Workshop Alumni Happenings Dec 22, 2021

By Vail Jazz

Trumpeter Benny Benack III (2008), with the Steven Feifke Big Band, has released Season’s Swingin’ Greetings Deluxe Edition, a collection of holiday tunes, including this chestnut: “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” Benack jams with a quintet at Smalls (NY) on December 22, hosts a jam session at Minton’s (NY) on December 23, is a featured jam session guest performer at Con Alma Downtown in Pittsburgh on December 28, is back at Smalls for a quartet jam on December 29, plays Sinatra/Armstrong and others at the Hotel Chantelle Rooftop (NY) on December 30, returns to Minton’s on December 31, hosts a jam session at The Craftsman (NY) on January 2, and is among special guests performing January 6-9 with the Emmet Cohen Trio (including 2010 bass alum Russell Hall) at Dizzy’s Club (NY).


Hall (see above) continues his weekly engagements with the Emmet Cohen Trio, streaming live performances (www.facebook.com/heyemmet) on Monday nights (now going on 80 weeks uninterrupted!) from Emmet’s place in Harlem NY. Here’s “I Hear A Rhapsody” from the December 13 show, featuring Alexa Tarantino on alto sax, Tatum Greenblatt on trumpet, and Jason Brown filling in for the trio’s Kyle Poole on drums.


Pianist Isaiah Thompson (2014) takes the stage at Dizzy’s Place (NY) with saxophonist Sherman Irby December 22-24.


2007 saxophone alum Chad Lefkowitz-Brown has a multi-night engagement with trumpeter Chris Botti at the Blue Note (NY), December 22-26, and a SFJazz Center performance with Botti on January 4 in San Francisco.


The Carlos Henriquez Nonet, with Obed Calvaire (1998) on drums (and Vail Jazz Workshop mentor Terell Stafford on trumpet), rings in 2022 at Dizzy’s Club (NY) with performances December 27-30 and a New Year’s Eve celebration on December 31.


2009 drums alum Evan Sherman and his Big Band perform at Birdland (NY) on January 2.



Every Monday night, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, with David Wong (1999) on bass, performs at the Village Vanguard (NY); the orchestra’s lead alto sax player is Vail Jazz Workshop mentor Dick Oatts and a featured soloist in the trumpet section is mentor Terell Stafford.


The new album by Carlos Nino & Friends, More Energy Fields, Current, features 2013 piano alum Jamael Dean on keyboards (check out the opening track/single “Pleasewakeupalittlefaster,please…”) along with his VJW classmate Aaron Shaw on saxophone and, here, on flute on “Salon Winds.”


Saxophonist Eddie Barbash (2005) is featured on “Smokeshow,” a single released by the band Vulfpeck ahead of the January 7 release of its new album Vulf Vault 005f: Wong’s Café.


The band Midlake, with drummer McKenzie Smith (1997 drums), has released a streaming live performance of its recently released single “Meanwhile . . .,” the first in a new multi-part series of exclusive live sessions titled “Meanwhile In Texas 2021,” with additional installments premiering in coming weeks. Midlake soon embarks on a wide-ranging tour that includes December 30 and New Year’s Eve gigs alongside the Flaming Lips at The Caverns in Pelham TN.