The Litchfield Jazz Festival continues a time honored tradition of showcasing jazz legends and fostering up-and-coming talent that has been in place since our first festival in 1996. The Litchfield Jazz Festival is taking place once again this year on Friday August 8 – Sunday August 10 at the Goshen Fair Grounds, Rte. 63 Goshen Connecticut.
Celebrate the kick off of the 19th Anniversary of the Litchfield Jazz Festival at the Goshen Fairgrounds on Friday, August 8th. The party is the event of the season where you’ll enjoy fine foods, private reserve French wines courtesy of Vandoren Vineyards, microbrews by the Olde Burnside Brewing Company and music all night long.
The Gala begins at 5:45 p.m. and the music starts at 7:45 p.m. with Cécile McLorin Salvant who was the youngest finalist ever in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2010. At 9:15 p.m. the virtuosic and playful, pianist Cyrus Chestnut’s hard swinging, soulful sounds have become a staple in the jazz community. Blending contemporary and traditional jazz with gospel and occasional seasonings of Latin and samba, Chestnut gives himself plenty of freedom to explore different emotions, while keeping his music in recognizable form.
On Saturday, August 9 the day begins at 12 noon with Carmen Staaf the winner of the 2009 Mary Lou Williams, t Women in Jazz Pianist Competition. Most recently she was chosen as the pianist in the prestigious Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music for the fall of 2014. She was featured on NPR’s JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater, with clips of her Kennedy Center performance at the 2010 Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival and She was the guest soloist with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra on a Jazz for Young People program about Duke Ellington.
At 1:45 Grammy-nominee Claudio Roditi takes the stage and plays both the trumpet and the flugelhorn with power and lyricism. Rodti integrates post-bop elements and Brazilian rhythmic concepts into his palette with ease.
At 3:30 Curtis Fuller performs. Fuller has close to 100 recordings on major labels with Kenny Dorham, Gil Evans, Jimmy Heath, Clifford Jordan, Quincy Jones, Art Blakey (he appears on the iconic Ugetsu), Lee Morgan and others too numerous to list. Fuller will be accompanies by Drummer Joe Farnsworth, Kris Jensen on sax and Rick Germanson on piano.
Anthony Strong performs at 6 p.m. and makes his US debt at the festival. He is a product of London’s renowned Guildhall School of Music where he paid his way with gigs and sessions with artists like Michael Bolton, Marti Pellow and Beverley Knight. He also spent nine months in the West End as Jerry Lee Lewis in Million Dollar Quartet, performing to thousands of theatre-goers, one of them Rod Stewart, who came back the following day and called Strong’s performance “(expletive) Amazing!!” BB King called it, “Real great music.”
Saturday ends with a performance at 7:45 p.m. with Kirk Whalum, well known for his smooth jazz saxophone. With a career that spans decades, he is an 11-time Grammy nominee and the winner of the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Gospel Song (Its What I Do, featuring Lalah Hathaway) alongside his lifelong friend songwriter, Jerry Peters.
On Sunday, August 10 at 12 noon Doug Munro takes to the stage. The LJO features-a who’s who of the biggest names in the music industry including: Trumpets -Dave Ballou, Russ Johnson and Nick Roseboro; Trombones – Peter McEachern, Nicole Connelly, Daniel Simms; Saxes – (alto) Kris Allen, (alto) Caroline Davis, (tenor) Don Braden, (tenor) Tom Finn, (bari) Andrew Hadro; Bass – Avery Sharpe; Drums – Robin Baytas; Guitars – Doug Munro, Ken Ross; Violin – Andrei Matorin.
At 1:45 p.m. Bassist/composer Mario Pavone takes to the stage. He has 17 recordings as a leader/co-leader, including his acclaimed 2006 release, Deez to Blues, on Playscape Recordings. Among his awards are a NewWorks grant from Chamber Music America/Doris Duke Foundation and a Distinguished Artists Grant from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts. In addition to his ongoing activities as a bandleader, Pavone’s artwork and photography have graced the covers of dozens of recordings.
The Jimmy Greene Quartet performs at 3:45 p.m. The Jimmy Greene Quartet performs regularly in jazz venues, festivals and clubs worldwide. Jimmy appears on over 70 albums as a sideman, and has toured and/or recorded with Horace Silver, Tom Harrell, Freddie Hubbard, Harry Connick, Jr., Avishai Cohen, Kenny Barron, Lewis Nash, Steve Turre, the New Jazz Composers Octet and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, among many others. As a member of Harrell’s quintet, Greene was featured on CBS’s news magazine, 60 Minutes. As a member of Harry Connick Jr.’s Big Band, he is a featured soloist on two DVD releases, Harry for the Holidays, and Only You, and NBC He was holiday special and the Today Show.
At 5:30 p.m. Mike Stern band featuring Janek Gwizdala on bass, Bob Franceschini on sax, and Lionel Cordew on drums takes to the stage. Stern has been in the jazz business three decades and he has played with everybody anybody in jazz would have loved to have played with. He is a multi-Grammy nominated guitarist and was named one of the 75 best guitarists of all time by DownBeat Magazine in its 75th anniversary issue.
The festival ends with a performance by Jane Bunnett and Maqueque at 7:15 p.m. Soprano saxophonist/flutist/bandleader Jane Bunnett has built her career at the crossroads of Cuban music and jazz. A two-time Grammy nominee and multiple Juno Award winner, and recipient of an honorary doctorate from Queen’s University, Bunnett has turned her bands into showcases for the finest talent from Canada, the U.S., and, particularly, Cuba. She is responsible for introducing, over two decades, Cuban musicians who are now almost household words for American Jazz audiences– Dafnis Prieto, Pedrito Martínez, David Virelles, Hilario Duran, among others.
Photo: Steven Sussman