Workshop Alumni Happenings Oct 25 – Nov 7, 2023

By Vail Jazz

Alumni Happenings

Oct 25 – Nov 7, 2023

Trumpeter Benny Benack III (2008) teams up with VJ Workshop education director John Clayton for performances at Jazz St. Louis (MO), October 27-28. The next night, October 29, Benack has a big band performance at Birdland in NYC to celebrate the release of his album, Third Time’s The Charm. Benack then moves on to Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues in Portsmouth NH for a quartet performance on November 1, Smalls in NYC for a jam session residency on November 2, Uncle Cheef in Brewster NY for a trio gig on November 3, another album release party at The Side Door in Old Lyme CT on November 4, and Con Alma in Pittsburgh PA with the John Shannon Trio on November 7.




Saxophonist Grace Kelly (2008) performs on October 25 at the Firehouse Center for the Arts on Newburyport MA.


Terrace Martin (1997 saxophone) performs with Las Chikas at City Winery on October 25.


2014 piano alum Isaiah J. Thompson performs October 25-28 with guitarist John Pizzarelli and singer Jessica Molaskey at Café Carlyle in NYC. 


One of the eight in-development theatre musicals being showcased October 26-27 with 45-minute concert presentations at New World Stages in NYC during the 35th Annual Festival of New Musicals is The Oscar Micheaux Project (Working Title), with music by 2004 trumpet alum Alphonso Horne.


1997 alum Robert Glasper (piano) performs with rapper D Smoke October 27-29 during Glasper’s “Robtober” residency at the Blue Note in NYC. Glasper then does a Halloween show with rapper Common and singer/songwriter Musiq Soulchild at NYC’s Sony Hall on October 31. And he performs with rapper Yasiin Bey (commonly known as Mos Def) November 1-5 as he wraps up the “Robtober” Blue Note residency.


2014 trumpet alum Anthony Hervey continues touring with the national troupe presenting “When You Wish Upon A Star,” a jazz tribute to 100 years of Disney. Next stops are The Ware Center at Millersville University in Millersville PA on October 27, the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning NY on October 28, the Newberry Opera House in Newberry SC on November 1, the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts in Asheville NC on November 2, the Alden Theatre at McLean Community Center in McLean VA on November 4, and the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis MD on November 5.


2004 saxophone alum Khris Royal plays in a Halloween bash at Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro in New Orleans on October 31.


Saxophonist Charles McPherson’s Quintet, with 1999 alum David Wong on bass and Workshop trumpet instructor Terell Stafford, performs November 1-5 at Smoke (NYC).


Saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin (1999) performs on November 2 at the Library of Congress in DC during her mini-residency there for the 2023 season. Then you can catch her at the Vermont Jazz Center in Brattleboro VT on November 4.


2015 saxophone alum Alex Laurenzi holds the NYC premiere of his “Water Lillies Suite” (based on a series of Monet paintings) at Chelsea Table & Stage on November 3.


Saxophonist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown (2007) has a quartet gig at the Gateway Playhouse in Somers Point NJ on November 3.


2000 drums alum Sandie Castaneda plays in a Dia de los Muertos celebration at Craft Local in Billings MT on November 4.


Kenny Banks Jr. (2004 piano) performs at Joe’s Jazz Joint in Atlanta on November 5.


The Natalie Boeyink Jazz Ensemble and Plummer Jazz Group, with 1999 saxophone alum Greg Ward directing, perform in Bloomington IN’s Jazz at the BCT on November 6. Ward is currently assistant professor of music in jazz studies at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.




Singer Samara Joy releases A Joyful Holiday, a 6-song EP that features Sullivan Fortner (2002 piano) and David Wong (see Performances, above). Fortner is at the piano on drummer Kassa Overall’s new single, “2 Sentimental,” a reimagining of Duke Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood.” Listen here.


Terrace Martin (see Performances, above) and singer/songwriter Alex Isley are collaborating on a joint album, I Left My Heart in Ladera (release date yet to be announced), and have released the title track, which also features Robert Glasper (see Performances, above).


Trumpeter Keyon Harrold (1997) has unveiled a new single, “Foreverland,” the title track of his forthcoming (January 19) album, featuring singer Laura Mvula and 2002 drums alum Marcus Gilmore. Here’s Harrold performing the piece with the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra.


Terrace Martin (see above) and Keyon Harrold (see above), along with 1997 piano alum Robert Glasper (see Performances, above), are all featured on R&B singer Gallant’s new single, “311,” heard here.


2000 trumpet alum Ambrose Akinmusire’s album Owl Song is due out December 15, but this track, “Owl Song 1,” is out now. Akinmusire is featured on flutist Gina Izzo’s (lady birdd’s) album, Tomorrow’s Yesterday; here’s a video clip.


[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!]