Jazz at the Sandbar, held at UNO's the Cove, is designed to provide UNO Jazz Studies students an opportunity to get real life experience performing with respected professional musicians in front of a live audience. The series is presented on Wednesday nights during the fall and spring semesters and features a different respected jazz artist each week. It also provides a medium in which students exercise their improvisational skills and gives them the rare opportunity to work with jazz masters. “Jazz at the Sandbar” was established in 1990 by Ellis Marsalis, the first Chairman of the Jazz Studies Program at UNO. Downbeat Magazine calls "One of the best things going in America."
“Jazz @ the Sandbar” is presented by the UNO Jazz Studies Program with support from the UNO Student Government Assn, the New Orleans Jazz Celebration & the Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro, Nate & Priscilla Gordon, WWNO FM, and OffBeat Magazine.
Saxophonist David Murray
Few musicians in jazz history have proven more vigorously productive and resourceful than David Murray. During the past 35 years, from the moment he first visited New York as a 20 year-old student, playing in a walkup loft, in 1975, David has careened forward in a cool, collected, rocket-fueled streak. He has released over 150 albums under his own name. Yet more impressive than the numbers is the constancy of two abiding achievements: as a tenor saxophonist, he has perfected an instantly recognizable approach to improvisation that even in its freest flights acknowledges the gravity of a tradition he honors more than most; and he has altered the context for his improvisations as an infinite mosaic of musical challenges and explorations. David Murray goes down as a worthy successor for some of the biggest names in jazz, and he is now contributing to the rise of young talents such as Lafayette Gilchrist, a young pianist who has already been widely acclaimed by the critics. At 56 years of age, David Murray has a rosy future ahead of him, and a successful past behind him. 2012 is also the year of David Murray’s Honorary Doctorate Of Music Degree from Pomona College, Claremont, California.
DRUMMER HERLIN RILEY
Since coming of age in the nurturing environment of a very musical family and a distinguished bloodline of drummers, New Orleans native Herlin Riley emerged from that most creative era of all things rhythmic in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, to enliven the ensembles of such influential and demanding improvisers as pianist Ahmad Jamal and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis through his commanding yet elegant rhythmic presence. His authoritative style of melodic percussion is deeply imbued in the fertile creative soil of the Crescent City, encompassing as it does the entire length and breadth of America’s ongoing musical journey. New Orleans is a drummer’s town. But in this town full of first class drummers, Herlin Riley is “the” drummer. The Baron of the Boom Boom. The Pulse that keeps the life flowing through any body of work. Born into a musical family steeped in gospel, blues and jazz, Wynton Marsalis asked him to join him in New York in 1988 where he stayed for almost two decades while still maintaining a home in New Orleans. He still is a regularly featured musician with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra but now is back in his home town when he’s not on tour with Ahmad Jamal, Dr. John, or Harry Connick, Jr. He lights up a stage with just his presence and always fires up the first class jazz artists who love to play with him.
PAST PERFORMERS FROM THIS SEASON:
DRUMMER JAMISON ROSS
Jamison Ross is a vocalist and drummer that delivers messages of humanity through the medium of jazz. A native of Jacksonville, FL, Jamison’s passion for music was realized while growing up in his grandfather’s church, where he learned how to present music with honest intent. Jamison began his study of jazz as a high school student and gained worldwide acclaim as a featured musician in the Tribeca Film Festival winning documentary CHOPS; a film that followed the school’s jazz ensemble as they prepare and perform in the renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington Festival competition. In 2012, Ross’ career began to take shape after winning the Thelonious Monk Jr. International Jazz Competition for his drumming. This achievement afforded him a recording contract with Concord Jazz. Jamison recounts, “at the time, people knew me as a drummer; they didn’t know I could sing. I wanted to merge my gifts.” His 2015 debut release, Jamison, introduced the world to his concept of rhythm and melody and also garnered a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album.
Photos courtesy of Don Keller
SAXOPHONIST JANE BUNNETT & MAQUEQUE
Multiple Juno Award winner, Jane Bunnett has turned her bands and recordings into showcases for the finest musical talent from Canada, the U.S and Cuba. She has been nominated for Grammy Awards, numerous Juno Awards, received a Order of Canada, The Queens Diamond Jubilee medal, and most recently Ontario’s Premiers Award for Excellence. An internationally acclaimed musician, Jane Bunnett is known for her creative integrity, improvisational daring and courageous artistry. Her exploration of Afro-Cuban melodies expresses the universality of music and her ability to embrace and showcase the rhythms and culture of Cuba has been groundbreaking. She has toured the world bringing her own special sound to numerous JAZZ festivals, displaying her versatility as a tourist, saxophone player and pianist. As an educator, spokesperson and social activist, she remains unafraid to explore uncharted territory in her quest for excellence! Jane’s debut recording hit the JAZZ world in 1987 with the Stunning Juno nominated “In Dew Time” featuring American JAZZ legends Dewey Redman, Don Pullen and Canadian icon Claude Ranger. Two documentaries have been made about Bunnett’s work. “Spirits of Havana “(2000) National Film Board (NFB) was presented at numerous film festivals internationally, television (CBC, PBS) as well as in Europe. As an educator, spokesperson and social activist, she remains unafraid to explore uncharted territory in her quest for excellence.
WEdnesday, APRIL 11TH
Pianist Matt Lemmler
Matt Lemmler is considered to be one of the most original musicians (piano, vocal, arranger, composer, educator, producer) to recently emerge from the birthplace of jazz. Raised just blocks away from the home of legendary New Orleans pianist/vocalist Fats Domino, Matt remembers a childhood in the Lower 9th Ward where music constantly filled the house. Matt, his brothers Richard, Jr. and Michael (also a great New Orleans pianist-bandleader), and his father, Richard, Sr., (a retired professional musician); played jazz and classical piano around the clock. After earning a Bachelor of Music from Loyola University and a Master degree from Manhattan School of Music in NYC, Matt toured four years with Andrew Lloyd Weber’s The Phantom of the Opera. After touring, he came back to the Big Easy and sharpened his skills with some of New Orleans finest bandleaders including: Bob French and the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band (over 100 years old); Herb Tassin and the Blue Room Orchestra, and master clarinetist Pete Fountain. "Matt Lemmler is a pianist of rare originality and a point of view about standard songs that's always surprising and often quirky." -Dave Frishberg
CLARINETIST EVAN CHRISTOPHER
Evan Christopher combines virtuosity, immaculate taste, and enthusiasm with a commitment to exploring the full range of possibilities in the New Orleans clarinet tradition. His highly personal brand of “contemporary, early jazz” strives to extend the legacies of early Creole clarinetists such as Sidney Bechet, Barney Bigard and Omer Simeon. Critics remarking on Christopher’s dynamic expressiveness have coined his style “close-encounter music” (NEW YORK TIMES) and have called his respect for the music traditions of New Orleans, “a triumph, joining the present seamlessly to a glorious past.” (THE OBSERVER, UK). Evan Christopher began his musical training on clarinet at age 11. In high school, he received the Louis Armstrong National Jazz Award and was one of the first graduates of the prestigious Idyllwild Arts Academy. He continued studies at the University of Southern California and graduated with honors from California State University, Long Beach. A brief teaching stint at the University of New Orleans saw the creation of a New Orleans music ensemble that performed with guest mentors such as Lucien Barbarin and Marcus Roberts.Since 2008, having returned again to New Orleans, Christopher actively advocates for the cultural workforce and music education. He frequently tours with and records as a guest with forward-looking artists, while performances under his own name are often complemented by workshops and educational and community outreach.
GUITARIST PASQUALE GRASSO
One of the most strikingly unique artists of his generation, Pasquale Grasso has undoubtedly changed the way the world views jazz guitar. Born in Ariano Irpino, Pasquale began playing guitar at a very young age. By the summer of 1997, his parents, who recognized the depth of their young son’s talent, sought out the instruction of jazz innovator, Agostino Di Giorgio. A former pupil of Chuck Wayne, Di Giorgio immediately took interest in Pasquale, whose prodigious aptitude for the instrument flourished as the young guitarist quickly became his closest pupil. From that point, it wouldn’t be long before news of this talent spread. In 2008, Pasquale pursued classical guitar studies in the Music Conservatory of Bologna under Professor Walter Zanetti. During his time at the conservatory, Grasso developed a new approach to the guitar, combining classical tradition with Chuck Wayne's modern technique.In 2012, he moved to New York City and quickly made a name for himself in the city's vibrant jazz scene. Grasso became part of the Ari Roland Quartet and the Chris Byars Quartet, performing in clubs, music festivals, and recording in the studio regularly. Later that year, Pasquale was named a Jazz Ambassador with the US Embassy, going on to tour extensively across Europe, Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Cyprus, Lithuania, and Ukraine, among others.
Photos courtesy of Don Keller
Trumpeter Terence Blanchard
Since top-tier jazz and multiple Grammy-winning trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard embarked on his solo recording career with his eponymous Columbia Records album in 1991, the New Orleans-born and -based artist has traveled many paths musically, including delivering adventurous and provocative acoustic jazz outings of original material, composing over 50 soundtracks and even, in 2013, debuting Champion: An Opera in Jazz. He has also, in the spirit of his onetime membership in the jazz school of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, mentored several musicians in his bands who have gone on to have significant recording careers of their own (including Lionel Loueke, Aaron Parks, Kendrick Scott and one of his current band members Fabian Almazan).As a leader and co-leader (significantly four albums early in his career with fellow Crescent City artist, saxophonist Donald Harrison), Blanchard has recorded more than 30 albums that often defied genres, yet were still critically acclaimed. But for his latest Blue Note Records album, Breathless, Blanchard powerfully and playfully journeys into another jazz realm with his new quintet, The E-Collective—an exciting zone of grooved fusion teeming with funk, R&B and blues colors.
Photos courtesy of Don Keller
Here are some photos from this past season's Jazz @ the Sandbar:
Pianist Ellis Marsalis Kicks Off Jazz At The Sandbar
Education icon Ellis Marsalis kicks off the new season of Jazz at the Sandbar. Marsalis is the premier modern jazz pianist of New Orleans and the father of a generation of contemporary jazz musicians who are considered the international leaders of the current scene. Ellis Marsalis returns to the University of New Orleans where he headed Jazz Studies as the first endowed chair of the department in the 1990s.
Germaine Bazzle At The Sandbar
Germaine Bazzle is often referred to as one of New Orleans' important jazz vocalists. After graduation from Xavier University of Louisiana, Germaine began a teaching career and entertaining in the same year, teaching during the day and playing bass in a local traditional jazz band at night. After 12 years as a teacher, she left the classroom and began singing with various bands in New Orleans. Three years later, she returned to the classroom, but continued to perform with such jazz greats as Alvin "Red" Tyler, Peter "Chuck" Badie, Victor Goines, bassist/vocalist, George French, pianist Ellis Marsalis, Emile Vinnette, Larry Siebert, David Torkanowsky and many more.
Germaine can be heard on her CD entitled "Standing Ovation." In his liner notes producer Kalama ya Salaam writes that while some might compare Bazzle to other great jazz vocalists she is "dazzling in her own right . . . Especially in her ability to mimic the sound of the trombone, but also her musicianship. She knows the music, the changes, and above all the rhythms. And the listener can hear her expertise in the way this lady improvises ... Moreover there is a bubbling exuberance in Germaine's style. She smiles. She laughs, sometimes even giggles. Hers is a joyful sound. She is an awesome jazz artist and also a very warm and sensitive human being whose artistry makes one feel glad to be alive."—JazzCorner
John Wooton @ Sandbar
Dr. John Wooton is the director of percussion studies at The University of Southern Mississippi. John specializes in various drums, marimba, vibraphone and steel pans. Along with playing vibes for the USM Jazz Quintet, John leads his own band which showcases the steel pans with the danceable sounds of the islands.
Andrew Baham @ Sandbar
Andrew Baham, a native to New Orleans, began playing the trumpet at age 11 and has performed with artists Mystikal, Mannie Fresh, Grammy Nominee Los Hombres Calientes, Adonis Rose, and The Ellis Marsalis Quinet. He has produced albums for The Stooges Brass Band (It's About Time, Thursday Night House Party ), Big Sam's Funky Nation' (King Of The Party, Evolution), and others. He has recorded with alto saxophonist Darryl Reeves, The Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, the Soul Rebels Brass Band, The Lil' Stooges Brass Band, and Big Sam's Funky Nation.
Mike Moreno @ Sandbar
While still in school, Mike began garnering the recognition necessary to be called to perform and tour with some of the most venerable names in the Jazz world as well as rising stars of the scene. Over the years, those names have included The Joshua Redman Elastic Band, Lizz Wright Band, Me'Shell N'Degeocello, Jason Moran, Terence Blanchard, Ambrose Akinmusire, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Jeremy Pelt, and many more. Additionally, Mike has recorded with numerous major artists, both inside and outside of the Jazz genre. 3 of these recordings were nominated for a Grammy. Recognized as one of the leading voices in the Jazz guitar world, Mike has toured extensively and recorded as a leader of his own band, playing his original music to high critical acclaim. His albums have been deemed in The New York Times as one of the authors top 10 Jazz albums and made the 25 "Best of 2012" Jazz Releases on iTunes. "Lotus", Mike's new Quartet album is now available! The album features Aaron Parks, Doug Weiss and Eric Harland. Mike can also be heard on Kendrick Scott Oracle's Blue Note Records debut "We Are The Drum." The band also features John Ellis, Taylor Eigsti, Joe Sanders. Mike performed with Stefon Harris Group - Sonic Creed. Hear Mike during the final credits of Don Cheadle's Miles Davis movie. He plays on a track written by Robert Glasper featuring rapper Pharoahe Monch.
James Evans @ Sandbar
James Evans, clarinet, sax, vocals, and composer. Immediately after graduating from Leeds Music College, James started touring Europe with Phil Mason's New Orleans All Stars. After years in the UK, James moved to New Orleans to pursue his lifelong love of the city and its music. Since his arrival he has played with many local luminaries such as Leroy Jones, Steve Pistorius, Seva Venet, Lucien Barbarin, Tim Laughlin, Gerald French, Duke Heitger, Lars Edegran, The Shotgun Jazz Band, Smoking Time Jazz Club, Tuba Skinny, and many more. He has appeared in venues such as Preservation Hall, The Palm Court Jazz Café, and many of the music clubs around the town, as well as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Rufus Reid @ Sandbar
Rufus Reid, one of today’s premiere bassists on the international jazz scene, with his reputation firmly established in the education arena, now adds composition to his vitae. Rufus Reid is equally known as an exceptional educator. Dr. Martin Krivin and Reid created the Jazz Studies & Performance Program at William Paterson University. Reid retired after 20 years, but continues to teach, conducting Master Classes, workshops, and residencies around the world. Rufus’ book, The Evolving Bassist, published since 1974, continues to be recognized as the industry standard as the definitive bass method.
He has toured and recorded with Eddie Harris, Nancy Wilson, Harold Land & Bobby Hutcherson, Lee Konitz, The Thad Jones & Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, Dexter Gordon, J.J. Johnson, Art Farmer, Stan Getz, Kenny Burrell, Kenny Barron and countless others. He continues to enjoy associations with Tim Hagans, Bob Mintzer, Frank Wess, Marvin Stamm, Benny Golson. Reid continues to lead his Out Front Trio with pianist, Steve Allee and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca.