Jazz Corridor

Owen McNally writes about jazz and other music events in Connecticut's Jazz Corridor, stretching from the tip of Fairfield County, right through New Haven and Hartford, and on up beyond the state into the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts. Keep up with the best our area has to offer in music.

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A welcome wave of South American hipness accompanied by mixed amounts of soothing coolness and refreshing warmth is forecast for Connecticut this weekend, thanks to appearances by the Argentine-born singer/songwriter/arranger Gabriela Anders at the Palace Theater in Waterbury, and the native Brazilian pianist/singer Abelita Mateus at the Hartford Public Library.

Myles Boisen

Like a perpetual motion machine, Rova, the iconoclastic saxophone quartet, keeps running full speed ahead in its endless quest to discover new music, to boldly go on uncharted paths of expression anywhere in the endless reaches of the sonic universe.

While the voraciously eclectic and boundlessly energetic jazz pianist/composer Alon Nechushtan boldly bends and blends all genres with his steely-fingered technique, flooding the keyboard with shimmering notes and angular ideas held together with an overarching, complex architecture, his music is accessible, even delightful. 

Joseph A. Rosen

Classy offerings for the winter/spring season of 2016 burst out of the claustrophobic confines of any top ten category. 

Hartford Public Library

The Hartford Public Library's free Baby Grand Jazz has morphed from years of obscurity to become one of the hottest, most popular jazz events in town. 

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The New England Jazz Ensemble ushers in the New Year with pianist/arranger Walter Gwardyak's acclaimed jazz band adaptation of Sergei Prokofiev's classic "Peter and the Wolf."

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If you're looking for the perfect last-minute holiday gift for either a devout jazz fan or even a jazz skeptic, your best bet is the impassioned, madly inventive yet readily accessible The Complete Concert by the Sea, a splendid, Grammy-nominated, three-CD boxed set reissue of Erroll Garner's classic, live 1955 performance that became one of the best-selling jazz albums ever.

Jimmy Katz

Inspired by the age-old Delta blues, Noah Preminger and his delta force quartet create a 21st century re-imagining of two soul-drenched songs by legendary blues singer Bukka White on the young tenor saxophonist's dynamic, new album, Pivot: Live at the 55 Bar, a jazz bistro in Greenwich Village.

Timothy White

Besides being a swinging guitarist and a cool but emotionally expressive vocalist, John Pizzarelli is also an amusing stand-up humorist who digs connecting with his audience.

Adam Sjoberg

A venerable poem written 140 years ago by an unconquerably positive and invincibly sentimental Victorian scribe is the inspiration for a hip, 21st-century jazz drummer/composer's new CD, an irrepressibly soulful work that makes its Connecticut debut this weekend.

Jimmy Katz

With lush string accompaniment, saxophonist/composer Jimmy Greene later this month presents music from his acclaimed 2014 album, Beautiful Life, his deeply moving, eloquent homage to the life of his beloved daughter, Ana Grace Marquez-Greene.

joefonda.com

Bassist/composer Joe Fonda, long an irrepressible, dynamic force in the world of cutting-edge music, outdoes himself as a bold impresario/producer with his Tenth Annual Connecticut Composers Festival, a combustible mix whose catalytic elements start crackling on Saturday, November 14 at 7:30 pm at Middletown's Buttonwood Tree.

Logan Grendel

An alchemist/anarchist who blends jazz with gritty grunge rock, classical chops, turbo-powered passages, funky backbeats and sweet, salon-like moods, Michael Gallant and his trio celebrate his new release with a surprise-packed performance on Friday, November 6, at 8:00 pm at Middletown's The Buttonwood Tree.

joshevansmusic.com

Josh Evans, the Hartford-born trumpet phenomenon, launches the Hartford Jazz Society's fall Concert and Workshop Series with a compelling, powerful jolt as he leads his electrifying big band on Friday, October 30, at 8:00 pm at the Polish National Home at 60 Charter Oak Avenue in Hartford.

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Sean Clapis’s fine new CD, The Unseen River (RMI Records), is a smooth-sailing, adventurous cruise that reveals the gifted, Hartford-born guitarist/composer’s fluent style and expressive depths streaming from dreamy reverie and elegant eulogy to steamy sophistication.

Ali Hasbauch

As a toddler, Frank Vignola would sit for hours on the floor in the living room right up close to his father’s bulky, state-of-the-art stereo, totally mesmerized by the enchanting guitar sounds of Les Paul and Bucky Pizzarelli magically wafting out of the imposing twin speakers that towered above him. 

Eric Devine

If you love traditional jazz and an amicable, intimate setting where you can schmooze and nosh at ease with your favorite performers, you should be right at home at Jeff and Joel’s House Party, a vintage music bash that runs full steam ahead from Friday, October 9, through Sunday, October 11, at the VFW Hall, 104 Mill Road in Guilford.

Courtesy Atla DeChamplain

Atla and Matt DeChamplain, former high school sweethearts who have become one of Connecticut’s premier jazz power couples, debut their first album done together at a festive CD release concert on Friday, October 2, with shows at 7:00 and 9:00 pm at the Palace Theater Poli Club at 100 East Main Street in Waterbury.

Michael Crommett / Courtesy of Amir ElSaffar

Hailed by Down Beat magazine as “an exquisite alchemist” for his magical blend of traditional Middle Eastern motifs with free-wheeling jazz elements, the Iraqi-American, Chicago-born trumpeter/composer Amir ElSaffar has made a breakthrough discovery with his latest album, Crisis (Pi Recordings).

John Abercrombie

Perhaps best known for his long, amazingly fruitful relationship with Manfred Eicher’s ECM Records, guitarist John Abercrombie has enjoyed such a diverse, distinguished career that you can’t lock up his restless, lyrical artistry into any one air-tight, neatly convenient category, not even with the venerable ECM label.

Rory Anderson / Quincy Jones Productions

The close teacher-to-pupil, father-to-son-like relationship that developed between the dying, nonagenarian trumpet great Clark Terry and his last protégé, the young, gifted blind pianist Justin Kauflin, was the highly moving, emotional core of director Alan Hicks’s excellent, award-winning documentary, "Keep On Keepin’ On."

Daniel Feingold / Hartford Jazz Society

More than a half-century ago, a small, devout band of jazz-loving members of a then obscure, but courageous group called The Hartford Jazz Society launched HJS’s first riverboat jazz cruise on the Connecticut River.

Carlos Hernandez Chavez

Renowned region-wide since 2007 for its abundant servings of savory, red-hot Latin sounds and friendly, festive communal vibe, the free, outdoor Ray Gonzalez Latin Jazz and Salsa Festival presents its annual sizzling summer celebration in downtown Hartford on Saturday, August 29, from 5:00 to 10:00 pm at Mortensen Riverfront Plaza.

Corey Lynn Tucker Photography / Courtesy Isabella Mendes

Just as she’s fluent and elegantly at ease in both Portuguese and English, the rising, young Brazilian-born, singer/songwriter and pianist Isabella Mendes is also much at home with her seemingly contradictory dual careers in music and engineering.

Courtesy of Chuchito Valdes

If Cuban pianist Chuchito Valdes is intimidated by the burden of being the heir apparent to his family’s dynasty of world-renowned keyboard kingpins, you’d never know it from his regal virtuosity and royal touch and tone crowned by a majestic expressiveness that can hurl sonic thunderbolts and release endless torrents of joy.

Avery Sharpe

When Avery Sharpe, the standout standup jazz bassist, was a little boy growing up in the still segregated South, he’d often tag along with his mother, a gifted gospel pianist and devout member of the Church of God in Christ, when she played sacred music everywhere from emotionally powerful services in sanctified churches and tabernacles to fervent tent revival meetings.

Stephane Colbert / Dan Brubeck

With heartfelt devotion, drummer/composer Dan Brubeck pays tribute to his parents, the pianist/composer Dave Brubeck and the lyricist/librettist Iola Brubeck, with his new, consummately crafted, unpretentious release, Celebrating the Music and Lyrics of Dave and Iola Brubeck.

David Redfern / Getty Images

Miles Davis, the innovative trumpet genius, and George Wein, the visionary festival producer/impresario, were not exactly as close, say, as Damon and Pythias, what with the seemingly inevitable bumps and disagreements that popped up now and then over the long, fruitful friendship and professional relationship between these two titanic forces in jazz.

Dennis Stock

Although Bill Crow has been an excellent and industrious bassist and consummate sideman since the height of the Golden Age of modern jazz in the 1950s, the 87-year-old jazzman might well be most celebrated for his groundbreaking accomplishments as a writer and grand master compiler and preserver of classic jazz humor in his famously funny and invaluable collection, Jazz Anecdotes.

Joyce DiCamillo

Classically trained and a member of the elite International Roster of Steinway Artists, the Stamford-born-and-bred pianist Joyce DiCamillo is most celebrated for her three decades of consummate mastery of the fine art of the jazz piano trio.

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