Workshop Alumni Happenings March 29 – April 13, 2023

By Vail Jazz

Alumni Happenings

March 29 –  April 13, 2023


The Vail Jazz Workshop has been so successful in cultivating the talents of new generations of
jazz musicians that three of its alumni will headline ticketed shows under the tent in Lionshead
during the Vail Jazz Festival this summer: pianist Sullivan Fortner (2002) leading his trio on July
27; saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin (1999) leading her band on August 10; and saxophonist
Grace Kelly (2008) leading her band on August 24. Tickets for these shows are selling fast, so
don’t miss out; go to vailjazz.org and get yours now!




Drummer Blaque Dynamite (aka 2011 alum Mike Mitchell) performs at Nublu 151 in NYC on
March 29.


1997 saxophone alum Terrace Martin has a multi-night engagement at the Blue Note in NYC,
March 29 – April 2.


Trumpeter Alphonso Horne (2004) performs in the Louis Armstrong Eternity Band at Birdland
(NYC) on March 29. Horne is in the lineup for the Broadway Cruise (NYC), April 2-4, with
actor/singer Alan Cumming, and then he takes the stage at Little Ned in NYC on April 11 with
his band The Gotham Kings.


Isaiah J. Thompson (2014 piano) accompanies guitarist John Pizzarelli and singer Catherine
Russell in a gig at the Schaeffer Auditorium in Kutztown PA on March 29. Thompson and
Pizzarelli perform again on April 6 at the Flato Markham Theatre in Iowa City IA.


Saxophonist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown (2007) performs in the Northside Spring Jazz Festival,
March 29-30 in Buffalo NY, and then he’s with the Christian Wiggs Big Band on April 13 at the
04 Center in Austin TX.


Saxophonist Grace Kelly (2008) [see lead item, above] leads her band in a performance at
Charlotte Shout, in Charlotte NC, on March 31.


2008 saxophone alum Sam Crowe performs in “Jerry Herman: The Broadway Legacy Concert”
on March 31 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark NJ.


2014 trumpet alum Anthony Hervey performs in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s “Internationally
Ellington” at the Rose Theater in NYC on March 31 and April 1.


Natalie Barbieri (2019 saxophone) and her band take the stage at Rockwood Music Hall in NYC
on March 31. Barbieri then performs in a “Face To Face” tribute to the music of Billy Joel and
Elton John on April 7 at Windows on the Lake in Lake Ronkonkoma NY.


Saxophonist Khris Royal (2004) takes the stage in a DJ set at Above the Grid in New Orleans on
March 31, and has additional Crescent City gigs on April 8 with the No Boss Band at Bud Rips,
on April 12 with Pat Casey & the New Sound at the Spotted Cat, and on April 13 with Big
Freedia & the LPO at the Orpheum Theater.


2014 saxophone alum James Robertson plays in A Salute To The Three Kings (Freddie, B.B., and
Albert) on April 1 at the Rhythm Room in Phoenix AZ.


There must have been something in the water during the 2002 Vail Jazz Workshop class, as
three alumni from that class perform at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville TN this weekend, each
in a different band: Christian McBride’s New Jawn performs with Josh Evans (2002) on trumpet
(April 1); the Cecile McLorin Salvant Sextet also performs on April 1, with Sullivan Fortner
(2002) [see lead item, above] on piano; and the Bill Frisell Four takes the stage (April 2) with
Gerald Clayton (2002) on piano. Clayton performs again on April 13 with the North Carolina
Symphony in an Ellington concert at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill NC. And Fortner performs
again with McLorin Salvant on April 8 at the Savannah Music Festival in Savannah GA and on
April 12 at Princeton University in Princeton NJ.


You can catch trombonist Ethan Santos (2015) in several upcoming performances: with Alexey
Marti & Afrogumbo at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro on April 1 and, later that night, with Magnetic
Ear at BJ’s Lounge, both in New Orleans; in a Louis Armstrong & Mississippi River Tribute with
trumpeter Nicholas Payton at The Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater in DC on April 4; and
then back in New Orleans with drummer Leon Anderson at Snug Harbor on April 4, with
Magnetic Ear at The Saturn Bar on April 9, leading the Ethan Santos Collective at the Royal
Frenchmen Hotel on April 10, and on two consecutive nights with Trumpet Mafia – April 11 at
the Royal Frenchmen Hotel and April 12 at Lafayette Square.


Drummer Obed Calvaire (1998) performs as part of bassist John Patitucci’s Trio at the Arlington
Jazz Festival in Arlington MA on April 2.


2023 Grammy winner Robert Glasper (1997 piano) has a consecutive-night gig April 3-4 at the
Blue Note in Honolulu.


2008 trumpet alum Benny Benack III has a jazz jam residency on April 5 at Smalls in NYC. On
April 8 his quartet performs at The Django, also in NYC, and then Benack heads west for a
performance with the Jason Goldman Orchestra at the Vibrato Grill in LA on April 12 and
another on April 13 with 2010 bass alum Russell Hall in the quartet at the Black Cat in San


The Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour, with 1999 saxophone alum Lakecia Benjamin [see lead
item, above] makes stops at The Bushnell in Hartford CT on April 6; the Berklee Performance
Center in Boston on April 7; the Kimmel Center, Virginia Hall, in Philadelphia on April 8; and
Swasey Chapel in Granville OH in Denison University’s Vail Series (no relation to Vail Jazz!) on
April 12.


Saxophonist Braxton Cook (2009) performs at the Timucua Arts Foundation in South Orlando FL
on April 8. Cook returns to his hometown DC area for an April 12 performance at the Songbyrd
Music House at Union Market in the District.


2012 piano alum James Francies performs at the Blue Note Jazz Club in NYC on April 10.
Francies, along with 1997 trumpet alum Keyon Harrold and 2011 drums alum Blaque Dynamite
[see lead item under Performances, above], are with The Karl Denson Project for an April 12
performance at that same venue.




Frank LoCrasto (2001) is at the piano on record producer/electric bassist Dan Horne’s debut
studio album, Count the Clouds, releasing April 7; listen to “Hedgehog’s Dream.”


Bassist/composer Jakob Dreyer’s upcoming album, Songs, Hymns And Ballads Vol. 2, due out
April 10, includes Jimmy Macbride (2008) on drums; listen to “Ypsilon.”


Tunisian vocalist and oud player Dhafer Youssef’s new album, Street of Minarets, features 2000
alum Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet. Listen here to “Flying Dervish,” from the album.


Bassist Vicente Archer’s newly-released song, “Bye Nashville,” features 2002 alum Gerald
Clayton [see lead item, above] on piano; listen here.


Guitarist/beatmaker Cloudchord’s newly-release album, Bloom Bap, features saxophonist
Braxton Cook [see Performances, above]; check out this video of the track “Cryin’ Heart” from
the album.


Guadeloupean saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart’s new album, The Harlem Suite, features
Sullivan Fortner [see lead item, above] and 2002 drums alum Marcus Gilmore. This video of the
track “Twisted” features Fortner.


Recognitions, Awards & Other Items of Note


As the month of March (Women’s History Month) comes to a close, here’s a shout-out to Tia
Fuller (1996 saxophone), who spent it in a teaching artist-in-residency for 4th through 8th
grade female music students in Lawrenceville NJ. As part of the program, the Queen Amina
Music Club, founded by 2021 bass alum Laura-Simone Martin, presented a free concert in
which both alumni performed.