Workshop Alumni Happenings May 26 – June 8, 2023

By Vail Jazz

Alumni Happenings

May 26 – June 8, 2023


On “Gabriel,” the recently released single by 2011 bass alum Daryl Johns, he plays not only bass but also drums, guitar, piano, and synthesizer. Check out the single here. Johns is also among special guest musicians, including guitar master Eric Clapton, on Brazilian guitarist/vocalist Pedro Martins’s forthcoming album, Radio Misterio; listen to him here on the track “Polos,” which also features his 2014 Workshop colleague, Chris Fishman, on piano. You can catch Johns and 1997 Workshop alum Keyon Harrold (trumpet) perform as M.E.B. (formerly Miles Electric Band) in SFJazz’s May 28 Miles Davis Celebration at the SFJazz Center in San Francisco. 




The Gasoline Lollipops, with 1996 alum Scott Coulter on keys, perform on May 26 at the Bluebird Theatre in Denver.


1997 sax alum Terrace Martin performs May 26-27 at The Dakota, in Minneapolis MN.


Pianist Gerald Clayton (2002) performs with saxophonist Charles Lloyd in a cabaret-style show at The 222 in Healdsburg CA on May 27.


Saxophonist Khris Royal (1997) performs at Bud Rips in New Orleans LA on May 27.


Vocalist Kurt Elling performs with guitarist Charlie Hunter and drummer Corey Fonville (2006) on May 27 at District Live in Savannah GA.


Lakecia Benjamin (1999 saxophone) performs with her band Phoenix, which includes Zaccai Curtis (1999) on piano, at the Atlanta Jazz Fest, in Piedmont Park, on May 27. Other Workshop alumni performing at that Fest are James Francies (2012 piano) and Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah (formerly Christian Scott) (2001 trumpet), both on May 29. Benjamin and Phoenix then perform on June 1 at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in Seattle WA, on June 3 at The 1905 in Portland OR, on June 4 at the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society in Half Moon Bay CA, and on June 5 at Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz CA. Benjamin, who guest-curated the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival in Burlington VT this year, also performs with Phoenix at that Festival, on June 7.


2014 trumpet alum Anthony Hervey takes the stage with drummer Ulysses Owens & Generation Y at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival on May 27 in Jacksonville FL. Hervey performs again on June 7 with the Sean Mason Quintet at Smoke in NYC.


Trumpeter Benny Benack III (2008) has a quartet performance at The Django in NYC on May 28. Benack is then featured in pianist Matt Baker’s debut at NYC’s Chelsea Table + Stage presenting a new version of the project, “A Rhapsody of Gershwin,” on June 6. And he’ll perform with his dad and an eight-piece ensemble in “Dig: An Evening of Jazz in the Garden” on June 15 at the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden in North Fayette PA.


1997 trumpet alum Keyon Harrold (see lead item, above) is at Jazz Alley in Seattle WA on May 30-31, and follows that two-night gig with one at Yoshi’s in Oakland CA on June 1 and another two-night gig, June 2-3, at The Sun Rose in Westwood CA.


Ambrose Akinmusire (2000 trumpet) performs with his quartet at Village Vanguard in NYC on May 31.


The Jazz at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) series hosts a free concert on June 2 at Smidt Welcome Plaza in LA featuring the Keschia Potter Quartet, fronted by 1996 saxophone alum Keschia Potter.


Saxophonist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown (2007) performs with trumpeter Chris Botti on June 2 at Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson NV, on June 3 at Silverado Vineyards in Napa CA, and on June 4 at Thornton Winery in Temecula CA. He then has a duo performance with guitarist Cecil Alexander at the Boston Sax Shop in Boston MA on June 7.


Chris Fishman (2014 piano) (see lead item, above) is currently on tour as a member of guitarist Pat Metheny’s Side-Eye Trio, with upcoming dates on June 7 at the Lebanon Opera House in Lebanon NH and June 8 at The Cabot in Beverly MA.


Bassist Raviv Markovitz (2008) performs with the Steven Feifke Big Band on June 8 at Dizzy’s in NYC.




The forthcoming album by trumpeter Benny Benack III (see Performances, above), Third Time’s the Charm, features Russell Hall (2010 bass) and Chad Lefkowitz-Brown (2007 saxophone) (see Performances, above). Here they are on “Catching Drift,” a track from the album. When it comes to recording and performing with other Workshop alumni, Benack says “We keep it in the family!”


Speaking of keeping it in the family, bassist Cole Davis (2013) joins his trombonist father Michael Davis on the Hip-Bone Big Band’s soon-to-be-released new album, Open City. The younger Davis composed three of the album’s tunes, and his younger brother Zaq Davis (2016) plays trumpet on four other tracks of the album.


Bassist Linda May Han Oh’s June 6 release of The Glass Hours includes Obed Calvaire (1998 drums) in the quintet; listen to “Circles.” Calvaire also plays on singer Cecile McLorin Salvant’s newest recording, joined by two other Workshop alumni: Sullivan Fortner (2002) on piano and Luques Curtis (2000) on bass. Listen to all of them on this track, “Doudou.” Curtis also plays on poet aja monet’s newly-released song “why my love,” along with 2011 saxophone alum Elena Pinderhughes on flute; here’s the official “visualizer” version of that track.


Singer Rickie Lee Jones has released a new album of jazz standards, Pieces of Treasure, and it features David Wong (1999) on bass. Listen to “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.”


Wong’s 1999 Workshop classmate, Greg Ward, plays sax on Both Sides of Joni, a newly released album of reimagined Joni Mitchell music by vocalist Janiece Jaffe and pianist Monika Herzig. Listen to “Both Sides Now.”


Isaiah J. Thompson (2014) provides piano accompaniment on guitarist John Pizzarelli’s new album, Stage and Screen, released in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Pizzarelli’s 1983 debut recording of the same name. Listen to “Time After Time.”


Braxton Cook (2009 saxophone) is featured on The Free Label’s first single, “Shine,” released from its forthcoming debut album; listen here.


Recognitions, Awards & Other Items of Note


Downbeat magazine’s 46th Annual Student Music Awards, announced in its June 2023 edition, is replete with Workshop alumni:

     Jazz Soloist category: Ben Schwartz (2022 drums), High School winner; William Schwartzman (2022 piano), High School Honors award; Esteban Castro (2018 piano), Undergraduate College winner; Gavin Gray (2019 bass), Undergraduate College Outstanding Performance.

     Original Composition – Small Ensemble category: William Schwartzman (see above), Performing Arts High School winner; Alex Heidelbaugh (2022 trombone), High School winner; Luciano Soriano (2021 trombone), High School Honors Outstanding Compositions.

     Small Jazz Combo category: Andrew Carroll (2004 piano), Graduate College Outstanding Soloist.

     Congratulations to all of these VJ Workshop alumni!


2017 bass alum Ben Feldman, a semi-finalist in the International Society of Bassists Jazz Competition, performs in the finals June 5-6 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Good luck, Ben!


1997 saxophone alum Terrace Martin has signed a recording deal with BMG to launch a new multi-album jazz series, the first of which is due out this summer. Way to go, Terrace!


[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 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!]