2017-18 Jazz Series
Friday, Nov. 3, 2017 / 7:30 p.m.
Lizz Wright has been the recipient of nonstop critical acclaim and ever-increasing audiences ever since her Verve debut. Like so many vocal greats, Wright began her singing in the church. For her it was a small church in Hahira, Ga., where her father served as musical director and where she soaked up the sounds of songs of faith. She was also surrounded by varied types of secular music at home, especially jazz and soul. Wright moved to Atlanta in the late ’90s to attend Georgia State University and began singing classical repertoire under Dwight Coleman. She also began singing jazz, both solo and as part of the popular local group In The Spirit. She made a name for herself in other parts of the country in 2002 as part of a touring concert tribute to Billie Holiday, where her poised, emotive performance stole the show.
A year later, Wright was signed by Verve Records and worked with legendary jazz producer Tommy LiPuma on her debut album, Salt. It topped the contemporary jazz charts and became one of the most acclaimed albums of 2003, mixing standards with new material and styles ranging from gospel to soul to jazz to blues with ease. And her clear, deep voice and mature phrasing certainly belied her age (then 23).
Over her four albums (Salt, Dreaming, The Orchard and Fellowship) Wright has demonstrated she is a top-notch songwriter and also has the interpretive skills to become a premier popular song stylist.
LU Jazz Ensemble
Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017 / 7:30 p.m.
British saxophone legend Tim Garland, world-leading vibraphone virtuoso Joe Locke and recent Grammy nominee pianist Geoffrey Keezer create a unique three-way dialogue of captivating, immersive music. Bringing their different styles and backgrounds together, they create music that can be spacious or immensely complex, delicate but often approaching orchestral depth, and collectively find their way into a new mood or feel before the listener knows they have left the old one. Their spontaneous interaction, the dovetailing, the assertion of contrasting yet mutually supportive roles are all taken to a new level on this recording. This enduring international alliance of jazz giants is celebrating its 10th anniversary with this album and concerts throughout Europe and the U.S.
Joe Lovano Classic Quartet
Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 / 8 p.m.
Grammy-winning saxophonist and composer Joe Lovano stands alone at the vanguard of large- and small-group jazz. From his Grammy-nominated symphonic work to his role as Gary Burton Chair of Jazz Performance at Berklee College of Music, the Cleveland native fearlessly challenges and pushes his conceptual and thematic ventures in a quest for new modes of artistic expression and new ways to define the jazz idiom. In 2014 Lovano won awards for Multi-reeds Player and Tenor Saxophonist of the Year from the Jazz Journalists Association and Tenor Saxophonist of the Year from DownBeat magazine. He has released 23 celebrated albums on the Blue Note label, with the last three focusing on his quintet Us Five.
In Joe Lovano’s Classic Quartet, Lovano will explore the rich history of mainstream jazz through swing and bebop, ever soulful. An active proponent of straight-ahead jazz, notably collaborating with Hank Jones 10 years ago, Lovano drives the edges while honoring the structures.
Vijay Iyer Sextet
Friday, May 11, 2018 / 8 p.m.
Grammy-nominated composer-pianist Vijay Iyer was described by Pitchfork as “one of the most interesting and vital young pianists in jazz today,” by Los Angeles Weekly as “a boundless and deeply important young star” and by Minnesota Public Radio as “an American treasure.” He has been voted DownBeat magazine’s Artist of the Year three times—in 2016, 2015 and 2012. Iyer was named DownBeat’s 2014 Pianist of the Year, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow and a 2012 Doris Duke Performing Artist. In 2014 he began a permanent appointment as the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts in the Department of Music at Harvard University.
The New York Times observes, “There’s probably no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output of the pianist Vijay Iyer.” Iyer has released 20 albums covering remarkably diverse terrain, most recently for the ECM label. The latest include A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke (2016), a collaboration with Iyer’s “hero, friend and teacher,” Wadada Leo Smith, which the Los Angeles Times calls “haunting, meditative and transportive”; Break Stuff (2015), with a coveted five-star rating in DownBeat, featuring the Vijay Iyer Trio, hailed by PopMatters as “the best band in jazz”; Mutations (2014), featuring Iyer’s music for piano, string quartet and electronics, which “extends and deepens his range … showing a delicate, shimmering, translucent side of his playing” (Chicago Tribune); and Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi (2014), “his most challenging and impressive work, the scintillating score to a compelling film by Prashant Bhargava” (DownBeat), performed by International Contemporary Ensemble and released on DVD and Blu-ray.