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JAZZY BOSTON - Nine days, 150 events for Boston’s Jazz Week 2007
(Published: April 20, 2007)

Everyone knows New Orleans is a jazz city, but Boston is about to earn some recognition too. When Jazz Week 2007 begins Saturday, Greater Boston will see a nine day, no-holds-barred explosion of jazz in all its varieties. More than 150 events will draw people to 50 clubs, restaurants, performance halls, museums, and other venues.

‘‘Boston has a dynamic jazz scene that is incredibly diverse,'' said Mark Harvey, co-chair of planning for Jazz Week. ‘‘You can find just about every style of jazz played at a very high level, all the way from traditional to the most experimental. Yet many people don't know about its breadth and depth.''

Jazz Week 2007 is a revival of similar jazz celebrations held in Boston from 1973-1983, until finances and volunteer commitment dried up. Nonetheless, in the 25 years since then, jazz has flourished in Greater Boston, fostered by musicians associated with Berklee School of Music and New England Conservatory of Music, as well as club owners and other jazz devotees.

‘‘There has been a steady buildup,

and now we're looking to bring the jazz community together and stimulate more interest,'' said Harvey, who also is co-leader of Jazz Boston and founder of the Aardvark Orchestra. ‘‘It's actually surprising to a lot of the jazz community that we have 150 events, because we don't often see jazz promoted under one umbrella.''

Timed as a tribute to Duke Ellington's birthday, April 29, 1899, Jazz Week also coincides with Jazz Appreciation Month, an April celebration launched in 2001 by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. It's spearheaded by the year-old Jazz Boston, a nonprofit promoting jazz, with broad support from the wider community, including Mayor Thomas Menino and the CEO Roundtable.

With many free and low-price events, Jazz Week aims to reach the broadest audience. Most events are in Boston, but Cambridge, Brookline, Norwell and suburbs west and north of the city have offerings.

‘‘We're hoping people will say, ‘Gee, I didn't know about that,' and to give them exposure to all varieties of jazz,'' said Harvey, who teaches jazz at MIT and will perform a birthday tribute to Ellington at the Museum of Fine Arts on April 29. ‘‘Like classical music, people prefer different types.''

Harvey, a trumpet player, loves jazz for many reasons, especially for its emotional range, creativity and improvisation.

‘‘It has great passion and can go from so many different feelings of sadness to great joy,'' Harvey said. ‘‘And the fact that musicians are spontaneously creating something is very exciting. The improvisation is like going on a journey.''

‘‘When musicians are working at their best, it electrifies an audience and does what you hope the best of all art does, which is to touch us and make a more human experience,'' Harvey said.

Ed Sorrentino, director of the jazz program at South Shore Conservatory and a professional percussionist, is looking forward to attending a number of performances.

‘‘I'm excited that Boston is doing this,'' Sorrentino said. ‘‘Jazz Week is filled with wonderful players.''

The week kicks off with the ‘‘All-Star Jazz Blowout,'' a New Orleans benefit concert Saturday at Berklee Performance Center with Max Weinberg, the drummer and band leader of ‘‘Late Night With Conan O'Brien,'' who has played with Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Paul McCartney and Peter Gabriel.

He's joined by Henri Smith, a New Orleans singer who lost his home in Hurricane Katrina, as well as the Rainbow Band, made up of all-star faculty and students from area universities and led by trombonist and arranger Phil Wilson.

‘‘Opening night is a wonderful cast of characters,'' Harvey said. ‘‘This benefit also enables the Boston jazz community to reach out to help its counterpart in the Crescent City, which is, after all, the birthplace of this wonderful music.''

Proceeds will benefit the New Orleans Habitat Musicians' Village in the Upper 9th Ward, a community promoted by jazz greats Harry Connick Jr. and Branford and Ellis Marsalis.

In fact, Ellis Marsalis, a New Orleans pianist and father of Branford and Wynton Marsalis, performs at Scullers Jazz Club in Cambridge. But most of the performers are local. Home to jazz giants Roy Haynes, Chick Corea and Tony Williams, Boston continues to nourish musicians ranging from 85-year-old pianist and vibraphone player Al Vega to 14-year-old saxophone player Grace Kelly. Both play during Jazz Week, as do trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, tenor sax Jerry Bergonzi, harpist Deborah Henson-Conant, vocalist Marianne Solivan, trumpeter Tiger Okoshi, pianist Ran Blake, and others.

Some venues are known for a specific kind of jazz. The Fringe performs at the Lily Pad in Cambridge, known for experimental jazz, and the Marianne Solivan Quartet plays at Les Zygomates Restaurant in Boston, known for mainstream jazz.

‘‘The Fringe is probably one of the most creative groups around,'' Sorrentino said. ‘‘They're just a great trio that works really well together.''

With so many types, jazz often is a fusion of many influences. That's especially apparent in the group Lyambiko, which plays Saturday at the Cambridge Multicultural Art Center and whose vocalist has both African and German heritage.

‘‘She's showing in her very essence the blending of jazz, as well as doing very interesting things,'' Harvey said.

Jazz Week also has a slew of Saturday and Sunday jazz brunches, along with free seminars at the Boston Public Library and family programs both Sundays at The Center for Latino Arts in the South End and the Cambridge Center for Adult Education in Cambridge.

While jazz largely remains part of urban life, it appears to be growing in popularity outside the city. Just four years ago, the South Shore Conservatory started a jazz program, which now includes an adult band, jazz ensembles, improvisation classes, jam sessions and public concerts. The James Library and Center for the Arts in Norwell hosts two jazz concerts this season, including one April 28 featuring the Felice Pomeranz Quartet. And five months ago, Tosca in Hingham began offering no-cover jazz in its lounge on Friday and Saturday nights. Sorrentino performs several times a month with the Jeff Williams Trio, featuring pianist Jeff Williams of Hull and Mike Ball of Brighton.

‘‘It's one of the few places on the South Shore where you can hear jazz,'' Sorrentino said. ‘‘Nowadays, people are really listening and clapping. I think they're appreciating jazz more.''


Day-by-day highlights from Jazz Week 2007:

-All-Star Jazz Blowout: Benefit for New Orleans Habitat Musicians' Village, 8 p.m. Saturday, Berklee Performance Center, 136 Mass. Ave., Boston. Tickets are $15 adults, $10 students and seniors. For tickets, call 617/931-2000 or 617/747-2261 or go to ticketmaster.com.

-Al Vega Trio, 8:30 p.m. - 12:30 a.m. Sunday, Lucky's Lounge, 355 Congress St., Boston. No cover. For more information, call 617-357-5825 or go to luckyslounge.com. No cover.

-The Fringe, 10 p.m. Monday, The Lily Pad, 1353 Cambridge St., Cambridge. Tickets are $10, $5 students. For tickets, call (617) 395-1393 lily-pad.net.

- Bob Brookmeyer with the New England Conservatory Jazz Composers Orchestra, 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jordan Hall, 30 Gainsborough St., Boston. Free. For information, call 617-585-1100 or go to newenglandconservatory.edu

-Rusty Scott Quartet, 8 p.m. to midnight Wednesday, Les Zygomates, 129 South St., Boston. No cover. For more information, call 617-542-5108 or go to winebar.com.

-Henri Smith & Nat Simpkins, 7-11 p.m. Thursday, Bob's Southern Bistro, 604 Columbus Ave., Boston. Tickets are $3-$5. For more information, call 617-536-6204 or go to bobssouthernbistro.com.

- Ellis Marsalis, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Scullers Jazz Club, Doubletree Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Rd, Cambridge. Tickets are $28. For information, 617-562-4111 or go to scullersjazz.com.

Felice Pomeranz Quartet, American Songbook and Latin Sounds, 7:30 p.m. April 28, James Library & Center for the Arts, 24 West St., Norwell. Tickets are $20 adults and $10 students. For more information, call 781-659-7100 or go to jameslibrary.org.

-The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra with Ran Blake, ‘‘Jazz in Film: Ellington & Beyond,'' 3:30 p.m. April 29, Remis Auditorium, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston. Tickets are $20 and $25. For tickets, call 617-369-3300 or go to webticketing@mfa.org

More Information: https://www.jazzboston.org/jazzweek

Submitted By: jazzears

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