Two Top Performers Give Artist Talks at Litchfield Jazz Fest

Ever wonder what goes into learning an instrument, composing the music, or choosing to become a professional player? Each summer, Litchfield Jazz Festival offers audience members the chance to meet festival stars up close to hear their personal stories and learn what shaped their lives in music.

The Festival’s Artist Talks are led by Frank Alkyer, Publisher of Down Beat Magazine, the world’s largest-distribution jazz magazine. DownBeat is a long- time sponsor of Litchfield Jazz Festival and Frank a well-informed, personable and witty interviewer. The talks take place in the intimate Student Stage Tent, and ticketholders are invited free of charge.

This year’s guest artists are clarinetist Ken Peplowski and saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa. Ken headlines the Saturday August 5th lineup with his Benny Goodman Tribute, featuring Bucky Pizzarelli on guitar, Joe Locke, vibes, Nicki Parrott, bass, Euhud Aherie, piano, and Matt Wilson, drums. His Artist Talk is scheduled for Saturday at 6:30 immediately before his set at 7:45.

The festival’s founder Vita Muir first met Ken on The Jazz Cruise, a popular straight-ahead music voyage in which he plays a key role when he is not touring the world. Muir applauds Ken’s teaching philosophy “My goal,” he says, is to get students to learn how to teach themselves and to learn how to bring out their own best qualities. After all, jazz is about individuality—first you learn the rules, and then you break them. I would like to think of myself as a lifelong student!”

On Sunday afternoon at 3:30 Frank Alkyer will be talking with Rudresh Mahanthappa. Rudresh is appearing on the fest at 4:45 with his Indo-Pac Coalition. A renowned saxophonist/composer and second-generation Tamil-American, his music blends progressive jazz and South Indian classical music in a fluid, forward-looking form. He has won many awards and polls, including the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and numerous first places for alto sax performance from Down Beat and the Jazz Journalists. He was appointed last year as the first Director of Jazz at Princeton University.

Litchfield Jazz Festival is sponsored in part by DownBeat Magazine, National Endowment for the Arts, Les Paul Foundation, NEFA, Republican American, Crystal Rock, Steinway, Telefunken, and the Wyndham Southbury. For a full list of sponsors, please visit

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