Workshop Alumni Happenings August 31, 2022

By Vail Jazz

Alumni Happenings

Aug 31– Aug 6, 2022


The 28th annual Vail Jazz Party (VJP) gets underway on September 1, and is jam-packed with star-
studded performances through Labor Day, September 5. You can get all the info on the VJP
(and purchase your tickets and performance passes) at vailjazz.org. Performing throughout the
weekend are six alumni of the Vail Jazz Workshop, returning to Vail as members of the Alumni
Sextet. They are: Isaiah J. Thompson (2014 piano), David Wong (1999 bass), Patrick Bartley
(2010 saxophone), Ryan Porter (1996 trombone), Kyle Athayde (2005 trumpet), and Christian
McGhee (2014 drums). Welcome back to Vail, VJW alumni!


It’s another busy period for 2008 trumpet alum Benny Benack III: a jam session at Smalls in NYC
on August 31; performing with the Ulysses Owens Big Band at the Detroit Jazz Fest in Detroit
Beach MI on September 3; performing with vocalist Max Wellman and the Nate Sparks Trio at
Noce in Des Moines IA on September 4; Jazz Coterie shows include September 6 at Stevens
Point Country Club in Stevens Point WI, September 7 at North Shore Golf Club in Menasha WI,
and September 8 at Copper State Brewing Company in Green Bay WI; a trio performance at
Winter’s Jazz Club in Chicago on September 10; and a “Concerts Under the Stars: Sinatra!”
performance at the Aire Rooftop Bar in Chicago on September 11.


Matt Marantz (2002 saxophone) and his quartet are in concert on September 2 at the
Houlihan-McLean Center in Scranton PA.


2007 saxophone alum Chad Lefkowitz-Brown continues touring with trumpeter Chris Botti,
with stops at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis MD on September 2, the John
Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival in High Point NC on September 4, and The 1905 in
Portland OR on September 9. Then Lefkowitz-Brown is with his quartet at Dazzle Jazz Club in
Denver on September 10.


Ambrose Akinmusire (2000 trumpet) leads his quartet at the Detroit Jazz Festival on
September 3.


A September 3 “Take Me Back To Manhattan” tribute to New York as the birthplace of the
American Songbook includes Alphonso Horne (2004 trumpet) in the lineup, at Chelsea Table &
Stage in NYC.


Robert Glasper (1997 piano) appears at the Low Country Jazz Festival in Charleston SC on
September 3 and then performs at The Black Academy of Arts and Letters Riverfront Jazz
Festival on September 4 in Dallas. Glasper is a featured performer at the Grand Opera House in
Macon GA on September 9 in a fundraiser for the Otis Redding Center for the Arts; and he and
his 1997 Workshop colleague Terrace Martin (saxophone) perform together on September 11
at the Music at the Intersection Festival in St. Louis’s Grand Center Arts District.


2010 bass alum Russell Hall is with the Emmet Cohen Trio at the DC JazzFest on September 4,
and again at the Detroit Jazz Festival on September 5. Cohen’s new album, Uptown in Orbit
(scheduled for release on October 28), features Hall and his 2010 Workshop classmate Patrick
Bartley (saxophone), who is a member of the Alumni Sextet (see above) returning to Vail for
this Labor Day weekend’s VJP.


1999 alum David Wong, another member of the Alumni Sextet this Labor Day weekend (see
above), plays bass on tenor saxophonist Grant Stewart’s new album, The Lighting of the Lamps.
Listen to “Bitty Ditty.”


Pat Metheny’s Side-Eye, with James Francies (2012) on piano, performs at Asbury Hall at
Babeville in Buffalo NY on September 4, and again on September 7 at Longwood Gardens in
Kennett Square, PA. Francies appears in the 2022 Jazz Journalists’ Association’s Jazz Bash, an interactive online event combining award presentations, live music performances from across
the US, panel discussions, and more, in five unique “rooms” of SyncSpace.live on September
11. And he co-produced and co-wrote vocalist Madison Beer’s new single, “Dangerous,” which
you can listen to here.


Drummer Harvel Nakundi (2006) is with the band The Smoogies, performing on September 8
at Timucua in Orlando FL.


2014 piano alum Isaiah J. Thompson, also returning as a member of the Alumni Sextet this
extended Labor Day weekend (see above), has back-to-back shows with vocalist Samara Joy at
the South Jazz Kitchen in Philadelphia on September 8-9 and on the following night at the
Riverfront Jazz Festival in Albany NY.


Trumpeter Summer Camargo (2018) leads a sextet in performance on September 9 at Jazz at
Lincoln Center, Bryant Park, in NYC.


Pianist Gerald Clayton (2002) performs at the Piedmont Piano Company in Oakland CA on
September 9 and in a solo show at The 222 in Healdsburg CA on September 10.


2008 saxophone alum Grace Kelly performs with Too Many Zoos at Ravinia Park in Highland
Park IL on September 9 and she’s at The Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis on September 10.


1997 trumpet alum Keyon Harrold presents “Jazz & The Birth of Hip-Hop” at the Music at the
Intersection Festival on September 10 in St. Louis’s Grand Center Arts District. Harrold then
performs two sets during The Festival of New Trumpet Music on September 13 at The Jazz
Gallery in NYC.


Percussionist Adam Rudolph’s Go: Organic Orchestra, featuring Marcus Gilmore (2002) on
drums, performs at Central Park Summer Stage in NYC on September 10, during the World
Music Institute’s 2022-2023 season.


Katie Thiroux (2005 bass) performs with her trio – including 2003 piano alum Justin Kauflin
and special guest saxophonist Melissa Aldana in the “Back in the Swing Celebration 2022” at the
Side Door Jazz Club in Old Lyme CT on September 10.


Jazzwise has named Billy Drummond & Freedom of Ideas’ album, Valse Sinistre, with Micah
Thomas (2013) on piano, one of the Best New Jazz Albums for September 2022.


2000 bass alum Matt Brewer is a member of the Tyshawn Sorey Trio, which recently released
the album Mesmerism.


Trumpeter Josh Evans (2002) is featured on drummer/percussionist T.S. Monk’s new album,
Two Continents One Groove. Listen to “Ernie Washington.”


Singer Emily Elbert’s newly-released single, “Stream of Consciousness,” from the album Woven
Together, features 2007 saxophone alum Hailey Niswanger on woodwinds. Listen here.


Trumpeter Al Strong’s new release, Love Stronger, features Sullivan Fortner (2002 piano) on
Fly Me To The Moon” and Braxton Cook (2009 saxophone) on “Bull City Bounce” and on

Old Town Diera“.


2014 trombone alum Nick Lee, who co-produced Lil Nas X and Jack Harlow’s “Industry Baby” –
a 2022 Grammy nominee for Best Melodic Rap Performance – will co-compose the music for
Netflix’s upcoming drama series, The Brothers Sun. Lee has just reached a deal for his future
compositions with independent music company Reservoir Media.