Workshop Alumni Happenings Dec 8, 2021

By Vail Jazz

2022 Grammy nominations are in, and Vail Jazz Workshop alumni are well-represented:

  • Pat Metheny’s Side-Eye NYC (V.1.IV) album, nominated for Best Jazz Instrumental Album, features 2012 piano alum James Francies and 2002 drums alum Marcus Gilmore (here’s the opening track, “It Starts When We Disappear”);
  • Jazzmeia Horn and Her Noble Force’s Dear Love album is up for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album and features 2002 piano alum Sullivan Fortner, here on organ on the track “Where Is Freedom?” Fortner also guest performs on the Baylor Project’s Generations, nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album; watch this album premiere video;
  • 2001 trumpet alum Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s performance on “Sackodougou,” from Weedie Braimah’s The Hands of Time album, is up for Best Improvised Jazz Solo;
  • the album SuperBlue, by Kurt Elling and Charlie Hunter, up for Best Jazz Vocal Album, was co-produced by Corey Fonville (2006 drums), who hits the skins on “Manic Panic Epiphanic”;
  • Obed Calvaire (1998 drums) performs on Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra bassist Carlos Henriquez’s album The South Bronx Story, nominated for Best Latin Jazz Album (here’s the title track);
  • Leon Bridges, featuring 1997 piano alum Robert Glasper, is up for Best Traditional R&B Performance for “Born Again,” from the Gold-Diggers Sound album, which itself is up for Best R&B Album;
  • Glasper and 1997 VJW classmate Terrace Martin (saxophone) produced and perform on Dinner Party: Dessert, up for Best Progressive R&B album (check out “Sleepless Nights”); and
  • Nick Lee (2014) created the trombone loops on “Industry Baby,” from Lil Nas X’s album Montero, up for Album of the Year.


2014 trumpet alum Anthony Hervey performs at a Dizzy’s Club pop-up at Hudson Yards (NY) on December 8, in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Young Stars of Jazz series. Hervey is part of an Earth, Wind & Fire tribute on December 10, at Minton’s Playhouse (NY), and then heads west for “Swangin’ Christmas” shows with fellow alum Bryan Carter (2007 drums), at the Royal Room in Seattle on December 16 and at The 1905 in Portland from December 17 to December 19.


Benny Benack III (2008 trumpet) has multiple gigs over the next couple of weeks:  a jam session December 8 at Smalls (NY); holiday jams with a trio at New Hazlett Theater in Pittsburgh December 10-11; a Latin jazz trio performance at Con Alma Downtown in Pittsburgh on December 12; back at Smalls for a jam session on December 15; a December 16 date playing Sinatra, Armstrong, and other legends at Hotel Chantelle Rooftop (NY); a two-night trio session with vocalist Georgia Heers December 17-18 at Chris’ Jazz Café in Philadelphia; and a “Season’s Swingin’ Greetings” album release party gig at Birdland (NY) on December 19.


Saxophonist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown (2007), who has an artist residency at San Francisco Conservatory of Music December 8-10, plays at the Blue Note (NY) with trumpeter Chris Botti December 20-21.


2014 piano alum Isaiah J. Thompson is touring with the John Pizzarelli Trio, appearing December 10-12 at Keystone Korner in Baltimore; December 16 at Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club in Portsmouth (NH); December 17 at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston; and December 18 at Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington MA. Somehow Thompson manages to squeeze in a gig with Wynton Marsalis at Ziegfeld Ballroom (NY) on December 14 and with saxophonist Sherman Irby at Dizzy’s (NY) on December 21.


In celebration of Christmas, The Crossing – with trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire (2000) – will present “The Crossing @ Christmas: Carols after a Plague,” at the following locations: St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in College Park, MD on December 12; The Church of the Holy Trinity in Philadelphia on December 17; and The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia on December 19.


Justin Kauflin is with a trio at Jazz St. Louis, December 13-14, including a Jazz Speaks program at the Harold & Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz on December 14, when he performs and answers questions following a screening of scenes from the award-winning documentary, “Keep On Keepin’ On,” about Kauflin’s mentoring by late trumpeter Clark Terry; info at https://www.eventvesta.com/events/10837/t/tickets.


The Kennedy Center and NPR Music highlight jazz pianists – including 2002 alum Gerald Clayton – performing their favorite seasonal music before a small audience for “Jazz Piano Christmas,” broadcast on KWGS Public Radio, Tulsa (OK) on December 18; www.publicradiotulsa.org.


2007 saxophone alum Hailey Niswanger and her band MAE.SUN perform on December 21 at Mississippi Studios in Portland OR.


Saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins announced the forthcoming release of his new album, The 7th Hand, a seven-movement suite of original music performed by his quartet, which includes Micah Thomas (2013) on piano and Daryl Johns (2011) on bass, with special guest Elena Pinderhughes (2011 saxophone) on flute; the lead track, “Emanation,” is out now.