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The 5th Annual Rockport Jazz Festival Features Terence Blanchard, Dr. Lonnie Smith & Ravi Coltrane

Dr. Lonnie SmithThe 5th Annual Rockport Jazz Festival is August 11-14 at the Shalin Liu Performance Center and features a star-studded line-up of jazz artists—Five time Grammy Award winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard to B3 Hammond burner Dr. Lonnie Smith and the Latin rhythms of Harold Lopez-Nussa to the brilliant jazz saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, not to mention the rising star big band—Thinkin’ Big. Then, the jazz isn’t over—two weeks later on August 27, Rockport Music’s Summer Gala features Wynton Marsalis with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Terence Blanchard

Terence Blanchard, photo by Nathalie Raffet

Known equally for his composing as his trumpet playing, Terence Blanchard has forged an incredibly successful career shaped by a dizzyingly restless musical spirit. The five time Grammy winner made his mark with his frequent and highly lauded collaborations with filmmaker Spike Lee, but the New Orleans native is equally beloved for the musical fearlessness of his own projects, which range from hard bop to classical to fusion. Blanchard, along with the E-Collective, perform together on Thursday, August 11 at 8 PM. After performing on the scores of Spike Lee’s films Do the Right Thing and Mo Better Blues, Blanchard became the iconic filmmaker’s de facto musical director for all his subsequent movies, including Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, Clockers and the Hurricane Katrina documentary When the Levees Broke. Blanchard also began to compose scores for other directors, becoming one of the most in-demand film composers of the modern era. His most recent collaboration, 2015’s Breathless, features his new E-Collective quintet as well as the trumpeter’s exciting new funk/R&B/gospel hybrid sound. Read this article on New York Times and his interview on Revive Music.

Harold López-Nussa, photo courtesy of the artist.

Cuba boasts a long history of birthing dynamite Latin jazz pianists, and now another has emerged. Introducing Harold López-Nussa, a young pianist and composer with an inventive, swinging Afro-Cuban style and jaw-dropping ability. He is joined by his trio containing Julio César González and Ruy López-Nussa for a concert on Friday, August 12 at 8 PM. Forming his own trio and concentrating heavily on his own unique compositions, López-Nussa has ascended into the upper stratosphere of Latin jazz artists. He has played together with major figures of Cuban traditional music and popular music, as well as with beloved jazz musicians such as Chucho Valdés, David Sánchez, Horacio “El Negro” Hernández, Christian Scott and Stefon Harris among many others. His most recent release, 2013’s New Day, gained wide critical acclaim and further cemented López-Nussa’s place amongst the pantheon of Cuban pianists. Read this album review.

A hero of the Hammond B-3 organ and a newly named 2017 NEA Jazz Master, Dr. Lonnie Smith has been treading the fine line between pulsing soul jazz and greasy funk for nearly half a century. This year, after a 45 year hiatus, he returned to the iconic Blue Note label with an acclaimed recording entitled Evolution featuring sax great Joe Lovano. It’s clear the highly charismatic organist has lost none of his funky mystical swagger and, on Saturday, August 13 at 8 PM, he brings his funky mystical swagger to the Shalin Liu Performance Center. Inspired by the records of organists like Jimmy Smith and Wild Bill Davis as an impressionable teen, Lonnie Smith took up the Hammond B3 and quickly began making a name for himself in the jazz clubs of Buffalo. Smith continued recording and touring throughout the next several decades, playing with a wide assortment of sidemen and in a dizzying array of styles. Never afraid to venture outside of the standard repertoire, Smith has made a habit out of making unorthodox song choices, interpreting everything from covers of the Beatles, the Stylistics and the Eurythmics, to tribute albums of Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane and Beck. He’s a true maverick. A career resurgence in the last several years, led in part by his vast catalog being championed by hip hop artists like Tribe Called Quest and others, has fed Smith’s creative fire, and the accolades have begun to pile up. He has won Organ Player of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association nine times since 2003. Early in 2016 Smith released the Don Was-produced Evolution, an acclaimed record that found the organist back with Blue Note after a more than forty year absence. Take a listen to his interview on PBS with Travis Smiley, on ArtFuse.Org and the read the Spotlight on Blue Note.

On Sunday, August 14 at 2 pm, the Rockport Jazz Festival features Thinkin’ Big–an 18-piece swing band made up of graduates and graduate students of the Berklee School of Music and New England Conservatory—which is bringing new life to big band music. Comprised of an impressive collection of New England’s most promising rising stars, the band performs classics from the American Songbook and vintage big band standards as well as a healthy dose of sophisticated originals. Formed in 2010, Thinkin’ Big began as a way for Berklee and NEC students to showcase their own compositions and quickly grew into a dynamic ensemble that has become one of the most innovative and fresh groups playing big band music in the region. Thinkin’ Big is intent on not only keeping the spirit of big band music alive, but pushing it into new exciting directions. They have released three records, the most recent being 2015’s Kaleidoscope. With styles ranging from swing, to funk, to Latin, Thinkin’ Big’s unique sound pushes the limit on traditional expectations of a big band, defying categorization to create a modern-day large ensemble.

The Jazz Festival closes with post-bop saxophonist, Ravi Coltrane, on Sunday, August 14 at 7 pm. Coltrane has forged his own unique creative voice that manages to both honor the brilliance of his parents (John and Alice Coltrane) and venture into new and exciting musical paths. In his over 20 year career, the Grammy-nominated artist has released six acclaimed records, the most recent being 2012’s Joe Lovano-produced Spirit Fiction. Despite being the son of an iconic musical legend (John Coltrane died when he was two), Ravi Coltrane never let himself be defined by expectations. Ravi was raised by his mother Alice Coltrane, an acclaimed jazz artist in her own right, but didn’t follow the jazz path until his late teens, studying saxophone at California Institute of Arts. Coltrane put extensive time as a sideman to a large diverse collection of artists including the great Elvin Jones, before becoming part of the groundbreaking M-Base collective (spearheaded by Steve Coleman and Graham Haynes) in the mid 90’s. He was signed to MCA Records and recorded his acclaimed debut as a leader in 1998 with Moving Pictures. Comparisons to his father were inevitable, especially at the onset of his career, but as Ravi’s career has progressed his music is now being appreciated on its own terms. His cerebral, harmonically-complex post-bop style and thoughtful emotionally-rich compositions have vaulted Coltrane to the upper echelon of contemporary jazz artists working today. Read this review on The Guardian and on Oregonlive.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, photo by Erin X. Smithers

On Saturday, August 27th at 6 PM, Rockport Music’s Summer Gala concert will feature nine-time Grammy Award winner and Pulitzer Prize recipient, jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis performing with world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO). A true statesman of jazz, Musical Director Wynton Marsalis will lead his JLCO in an unforgettable evening of jazz with arrangements from Duke Ellington and Count Basie to Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1983, WYnton became the only artist to win both classical and jazz Grammy Awards in the same year, and then repeated this feat in 1984. With a rich body of compositions for jazz, symphonic works and more, Mr. Marsalis, in 1997, became the first jazz artist to be awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in music for his oratorio Blood on the Fields. Mr. Marsalis is an internationally respected teacher and spokesman for music education, and has received honorary doctorates from dozens of universities and colleges. In 2001, Mr. Marsalis was appointed Messenger of Peace and was also designated cultural ambassador to the United States of America by the U.S. State Department. In 2009, he was awarded France’s Legion of Honor, the highest honor bestowed by the French government. With the world‐renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and guest artists spanning genres and generations, Jazz at Lincoln Center produces thousands of performance, education, and broadcast events each season in its home—New York City—and around the world, for people of all ages. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO), comprising of 15 of the finest jazz soloists and ensemble players today, has been the Jazz at Lincoln Center resident orchestra since 1988. Featured in all aspects of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s programming, this remarkably versatile orchestra performs and leads educational events in New York, across the U.S. and around the globe. Under Music Director Wynton Marsalis, the JLCO performs a vast repertoire, from rare historic compositions to Jazz at Lincoln Center‐commissioned works, including compositions and arrangements by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus, and many others. Education is a major part of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s mission; its educational activities are coordinated with concert and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra tour programming. The current members are Ryan Kisor, Kenny Rampton, Marcus Printup, Vincent Gardner, Chris Crenshaw, Elliot Mason, Sherman Irby, Ted Nash, Victor Goines, Walter Blanding, Paul Nedzela, Dan Nimmer, Carlos Henriquez, and Ali Jackson. Gala tickets (Concert, Dinner and Reception) are $750-$1250 (portion of ticket is tax deductible). Read this preview on this year’s Gala on ArtFuse.Org. Concert-Only Tickets are $150-$185.

Unless otherwise indicated, all concerts and events are held at the Shalin Liu Performance Center, 37 Main Street, Rockport, Massachusetts 01966. For tickets or more information, visit our website or call 978.546.7391. ABOUT ROCKPORT MUSIC Founded in 1981 as the Rockport Chamber Music Festival, Rockport Music presents exceptional concerts and cultural events in the “stunning acoustics and dramatic setting” (Boston Globe) of the Shalin Liu Performance Center. Best known for its summer chamber music festival featuring some of the world’s finest ensembles and soloists, Rockport Music has expanded its offerings to include year-round presentations of jazz, folk, pop, and world music, high-definition broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera and National Theatre (London), and special film presentations. Education and community outreach activities serve nearly 10,000 students and adults throughout Cape Ann and the North Shore annually. Rockport Music is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and is supported in part by Massachusetts Cultural Council.

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