman, Joe LaBarbera, Allison Au, and Bryn Roberts, to name a few.

In addition to being a performer, Caity is an avid writer and composes songs in the style of the Great American Songbook. Her compositions have been sung by other vocalists around the world, and have won multiple awards including the Grand Prize in the jazz category of the 2021 John Lennon Songwriting Contest  for her song “Secret Safe”. She is also a sought after clinician and is currently on faculty as a vocal jazz instructor at the Yukon Summer Music Camp in Whitehorse, Yukon and the Interprovincial Music Camp in McKellar, Ontario.

She has released several albums of original and standard music. On July 9th, 2021 she released “Now Pronouncing”, an EP of original music arranged for large ensemble on Brooklyn based label La Reserve. This project won the JUNO for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year at the 2022 JUNO Awards. In 2023 she once again received the JUNO Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year for her debut full length LP “Featuring” which was released on November 4th, 2022. Her next album “You’re Alike, You Two”, a collection of Jerome Kern songs performed with pianist Mark Limacher, will be released on July 21st, 2023.

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.

YOKO MIWA​​

Internationally acclaimed pianist/composer Yoko Miwa is one of the most powerful and compelling performers on the scene today. Her trio, with its remarkable telepathy and infectious energy, has brought audiences to their feet worldwide. Yoko was named a Rising Star Pianist in the 2022 DownBeat Critics Poll. The Yoko Miwa Trio’s 2021 release Songs of Joy received wide acclaim and reached #1 on national jazz radio charts and was voted a best jazz album of 2021 in the DownBeat 86th Annual Readers Poll. Jazziz called it “a radiant new collection.” CD Hotlist said “…yet another triumph from one of America’s finest jazz pianists, composers, and bandleaders.” Their 2019 CD, Keep Talkin’, showcases Miwa’s fine playing and artful compositions and the trio’s uncanny musical camaraderie. DownBeat gave the recording four stars, calling it “a beautifully constructed album” and noting “the drive and lyricism of a pianist and composer at home in bebop, gospel, pop, and classical.” JazzTimes also reviewed the album favorably, praising Miwa’s “jaw-dropping degree of technique.” The album enjoyed seven weeks in the top 10 on Jazz Week’s charts, much like its predecessor, Miwa’s 2017 release Pathways, which also made Jazz Week’s top 10 for several weeks. In a 2017 feature article on Miwa, DownBeat noted her “impressive technique and a tuneful lyricism that combines an Oscar Peterson-ish hard swing with Bill Evans-like introspection.”

For more than a decade Miwa’s trio has played regularly at major jazz clubs in their home city of Boston, as well as venues around the world. A favorite of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Miwa was chosen to play on “Marian McPartland & Friends,” part of the Coca-Cola Generations in Jazz Festival. She was also chosen to perform at Lincoln Center’s annual Jazz and Leadership Workshop for The National Urban League’s Youth Summit. Miwa also appears regularly at New York’s famed Blue Note Jazz Club as well as Birdland and has performed and/or recorded with a wide range of jazz greats including Sheila Jordan, Slide Hampton, Arturo Sandoval, George Garzone, Jon Faddis, Jerry Bergonzi, Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington, Kevin Mahogany, John Lockwood, Dominique Eade, and Johnathan Blake among others. In 2018 she performed on the main stage at the Atlanta Jazz Festival and the Litchfield Jazz Festival, where her trio drew the largest audience of any act. She is a Yamaha Pianos Artist, JVC Victor Entertainment and Ubuntu Music recording artist, 10X nominated and 2019 Winner in the Boston Music Awards as Jazz Artist of the Year, and Boston Phoenix Best Music Poll winner.

Miwa’s story of becoming a jazz musician is full of serendipity and happy twists of fate. In the late 1990s the classically-trained artist auditioned for Berklee College of Music on a lark and ended up winning a full scholarship. She arrived at the school from her homeland of Japan in 1997, intending to stay for a year. In 2022, she’s still in Boston, enriching the city’s musical life and serving as one of the most popular professors in the Berklee piano department.

Act Naturally, the Yoko Miwa Trio’s major label debut in Japan, came out in 2012 on the JVC Victor Entertainment label and the band toured Japan that same year. “She is one of the best jazz pianists in Japan,” said Yozo Iwanami, Jazz Hihyo Magazine.

A native of Kobe, Japan, Miwa didn’t pursue an interest in jazz until she met and studied with Minoru Ozone, a popular television organist and nightclub owner who is the father of pianist Makoto Ozone. Miwa worked at Ozone’s club and as an accompanist and piano instructor at his music school until the great Kobe earthquake of 1995 destroyed both facilities. Then, while continuing to take private lessons from Minoru Ozone, she also pursued musical studies at the Koyo Conservatory in Kobe. From there she won first prize in a scholarship competition to attend Berklee. Miwa quickly began playing with a host of talented students and teachers, and she formed a strong bond with vocal great Kevin Mahogany, who chose the pianist to serve as accompanist in his classes and on his gigs.

Miwa has released nine highly acclaimed CDs: In the Mist of Time (Tokuma, 2000); Fadeless Flower (Polystar, 2002); Canopy of Stars (Polystar, 2004); The Day We Said Goodbye, recorded live at the studios of WGBH-FM (Sunshine Digital, 2006); Live at Scullers (Jazz Cat Amnesty, 2011); Act Naturally (JVC Victor Entertainment, 2012), Pathways (2017), Keep Talkin’ (2019), and Songs of Joy (Ubuntu Music, 2021).

NAT REEVES​​

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.

NICOLE ZURAITIS​​​

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.

  Dave Zinno Quartet

Bassist Dave Zinno and his quartet deliver an evening of jazz from the past, present and future. Mr. Zinno studied at the Berklee College of Music and the University of Rhode Island before relocating to the west coast to work with Grammy-winning jazz vocalist Diane Schuur and jazz greats Julian Priester, Hadley Caliman and Frank Clayton. He established himself in NYC, performing with Jimmy Cobb, John Medeski, Larry Willis and Sonny Fortune among other jazz luminaries.

Widely recorded, Dave’s recordings include UM “Stray Dog” with Hal Crook, John Medeski, Rick Peckham and Bob Gullotti (Rope-a-Dope Records), “Planet Safety” (Soul Note Records featuring Gullotti and Leo Genovese), “New Stablemates” (Arabesque) with Jared Sims, Eric ”Benny” Bloom and Steve Langone, “Remembering Billie” and “The Music of Jule Styne”(both on Blue Dutchess records) with Scott Hamilton. AGNZ “Chance Meeting” with Adam Nussbaum, Jay Azzolina and Dino Govoni (2016 on Whaling City Sound)., Dave is joined by Dino Govoni (sax), Jay Azzolina (guitar) and Rafael Barata (drums).

 

 

HARRY ALLEN​

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.

DONNA BYRNE

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.

Bill Charlop

Bill Charlap, the Grammy Award-winning pianist, has collaborated with numerous prominent artists of our era. His performances have spanned from Phil Woods and Tony Bennett to Gerry Mulligan and Wynton Marsalis. Renowned for his interpretations of American popular songs, Charlap has recorded albums showcasing the music of Hoagy Carmichael, Leonard Bernstein, and George Gershwin. Time magazine’s praise captures his approach: “Bill Charlap approaches a song the way a lover approaches his beloved… no matter how imaginative or surprising his take on a song is, he invariably zeroes in on its essence.” Join us for an amazing afternoon of music by a jazz master.

Olivia Chindamo

Ms. Chindamo is a New York-based jazz vocalist from Australia whose unique voice effortlessly carries and delivers stories and melodies with integrity, honesty, and musicianship. With a special love for improvisation, her musical endeavors offer a fresh combination of old and new as she continually fuses a knowledge of jazz history with her modern sensibilities, impressive technical control, and textural versatility. 

New Yok-based Australian native, saxophonist and composer Evan Harris also possesses a passion for jazz as expressed by his “vividly evocative” sound.  His debut album Skylines garnered three nominations for the 2018 Australian Jazz Bell Award; Best Instrumental Jazz Album, Best Produced Album and Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year. Evan maintains an active performance calendar in New York City at venues such as the Blue Note, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Minton’s Playhouse, and Smalls Jazz Club.

Pianist Matthew Sheens is a genre-bending jazz composer, pianist and versatile sideman. Described by Downbeat magazine as a “muscular” pianist, he has performed at U.S. and international jazz festivals and arranged and composed for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Czech National Symphony, and the Saint Thomas’ Episcopal Church.   

Kate McGarry and Keith Ganz

With 7 critically acclaimed albums and 3 GRAMMY™ nominations, vocalist Kate McGarry is recognized as a jazz artist who brings authenticity and vitality to every song regardless of genre. The Wall St. Journal calls her music, “austere and elegant, an exceptionally appealing blend of folk and jazz.” The New York Times pronounced her singing, “astute and sensitive.” She has toured and recorded with jazz illuminati Fred Hersch, Kurt Elling, Maria Schneider, John Hollenbeck, Billy Childs, Luciana Souza, Theo Bleckmann and TONY Award Winner Jason Robert Brown.

During her decade in NYC, McGarry served as a Lincoln Center Teaching Artist, U.S. State Department Jazz Ambassador, and Jazz Arts faculty member at The Manhattan School of Music. Downbeat’s 2016 Critics Poll named McGarry the #1 Rising Star Female Jazz Vocalist.

She has been featured on iconic NPR shows such as Jazz Set w/DeeDee Bridgwater, Piano Jazz w/Marion McPartland, All Things Considered, as well as a host of nationally syndicated radio shows.

Guitarist/arranger/producer Keith Ganz is a 2019 GRAMMY™ nominee known for his uniquely melodic voice on both electric and acoustic guitars. Lauded as a “sublime master of subtlety” by JazzTimes, Keith has performed extensively with major jazz artists including Harry Connick, Jr., Tierney Sutton, Luciana Souza, Kurt Elling, Gretchen Parlato, Gary Versace, and Jo Lawry. TV appearances include Oprah, Ellen, The Late Show with David Letterman, The View, and Australian Idol.

Kate and Keith have been musical and life partners for 17 years, producing 6 critically acclaimed albums together and earning two GRAMMY™ nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Album. After honing their craft on the NYC jazz scene for many years and a stint out west at the California Jazz Conservatory, the couple has made their home in Durham, NC. Their upcoming album What to Wear in the Dark features vibrant, jazzfueled rearrangements of songs by iconic songwriters of the 70’s that address the journey of darkness to light we’ve been traveling as a country and as individuals this year, with performances by jazz greats Ron Miles, Gary Versace, Obed Calvaire, Sean Smith, Clarence Penn, Becca Stevens, Erin Bentlage, Michelle Willis, Christian Euman, and James Shipp.

Pasquale Grasso

It was the kind of endorsement most rising guitarists can only dream of, and then some. In his interview for Vintage Guitar magazine’s February 2016 cover story, Pat Metheny was asked to name some younger musicians who had impressed him. The best guitar player I’ve heard in maybe my entire life is floating around now, Pasquale Grasso,” said the jazz-guitar icon and NEA Jazz Master. “This guy is doing “This guy is doing something so amazingly musical and so difficult. “Mostly what I hear now are guitar players who sound a little bit like me mixed with a little bit of [John Scofield] and a little bit of [Bill Frisell],” he continued. “What’s interesting about Pasquale is that he doesn’t sound anything like that at all. In a way, it is a little bit of a throwback, because his model—which is an which is an
incredible model to have—is Bud Powell. He has somehow captured the essence of that language from piano onto guitar in a way that almost nobody has ever addressed.
 He’s the most significant new guy I’ve heard in many, many years.”

 Born in Italy and now based in New York City, the 30-year-
old guitarist has developed an astounding technique and concept informed not by jazz guitarists so much as by bebop pioneers like Powell, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie and the classical-guitar tradition.In 2015, he won the Wes Montgomery International Jazz Guitar Competition in New York City, taking home a $5,000 prize and performing with guitar legend Pat Martino’s organ trio. Last year at D.C.’s Kennedy Center, as part of the NEA Jazz Masters Tribute Concert, Grasso participated in a special performance to honor Pat Metheny, alongside his guitar-wunderkind peers Dan Dan Wilson, Camila Meza, Gilad Hekselman and Nir Felder. These days, Grasso teaches and maintains a packed gig schedule around New York, including frequent solo performances at the popular Greenwich Village haunt Mezzrow, where a regular Monday-night gig allowed him to develop his solo-arranging skillset. Not that Grasso thinks his work is done. “All [of the musicians I love are] inspiration for me to get new ideas and form my style, because it’s still growing,” Pasquale says. “And it’s gonna be growing until the day I die.”

JULIA KEEFE

Julia Keefe is a nationally acclaimed Native American jazz vocalist, actor, educator and activist currently based in New York City. Her musical mission is the celebration of fellow Coeur d’Alene tribe member Mildred Baily. Baily was a Native American blues singer and the first woman vocalist to sing in front of a big band in the early 30s. She was an inspiration for  contemporaries including Billie Holiday, Helen Ward and Ella Fitzgerald. A 1944 Time Magazine review of her show at Cafe’ Society in New York called Mildred Baily “just about the greatest song bird in the U.S.” Keefe is an honors graduate of the University of Miami majoring in jazz performance. She earned her Masters from the Manhattan School of Music. She has adopted vintage jazz, the music of the 30s, 40s and 50s including “Rocking Chair Blues”, Midred Baily’s signature song. Julia has performed at the Smithsonian and opened for Tony Bennett and Esperanza Spaulding.  In addition to her jazz career Julia has appeared in television and several films.

LASZLO GARDONY​

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.

SCOTT HAMILTON

He moved to New York in 1976 at the age of twenty-two, and through Roy Eldridge, with whom he had played a year previously in Boston, got a six-week gig at Michael’s Pub. Eldridge also paved the way for him to work with Anita O’Day and Hank Jones. Although it was the tail-end of the old New York scene, a lot of the greats were still playing and he got to work and learn from people like Eldridge, Illinois Jacquet, Vic Dickenson and Jo Jones. Eldridge was Scott’s champion, but pulled no punches, and could be extremely critical, something for which Hamilton has always been grateful. In December of the same year John Bunch got Hamilton his first recording date, for Famous Door, and was also responsible for him joining Benny Goodman. He continued to work with Goodman at different times until the early 1980s.

In 1977 he formed his own quartet, which later became a quintet, with Bunch added to the group. The same year Carl Jefferson heard him, and began recording him for his Concord record label. More than forty albums later he is still recording for them, having made many under his own leadership, several with his regular British quartet of John Pearce, Dave Green and Steve Brown, including his latest, Nocturnes & Serenades. The Quartet plus two guests, Dave Cliff and Mark Nightingale recorded Our Delight! for Alan Barnes’ Woodville label. A new release, Across the Tracks on Concorde was released in 2009. Along the way he has made albums with Dave McKenna, Jake Hanna, Woody Herman, Tony Bennett, Gerry Mulligan, Flip Phillips, Maxine Sullivan, Buddy Tate, Warren Vache, many with Rosemary Clooney and a number with another of his mentors, Ruby Braff, with whom he played residencies at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, London in the mid-1980s. Over the years Scott has also performed and recorded with such touring bands as the Concord Jazz All Stars, the Concord Super Band and George Wein’s Newport Jazz Festival All Stars.

For some years he was based in London, where he first played in 1978, but now travels the world from Italy. Each year, in addition to two or three residencies with the quartet at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, British jazz club dates and festival work including Brecon, where he is one of the patrons, he regularly tours Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Japan, Spain and Italy. He returns to America three or four times a year to play at festivals, including in 2007, the New York JVC festival in June and Irvine, California in September, and in February 2008 for three nights at the Lincoln Centre New York.

His playing has best been described by fellow tenor saxophonist and writer, Dave Gelly: “Following a Scott Hamilton solo is like listening to a great conversationalist in full flow. First comes the voice, the inimitable, assured sound of his tenor saxophone, then the informal style and finally the amazing fluency and eloquent command of the jazz language.” Scott was awarded the ‘Ronnie’ for International Jazz Saxophonist of the Year in the 2007 inaugural Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Awards. It is no wonder that Scott Hamilton is in demand all over the world.

Carlos Odria

The Carlos Odria Trio is a high-energy fusion band that performs original compositions and arrangements of jazz standards and Latin American popular music. Peruvian-born guitarist Carlos Odria has been described as a “breathtakingly talented musician…with an immense technical skill” (Worcester Telegram) and as a “guitar wizard” (Gamble Rogers Fest). His original compositions and arrangements of jazz standards and Latin American tunes deliver an exciting blend of international styles such as bossanova, Afro-Peruvian festejo, rumba flamenca, and Afro-Caribbean vibes with an improvisational approach inspired by the rich tradition of American jazz. He holds a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from Florida State University, where he also obtained a Certificate in Music of the Americas. He studied classical and Latin American folk guitar with acclaimed Peruvian guitarist Pepe Torres. Later on, he pursued advanced jazz studies with Richie Zellon, jazz guitar arranging with Leo Welch, and Venezuelan cuatro at the Jose Luis Paz Conservatory in Maracaibo, Venezuela. He is currently an asistant professor of Music and Interdisciplinary Art at Worcester State University. Joining Mr. Oria will be Tom Kubelczyk on bass and Thomas Spears on the drum set.

ROSSANO SPORTIELLO​

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.

LUCY YEGHIAZARYAN​​

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.

Robert Wyatt

Mr. Wyatt has been a lecture/recitalist at the Smithsonian Institution for thirty years, and served for two years as an exhibition artist for the Smithsonian’s Piano 300 exhibitholds three degrees in piano performance, has also performed at the Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., Steinway Hall and the 92Y in New York, and Boston’s Jordan Hall and the Museum of Fine Arts.

Although blues music was spun by slaves on southern plantations as an oral tradition, classic female blues emerged early in the 20th century as a mixture of traditional folk blues and urban theater. Appearing onstage with pianists or small jazz combos, dazzling pioneers like Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith and Ethel Waters catapulted the vocal form onto the world stage.

Known for his informative and entertaining presentations, Mr. Wyatt will trace the evolution of women blues singers using audio and video clips and a colorful PowerPoint presentation.

 

2022/23 FALMOUTH JAZZ ARTISTS​