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PREVIEW: THE TRIANGLE NORTH CAROLINA 2017-18 JAZZ SEASON SHOULD KEEP US ALL SWINGING STRAIGHT AHEAD! by LARRY RENI THOMAS
(Published: August 12, 2017)

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, and The Empress Room 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, Ubuntu Artspace and the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham; and 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, The CoCo Jazz Arts Community and The Durham Jazz Renaissance Foundation. In April 2017, The Art Of Cool Project presented its fourth annual excellent three day concert affair that was a tremendous success that featured a host of all-star musicians, including Dr. Lonnie Smith, Christian Scott, Igmar Thomas's Revive Big Band, Common, and George Clinton and The Funkadelics. The local music lovers are still talking about it and can hardly wait for the 2018 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 has been on the air since 1995), 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 on a regular basis.


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 2017-18 jazz music season.


The fall jazz season gets started when The Fifth Annual John Coltrane Jazz and Blues Festival (www.coltranejazzfset.com), takes place, Labor Day weekend, (September 2 and 3, 2017) 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 lineup includes Eddie Palmieri, Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderazzo, Spyro Gyro, Gerald Albright and others. Also, in the month of September, guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli and his quartet with vocalist Catherine Russell are scheduled to come to the area, September 23, at The Stewart Theatre, on the campus of North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina.

The date, October 10, 1917 marks the birthday of Rocky Mount, North Carolina native pianist/composer Thelonious Monk. In honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth,in 2017, Duke Performances, under the highly-innovative leadership of the executive director Aaron Greenwald, is presenting "Monk at 100," (https://dukeperformances....) an awesome array of talent from the middle of the month until near the end of October. It will be staged at Durham Fruit and Produce Company, a former downtown Durham warehouse located at 305 South Dillard Street, that will be renovated just in time to accommodate the excellent diverse list of concerts in "Monk at 100" series.

"Monk at 100" begins on October 17, 2017, with appearance of The JD Allen Trio and guitarist Bill Frisell, at The Durham Fruit and Produce Company (all Monk @100 concerts will take place at The Durham Fruit and Produce Company on Dillard Street). The performance schedule continues the next night, October 18, 2017, with a show that will feature The JD Allen Trio and trumpeter Dave Douglas. On October 19, 2017, The JD Allen Trio with pianist Kris Davis is scheduled to perform. The next evening, October 20, 2017, drummer Tyshawn Sorey and pianist Jason Moran are scheduled to take the stage. The following night, October 21, 2017. pianist Gerald Clayton and saxophonist Ben Wendell will be featured.

On October 21 and 22, 2017, at 1pm, Duke Performances, will present "Monk Songbook," as a part of Monk@100 celebration, which will showcase five pianists: Chris Pattishall, Frank Kimbrough, Jeb Patton, Ethan Iverson and Orrin Evans. The Ethan Iverson Trio is scheduled to play on four straight evenings from October 23, 2017-October 26, 2017. They will share the bandstand with: saxophonist Melissa Aldana (October 23), saxophonists Chris Potter and Houston Person (October 24), saxophonist Joshua Redman (October 25) and saxophonist Ravi Coltrane (October 26). All concerts will be held at The Durham Fruit and Produce Company, 305 Dillard Street, downtown Durham, North Carolina and they are all of part of the Monk @100 celebration, presented by Duke Performances. Also, on that same night, October 26, 2017 Cuban pianist, Harold Lopez-Nussa Trio, is scheduled to play at Stewart Theatre, on the campus of North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina.


November jazz dates includes appearances by guitarists John McLaughlin and Jimmy Herring, on November 12, 2017, at Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) and a show, featuring The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, on November 13, 2017, at the Carolina Theatre, downtown Durham, North Carolina. On December 2, 2017, the area will be treated to what has to be the most highly-anticipated jazz event of the season if not the year, with the appearance of the saxophonist Kamasi Washington, at The Duke Energy Center for The Performing Arts in Raleigh, North Carolina (www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com). On December 9, 2017, The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, bring their annual engagement, Big Band Holidays, to Memorial Hall, on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH).

The spring season of jazz programing in the Triangle should start the new year of 2018 off with a righteous bang. It begins with the drummer Brian Blade and his band Fellowship January 20, 2018, at Memorial Hall, University of North Carolina.at Chapel Hill. On February 15, 2018, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and his quartet, will be presented, at Memorial Hall, UNC-CH. Vocalist Gregory Porter comes to town March 4, 2018, with his scheduled performance at the Carolina Theatre, Durham, North Carolina. In April 2018, vocalist Dayme Arocena is set to appear Memorial Hall (UNC-CH), April 4 and The Maria Schneider Orchestra is scheduled to perform on April 7, 2018.

Whew! What a fine, fruitful, uplifting jazz season 2017-18 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 there 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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