Workshop Alumni Happenings Aug 18 – 31, 2023

By Vail Jazz

Alumni Happenings

Aug 18 – 31, 2023

2008 Vail Jazz Workshop alum Grace Kelly is a sensation on the alto and tenor saxophone, and she just won the DownBeat Annual Critics Poll for Rising Star Baritone Sax. Her musicianship, vocals, and stage presence electrify audiences far and wide. Since composing and performing “Blues for Harry Bosch” in 2016 for the Emmy-nominated series Bosch and appearing as herself in one of that year’s episodes, Kelly has released several albums as a leader, each earning critical praise. On August 24 she brings her stellar quartet, including 2006 Workshop alum Adam Bravo on piano, to the Vail Square stage under the tent in Lionshead for the final 2023 season’s performance preceding the Labor Day weekend’s Vail Jazz Party. You’ll definitely want to be there! Tickets to Kelly’s Vail Square show can be purchased here.




Anthony Hervey (2014 trumpet) performs in an album-release show by bandleader Jon Batiste on August 18 at Brooklyn Steel in Brooklyn NY.


Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah (fka Christian Scott) (2001 trumpet) performs at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC on August 18, and then at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC on August 19. You can also catch him on stage at the Musical Instrument Museum’s Summer 2023 Concert Series, in Phoenix, on August 31.


1998 alum Jumaane Smith (trumpet) performs on August 19 at Uncle Cheef in Brewster NY.


2008 saxophone alum Grace Kelly [see lead item, above] performs movie music with a 15-piece orchestra at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport MA on August 19 and at the Morgan School in Clinton CT on August 20. She follows her August 24 Vail Square performance with an August 27 stop at the Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival at Esther Short Park in Vancouver WA; that festival’s theme this year is “Made In America: Jazz, Gospel, Blues & Bluegrass Jazz.”


1996 saxophone alum Tia Fuller (who will perform in Vail as a member of the Alumni Sextet during the Labor Day weekend) performs with local Kansas City (MO) musicians in a salute to Charlie Parker at Robert Graham’s statue in the Jazz District on August 19. Fuller then appears at Folly Theater in Kansas City on August 26 as part of the Spotlight: Charlie Parker Festival.


The Philadelphia Orchestra, with David Wong (1999) (who will perform in Vail as a member of the Alumni Sextet during the Labor Day weekend) on bass and Brandon Lee (2000) on trumpet, performs “The Zodiac Suite,” the late pianist Mary Lou Williams’s adaptation of composer Richard Strauss’s “Also sprach Zarathustra,” on August 20 on WRTI 90.1 and August 21 on WRTI HD-2, and is available for streaming for two weeks afterward here.


1997 saxophone alum Terrace Martin records live sets every Wednesday at Verse in LA; his next performance there is August 23.


Robert Glasper (1997 piano) brings Black Radio to Austin City Limits, at the Moody Theater in Austin TX, with a variety of special guests, on August 24; and again at the Empire Room & Garage in Austin on August 25.


Trumpeter Benny Benack III (2008) (who will perform in Vail as a member of the Alumni Sextet during the Labor Day weekend) appears solo at The Broadway Bar (Nordstrom) in NYC on August 24. Benack is then headlining The Northwest Jazz Festival on August 25 in Lewiston NY. On August 26 he takes the stage at the Oshkosh Jazz Festival in Oshkosh WI, the first of three consecutive Wisconsin gigs; on August 27 and August 28 Benack has album release shows, first at Great Northern Distilling in Stevens Point and then at Saint Kate Arts Hotel in Milwaukee.


2009 sax alum Braxton Cook (who will perform in Vail as a member of the Alumni Sextet during the Labor Day weekend), performs at the Navy Pier in Chicago on August 25.


2000 piano alum Josh Gallagher appears at the Clearwater Jazz & Art Festival on August 26 at The Brewing Projekt in Eau Claire WI.


Workshop alumni Keyon Harrold (1997 trumpet) and Gerald Clayton (2002 piano) are in the lineup at the Leimert Park Jazz Festival on August 26 at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza’s rooftop parking deck in LA. Clayton also performs, with saxophonist/flautist Charles Lloyd, on August 31 at Dakota in Minneapolis MN.


James Francies (2012 piano) performs at the Blue Note Jazz Club in NYC on August 28.




Listen to “Variations Told by an Old Storyteller,” the first single from the new album Imitation by M. Alex Ramirez (2013), who JAZZIZ magazine calls a rising star saxophonist.


Drummer Gregory Hutchinson’s Da Bang, New Dawn features Chief Xian aTunde Adjuah [see Performances, above] on “Last Time We Gonna Polite.”


Pianist Harold Lopez-Nussa’s new album, Timba a la Americana, releases August 25 and features Luques Curtis (2000) on bass; listen to this track, “Tumba La Timba.”


Saxophonist Joshua Redman has released “Baltimore” from his quartet’s upcoming (September 15) album, Where We Are, which includes 2001 alum Joe Sanders on bass; listen to the newly-released track here.


Earlier this summer, 2019 alum Nico Colucci (saxophone) released his debut album, introducing Nico Colucci. Here is “C-Shell,” a track from the album. Colucci returned to Vail on August 10 to take in that evening’s Lakecia Benjamin show in Lionshead, and he played a couple of crowd-pleasing tunes with Vail Jazz Artistic Director Drew Zaremba’s trio at “Howard’s Hangout” after the show.


Bassist Sam Wilkes’s new single, “Driving,” heard here, is from his forthcoming (October 6) album of the same name, which features 2014 alum Chris Fishman (piano) and 2011 alum Daryl Johns (bass).


Singer Kurt Elling has released “Only the Lonely Woman,” heard here, from the forthcoming (September 15) album Superblue: the Iridescent Spree, with contributions from Corey Fonville (2006 drums) and Elena Pinderhughes (2011 saxophone).


Bassist Carlos Henriquez’s forthcoming (September 15) album, A Nuyorican Tale, features 1998 alum Obed Calvaire on drums. 


Butcher Brown has released this single, “DYKWYD” (alliteration for “Do You Know What You’re Doing”), with Braxton Cook [see Performances, above] on saxophone.


Recognitions, Awards & Other Items of Note


The 28th annual Vail Jazz Workshop gets underway on August 26 as another 12 future alumni arrive in Vail for world-class music instruction and jaw-dropping performances as the “Vail Jazz All-Stars” throughout the Labor Day weekend. You can witness their transformation from talented high school jazz musicians to budding stage and recording artists during the Vail Jazz Party, August 31 – September 3; passes for all VJP performances are available here. And you can see the students’ photos and read their bios here.


[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!]