Workshop Alumni Happenings July 21 – Aug 3, 2023

By Vail Jazz

Alumni Happenings

July 21 – Aug 3, 2023

2002 piano alum Sullivan Fortner brings his trio to the Vail Square tent outside the Arrabelle hotel in Lionshead (Vail CO) on July 27, the first of three Workshop alumni to headline these signature events of the 2023 Vail Jazz Festival. Known for his agility as an improviser, Fortner has released several albums as a leader and has accompanied such leading jazz artists as Wynton Marsalis, Diane Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Nicholas Payton, and Workshop alumni stars Ambrose Akinmusire (2000 trumpet) and Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah (fka 2001 trumpet alum Christian Scott). A Grammy-winning artist, Fortner received international praise for his collaborative work with singer Cecile McLorin Salvant on her 2018 album, The Window. Tickets to the Vail Square performance can be purchased here.




Tia Fuller (1996 saxophone) performs at the Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival in Springfield MA, July 21-22.


Terrace Martin (1997) plays saxophone in JAZZ Re-EVOLUTION, presented by WORDTheatre and the LA Philharmonic Association, on July 22 at The Ford Theatre in LA.


Sullivan Fortner [see lead item, above] brings his trio, plus clarinetist Anat Cohen, to the Stanford Jazz Festival (CA) on July 22. The trio then performs at Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla CA on July 24, at the Vail Jazz Festival on July 27, and at TACAW in Basalt CO on July 28. Fortner then performs with the David DeJesus Latin Jazz Band, which also features alumni brothers Luques Curtis (2000 bass) and Zaccai Curtis (1999 piano), at the Litchfield Jazz Festival in Washington CT on July 30.


Saxophonist Grace Kelly (who will be at the Vail Jazz Festival on August 24) performs at the City Green stage in Sheboygan WI during the Levitt AMP Music Series there on July 27.


The 92nd Street (NYC) Y’s “Jazz in July All-Star Jazz Party,” with bassist David Wong (1999) among the All-Stars performing, takes place on July 27.


Pianist Robert Glasper (1997) returns as Artist-in-Residence to the Blue Note Jazz Festival Napa Valley (CA), at the Silverado Resort, July 28-30. The festival lineup includes Terrace Martin [see above], 2002 drums alum Marcus Gilmore with keyboardist Taylor McFerrin and singer Bobby McFerrin; and The Soul Rebels with 1997 trumpet alum Keyon Harrold. The band Rhapsody, also with Harrold, performs at the festival on July 29, and Harrold guest-appears on Butcher Brown’s Solar Music, due out October 6.


The Second Life Trio with Jimmy Macbride (2008) (who will perform at the Vail Jazz Party during Labor Day weekend later this summer) on drums, performs on July 23 at Summer Sundays in Travelers Park, Jackson Heights NY. Then Macbride performs with The Brandon Goldberg Trio (and Goldberg will be in Vail as a 2023 Workshop student later this summer!) at the Litchfield Jazz Festival in Washington CT on July 28. And he leads his own band in a gig at Smalls in NYC on July 31.


Trumpeter Benny Benack III (2008), who will perform at the Vail Jazz Party during Labor Day weekend later this summer, appears at Chris’s Jazz Café in Philadelphia on July 28.


Bark Out Thunder Roar Out Lightning, the new album by Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah [see lead item, above] is set for release on July 28.


Natalie Barbieri (2019 saxophone) performs at the Bitter End in NYC on July 28. Barbieri also takes the stage in a “Face to Face LI” Billy Joel/Elton John tribute at the Jamesport Brewery in Riverhead NY on July 29.


Jumaane Smith (1998 trumpet) headlines the Northeast Jazz and Wine Festival at Clinton Square in Syracuse NY on July 29.


Saxophonist Greg Ward (1999) performs at the Reggae FreedomFest at Plaza Antiqua in Richmond VA on July 29.




Saxophonist Joshua Redman will release a new album, where we are, on September 15, and it includes Joe Sanders (2001) on bass. You can listen to “Chicago Blues” from the album now, right here.


Pianist Steven Feifke’s latest album, Catalyst, features alumni trumpeters Gabe Medd (2008) and Benny Benack III [see Performances, above] (Benack also contributes vocals to the recording), as well as Jeffery Miller (2013) on trombone and Bryan Carter (2007) on drums. Listen to them all on “It Can Happen To You,” from the album.


Bassist Vicente Archer’s most recent album, Short Stories, features pianist Gerald Clayton (2002), who also composed this song, “Round Comes Round,” from the album.


Vibraphonist Warrant Wolf’s new release, Chano Pozo: Origins, features Tim Green (1998) on alto sax on this track, “Another Side.”


Multi-instrumentalist Reginald Chapman’s new album, Accretion, features 2006 alum Corey Fonville on drums. Listen to the track “Hearing Is Seeing.”


Two alumni are featured on drummer Kassa Overall’s latest album, AnimalsMorgan Guerin (2014 saxophone) on electric bass and Sullivan Fortner [see Performances, above] on piano and keyboards. Listen to “Make My Way Back Home.”


Saxophonist Brian McCarthy’s new nonet release, After\Life, features 2003 alum Justin Kauflin on piano. Here is “Movement III” from the album.


Pianist Harold Lopez-Nussa’s new single, “Tumba La Timba,” from his forthcoming (August 25) album Timba A La Americana, features 2000 alum Luques Curtis on bass; listen here.


Robert Glasper [see Performances, above] has teamed with singer/songwriters SiR and Alex Isley to release a new single, “Back To Love,” which you can check out here.


Singer-songwriter Goapele’s new single, “Time Heals,” includes Keyon Harrold [see Performances, above] on trumpet. Listen here.


Recognitions, Awards & Other Items of Note


Downbeat Magazine’s 71st Annual Critics Poll is out, and a bunch of Vail Jazz Workshop alumni are among winners and top-three finishers.  Congratulations to:

  • Ambrose Akinmusire [see lead item, above], winner in the Trumpet category;
  • Matt Brewer (2000), winner in the Rising Star Bass category;
  • Obed Calvaire (1998), winner in the Rising Star Drums category;
  • Lakecia Benjamin (1999) – who will be at the Vail Jazz Festival on August 10 – winner in the Rising Star Flute and Rising Star Arranger categories, and second finisher in the Rising Star Jazz Artist category;
  • Benny Benack III [see Performances and Recordings, above] – who will be at the Vail Jazz Party as a member of the Workshop Alumni Sextet during Labor Day weekend – second place in the Rising Male Vocalist category.
  • Keyon Harrold [see Performances, above], third place in the Rising Star Trumpet category; and
  • Braxton Cook (2009) – who will be at the Vail Jazz Party as a member of the Workshop Alumni Sextet during Labor Day weekend – third place in the Rising Star Alto Sax category.


Congratulations, as well, to Bryan Carter [see Recordings, above], who is one of 20 recipients of a Jazz Road Creative Residencies grant from Atlanta-based South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment of the Arts. The grants range from $5,000 to $40,000 each and can be used to fund new creative visions or community engagement.


Additional congratulations go out to Ambrose Akinmusire [see above], who has been named the new Artistic Director at the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performers (formerly the Monk Institute) at UCLA, following trumpeter Terence Blanchard in that role.


And a shout out, too, to 2004 trumpet alum Jonathan Challoner, who is now an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba (Canada), where he teaches a course in “Discovering Jazz.”


[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!]