Join Greenwich Library and BackCountry Jazz for a Billie Holiday Weekend, 10/11-12

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Following last October's popular Louis Armstrong programs, Greenwich Library and BackCountry Jazz team up once again to present two events to honor the great Billie Holiday.

English: Portrait of Billie Holiday in Down Be...

Billie Holiday was one of the true giants of jazz and an immensely influential vocalist. Her distinctive behind the beat phrasing has been appropriated by legions of jazz singers, but the emotional impact of her own recordings remains unique. Although her life was beset by tragedy, she has left a luminous recorded legacy. 

The weekend celebration will kick off with Billie Holiday: Sensational Lady, a special Friends Friday Film presentation on Friday, October 11 at 8 p.m. This 57-minute film, originally produced by the BBC in 2001, is a highly regarded and authoritative look at the turbulent life of "Lady Day", one of the 20th Century's greatest singers. The film includes performance footage and interviews with friends and fellow musicians. 

Then, on Saturday, October 12 at 3:30 p.m. the Library and BackCountry Jazz will present Billie Holiday: a Celebration, a concert with an all-star ensemble performing the music of Billie Holiday. 

Just as Billie's music was created in company with jazz icons such as Lester Young, Teddy Wilson, Count Basie and Artie Shaw, the concert will feature some of today's most celebrated jazz musicians: trumpeter Terell Stafford, pianist Donald Vega, bassist Peter Washington, drummer Victor Lewis, guitarist Tony Lombardozzi, vocalists Malou Beauvoir and Carla Cook under the direction of tenor saxophone master Bennie Wallace. Click "continue reading" for more information about the artists.

Both programs will be held in the Cole Auditorium. 

This series is made possible through the support of the Dalio Foundation, Inc, Greenwich Library Board of Trustees and contributions by generous donors. This series is free and open to all, but seating in the Cole Auditorium is limited and will be available on a first come, first served basis. Doors will open 30 minutes prior to each event. For more information, please contact David Waring at (203) 622-7917 or visit 

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BennieWallace,DonaldVega.jpgBennie Wallace, BackCountry Jazz's founder and music director, 
has been a tenor saxophonist, composer, and recording artist for over 30 years. He has released over 20 jazz recordings, won five DownBeat awards and numerous recording awards, and has performed and recorded with many jazz greats, including Elvin Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Dr. John, Chick Corea, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Wallace is also the composer for Oscar-nominated films whose credits include Bull Durham, Paul Newman's Blaze, and White Men Can't Jump, among others. 

Terell Stafford has been hailed as "one of the great trumpet players of our time" by piano legend McCoy Tyner. Known for being a gifted and versatile player with a voice all his own, Stafford combines lyricism and a deep love of melody with a spirited, adventurous edge. Since the mid-1990's Stafford has performed with groups such as Benny Golson's Sextet, McCoy Tyner's Sextet, the Kenny Barron Sextet, the Frank Wess Quintet, the Jimmy Heath Big Band, the Clayton Brothers Quintet, and the Jon Faddis Orchestra. Currently, he is a member of the Grammy award winning Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. Stafford has recorded six albums as a leader, including the critically acclaimed This Side of Strayhorn and is heard on over 90 albums as a sideman. 

Classically trained in his native Nicaragua, American jazz pianist, composer and educator, Donald Vega (pictured above with Wallace) immigrated to the United States at age 14. A graduate of Juilliard, his awards include The Great American Jazz Piano Competition in 2010 and the prestigious Los Angeles Spotlight Award. Vega has collaborated with masters in jazz such as Billy Higgins, Milt Jackson, Bennie Wallace, Diana Krall, Lewis Nash, Al McKibbon and Alex Acuna. He is also a member of bassist Ron Carter's Trio. 

The leading bassist of his generation, Peter Washington was a member of the Tommy Flanagan Trio, called by many as "the greatest trio in jazz." With his adaptability, emphasis on creative, supportive, swing-time playing as well as inventive soloing, he has recorded and performed with a "who's who" of jazz artists of all generations, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Hank Jones, Mulgrew Miller, Bennie Wallace, Bill Charlap and many more. A complete discography would list over 350 recordings, and is expanded on a weekly and monthly basis. 

Drumming great Victor Lewis has compiled an impressive discography since his arrival in NYC in 1974. A short list of musicians he has accompanied includes Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Kenny Barron, Bobby Watson, Woody Shaw, Abbey Lincoln. According to jazz scribe Bill Kohlhasse, "Lewis is master of shading and color, and the kind of timekeeper that could teach a clock new ways to tick." 

Guitarist Tony Lombardozzi has been active on the jazz scene since the 1970's. He has performed extensively with some of the legends of jazz such as Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Ray Charles, Clark Terry, Milt Hinton and more. He is head of the Jazz Department at Wesleyan University and also head of the jazz faculty for BackCountry Jazz Summer Music Camp. Lombardozzi is musical director for Melissa Newman. 

MalouLive flipped 300dpi.jpgVocalist Malou Beauvoir born in Chicago of Haitian parents, raised in New York, is a unique combination of her multi-cultural influences and experiences. Beauvoir performs in leading venues around the world including Dubai, Rio, Beirut, London, and in Paris performing at the renowned Paradis Latin and at the Petit Journal Montparnasse. "An Evening at the Swan" and "Live at the Lionel Hampton" are her most recent recordings.

Carla Cook.jpg
Vocalist Carla Cook, "With her beautiful sound, uncommonly wide range, razor sharp intonation, and sensitivity to lyrics, Cook is one of the major jazz voices of the new millennium. The rich texture of her contralto, her natural feel for the rhythm of bebop, she has sass that enlivens her impeccable diction, and tremendous soul that lets her swagger with gutbucket finesse, but it's all buttressed with sparkling optimism and innocence," said The Washington Post. Cook's debut album It's All About Love was nominated for a Grammy. 

About BackCountry Jazz 
BackCountry Jazz presents concerts and educational programs by celebrated artists using the transformative power of music to create change in young lives and communities. 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 makes significant contributions to building stronger communities. Since 2007, BackCountry Jazz has been presenting outstanding concerts and educating underserved youth in our mission to entertain, preserve and promote the rich tradition of America's only indigenous art form - Jazz. For more information, please visit

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Kate published on August 28, 2013 2:54 PM.

PROGRAM FULL: Fairytale Beginnings, 9/28 was the previous entry in this blog.

Award Winning Hunger Documentary to be Screened at Greenwich Library on 10/17 is the next entry in this blog.

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