to present concerts showcasing the rich and varied artistry of jazz."
"Stellar jazz in La Jolla"
Thursday, June 5, 7 PM and 9 PM: Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes
Come join us to celebrate the 25th anniversary season of the Athenaeum’s jazz program, which begins with this summer series of concerts in the Music Room of the Athenaeum library (at 1008 Wall Street in La Jolla). The series features rare local appearances by internationally-acclaimed jazz artists. Seating is limited, so early reservations are strongly suggested!
The series opens on Thursday, June 5, with two performances by husband and wife duo piano team Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes. As Athenaeum concertgoers know from his past appearances, Charlap is celebrated for his exceptional mastery of the classics of the American songbook. Veteran jazz writer Whitney Balliett wrote, “He knocks out both his musical contemporaries and his musical elders, some of whom are almost twice his age.” Two such elders have included saxophonists Gerry Mulligan and Phil Woods, both of whom chose Charlap for their own ensembles. JazzTimes wrote, “Charlap’s melodic charm, insouciant swing, and harmonic élan unfold with deceptive ease, recalling both Bill Evans and George Shearing.” Charlap’s partner in life and music, Renee Rosnes, has her own formidable list of credits, including membership in the quartets of Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, J.J. Johnson, James Moody, and Bobby Hutcherson, as well as larger ensembles such as the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Tribute Band, and the SFJazz Collective. Rosnes has released a series of acclaimed CDs on the Blue Note label, praised by the Los Angeles Times as “well-crafted, musically imaginative recordings that feature her crisp, bop-based improvisation and envelope-stretching compositions.”
Bill Charlap and Renee Rosnes have a unique musical connection. Two of the premier pianists in jazz, they are also a married couple. Together they create impassioned, eclectic and extraordinary piano duets. Of the couple’s debut Blue Note recording, DownBeat wrote, “The counterpoint and compatibiities are so perfectly balanced, the selections and arrangements so handsome, that ‘Double Portrait’ is a prize.”
Charlap is a two-time GRAMMY nominee and has performed with such leading artists as Gerry Mulligan, Phil Woods and Tony Bennett among others. Rosnes is a four-time JUNO award winner (Canadian equivalent of the GRAMMY) and has been a member of the bands of such jazz legends as JJ Johnson, Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, James Moody and Ron Carter.
“Charlap and Rosnes display a pair of artistic souls entwined, playing with such obvious empathy that they often sound like a single entity.”
“Both are exceptional players matching flawless technique with effortless lyricism, and their playing intermingles beautifully.”
“…a joy to behold, and an endorsement of marital bliss.”
Thursday, June 12, brings a rare West Coast date by the Jeff Ballard Trio, featuring master drummer Ballard with alto sax phenomenon Miguel Zenón and the extraordinary Lionel Loueke on guitar and voice. Known to Athenaeum audience members from past appearances in the Brad Mehldau Trio, FLY, and Chick Corea New Trio, Jeff Ballard steps out from his sideman duties to lead this all-star trio. With sounds ranging from forward-looking modern jazz to traditional African and Latin rhythms to heavy metal intensity, Ballard could have found no better partners than the Benin-born Loueke and Puerto Rico native Zenón. The two have imbibed the rhythms of their homelands and incorporated them into their own expansive sonic palettes, making them ideal foils for Ballard’s polyrhythmic approach. Loueke was mentored by Herbie Hancock and Terence Blanchard, and has worked with legends like Jack DeJohnette and Charlie Haden as well as peers such as Gretchen Parlato, Esperanza Spalding, and Robert Glasper. Zenón is a Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow who has forged a distinctive blend of jazz and Latin American folkloric music. He is also a founding member of the SFJAZZ Collective and has worked with the likes of Bobby Hutcherson, Fred Hersch, David Sánchez, and Steve Coleman.
The series continues on Wednesday, June 18, with the local debut of Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio, featuring Chilean-born tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana with bassist Pablo Menares and the esteemed Cuban drummer Francisco Mela. A rising star on New York City’s jazz scene, late last year Aldana became the first female instrumentalist to win the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition. The Washington Post wrote, “Aldana embodies a new sense of possibility and direction in jazz.” The New York Times commented, “Aldana takes her time, getting into the weight and texture of the notes, the pleasure of the sounds... She unspools frenetic phrases and open, flowing ones… She’s absorbed the ballad-playing tenor tradition of the 1940s and in other places she seems to link, within a few phrases, the Coltrane of the early ’60s and the Mark Turner of now.” The Boston Globe wrote, “Aldana and the Crash Trio moved through alternating sections of Afro-Latin grooves, straight-ahead swing, and out-of-tempo exploration… every solo felt personal—in the way an abstract run would break for an aside of funky riffs, or in the way Aldana would climb to the top of her altissimo and stay there, holding a final note on a softly fading vibrato.”
The series concludes on Thursday, July 17, with a return performance by New York-based vocalist Kendra Shank, with Geoffrey Keezer on piano, Hamilton Price on bass, and Zach Harmon on drums. Time magazine wrote, “Kendra Shank’s delectable voice—warm–toned, fine–grained, quietly sexy—sets her well apart from the crowd, as does her knack for picking unhackneyed, slightly off-center material. The up-tempo tunes swing hard; the ballads shimmer and shine.” The Los Angeles Times called her, “a standout... Her renderings of songs often took a reconstructive path, as she disassembled phrases, then reassembled them in her own imaginative fashion.” JazzTimes wrote, “Kendra Shank sounds like sunlight shining through a stained-glass window, her crystalline tone illuminating each song.Working her voice like a horn, she phrases inventively, whether crisp and sizzling or sensuously smoky.” The Boston Globe commented, “This vocalist makes lyrics believable, invents like an instrumentalist, and has an ear second to none for little-known and unknown tunes.” She is joined by the celebrated Geoffrey Keezer, veteran of the ensembles of Art Blakey, Art Farmer, Ray Brown, and Christian McBride, who has been called “an enormously skilled and creative pianist” (JazzTimes), “embodying the notion that 88 keys comprise a creative orchestra” (DownBeat ).
the Athenaeum’s jazz programs.
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