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The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival
September 3, 2021 @ 12:00 am - September 5, 2021 @ 12:00 am
The love affair began 12 years ago at The Avalon when Monty Alexander’s magic blend of jazz with the sounds and rhythms of his native Jamaica, brought the crowd to its feet. The magic, the mastery returns this Labor Day weekend at The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival.
On September 3, 2010, the first Monty Alexander Jazz Festival launched at the Avalon Theatre in historic Easton, Maryland and featured the legendary Jazz pianist that bears its name. What began in 2009 as a single concert by the Monty Alexander Trio with the support and leadership of a small group of local jazz enthusiasts promoted as an experiment to test the Mid Shore’s appetite for world-class jazz, the festival has now grown into an annual three-day extravaganza with world-class jazz musicians performing over the Labor Day weekend. Originally part of Chesapeake Music, the festival is now fully owned and managed by the Avalon Foundation’s Jazz Founders Club.
Since 2010, Monty Alexander has served as Artistic Director of the festival, playing a pivotal role in producing programs featuring new and emerging talent in the genre, as well as established performers, and providing opportunities for education and insight into the music and the music-making process of jazz. Over the previous decade, the festival has introduced an amazing array of world-renowned musicians, many of whom were young and fast-rising stars who are now well established in the global jazz scene. The list includes such inspiring performers as Dee Daniels, Sharel Cassity, Grace Kelly, Frank Vignola, Etienne Charles, Alan Harris, Bobby Militello, Cyrus Chestnut, Matthew Whitaker, Dominick Farinacci, Shenel Johns, our local star Chuck Redd, Sean Jones, Rene Marie, and the list goes on and on.
Of course, the Saturday evening concert with Monty Alexander and guests has filled every seat in the 400-seat capacity Avalon Theatre since the inception of the festival. Monty, a Jamaican pianist, performs his unique swinging jazz, which is influenced by Blues, Reggae and Bepop, and the stylistic influences of Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson and Frank Sinatra, whom he accompanied many times at Jilly Rizzo’s Night Club in New York as resident pianist.
Announcing the 2021 festival program:
Friday, September 3
An Evening with Bria Skonberg
7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Avalon Foundation’s Stoltz Pavilion (Outdoors)
Trailblazing trumpeter, vocalist and songwriter Bria Skonberg opens the festival. Bria is originally from the small town of Chilliwack, British Columbia, and as a bandleader since her teens, has performed festivals and stages the world over, including the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, and over a hundred more. Described as “one of the most versatile and imposing musicians of her generation” (Wall Street Journal), she recently sang the music of Aretha Franklin alongside Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child, played with U2 at the Apollo, sat in with the Dave Matthews Band, and was a featured guest with Jon Batiste.
Saturday, September 4
An Evening with the Monty Alexander Jazz Trio
8 p.m. Avalon Theatre
Nearly 60 years after he moved to the United States from Kingston, Jamaica, his hometown, Grammy nominated pianist Monty Alexander is an American classic, touring the world relentlessly with various projects, delighting a global audience drawn to his vibrant personality and soulful message. As Monty explains, “My greatest hero was Louis Armstrong. I’m a messenger of goodwill. When I play, I try and make it right for me and everybody else, from straight ahead trio jazz to a combination of Jamaican music.”
Documented on more than 75 recordings and cited as the fifth greatest jazz pianist ever in The Fifty Greatest Jazz Piano Players of All Time (Hal Leonard Publishing), Monty applies endless melody-making, effervescent grooves, sophisticated voicings, a romantic spirit, and a consistent predisposition to a repertoire spanning a broad range of jazz and Jamaican musical expressions.
“I have so many different directions that I can go in and make something out of it that I’m constantly being motivated by that. So, my music is alive, it’s right now, it’s here and now. That’s it.”
Sunday, September 5
An Afternoon with Peter and Will Anderson
3 p.m. The Avalon Theatre
“Paired by nature and harmonics Peter and Will Anderson are originals, they reach back and look forward in their compositions and improvisations. A sublime jazz moment is promised! Virtuosos on clarinet and saxophone.” (New York Times)
Identical twins Peter and Will Anderson were born and raised in Washington, D.C., moved to New York City to attend The Juilliard School, and have since become two of the most extraordinary jazz woodwind players today. They’ve performed with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Wycliffe Gordon, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Paquito D’Rivera, Wynton Marsalis, and can be heard on the 2014 Grammy-winning soundtrack of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire with Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks.
Vanity Fair magazine listed their debut album, Correspondence, featuring Kenny Barron, alongside Miles Davis in “Four New Releases to Make You Love Jazz,” and the Washington Post called their music “imaginatively unfolding in ways that consistently bring a fresh perspective to classic jazz.”
Please note that Avalon Theatre shows require proof of vaccination from all attendees upon entry. Special sale packages are available with the purchase of all three shows. For more information, contact Tim Weigand at firstname.lastname@example.org.