Workshop Alumni Happenings April 9 – April 22, 2024

By Vail Jazz

Currently teaching at the University of Iowa’s School of Music, 2001 trumpet alum Curtis Taylor releases his debut full-length album, Taylor Made, on April 12. In his career to date, Taylor has performed with a host of renowned musicians, including Patrice Rushen, Billy Childs, Antonio Hart, and Cyrus Chestnut, and he has toured internationally with saxophonist James Carter’s Quintet. Taylor also played as first trumpet chair on vocalist Gregory Porter’s 2014 album Liquid Spirit, which won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album that year. He soon kicks off a CD release show and summer tour, so consult upcoming editions of Alumni Happenings for dates and locations. 




The Butcher Brown band, with 2006 alum Corey Fonville on drums, performs on April 10 in the Murray Theatre at Ruth Eckard Hall in Clearwater FL.


Grace Kelly (2008 saxophone) brings her quartet to The Broward Center for the Performing Arts’ Amaturo Theater in Fort Lauderdale FL on April 10. The next night, April 11, she celebrates her latest album in a “With Strings: At the Movies” performance at the Regent Theatre in Arlington MA. Then she’s on to Jacksonville FL for a show at the Ritz Theatre on April 12 and to Las Vegas for a show at Myron’s at the Smith Center on April 13.


Saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin (1999) performs on April 10 in the Berks Jazz Fest, at the Kutztown (PA) University’s Schaeffer Auditorium. The next night, April 11, Benjamin takes the stage with her band at the Marcus Performing Arts Center in Milwaukee, followed by a gig at the Caramoor Center for Music & the Arts, in Katonah NY, on April 19.


Jeremy Siskind (2003 piano) joins trombonist Nick Finzer at Sam First in LA on April 10. Then he performs with saxophonist Mike Tomaro at the Soka Performing Arts Center in Aliso Viejo CA on April 14, and he’s in the lineup for the Fullerton College Jazz Festival, in Fullerton CA, April 19-20.


2015 saxophone alum Alex Laurenzi leads a trio performance on April 11 at Shanghai Jazz Restaurant & Bar in Madison NJ. Laurenzi is a member of the Summer Breeze Chinese Jazz Fusion Ensemble, which released the album Nostalgia last year; and he plays on “Another Spring,” from pianist Carson Young’s latest album, Feeling it Now.


Trumpeter Keyon Harrold (1997) appears on consecutive nights, April 11-14, at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago; and then he’s at the UCLA Nimoy Theater in LA on April 20.


Benny Benack III (2008 trumpet) has a quartet gig at the Tribby Arts Center in Fort Myers FL on April 11 and a quintet gig at Chris’s Jazz Café in Philadelphia on April 12. Then Benack accompanies the Kipple Organ Trio for two nights at Keys Jazz Bistro in San Francisco, April 18 and 19; and he’s got another quartet gig at Winter’s Jazz Club in Chicago on April 20. On April 21, Benack joins vocalist April Varner’s album release show at Birdland in NYC, and on April 22 he returns to Florida for a performance at the Charlotte County Jazz Society in Port Charlotte.


1998 saxophone alum Tim Green headlines a performance at Takoma Station in DC on April 13.


2023 saxophone alum Lucas Netto leads his quartet in a performance at Mr. Henry’s Restaurant in DC on April 13.


Singer Cecile McLorin Salvant performs the world premiere of a new commission, “Book of Ayres,” on April 13 at 92NY Culture & Housing Center in NYC, in honor of the Center’s 150th anniversary, and she is accompanied by Sullivan Fortner (2002) on piano, keys, and harpsichord.


2014 trumpet alum Anthony Hervey presents a Louis Armstrong tribute, “Armstrong Now: Louis at Newport,” on April 14 at the Kupferberg Center for the Arts in Flushing NY.


Gerald Clayton (2002 piano) takes up residence at the Village Vanguard in NYC for consecutive-night quartet performances, April 16-22.


2010 bass alum Russell Hall‘s band, Bessie and The Rainbowkids, featuring tap dancer Michela and 2018 alum Esteban Castro on piano and keys, is at the Black Cat in NYC, April 18-21.


Drummer Lucianna Padmore (1997) accompanies a dance performance, “I Don’t Know, But I Been Told, If You Keep on Dancin’ You Never Grow Old,” at UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, in LA, on April 19.


Drummer Sammy Miller’s band, Sammy Miller and the Congregation, featuring Alphonso Horne (2004) on trumpet, has a show on April 19 at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel IN.


Saxophonist Eddie Barbash (2005) & the KASA Quartet are at the Ravinia Festival’s Bennett Gordon Hall in Highland Park IL on April 20.


2007 drums alum Bryan Carter is in the house at Dizzy’s (NYC) for a Rodgers & Hammerstein Songbook show, featuring vocalist Karrin Allyson and other notable musicians, on April 21.




Marcus Gilmore (2002 drums) is featured on multi-instrumentalist Shabaka’s new song, “I’ll Do Whatever You Want,” from the forthcoming (April 12) release of Perceive Its Beauty, Acknowledge Its Grace. Listen here.


2014 alum Kanoa Mendenhall handles the bass on saxophonist Dayna Stephens’s new album, Closer Than We Think, released earlier this month. Listen here to “Placate.”


Recognitions, Awards & Other Items of Note


“Peace of Mind,” a track from the forthcoming (May 10) album, Tales of the Façade, by 2014 saxophone alum Morgan Guerin, was recently named a Jazziz magazine Editor’s Choice of music from the magazine’s favorite new albums and singles. Listen here.


The Late Show with Steven Colbert hosted Waxahatchee, with 2007 alum Eliana Athayde on bass, in a performance of “Right Back To It,” last week. Watch the video 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 and is a great way to keep in touch with your alumni colleagues and stay current on what’s happening with them. To join, contact Alan Tanenbaum at alumni@vailjazz.org and he’ll send you the link!] 


Tickets and passes are on sale NOW for the 30th Annual Vail Jazz Party, this Labor Day Weekend. Click here to learn more!