Workshop Alumni Happenings Sept 15 – 28, 2023

By Vail Jazz

Alumni Happenings

Sept 15 – 28, 2023

2023 Vail Jazz Workshop students Elijah Allen (trumpet), Miles Cole (trombone), Evan Dexter (trombone), Brandon Cole (piano), Miriam Goroff-Behel (alto saxophone), Læsio Littlejohn (bass), Beckett Miles (drums), Jose Andre Montano (piano), Lucas Netto (tenor saxophone), Ethan Oliver (drums), Preston Rupert (trumpet), and Rayah Thomas (bass) are Vail Jazz’s new Workshop alumni! These students wowed Vail Jazz Party patrons in impressive group and ensemble performances as well as late-night jams at “Howard’s Hangout.”  You’re sure to be seeing and hearing more about them over the coming years, but you can re-familiarize yourselves with this stellar class right here!




Septessence, a new jazz septet led by bassist Nashir Janmohamed (2013), appears at The Blue Bamboo Jazz Festival in Winter Park FL on September 15.


2014 trumpet alum Anthony Hervey performs on September 17 at the Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society in Half Moon Bay CA, and on September 27 he leads a quintet – including 2014 piano alum Isaiah J. Thompson – at the Jazz Gallery in NYC. Thompson also performs on September 23, at Veritas Vineyards in Afton VA.


Christian McBride’s New Jawn, with Josh Evans (2002) on trumpet, puts on a show at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley in Seattle on September 16.


Benny Benack III (2008 trumpet) has back-to-back quartet gigs in NYC, at Baretto on September 16 and at Django on September 17.


James Francies (2012 piano) performs at Regattabar in The Charles Hotel in Cambridge MA on September 16. Francies then leads three consecutive-night trio performances at The Blue Note Jazz Club in NYC: September 25 featuring bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Eric Harland, September 26 featuring saxophonist Chris Potter, and September 27 featuring drummer Jeremy Dutton and Israeli jazz guitarist Gilad Hekselman.


Keyon Harrold (1997 trumpet) performs with Pharoahe Monch & Mumu Fresh at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, during the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, on September 17. Blaque Dynamite (aka 2011 drums alum Mike Mitchell) also performs at this Festival.


2011 saxophone alum Elena Pinderhughes performs on flute with 2002 alum Gerald Clayton on piano in Zipper Hall at The Coburn School in LA on September 17. A September 24 performance by multi-instrumentalist Louis Cato, pianist Ray Angry, and saxophonist James Carter at the Blue Note Jazz Club in NYC includes Pinderhughes with the New Orleans brass band The Soul Rebels. Pinderhughes also appears with The Young Musicians Choral Orchestra on September 27 at Radium Runway at Alameda Point in San Francisco.


The Emmet Cohen Trio, with 2016 alum Philip Norris on bass, performs September 19 in the Eisenhower Auditorium at the Pennsylvania State University, in University Park PA.


Singer Sabeth Perez brings her quartet, with Jimmy Macbride (2008) on drums, to Blues Alley in DC on September 20.


The Monterey Jazz Festival in Monterey CA, September 22-24, is replete with VJ Workshop alumni: Ambrose Akinmusire (2000 trumpet) is a commissioned artist presenting Isakoso Ara featuring Oumou Sangare on September 23 on the Jimmy Lyons Stage. 1999 saxophone alum and Festival artist-in-residence Lakecia Benjamin performs there on September 23. The Festival’s 2023 Next Generation Ensembles, directed by Gerald Clayton (see above) and featuring Benjamin, perform on September 24. The Trio, uniting Clayton with his bassist father John Clayton as well as drummer Jeff Hamilton, also appears at the Monterey event. So do 2002 piano alum Sullivan Fortner, leading his trio, and the MJF Women in Jazz Combo directed by Katie Thiroux (2005 bass).


You can catch Sophie Faught (2004 saxophone) in the Swing in September Concert Series at Dunn Meadow on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington IN on September 22.


Grace Kelly (2008 saxophone) performs at Jazz St. Louis, September 23 at the Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz in Grand Center, St. Louis.


The Water Street Jazz Series at the Water Street Plaza Amphitheater in Henderson NV features Jumaane “Sweet Baby” Smith (1998 trumpet) on September 23.


2008 bass alum Raviv Markovitz is in a quintet performance at the Jazz Loft in Stony Brook NY on September 23.


The New Mexico Jazz Festival has Lakecia Benjamin and Sullivan Fortner (see the Monterey Jazz Festival item, above) in the lineup; Benjamin on September 25 and Fortner on September 27, both at the Outpost Performance Space in Albuquerque NM. You can catch Fortner the day before this show (on September 26) at the Century Room in Tucson AZ.




Keyon Harrold (see Performances, above) has a new single out, “Don’t Lie,” accompanied by singer Malaya; listen here. Harrold also has announced the forthcoming (January 19, 2024) release of his album, Foreverland, and has shared this track, “Find Your Peace,” which also features Robert Glasper (1997 piano).


Saxophonist Benjamin Boone’s September 15 release of Caught in the Rhythm, combining poetry and jazz composition, features Ambrose Akinmusire (see the Monterey Jazz Festival item under Performances, above).


Bassist Carlos Henriquez’s September 15 album, A Nuyorican Tale, includes 1998 alum Obed Calvaire on drums.


Joshua Redman releases where are we on September 15, featuring 2001 alum Joe Sanders on bass; listen to this cover of the Bruce Springsteen tune, “Streets of Philadelphia.”


The SLUGish Ensemble, with Mike Mitchell (see Performances, above), releases the album In Solitude on September 15.


Continuing, the new album by the Tyshawn Sorey Trio, with Matt Brewer (2000) on bass, has been selected by jazzwise magazine as one of the top jazz albums for September 2023.


Tape loop musician Tyler Gilmore is joined by pianist Jason Moran and drummer Marcus Gilmore (2002) on the new album Refract. Listen to “STIR.”


2012 alum Max Gerl has released a self-titled solo bass jazz album, which you can read about in this piece in The Shepherd Express, an alternative news source in Milwaukee.


Drummer Evan Sherman (2009) accompanies singer Samara Joy on her new single, “Tight,” so take a listen here.


The Phony Ppl quintet has released the album Euphonyus, with Braxton Cook (2009 saxophone) on this track, “love just died.”


Recognitions, Awards & Other Items of Note


Two Workshop alumni are on the road performing in large venues with well-known pop artists: Jeffery Miller (2013 trombone) with the Jonas Brothers on September 16 at CHI Health Center in Omaha, September 18 at Rocket Mortgage Field House in Cleveland, and September 21 at Wells Fargo Center in Cleveland; and Josh Shpak (2010 trumpet) with former Genesis frontman Peter Gabriel on September 16 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, September 18 at Madison Square Garden in NYC, and September 20 at Capital One Arena in DC. Bring your binoculars!


Congratulations to Robert Glasper (see Recordings, above), whose “Therapy Pt. 2,” recorded with rap artist Mac Miller, has been nominated in the Impact Track category for the 2023 BET Hip Hop Awards, which will debut on BET on October 10.


Singer Cecile McLorin Salvant, accompanied by pianist Sullivan Fortner (see Performances, above), lit up the audience at the start of the US Open women’s tennis championship match with a stirring rendition of “America the Beautiful,” which you can check out here.


Double bassist Andrew Sommer (2012) has joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, coinciding with the start of its 2023-24 season. Congratulations, Andrew!


[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!]