JAZZ AT THE LESHER CENTER CONCERT SERIES PRESENTS LEGENDS & LEADERS OF THE JAZZ GENRE WITH FOUR PREMIER SHOWS IN SUMMER 2019
***For Immediate Release***
JAZZ AT THE LESHER CENTER CONCERT SERIES
PRESENTS LEGENDS & LEADERS OF THE JAZZ GENRE
WITH FOUR PREMIER SHOWS IN SUMMER 2019
VERONICA SWIFT WITH THE EMMET COHEN TRIO (JULY 27)
ANAT COHEN TENTET WITH ODED LEV-ARI (AUG. 3)
MONTY ALEXANDER & THE HARLEM-KINGSTON EXPRESS: JAMAICA TO JAZZ (AUG. 10)
RALPH PETERSON & THE MESSENGER LEGACY SEXTET: ART BLAKEY’S CENTENNIAL YEAR (AUG. 24)
“With his Harlem-Kingston Express, [Monty Alexander] brings together musicians versed in both reggae and straight-ahead jazz, creating a brew that’s danceable and lilting and often ramps up from hypnotic to electrifying.” –Wall Street Journal
“Anat Cohen can easily get by on the sanguine grace of her clarinet playing, and the way her succinct and joyful compositions elevate it. But a new album, ‘Happy Song,’ features a 10-piece band playing the wily arrangements of Oded Lev-Ari, a fellow Israeli jazz musician.” –The New York Times
“Ralph Peterson plays American-style talking drums, keeping up a running commentary and drawing out the other players… Ralph Peterson rollick[s] the drums like that’s what he was born for.” –NPR’s “Fresh Air”
“Veronica Swift is a vocalist possessing that rare combination of grand vision and exquisite technique.” –JAZZIZ
Walnut Creek, Calif. – At the intersection of celebrated arts institutions across Bay Area, the Lesher Center for the Arts is one of the East Bay’s foremost destinations for arts and culture, located in the historic downtown of Walnut Creek, Calif. For nearly three decades, the Lesher Center for the Arts thrives in presenting leading-edge programming within all arts disciplines, including the American jazz tradition. For the eighth year in a row, the Diablo Regional Arts Association proudly announces this year’s singular Jazz at the Lesher Center Concert Series.
Jazz at the Lesher Center hosts many of today’s most lauded jazz artists, and notably supports the brightest rising talents, offering buzzy emerging acts the spotlight. Jazz at the Lesher Center 2019 Concert Series runs Saturday evenings from July through August 2019 with standout acts, including one of the country’s top young jazz singers Veronica Swift with the Emmet Cohen Trio (July 27), clarinet virtuoso with her 10-person ensemble Anat Cohen Tentet with Oded Lev-Ari (Aug. 3), Jamaica to Jazz piano innovator Monty Alexander & The Harlem-Kingston Express (Aug. 10), and acclaimed drummer Ralph Peterson & The Messenger Legacy Sextet celebrating the legendary Art Blakey’s centennial year (Aug. 24).
From a world-renowned piano master, singular horn-smith to a soaring vocalist and inimitable drummer, the 2019 Concert Series will be a dazzling set of not-to-be-missed performances at the opulent 300-seat Margaret Lesher Theatre at Lesher Center for the Arts. Each artist performs two concerts, at 5pm and 8 pm. Ticket information is available at LesherArtsCenter.com.
For detailed information regarding each performing artist, please see below:
At age 24, Veronica Swift is quickly being recognized as one of the top young jazz singers as she’s toured with Wynton Marsalis, Chris Botti, Benny Green Trio, and in 2017 started a residency at the infamous Birdland Jazz Club in New York City. Making her debut appearance at Jazz at Lincoln Center at age 11, Swift went on to place second at the prestigious Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition (2015). In addition to performing the Great American Songbook and Bebop and Vocalese classics, Swift is a passionate devotee of ‘20s and ‘30s music and has sung with Vince Giordano, Terry Waldo, and Drew Nugent.
Her 2015 album, Lonely Woman, features an array of the hottest young jazz players on the scene, including Emmet Cohen, Benny Bennack III, Daryl Johns, Matt Wigler, and Scott Lowrie. Swift will release her next album on Mack Avenue Records in 2019, featuring pianist Benny Green and his trio as well as the Emmet Cohen Trio.
Jazz pianist/composer Emmet Cohen is a leading artist who recently won the American Pianists Association’s Grand Prize in April 2019. He’s performed worldwide with jazz masters Ron Carter, Benny Golson, Jimmy Cobb, George Coleman, Jimmy Heath, Tootie Heath, Houston Person, Kurt Elling, Billy Hart, and Brian Lynch, among others. Cohen is also a member of Christian McBride’s trio “Tip City.”
Anat Cohen Tentet with Oded Lev-Ari (August 3)
Ever prolific and inspired, GRAMMY Award-nominated clarinetist Anat Cohen has won hearts and minds the world over with her expressive virtuosity and delightful stage presence. The New York Times writes, “Using the clarinet’s upper register, she could evoke infectious joy. In the lower register, her playing could conjure a deep, soulful melancholy. On up-tempo numbers, her improvisations…had a clarity and deep intelligence that is really quite rare. She made it look effortless, even as she was playing the most technically difficult of all the reed instruments…she took my breath away.”
Anat’s latest album as a bandleader, Happy Song, finds her drawing on diverse musical loves, from Brazilian music to African grooves, from vintage swing to touching ballads. The new vehicle for these explorations is the Anat Cohen Tentet, a large format ensemble of ace New York musicians. Happy Song is another synergistic collaboration between Anat and co-producer/co-arranger Oded Lev-Ari. The tentet of Happy Song boasts a richness that’s full, but also exhibits open, jazzy energy. The beautiful arrangements are by both Anat and Lev-Ari, with the latter directing the band.
Anat has been declared “Clarinetist of the Year” by the Jazz Journalists Association every year since 2007 and has also been named the top clarinetist in both the readers and critics’ polls in DownBeat for multiple years running. DownBeat notes of her music, “The sense of fun is contagious, and swing is seriously the thing.”
Monty Alexander & The Harlem-Kingston Express – Jamaica to Jazz (August 10)
Dynamic and technically brilliant, GRAMMY Award-nominated Monty Alexander is a Jamaican-born jazz pianist who thrilled the Jazz Series audiences in 2017. The American classic returns with his Harlem-Kingston band — a double trio that blends his hard-swinging jazz and his Jamaican roots. A perennial favorite at jazz festivals and venues worldwide (he’s performed 23 times at the Montreux Jazz Festival), his spirited conception is one informed by the timeless verities: endless melody-making, effervescent grooves, sophisticated voicings, a romantic spirit, and a consistent predisposition.
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), the Jamaican government designated Alexander the “Commander in the Order of Distinction” in 2000, and in 2018, The University of The West Indies bestowed him with an honorary doctorate degree (DLitt) in recognition of his accomplishments.
Harlem Kingston Express features Monty Alexander alongside Hassan Shakur (acoustic bass), Obed Calvaire (drums), Andy Bassford (guitar), Joshua Thomas (electric bass), and Karl Wright (percussion).
For more information on Monty Alexander, please visit: montyalexander.com
Ralph Peterson & The Messenger Legacy Sextet: Art Blakey’s Centennial Year (August 24)
The Messenger Legacy is an elite lineup of alumni of one of jazz’s most influential bands, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. The performance commemorates the centennial of Blakey’s birth and honors the legacy of the man whose bands became one of the most important institutions of apprenticeship in American music history. Among those Blakey mentored are Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver, Chick Corea, and Wynton Marsalis. Drummer Ralph Peterson leads the legacy band, who was selected by Blakey to play alongside him in 1983 in the Messenger’s two-drummer big band. The band is intergenerational, featuring saxophonists Bill Pierce and Bobby Watson who were mainstays in the late ‘70s and ‘80s, in addition to Essiet Essiet (bass), Brian Lynch (trumpet), and Geoffrey Keezer (piano) who were members of the last edition of the Messengers.
On forming the group, Peterson notes, “Every time I play the drums it is in tribute to Art Blakey. I wanted to do something that goes beyond me, beyond any individual. I wanted to pay tribute in a way that was authentic, genuine, and meaningful not just to a few, but to every person Art touched through his music. Having multiple generations of Messengers represented in this band, this is the closest you can get to the source. This is the real deal.”
For more information on Ralph Peterson, please visit: ralphpetersonmusic.com
Artist interviews and hi-res JPGs are available upon request.
About Lesher Center for the Arts
The Lesher Center for the Arts, located in Walnut Creek, California, is the premier destination for an exceptional arts and entertainment experience. First opened in October 1990, the Center now presents more than 700 productions and events each year, serving more than 350,000 patrons. The Center is owned and operated by the City of Walnut Creek. www.LesherARTScenter.org
About Diablo Regional Arts Association
The Diablo Regional Arts Association (DRAA) enriches the lives of thousands of East Bay residents every year by raising funds to support the full spectrum of arts at the Lesher Center for the Arts, including drama, musical theatre, dance, opera, music, and the visual arts. In addition, through its Arts Access program, DRAA is dedicated to providing families, children, seniors, educators, and low-income or at-risk individuals the opportunity to experience the arts.