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(Published: September 03, 2016)

The busy, expanding, thoroughly-satisfying jazz scene in what is called the "Triangle" area of the Piedmont section of North Carolina (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill) just keeps getting better and better. Who needs the New York or the D.C. jazz scene when everybody seems to be coming this way? The area can boast of several venues that present jazz like, C. Grace's, Irregardless Café, Brasa's, Sullivan's and Bia in Raleigh; The Beyu Cafe, The Carolina Theatre (www.carolinatheatre.org), Motorco Music Hall, Blue Note Grill, Durham Jazz Workshop, Shed Jazz Club, Sharp Nine Gallery, Nzinga's and the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham; and Piola's, Weaver Street, The Station, The Second Wind, Looking Glass Cafe and The Arts Center in Chapel Hill/Carrboro. The scene is also enhanced by the music presented by the three main universities in the area: Duke University in Durham (Duke Performances, (www.dukeperformances.duke.edu), North Carolina State University (NC State LIVE (www.live.arts.ncsu.edu) and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) (Carolina Performing Arts, www.carolinaperformingarts.org).

In addition, other area colleges and universities present live jazz and have outstanding jazz studies program and jazz ensembles. North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham has nationally-acclaimed, award-winning jazz ensembles, under the direction of saxophonist, Dr. Ira Wiggins. They have performed at The White House twice and at The Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Durham resident saxophonist Branford Marsalis was recently an artist-in-residence at NCCU, and vocalist Nnnena Freelon, who also lives in Durham, has been featured at several of NCCU jazz events.

A good sign that the Triangle jazz scene is growing is the very pleasant emergence of organizations dedicated to jazz: The Art of Cool Project in Durham, The North Carolina Jazz Listening Group, and The Triangle Jazz Society, which has been around since 2005. In April 2016, The Art Of Cool Project presented an excellent three day concert affair that was a tremendous success that featured a host of all-star musicians, including Kamasi Washington, Terrence Blanchard, The Internet, Thundercat, Nicholas Payton, Charenee Wade, The North Carolina Central University (NCCU) Big Band and others. The local music lovers are still talking about it and can hardly wait for the 2017 edition of The Art Of Cool Festival (www.aocfestival.org) to come around. The area is also fortunate enough to have two 24-hour jazz radio stations, NCCU' s WNCU-FM, Durham (which will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2015), and Shaw University's WSHA-FM, Raleigh. Other radio stations, such as WCOM-FM, Chapel Hill-Carrboro's community station, Duke University's WXDU-FM, and UNC-CH's WXYC-FM, also program jazz music. WXYC-FM , WNCU-FM and WSHA-FM have all held jazz concerts this past year.

This robust, contagious wonderful jazz activity makes for a jazz scene that is just as hip as any scene in the nation, or the world for that matter. Where else, can you hear radio stations playing the music day and night, experience live jazz in the clubs, colleges and the universities, and have an abundance of jazz studies programs in almost all of the area's institutions of higher learning, including high schools? Jazz heaven maybe. This Triangle jazz community is enjoying jazz heaven very well. It also knows its jazz music and all will smile and be highly pleased with the upcoming, splendid, variety-packed 2016-17 jazz music season.

The fall jazz season gets started when The Sixth Annual John Coltrane Jazz and Blues Festival (www.coltranejazzfset.com), takes place, Labor Day weekend, (September 3 and 4, 2016) in his hometown of High Point, North Carolina, about an hour and half east of the Triangle area of the state. This year's Coltrane festival edition includes Esperanza Spaulding, Gregory Porter, Ramsey Lewis and Dee Bridgewater, Kenny G, Latin Jazz All-Stars and others. On September 25, 2016, Duke Performances presents The Billy Hart Quartet, at the 21c Museum Hotel Durham, in downtown Durham, North Carolina.

On October 1, 2016, Duke University Jazz Studies presents The John Brown Quintet and "Little" Big Band with pianist Cyrus Chestnut, at Baldwin Auditorium, on Duke University's East Campus. Chick Corea Elektric Band is scheduled to perform at the Carolina Theater, in downtown Durham, on October 15, 2016. On October 21, 2016, The Glenn Miller Band will be at The Seby B. Jones Performing Center in Louisburg, North Carolina (www.jpacarts.com). The next night, October 22, 2016, North Carolina State University (NCSU) will present Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio, at the Stewart Theatre on the campus of NCSU, in Raleigh, North Carolina. This one should be well-attended and could be called the one to see of this exciting season. On October 29, 2016, Duke Performances presents Antonio Sanchez, the drummer, in Reynolds Theater, on Duke University's campus. The month of October ends on a bright note in Cary, North Carolina at The Cary Arts Center, on October 30, 2016, with The Philharmonic Association Triangle Youth Jazz Ensembles Fall Concert

November starts off nicely, on November 4, 2016 with a performance featuring the Duke Jazz and Djembe Ensembles with trumpeter Wayne Bergeron, appearing at Baldwin Auditorium, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. On November 19, 2016, the pianist/composer Billy Childs is scheduled to perform at Stewart Theater, on the campus of North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina. His concert, which has won rave reviews, is called "Reimagining Laura Nyro." The next month, on December 1, 2016, the master and legend saxophonist Charles Lloyd and his group Marvel, performs at Page Auditorium, Duke University. The following evening, the extremely talented pianist Christian Sands is set to play with The Duke University Jazz Ensemble, in Baldwin Auditorium. The same night, December 2, 2016, as well as the following night, December 3, 2016, another fine pianist, Gerald Clayton along with vocalist Lizz Wright, are scheduled to appear at Reynolds Industries Theater, Duke University. Later in December, 2016, The Carolina Performing Arts, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), presents a holiday concert featuring Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra, December 10, 2016, at Memorial Hall, on the campus of UNC-CH.

The spring season of jazz programing in Triangle, North Carolina, should start the new year of 2017 off in a tasteful, happy way with a repeat concert from last year when North Carolina residents, saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianist Joey Calderazzo play as a duo for two nights, January 13 and 14, at Baldwin Auditorium, on Duke University's East Campus. On January 26, 2016, the much-in-demand guitarist Pat Metheny and his group, are set to hit the stage at The Carolina Theater, downtown Durham, North Carolina. The month of February, 2016, includes two excellent, exciting concerts-February 17, 2016, the always delightfully swinging pianist Marcus Roberts and this group, at Memorial Hall, on the campus of UNC-CH, and on two nights, February 24 and 25, 2016, Arturo O'Farrill and his Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble on with The Malpaso Dance Company, at Reynolds Industries, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. On March 7, 2016, the much-acclaimed pianist, Vjay Iyer and his Sextet, comes to the area to play at Memorial Hall, on the campus of UNC-CH. Anat Cohen Quartet is scheduled to perform, on March 18, 2016, at The 21c Museum Hotel Durham, in the downtown Durham. Duke Performances finishes the spring season in supreme style two unique events The first one is the much-anticipated return trip of vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant, who put on a stellar show last year at Duke University. She and her group will be performing, April 15, 2016, at Baldwin Auditorium. Then, on April 30, 2016, Duke Performances presents what should really be ear candy with the appearance of the bassist Chrsitian McBride and his trio, at The 21c Museum Hotel Durham, downtown Durham, North Carolina.
Whew! What a fine, fruitful, uplifting jazz season 2016-17, looks to be in the Triangle area of North Carolina and one that will get better and better as time goes by. We've gone full circle. Jazz musicians used to leave the state. Now they coming back to the place where Trane, Monk Max, Nina and Percy were born. The music is alive and well in North Carolina and the proof is in the pudding. Viva the Carolina Jazz Connection!
More Information: http://carolinajazzconnec...
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