Workshop Alumni Happenings Sept 27 – Oct 10, 2023

By Vail Jazz

Alumni Happenings

Sept 27 – Oct 10, 2023

2014 trumpet alum Anthony Hervey leads a quintet – including his Workshop classmate Isaiah J. Thompson (piano) – at the Jazz Gallery in NYC on September 27. Hervey, who released the album Words From My Horn earlier this year, is then part of the band touring nationally in “When You Wish Upon A Star,” a jazz tribute to 100 years of Disney. The tour kicks off on September 29 at the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center in Livermore CA. Additional dates are: September 30 at the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts in Tracy CA; October 1 at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita CA; October 3 at the Brigham Young University Performing Arts Center in Provo UT; October 4 at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls ID; October 6 at the University of Colorado in Boulder; October 7 at the SFJazz Center in San Francisco; October 8 at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center at CSU in Long Beach CA; and October 10 at the Numerica Performing Arts Center in Wenatchee WA.




Pianist James Francies (2012) leads a trio featuring drummer Jeremy Dutton and Israeli jazz guitarist Gilad Hekselman at the Blue Note Jazz Club in NYC on September 27. The Karl Denson Project, with Francies on piano and Blaque Dynamite (aka 2011 alum Mike Mitchell) on drums, plays at the Blue Note Jazz Club in NYC on October 2.


2011 saxophone alum Elena Pinderhughes performs with The Young Musicians Choral Orchestra on September 27 at Radium Runway at Alameda Point in San Francisco.


Sullivan Fortner (2002 piano) makes a few stops at The New Mexico Jazz Festival: September 27 at the Outpost Performance Space in Albuquerque NM, September 28 at SITE Santa Fe, and September 29 at the Harwood Museum in Taos.


The 85th anniversary tour of Blue Note Records features Gerald Clayton (2002 piano) and Matt Brewer (2000 bass), among others, at the University of Wisconsin’s Memorial Union Play Circle in Madison on September 29.


The Stationery Factory and Berkshires Jazz, in Dalton MA, presents “An Evening with Grace Kelly” on September 29, featuring the 2008 saxophone alum. Kelly then moves on to perform at City Winery in NYC on October 4 and at The Music Room in West Yarmouth MA on October 6. The next night, October 7, she leads a 15-piece string ensemble in an “At the Movies” show at Chubb Theatre in Concord NH, featuring music from some of the saxophonist’s favorite flicks.


Saxophonist Khris Royal (2004) takes his band, Dark Matter, to the New Orleans Fried Chicken Festival in NOLA on September 30.


Isaiah J. Thompson (see lead item, above) is at the keys with the John Pizzarelli Trio on September 30 at the Andalucia Foundation in Comwells Heights PA and on October 6 at the Fillius Events Barn in Clinton NY.


Josh Shpak (2010 trumpet) continues touring with singer Peter Gabriel, including stops at the United Center in Chicago on September 30 and the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle on October 8.


Songbook Sundays, at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club in NYC, presents a celebration of the work of songwriter Harold Arlen on October 1, with Jimmy Macbride (2008) on drums.


Sandie Castaneda (2000 drums) performs with Las Chikas at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio CA on October 1, and takes the stage again at the Palmdale Amphitheater in Palmdale CA on October 7.


2007 saxophone alum Chad Lefkowitz-Brown leads a quartet in an October 2 performance at Brighton High School in Cottonwood Heights UT.


Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire (2000) performs at Roulette in Brooklyn NY on October 2. Akinmusire’s new ensemble, Owl Song, with guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Herlin Riley, performs October 6 at the Wortham Theater Center in Houston and October 7 at the Faulkner Performing Arts Center in Fayetteville AR.


Bassist Katie Thiroux (2005) is in the lineup on all three days of the October 6 Oregon Coast Jazz Party at the Performing Arts Center in Newport.


Saxophonist Alex Laurenzi (2015) leads a quintet on October 6 at Harlem’s Room 623 in NYC, with 2022 alum Ben Schwartz on drums.


2018 piano alum Esteban Castro leads his trio in a gig at The Gilmore on October 8 in Kalamazoo MI.


The Snowberries, with 2008 alum Tom Kelley on drums, play jazz standards at the Mazama Public House in Mazama WA on October 9.


Trumpeter Benny Benack III (2008) is in a jam session at Smalls in NYC on October 9.


Pianist Sullivan Fortner (2002) accompanies vocalist Cecile McLorin-Salvant during the Thomasville Entertainment Foundation’s concert series on October 10 at the Center for the Arts in Thomasville GA.


Fortner’s 2002 classmate, Gerald Clayton (piano), plays in a Thelonious Monk birthday celebration at the SFJazz Center in San Francisco on October 10.




Bassist Adam Blackstone has released The Legacy Experience Live, an album stitching together 14 live performances at pop-up shows across the US, which includes Robert Glasper (see lead item, above) on this track, “Trust Me (Interlude).”


Kota the Friend’s latest album, Protea, features Braxton Cook (2009 saxophone) as a special guest on this track, “Autumn in Paris.”


Singer Alex Isley has teamed up with saxophonist Terrace Martin (1997) to cover singer Sade’s 1988 classic, “Paradise,” from a forthcoming album (as yet untitled, slated for release this fall). Check it out here.


“Eye Never Knew,” the fourth single released from Butcher Brown’s forthcoming Solar Music album, features trumpeter Keyon Harrold (1997); listen here.


Singer Veronica Swift’s new self-titled album features Benny Benack III (see Performances, above) and 2016 bass alum Philip Norris. Here’s “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me.”


Pianist Micah Thomas (2013) has a new album out – Reveal – and it includes this track, “Eros.”


Recognitions, Awards & Other Items of Note


Robert Glasper (see lead item, above) returns to the Blue Note Jazz Club in NYC for his “Robtober” residency, October 4 – November 5. This is his fifth consecutive year conducting the month-long residency, which features a stellar lineup of special guests (e.g., singer Norah Jones, saxophonist Kamasi Washington, singer Yebba), including a multi-night Dinner Party gig later in October with Workshop classmate Terrace Martin (saxophone). [Check out the next two installments of “Alumni Happenings” for these Dinner Party dates, as well as dates of additional Glasper performances during the residency.]


[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!]