Workshop Alumni Happenings Aug 4 – 17, 2023

By Vail Jazz

Alumni Happenings

Aug 4 – 17, 2023

Saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin (1999), fresh off this year’s release of her highly-acclaimed album, Phoenix, takes the stage under the tent at Vail Square in Lionshead on August 10, with her band of the same name (including her 1999 Workshop classmate Zaccai Curtis on piano). Her previous album, Pursuance: The Coltranes, an homage to John and Alice Coltrane, also garnered rave reviews. Benjamin’s electric presence and proficiency on the horn are something to see (and hear!), especially now that she’s fully recovered from a broken jaw sustained in a horrifying car accident in 2021. Don’t miss out on the chance to catch a Lakecia Benjamin performance! Tickets to her Vail Square show can be purchased here.


In Memoriam:

We learned with great sadness last week of the death, at age 41, of Vail Jazz Workshop alumnus Daniel Jones. A talented piano student in the 1998 Workshop class, Jones went on to become an accomplished music director and composer, collaborating with Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Robert Glasper, and Erykah Badu, among other musical luminaries. As this piece in the Miami Times states, he “leaves behind a musical legacy that has touched the lives of countless artists and fans.” Rest in peace, Daniel Jones.

Daniel Jones




Saxophonist Natalie Barbieri (2019) performs in a “Face to Face LI” tribute to Billy Joel and Elton John at Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre in Eisenhower Park, East Meadow NY, on August 4.


The band for the New London (NH) Barn Playhouse’s production of “Beautiful,” the bio-musical story of singer/songwriter Carole King, includes Michael Manasseh (2018 drums) on percussion. The show runs now through August 6.


The Newport Jazz Festival lineup features Lakecia Benjamin [see lead item, above] on August 4 and Keyon Harrold (1997 trumpet) on August 5. The Festival takes place at Fort Adams State Park in Newport RI. Benjamin then performs with Soul Squad in a free concert at Wingate Park in Brooklyn NY on August 8. Harrold then also performs at The Moon at O’Bannon’s during the Telluride Jazz Festival in Telluride CO on August 12, and on the main stage there on August 13. Then Harrold, joined by pianist James Francies (2012) and drummer Blaque Dynamite (aka Mike Mitchell, 2011), performs August 14-16 with the Karl Denson Project at the Blue Note Jazz Club in NYC.


2013 trombone alum Jeffery Miller also performs at the Newport Jazz Festival [see above], with Endea Owens and the Cookout, on August 4. And 2014 trumpet alum Anthony Hervey performs there with pianist/singer Jon Batiste on August 5.


2005 trumpet alum Kyle Athayde’s Dance Party provides the music for “Dime-a-Dance” at Sherman’s Park in Caroga Lake NY on August 4, and performs there with Eddie Barbash (2005 saxophone) on August 5.


Trumpeter Benny Benack III (2008) (who will be a member of the Workshop Alumni Sextet at this year’s Vail Jazz Party during Labor Day weekend), has a trio performance at The Jazz Corner in Hilton Head SC on August 4 and 5. Then, on August 6, he is in “The Prince of Cool” tribute to Chet Baker at The Cary Theater in Cary NC. Benack is in a quartet performing at Sunset Jazz at Bistango in Irvine CA on August 8, and at Vic’s Las Vegas (NV) on August 10 and 11. On August 12, Benack and his 2008 Workshop classmate, Grace Kelly (saxophone) (who will headline a Vail Square performance in Lionshead on August 24), each put on a show at the San Jose Summer Jazz Fest in Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park in downtown San Jose CA. Kelly then performs at the Caroga Arts Collective, in Caroga Lake NY, on August 16.


The third annual Summer SoundWaves outdoor concert series at The Music Center in LA features 2001 trumpet alum Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah (fka Christian Scott), as well as a collective of LA-based musicians curated by music director Luca Mendoza (2015 piano), on August 5.


Jumaane Smith (1998 trumpet) performs with The Roots on August 5 at Forest Hills Stadium in Forest Hills NY, and in a quartet on August 6 at Birdland in NYC. Then he takes the stage with drummer Carmen Intorre Jr. at the Fulton Jazz Festival in Fulton NY on August 12.


Robert Glasper (1997 piano) is in the lineup for the Sunset Jazz Festival on August 5 at Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park, in Atlanta GA. Glasper also appears at the Richmond Jazz and Music Festival, at Maymont in Richmond VA, August 12 and 13.


2012 piano alum James Francies has a trio performance at the Blue Note in NYC on August 7.


Pianist Gerald Clayton (2002) has a multi-night gig with the Bill Frisell Four at The Village Vanguard in NYC, August 8-13.


The Morris Museum’s 2023 season of Jazz on the Back Deck includes the Evan Sherman (2009 drums) Big Band on August 10, in the Morris Museum’s Bickford Theatre in Morristown NJ.


Saxophonist Khris Royal (2004) fronts his band, The Point, at the Spotted Cat in New Orleans on August 12.




A new cover of Salt-N-Pepa’s 1991 hit, “Let’s Talk About Sex,” by 2009 saxophone alum Braxton Cook (who will be a member of the Workshop Alumni Sextet at this year’s Vail Jazz Party during Labor Day weekend) and singer/songwriter Maiya Blaney, has been released as part of volume two of the Broken Glass series; listen here.


Trumpeter Keyon Harrold [see Performances, above] plays on trumpeter Michael Leonhart and hip-hop artist JSWISS’s new song, “The Chase,” from their debut album Bona Fide; listen here.


Terrace Martin (1997 saxophone) has debuted Curly, the second of six jazz albums he plans to release this year; here is “24th and Lake,” from the album.


Butcher Brown’s Solar Music, due out October 6, features Corey Fonville (2006) on drums, including on this cover of the Roy Ayers tune, “This Side Of Sunshine.”


Former Genesis front-man Peter Gabriel has released another song, “Olive Tree,” from his forthcoming album I/0, with 2010 alum Josh Shpak on trumpet; listen here.


Recognitions, Awards & Other Items of Note


Belated congratulations to Chase Morrin (2010 piano), who was recently awarded a South Arts (Atlanta GA) Jazz Road Creative Residencies grant. The previous installment of “Alumni Happenings” noted that 2007 drums alum Bryan Carter received one of these grants, which range from $5,000 to $40,000 and can be used to fund new creative visions or community engagement; but we inadvertently omitted news of Morrin’s receipt of one of these grants as well. Apologies for the oversight!


2003 bass alum Lauren Falls takes part in Jazz.FM91 (CJRT-FM) Toronto’s new Discover Women in Jazz concert series, broadcast live and live-streamed to YouTube each Thursday during August between 7 and 8 pm ET. The series promotes, champions, and highlights women’s contributions to jazz as musicians, composers, lyricists, and bandleaders.


[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!]