To celebrate Black History Month, Greenwich Library will present a weekend of events in the Cole Auditorium in cooperation with BackCountry Jazz featuring the music of jazz great Duke Ellington. The weekend kicks off with a Friends Friday Film screening of
on Friday, February 20 at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:40 p.m. Then, on Saturday, February 21 at 3:30 p.m., enjoy a concert and panel discussion with a stellar group of jazz musicians organized by BackCountry Jazz.
Directed by tenor saxophone master Bennie Wallace, the group will feature pianist Donald Vega, guitarist Bobby Broom, bassist George Mraz, percussionist Luisito Quintero and drummer Billy Drummond. Doors open at 3:00 p.m. Following the concert, Wallace will lead a panel discussion on Ellington's music and influence.
Duke Ellington remains one of the most significant members of the jazz pantheon. The Duke's elegant and sophisticated compositions, along with those by the celebrated Billy Strayhorn, were performed by the legendary Duke Ellington Orchestra and smaller ensembles throughout Ellington's career, which spanned the decades from the 20's into the 70's. Compositions from the Ellington/Strayhorn songbook continue to provide fertile material for the interpretive efforts of the latest generations of jazz musicians.
Bennie Wallace, tenor saxophonist, composer and recording artist for more than three decades is one of the most exciting saxophonists on today's jazz scene. He has released over 20 jazz recordings, won five DownBeat awards, numerous recording awards and has performed and recorded with many jazz greats, among them: Elvin Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Chick Corea. Wallace has also shown his southern roots by playing and recording with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Dr. John and other blues artists. Wallace is the composer for the Oscar-nominated films Little Surprises and Redux Riding Hood. Composer credits include Bull Durham, Paul Newman's Blaze, and White Men Can't Jump, among others.
Bobby Broom is one of the premier guitarists in jazz today earning three DownBeat critics poll awards as one of the world's foremost jazz guitarists. Versed in traditional jazz, Broom draws from funk, soul, R&B and the blues to create one of the few truly recognizable styles. Thirty years into a distinguished, wide-ranging career he has performed and recorded with Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Dr. John, among others. His latest release and eleventh lead album, My Shining Hour, is an exploration of American Songbook classics. According to DownBeat magazine, "Bobby Broom is the full monty: ultra-refined timing and tone, continuous flow of ideas, a touch of grease, a treat for the connoisseur."
Jazz pianist, composer, music educator, Donald Vega, classically trained in his native Nicaragua, emigrated from Nicaragua to the United States at age 14 and began learning the language of jazz from mentor Billy Higgins at The World Stage. A graduate of Manhattan School of Music and Juilliard, where he studied with piano great, Kenny Barron, his awards include the Great American Jazz Piano Competition and the prestigious Los Angeles Spotlight Award. Vega currently performs internationally as the pianist for world renowned bassist Ron Carter. Vega's debut album, Tomorrows, was released in 2008. His recent release, Spiritual Nature explores the marriage of Jazz, Latin and classical music. With rave reviews by fellow musicians and jazz critics, Vega can go from cool to hot in the blink of an eye and cooks on a low-volume flame like few others can.
George Mraz is one of the best-known bassists worldwide. A native of the Czech Republic, he attended the Prague Conservatory studying bass violin. With a profound gift for the acoustic bass, Mraz has been a stalwart presence on the modern jazz scene from the moment he first landed on these shores. A who's who of jazz masters have made him their first call bassist including the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Clark Terry, Stan Getz, Elvin Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Roland Hanna, Hank Jones, Jimmy Rowles, Zoot Sims, Pepper Adams, Jim Hall, Chet Baker, Art Farmer, Carmen McRae, and many others. He has graced dozens of groundbreaking albums and with credits on almost 1,000 records and CDs, is at the top of a very short list of bassists whose talent and virtuosity is entirely unquestioned. With legendary status, Mraz has dedicated his career to developing the melodic potential of the bass.
Billy Drummond began playing at the age of four under the influence of his father, also a drummer. Arriving in New York in 1988, Drummond joined piano master Horace Silver's Sextet and toured with them extensively. A powerful and highly musical drummer, he is sought out by a variety of jazz masters including the great Sonny Rollins. With his crisp, clear sound and ease of articulation, Billy Drummond is a master drummer who makes his set sing. His cult hit Dubai was named No. 1 Best Jazz CD by the New York Times. Drummond is also a highly respected educator. He is Professor of Jazz Drums at the Juilliard School of Music and New York University and gives workshops around the world.
Luisito Quintero was born in Caracas, Venezuela, where he was surrounded by Afro-Venezuelan and Afro-Cuban rhythm and music. As one of the most sought after percussionists in the country, Luisito has toured and recorded with The Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Carlos Santana, Diana Krall, among others. He has earned more than thirteen Grammy awards for his work in numerous recordings for high profile artists. He is the touring percussionist for legendary jazz pianist Chick Corea.
The Peterson Concert Series is free and open to all through the support of the Greenwich Library Board of Trustees and generous donors. Seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis. For more information, please email Peterson Music Librarian David Waring
or call (203) 622-7917. For more information about BackCountry Jazz, please visit www.backcountryjazz.org
Subscribe to Greenwich Library eNewsletters
including Music, Technology, Business and AuthorsLive
Follow Greenwich Library on Twitter
About BackCountry Jazz
Artistry is at the core of our concerts, community is the source of our strength, and education the key to our future. Since 2007, BackCountry Jazz has been presenting outstanding concerts with major artists and rising jazz stars and educating and inspiring youth in our mission to celebrate, preserve and expand the rich tradition of Jazz.
We work collaboratively with partner organizations to invigorate the community educationally and socially while building future audiences for America's unique cultural heritage - Jazz. Through concerts, educational programs, scholarships, and the summer music camp, BackCountry Jazz uses the transformative power of music to create change in young lives and build stronger communities.
Our free programs include the BackCountry Jazz Summer Music Camp for Bridgeport public school children, the After School Bridgeport Program, scholarships, instruments, workshops, master classes, and exciting concerts and events with artists who perform and teach at the highest level of excellence.