Workshop Alumni Happenings Mar 16, 2022

By Vail Jazz

2014 alum Isaiah J. Thompson and 2018 alum Esteban Castro have just been announced by the American Pianists Association as two of the five finalists for the 2023 American Pianists Award for jazz piano. After a 13-month competition that will culminate in Sneak Preview performances from each of the finalists at Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center on May 25, 2023, one of the finalists will be chosen to receive the prestigious Cole Porter Fellowship, given every four years to the best young, upcoming American jazz piano talent. Workshop alumni have been well-represented in past APA Awards competitions: 2004 alum Kenny Banks Jr. was the runner-up for the 2019 prize, and 2002 alum Sullivan Fortner won it in 2015. Way to go, VJW alumni!


Another piano alum, Jeremy Siskind (2003), performs selections from his Perpetual Motion Etudes at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall alongside Grammy-winning classical pianist Angelin Chang, on March 16. This duo concert was originally scheduled for March 2020 but canceled in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.


And yet another piano alum, Grammy-winner Robert Glasper (1997), has a consecutive-nights engagement March 16-20 at the Blue Note in NYC. Tune in here to Glasper and vocalist Lalah Hathaway covering the Tears for Fears classic, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” which Glasper also covers on his recently-released album Black Radio III.


2014 trumpet alum Anthony Hervey performs on March 17 with the Alan Jones New York Quintet at The 1905 in Portland OR.


Blaque Dynamite, a quartet led by drummer Mike Mitchell (2011) and featuring saxophonist Patrick Bartley Jr. (2010) performs at Dunedin Brewery in Dunedin FL on March 18.


1999 saxophone alum Greg Ward‘s Rogue Parade performs in a Symphony Center Presents Jazz concert on March 18 in Chicago. Ward plays alto on bassist Matt Ulery’s latest album, Delicate Charms: Live at the Green Mill; listen to “The Arrival” here.


Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire (2000) has trio performances on March 18 at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, March 20 at BOP STOP @ The Music Settlement in Cleveland, March 21 at Trinosphores in Detroit, and March 22 at The Constellation in Chicago. He and fellow trumpet alum Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah (2001) then perform at the Big Ears Music Festival in Knoxville TN (Akinmusire on March 24 and Scott aTunde Adjuah on March 26). Scott aTunde Adjuah then performs at Ludlow Garage in Cincinnati on March 27, and at City Winery in Chicago on March 29.


Alphonso Horne (2004 trumpet) and friends have consecutive-night gigs March 18 and 19 at Special Club in NYC. He then performs in an all-Ellington program with the American Symphony Orchestra and pianist Marcus Roberts on March 24 at Carnegie Hall. Horne composed the music and performs as trumpeter and bandleader in an ensemble debuting new songs from a jazz musical in development, The Oscar Micheaux Suite (inspired by America’s first major Black film-maker) at 59E59 Theaters in NYC on March 26 and 27. And March 29 – April 3, Horne accompanies a Joyce Theatre (NYC) stage performance and world premiere of Once Upon a Time Called Now, a fusion of tap dance and jazz music co-written by VJW colleague Russell Hall (2010), who will also perform on bass.


Trumpeter Benny Benack III (2008) appears in a quintet jam session March 18 at Vibrato’s Jazz Grill in LA. On March 20 he takes the Sony Hall stage with the 8-Bit Big Band in NYC. Benack then appears in a quartet with 2010 bass alum Russell Hall (see above) at Iridium Jazz Club in NYC on March 24, and in a trio with vocalist Anais Reno on March 25 at Chris’s Jazz Club in Philadelphia.


The band Midlake, with McKenzie Smith (1997) on drums, releases For the Sake of Bethel Woods on March 18. Listen to “Noble,” named after Smith’s infant son.


2013 trombone alum Jeffery Miller performs with the Eyal Vilner Big Band on March 19 at the George Mason Center for the Arts in Fairfax VA and on March 26 at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center in Cutler Bay FL. Miller then backs vocalist Dianna Agron on March 29 at Café Carlyle in NYC.


Isaiah J. Thompson (see item at top, on the American Pianist Association Awards) continues touring with the John Pizzarelli Trio, appearing at the Emelin Theater in Mamaroneck NY on March 19 and at the William Stanton Andrews Town Hall in Clinton CT on March 20.


Trumpeter Wesley Watkins (2006) is a member of singer/songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff’s band, The Night Sweats, which kicks off a world tour at the Innings Festival, Raymond James Stadium Grounds, in Tampa FL on March 19 and 20.


2005 saxophone alum Eddie Barbash performs with KASA Quartet at Manderley Bar in the McKittrick Hotel (NYC) on March 22.


Chad Lefkowitz-Brown (2007 saxophone) and his quartet perform March 24-26 at Birdland Theater in NYC.


The Grant Stewart Quartet, with David Wong (1999) on bass (and VJW mentor Lewis Nash on drums), performs at Soka University of America’s Performing Arts Center in Aliso Viejo CA on March 26.


Wall to Wall Selected Shorts – an all-day event presenting short stories by commissioned authors – features 1999 saxophone alum Lakecia Benjamin and other musicians performing works inspired by the stories, March 26 in Symphony Space’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater in NYC.


2013 drums alum Adrian Cota co-wrote and produced guitarist/vocalist Cody Simpson’s new single, “Let Go,” which you can check out here.