Workshop Alumni Happenings April 14 – April 27, 2023

By Vail Jazz

Alumni Happenings

April 14 –  April 27, 2023


Several Workshop alumni are getting the appreciation they deserve this April during Jazz
Appreciation Month. 2014 alum Christian McGhee (drums) won the BMI Future Jazz Master Award, presented at the NEA Jazz Master Award Ceremony at The Kennedy Center in Washington DC. The ASCAP Foundation has announced that Phillip Golub (2011 piano) and Anthony Hervey (2014 trumpet) are recipients of 2023 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards, a juried national competition recognizing gifted young jazz composers. And Isaiah J. Thompson (2014) and Esteban Castro (2018) are among five musicians who compete in the finals of the American Pianist Awards next week. Congratulations Christian, Phillip, and Anthony, and best wishes Isaiah and Esteban!




By now you probably know that three Vail Jazz Workshop alumni are headlining performances under the tent in Lionshead during this summer’s Vail Jazz Festival – Sullivan Fortner (2002 piano) leads his trio there on July 27, Lakecia Benjamin (1999 saxophone) brings her band Phoenix on August 10, and Grace Kelly (2008 saxophone) commands the stage on August 24. If you want to take in a performance of theirs before then, perhaps they’ll be making a stop in your hometown the next couple of weeks:


  • Fortner continues touring with vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant. They have a duo performance on April 14 at Princeton University, in Princeton NJ.


  • Benjamin is on the road with the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour, having multiple engagements across the country. The Tour is joined by vocalist Veronica Swift for gigs at Symphony Center’s Orchestra Hall in Chicago on April 14; at Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs NY on April 15; and at Fairfield University, Quick Center for the Arts, in Fairfield CT on April 16. Benjamin then continues performing with the Tour at the Jefferson Center’s Shaftman Performance Hall in Roanoke VA on April 19; at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda MD on April 20; at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s The Appel Room in NYC on April 21; and at Orchestra Hall in Detroit as part of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Paradise Jazz Series on April 23


  • Kelly has her band on the go following release of her most recent album, All That I Need. Their next stop is Holland Music Club in Omaha NE on April 14.


John Michael Bradford (2013 trumpet) performs at Three Keys at the Ace Hotel in New Orleans on April 14.


2002 piano alum Gerald Clayton plays in an Duke Ellington tribute concert with the North Carolina Symphony, April 14-15 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.


Hip-hop artist Koan Kenpachi’s band, My Theme Music, which includes Khris Royal (2004 saxophone) on keys, performs Kenpachi’s new album, Supremium, on April 14 at Zony Mash Beer Project in New Orleans. Royal then performs in a DJ set at the French Quarter Fest in NOLA on April 15.


Saxophone player Braxton Cook (2009) performs at Milkboy in Philadelphia on April 14 and at Elsewhere in Brooklyn NY on April 22.


Trumpeter Alphonso Horne (2004) has gigs with his band, The Gotham Kings, April 14-16 at South Kitchen & Jazz Parlor in Philadelphia and April 19 at The Ned Nomad in NYC; and then a couple with singer Alan Cumming, April 20 at Musikfest Café in Bethlehem PA and April 23 at the Phillips Center in Gastonia NC.


Benny Benack III (2008 trumpet) and Russell Hall (2010 bass) perform together April 14-16 at the Black Cat in San Francisco.


The Marcus Roberts Trio, with Martin Jaffe (2011) on bass, performs at Nichols Concert Hall in Evanston IL on April 15.


Trumpeter Jumaane Smith (1998) performs in a “Louis! Louis! Louis!” show on April 15 at The Smith Center in Las Vegas.


Dinner Party, featuring 1997 Workshop classmates Terrace Martin (saxophone) and Robert Glasper (piano), is in the lineup for both Saturdays of Coachella 2023 at the Empire Polo Fields in Indio CA on April 15 and 22, and the sets will be live-streamed on YouTube (yt.be/Coachella). In between, on April 19, Glasper appears at the Ikeda Theater in Mesa AZ.


Saxophonist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown (2007) performs April 19-21 at Troy University in Troy AL.


Keyon Harrold (1997 trumpet) plays April 21-22 at the Ferring Jazz Bistro during Jazz St. Louis, in St. Louis MO, where he serves as the program’s Creative Advisor.


Jimmy Macbride (2008) is at the drums with The Adam Larson New York Trio on April 21 at Rudy’s Jazz Room in Nashville.


Saxophonist Eddie Barbash (2005) performs at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Westport CT on April 21, as part of the 2023 Music at MoCA Series. Barbash then appears at the Rockwood Music Hall in NYC on April 23.


Saxophonist Natalie Barbieri (2019) and her band have a gig at The Bitter End in NYC on April 21.


2014 piano alum Isaiah J. Thompson is at Birdland in NYC with John Pizzarelli for the guitarist’s album release show, April 25-27.


Maurice “MoBetta” Brown (1999 trumpet) performs on April 26 at the New Orleans Jazz Centennial’s semi-annual Jazz @ The Sandbar Spring Concert Series hosted by the University of New Orleans.


2011 piano alum Phillip Golub performs with Tropos during its Shadow Music album release show at Shift in Brooklyn NY on April 26.


Kyle Athayde (2005 trumpet) performs with his trio on April 27 at the Las Positas College concert series in Livermore CA.




Frank LoCrasto (2001) plays keyboards on the April 14 Fruit Bats release, A River Running To Your Heart. Here’s “It All Comes Back.” LoCrasto also appears as a special guest on electric bassist Dan Horne’s newly-released debut studio album, Count The Clouds; check out this official video of “Dontcha Know.”


Dinner Party [see Performances, above], comprised of saxophonists Kamasi Washington and Terrace Martin (1997) as well as 1997 piano alum Robert Glasper, releases its second album, Enigmatic Society, on April 14. Here’s the track “For Granted,” from the album.


The Adam Larson Trio’s new release, With Love, From New York, is the third in a trilogy (the first was from Chicago, and the second was from Kansas City), and it features Obed Calvaire (1998) on drums. Listen to “Perspective.”


The Jason Yeager Septet’s latest album, Unstuck in Time: the Kurt Vonnegut Suite, a centennial tribute to the works of writer Kurt Vonnegut, features Alphonso Horne [see Performances, above] on trumpet. Listen to this track, “Blues for Billy Pilgrim.”


Bassist Will Lyle’s new band, TrioGram, with Kofi Shepsu (2017) on drums, has released a self-titled album; listen here to “Changes.”


Saxophonist Ben Wendel’s new album, All One, releases April 21, and features Elena Pinderhughes (2011 saxophone); listen to her here on flute, on “Speak Joy.”


2002 saxophone alum Matt Marantz recently released a trio album, Sonoran; here is “For Charlie Haden.”


Bassist Daryl Johns (2011) has released this new single, “Gabriel.”


Trombonist Nick Finzer’s newly-released Dreams, Visions, Illusions album includes 2008 alum Jimmy Macbride [see Performances, above] on drums. Listen to the track “To Dream a Bigger Dream.”


[If you’re a Vail Jazz Workshop alum, do you know about the communication channel we created exclusively for alumni? It’s free on Slack, is a great way to network and keep in touch with your alumni colleagues, and it enables you to stay current on more about what’s happening with all things alumni-related. To join, contact Alan Tanenbaum at alumni@vailjazz.org and he’ll send you the link!]