Friday, June 24
City of Syracuse Department of Parks, Recreation and Youth Programs Stan Colella All-Star Band, under the direction of Joe Carello. 5 p.m.
This program gives young musicians a training ground as well as an opportunity to be musical ambassadors for the city of Syracuse. The big band, composed of 17 high school-age musicians, annually plays more than 60 performances of swing, jazz and patriotic music.
Started as the Parks and Recreation All Stars in 1971, the band was later renamed as a tribute to its longtime director, local trumpet legend Stan Colella.
Native Syracusan and saxophonist Joe Carello has fronted the All-Star Band since 2003. He also performed with the band as a youth, and played with Colella’s professional group for many years. He has performed with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra on many occasions as a featured soloist in concerts with Diane Schurr, Maureen McGovern and Jeff Tyzik, to name a few.
Joe was also a member of the Syracuse Symphony Rock Ensemble, a group started by Calvin Custer in the 1970s. As lead alto saxophonist with the Central New York Jazz Orchestra, he has performed with Clark Terry, Jimmy Heath, Slide Hampton, Joe Lovano, Bob Mintzer, Grady Tate and others. As a sideman, Joe has worked with Chuck and Gap Mangione, Harry Connick Jr., Natalie Cole, Barry Manilow and Frank Sinatra Jr. He has recorded with Danny D’Imperio, Eric Alexander, Barry Harris, Nancy Kelly, Ralph Lalama and more.
In addition to his performing career, Joe is a teacher at Onondaga Community College, Le Moyne College and co-director of The Band Bus School Music Service, which provides musical instruments to elementary and middle school children across upstate New York.
All-County High School All-Star Jazz Band, under the direction of Steve Frank. 5:45 p.m.
This band features some of the best high school jazz musicians in Onondaga County. Representing 10 different districts, the members of the band were selected by audition.
Steve Frank is honored to have the chance to direct the band at the Syracuse Jazz Fest, and promises an intense, hard-swinging set that will include charts ranging from the classic repertoire of big band jazz to the very latest from some of today’s most innovative jazz writers and arrangers.
Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals. 6:30 p.m.
Average White Band. 8 p.m. AWB is widely regarded as one of the best soul and funk bands in the history of music. Although perhaps best known for their timeless instrumental mega-hit “Pick Up the Pieces,” the band’s strength actually rests in consistently accomplished songwriting, stretching across several gold-selling albums and multiple Grammy nominations for the legendary Atlantic Records. This six-piece band with Scottish roots took the influences of their rhythm’n’blues heroes—Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Donny Hathaway—and developed their own authentic sound, which was eagerly adopted by audiences around the globe.
While a good number of tracks—“Cut The Cake” and “Let’s Go Round Again”—attracted chart action as hit singles, many other album tunes, like “Schoolboy Crush” and “Stop The Rain,” have become much sampled. The band’s current lineup—this time with noted U.S. recruits augmenting founding members Alan Gorrie and Onnie McIntyre—continues to record and tour around the world to ongoing critical and audience acclaim.
The Robert Cray Band. 9:30 p.m. This Time, the first studio album on singersongwriter-guitarist Cray’s own imprint Nozzle Records, distributed by Vanguard Records, arrives at a vital juncture in the musician’s career, marked by creative renewal and a key reunion with an old performing partner.
The five-time Grammy Award winner summarized 35 years of mastery on the debut Nozzle release Live From Across the Pond (2006), an electrifying two-CD concert set drawn from a series of shows (opening for Eric Clapton) at London’s Royal Albert Hall. When the time came to follow up that widely praised collection with a studio recording, Cray viewed it as an opportunity to move his sound in other directions. He found exactly what he was looking for by turning to one of his oldest friends and colleagues: bassist Richard Cousins, whose tenure with the Robert Cray Band began with its barnstorming regional origins in Eugene, Ore., in 1974 and extended through 1991, encompassing such early high-water marks as Strong Persuader (1986) and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1988), both winners of the best contemporary blues performance Grammy.
Cousins’ return to the Cray fold bonds him once again with keyboardist Jim Pugh, a cornerstone of the group since 1989. In the hunt for a new drummer, Cray—with encouragement from Cousins—found a musician whose style and experience perfectly complemented his own: Tony Braunagel, whose resume includes work with Bonnie Raitt (including her Grammy-winning Nick of Time and Luck of the Draw), Taj Mahal, Keb’ Mo’ and B.B. King.
“Blues is one of the foundations of our music, but it’s not all that we play,” Cray says. “When I first started playing guitar, I wanted to be George Harrison—that is, until I heard Jimi Hendrix. After that, I wanted to be Albert Collins and Buddy Guy and B.B. King. And then there are singers like O.V. Wright and Bobby Blue Bland. It’s all mixed up in there.”
Saturday, June 25
The OCC Jazz Band Meets The Steelheads, under the co-direction of Steve Frank and Jim Coviak. 5 p.m.
The OCC Jazz Band has been invited to perform every year on the Jazz Fest main stage since it relocated atop Onondaga Hall in June 2001. The band maintains an active schedule of performances throughout the school year, both on and off campus. Dedicated to preserving the rich history and tradition of big band jazz music while keeping an open eye (and mind) to the future of this tremendously versatile art form, the band’s repertoire features charts from bands as diverse as The Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band, The Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, The Buddy Rich Big Band, The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, The Duke Ellington Orchestra and The Count Basie Orchestra, as well as arrangements by such leading jazz writers as Mike Tomaro, Oliver Nelson, Bill Holman, Bob Curnow and Shelley Berg.
Jazz Guitars Meet Hendrix, featuring Sheryl Bailey and Vic Juris. 6:30 p.m.
Jazz and Jimi Hendrix might not seem like a natural fit, but the rock guitar innovator loved the blues and admired the music of John Coltrane. So in a way, Sheryl Bailey’s Jazz Guitars Meet Hendrix project pays him back by applying her jazz sensibility to such classic Hendrix compositions as “Third Stone from the Sun,” “Manic Depression” and “The Wind Cries Mary.”
Still, this is not merely a Jimi Hendrix cover band. In Bailey’s hands the rock legend’s repertoire becomes the foundation for creative jazz improvisation and exploration. Joined by a second guitarist plus organ and drums, Bailey mines the musical depths of Hendrix’s works, unearthing their inner truth and beauty, and revealing their blues-based underpinnings. The performances are powerful, riveting and electrifying.
Bailey’s band mates in this project include legendary fellow New York City-based session guitarist Vic Juris, Brian Charette on Hammond B3 organ, Anthony Pinciotti on drums, and veteran jazz great Lincoln Goines on bass, comprising a true tribute from players that all love Jimi.
The Brothers of Funk Big Band, featuring Late Show with David Letterman trumpeter Al Chez. 8 p.m.
Alan Chez joined the CBS Orchestra on Feb. 3, 1997, after years of sitting in on trumpet and flugelhorn with Paul Shaffer on NBC’s Late Night with David Letterman and then the CBS Late Show. Chez started his extensive music career at age 9 when he joined his father’s local drum corps, the Saints. He went on to join the Garfield Cadets and, in 1979, hooked up with Jon Bon Jovi to create the band the Atlantic City Expressway, which played New Jersey shore clubs for five years. Chez still donates his time to drum-corps activity and also conducts brass music clinics throughout the country.
Chez has performed at such events as the Presidential Inauguration, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductions, John Lennon’s 50th birthday celebration, the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games Closing Ceremonies, the Concert of the Century, the Concert for New York and the Very Special Christmas Concert.
This newly formed group, a big band with a big horn sound consisting of more than 15 players, last played the Syracuse Jazz Fest in 2009. They return by popular demand in 2011.
Return To Forever IV. 9:30 p.m. Earlier this year, Return To Forever, completed a successful tour of Australia, where they were greeted by enthusiastic audiences. Media reviewers, equally impressed, described performances that “rocked the house” and were “nothing short of wonderful.”
The band’s irresistible musical thrills will continue to excite at Jazz Fest, with songs from the entire RTF songbook, adding highlights from each of the players’ careers and including new material specifically written for this version of the band.
Chick Corea has been adventuring through new musical territory since he first arrived on the scene with Miles Davis in the late 1960s. Stanley Clarke and Lenny White bring versatility, swing and musical pyrotechnics to every note they play. Jean-Luc Ponty has defined the electric violin as a contemporary jazz instrument via his extraordinary playing in the Mahavishnu Orchestra, as well as his own world music-oriented bands. And guitarist Frank Gambale doesn’t just leap genres with ease, he does so with finger-blurring speed and constant musical authenticity.
Working together with complete creative compatibility, preparing a program that includes the ideal fan song list as well as compelling new items, the world-class players of Return To Forever IV are embarking on a tour that belongs on every jazz fan’s “must see” list.
Price Chopper Fireworks Display. 11 p.m.