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Be-Bop Legends at the Flushing Town Hall
(Published: March 17, 2007)

Be-Bop Legends at the Flushing Town Hall

Flushing Town Hall creates jazz history with the unprecedented coming together of music innovators Frank Wess on sax and flute, Rufus Reid on bass, Ben Riley on drums, Harold Mabern on piano and Cecil Bridgewater on trumpet. Each a legend in his own right, this illustrious group has contributed enormously to the body of great American jazz and inspired generations of musicians. This concert, Friday, March 23, will be a momentous evening for Flushing Town Hall, NY and for all lovers of jazz music.

Frank Wess was born January 4, 1922 in Kansas City and has played saxophone (both alto and tenor) and flute. He began with classical music and played in Oklahoma. He later switched to jazz on moving to Washington, D. C. and by nineteen was working in the Big Bands. His career would be interrupted during World War II although he did play with a military band in the period. On returning from service he joined Billy Eckstine's orchestra. He returned to DC a few years after this and received a degree in flute at the city's Modern School Of Music. From 1953 he joined Count Basie's band, playing flute and tenor sax. He reverted to alto sax in the late '50s, and left Basie's band in 1964. From 1959 to 1964 he won Down Beat's critic poll for flute. Since then he has done a variety of TV shows and telethons. He was a member of Clark Terry's big band from 1967 into the '70s and played in the New York Quartet (with Roland Hanna). In the '80s and '90s, he worked with Kenny Barron, Rufus Reid, Buck Clayton, Benny Carter, Dr. Billy Taylor, Harry Edison, Mel Torm, Ernestine Anderson, Louie Bellson, John Pizzarelli, Howard Alden, Dick Hyman, Byron Stripling, Jane Jarvis, Frank Vignola and was a featured member of the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra. In 2007 Wess was named an NEA Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Rufus Reid's professional career began in Chicago and continues since 1976 in New York City. His extensive jazz background and discography reads literally like the Who's Who in jazz. He has traveled, performed and recorded with many of the great Jazz Masters. He was privileged to share many musical moments with some that have passed on: Gene Ammons, Kenny Dorham, Eddie Harris, Sonny Stitt, Don Byas, Philly Joe Jones, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Dexter Gordon, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, and Art Farmer. Rufus happily continues performing and recording in collaboration with other wonderful musicians, such as Lee Konitz, Roni Ben-Hur, Bob Mintzer, George Cables, Billy Hart, Bill Mays and Marvin Stamm, as well as his own group, The Rufus Reid Quintet.

Ben Riley was born on July 17, 1933 in Savannah, Georgia. At the age of four his family moved to New York. While in junior high school, he began studying with noted Harlem band leader Cecil Scott and in high school began playing in the school band. In 1952, after high school, Ben joined the army where he gained more valuable experience performing with the army band. Following his discharge from the army in the late 1950's, he started to work in and around New York and developed several long-lasting relationships with Randy Weston, Mary Lou Williams, Sonny Rollins, Woody Herman, Stan Getz, Dr. Billy Taylor, Johnny Griffin and many, many others. But, the association that secured Ben's place in jazz history was his four year stint with the legendary Thelonious Monk. He toured extensively with Monk and recorded several now classic albums with the pianist. In 1992, because of his vast contribution to jazz music, Riley was inducted into his Savannah, Georgia hometown based Coastal Jazz Hall of Fame.

One of the best hard bop pianists from the Memphis area, Harold Mabern has always been respected by his contemporaries. He played in Chicago with MJT + 3 in the late '50s and then moved to New York in 1959. Mabern worked with Jimmy Forrest, Lionel Hampton, the Jazztet (1961-1962), Donald Byrd, Miles Davis (1963), J.J. Johnson (1963-1965), Sonny Rollins, Freddie Hubbard, Wes Montgomery, Joe Williams (1966-1967), and Sarah Vaughan. During 1968-1970, Mabern led four albums for Prestige, he was with Lee Morgan in the early '70s, and in 1972, he recorded with Stanley Cowell's Piano Choir. In 1981 Mabern took a position teaching at New Jersey's William Paterson University, where he still holds and adjunct position. Eric Alexander, an up-and-coming tenor sax star, was a student in Mabern's jazz combo class; now the two collaborate frequently.

Cecil Bridgewater's 30 plus years of experience includes roles as performer, composer, arranger, record producer and educator. He has been a member of the groups of Max Roach, Horace Silver and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra to name a few. He has also shared the stage and/or studio with the Count Basie Orchestra, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Heath, Sir Roland Hanna, Wynton Marsalis and Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers among others. Cecil moved to New York in 1970, where he established himself as an international artist. His recognition increased exponentially after joining the Horace Silver Quintet and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra. As a soloist, writer, arranger and musical consultant, he has collaborated with such musical luminaries as Max Roach. Cecil's compositions and arrangements have been recorded and performed by Lena Horne, Vanessa Rubin, the Uptown String Quartet, and Dee Dee Bridgewater notably on her recent CD, "This Is New" and on her Grammy Award winning CD, "Dear Ella."

More Information: http://flushingtownhall.org

Submitted By: jazzears

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