Workshop Alumni Happenings Feb 1 – Feb 14, 2023

By Vail Jazz

Alumni Happenings

Feb 1 –  Feb 14, 2023


2014 piano alum Isaiah J. Thompson has a number of upcoming performances with guitarist
John Pizzarelli: as a trio at Rowan University in Glassboro NJ on February 3, joined by singer
Jessica Molaskey at Hart Theater at The Egg in Albany NY on February 4, joined by singer
Catherine Russell at the Tanger Center for the Performing Arts in Greensboro NC on February
11, and in a trio tribute to Frank Sinatra at the Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts in
Wickenburg AZ on February 14. Thompson performed at last year’s Vail Jazz Party as a member
of the Workshop’s Alumni Sextet. He’s a finalist in the American Pianists Award competition for
jazz, a year-long competition that pits him against four other young pianists – including another
Workshop alum, Esteban Castro (2018)! And he’s just released “The IT Department,” the first
single off his forthcoming first live album, The Power of the Spirit. Listen to it here.




Saxophonist Owen Broder (2007) is at DC’s Blues Alley on February 1 in a quintet tribute to the
late alto saxophone master Johnny Hodges.


Keyon Harrold (1997 trumpet) performs at the Blue Note in NYC on February 1 with djembe
artist Weedie Braimah and singer Lisa Fischer. He then takes the GroundUP Music Festival stage
on February 3 at the Miami Beach Bandshell with Snarky Puppy, bassist/singer Meshell
Ndegeocello and others.


Chad Lefkowitz-Brown (2007 saxophone) performs with the Christian Wiggs Big Band at the 04
Center in Austin TX on February 1. Then he travels to the Blue Note Hawaii in Honolulu for a
series of performances with trumpeter Chris Botti, February 9-12.


Robert Glasper (1997 piano) has announced his annual Grammy weekend show, February 3 at
The Vermont Hollywood in LA, leading up to the 65th Annual Grammy Awards (February 5). On
February 14, Glasper performs at the Coachella Festival in Indio CA.


Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire (2000) joins saxophonist Joshua Redman in a quartet
performance at the SF Jazz Center in San Francisco on February 3. He’s there again in a trio on
February 4 and in a duo with bassist Ron Carter on February 5. Akinmusire then gives a solo
performance on February 9 at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.


Bassist Russell Hall (2010) and his band, Bessie & the Rainbowkids, perform at Room 31 in NYC
on February 5.


Pianist Gerald Clayton (2002) has a multi-night gig with saxophonist Walter Smith III, February
7-12 at the Village Vanguard in NYC.


2002 alum Marcus Gilmore (drums) performs at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning in
Queens NY on February 9.


Piano alum Scott Coulter (1996) is on the Hammond B3 as a member of Say Darling, a New
England roots rock band, which performs February 9 at the Spire Center for the Performing Arts
in Plymouth MA.


The Krewe of Freret parade and “Shorty Gras” concert at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans on
February 11 honors iconic New Orleans musicians and features Khris Royal (2004 saxophone)
among the performers.


Pianist James Francies (2012) and his trio are in residency, with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, at
the Blue Note Jazz Club in NYC on February 13.


Saxophonist Grace Kelly (2008) performs with the University of Puget Sound Big Band at the
Schneedecke Concert Hall in Tacoma WA on February 14.




Vocalist Nigel Hall’s new live version of “Don’t Change for Me,” a song from his 2015 record,
Ladies & Gentlemen . . . Nigel Hall, features Corey Fonville (2006) on drums. Listen here.


Singer-songwriter Genevieve Artadi’s forthcoming (March 17) album, Forever Forever, includes
this new single, “Visionary,” featuring Chris Fishman (2014) on piano.


R&B artist Sir Spencer’s new song release, “Maybe,” features Adam Bravo (2006) on Rhodes
and other keyboards. Take a listen.


The newly-released Fruit Bats song, “Rushin’ River Valley,” from their forthcoming (April 14)
album, A River Running To Your Heart, has Frank LoCrasto (2001) on keyboards. Check it out


2002 alum Marcus Gilmore is the drummer on vibraphonist Patricia Brennan’s recently
released album, More Touch. Here he is on “Square Bimagic.”


Alto saxophonist Kris Allen’s band’s latest release, June, includes 2000 alum Luques Curtis on
bass. Listen to him on “Trees.”


Pianist Monty Alexander’s latest album, Monty Alexander: The Montreux Years, includes 1998
alum Obed Calvaire on drums; check him out here on “Night Mist Blues.”


Recognitions, Awards & Other Items of Note


Lakecia Benjamin (1999 saxophone) has been selected as the 2023 Monterey Jazz Festival
Artist-in-Residence. She’ll work with young musicians at Monterey’s Summer Jazz Camp and
with the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra at the 66th annual Monterey Jazz Festival in
September 2023. And not only did she make the February cover of Downbeat magazine (see
January 18-31 installment of “Alumni Happenings”), she’s also on the February cover of
Jazzwise magazine!


Trumpet alum Wesley Watkins (2006) is in the cast of a new play, In the Pocket: The Ballad of
Bobby Trombone, a collaboration between the Emancipation Theater Company and Theatre
Artibus that runs February 9-19 at the Savoy Denver in Denver CO.