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New Jersey Performing Arts Center Adds More Jazz Shows To 2021 Line-up Including Maria Schneider Orchestra, Buster Williams, Lillias White, And More

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The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) is welcoming live, in-person jazz back to its stage throughout 2021 beginning with Grammy Award-winning vocalist Gregory Porter (September 24). The TD Jazz Series continues in the Fall with “Salsa Meets Jazz” (September 25), saxophonist Boney James (October 14), and vocal powerhouse duo Tierney Sutton and Ann Hampton Calloway (October 15). Celebrating its 10th anniversary is the annual TD James Moody Jazz Festival showcasing an all-star lineup of the country’s best musicians, held November 5-21, including the award-winning Maria Schneider Orchestra, and the New Jersey premiere of Christian McBride’s The Movement Revisited. Below is a complete schedule, along with information about the programs. For everything else, visit NJPAC.org/jazz.

Fri, September 24 @ 8:00 p.m. An Evening with Gregory Porter

Gregory Porter (vocals)

Grammy award-winning vocalist Gregory Porter returns! Hot on the heels of his revelatory 2020 album, All Rise, he’s helping NJPAC welcome jazz back with his distinctive bone-deep baritone. If you’ve missed live music, this is one earth-rumbling, bone-shaking performance you absolutely can’t miss. Gregory Porter swings with all the earthy warmth of Nat King Cole, the soulful spirit of Stevie Wonder, and the poet’s truth of Bill Withers. Come experience “one of the most amazing singing voices you’ll hear on planet earth” (The Guardian). $53.75-$103.75

Sat, September 25 @ 8:00 p.m. “Salsa Meets Jazz”

Tito Nieves (vocals)
Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra

In the best tradition of the venerated “Salsa Meets Jazz,” this all-star lineup features three of the greatest attractions in all of contemporary Afro-Latin music: 10-time Grammy Award-winning, hard-swinging virtuoso pianist Eddie Palmieri and his Salsa Orchestra, Puerto Rico’s celebrated son and “Pavarotti of Salsa” singer Tito Nieves best known for his version of Pete Rodriguez’s 1967 classic “I Like It Like That,” and storied bandleader and keyboardist Arturo O’Farrill (son of legendary Cuban musician Chico O’Farrill and heir to a great musical legacy) and his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra who are fresh off of a 2021 Grammy win for Best Latin Jazz Album for Four Questions (Zoho Music). $29-$89

Thu, October 14 @ 7:30 p.m. Boney James

Boney James (saxophone)

It’s smooth. It’s sultry. It’s got just the right amount of swagger. That’s the music of four-time GRAMMY nominee and multi-platinum saxophonist Boney James. In June 2020, he released his 17th album, Solid. Solid follows his smash 2017 release Honestly which became his 11th #1 Billboard Contemporary Jazz Album. Over the years, his soul- and R&B-infused style of jazz has earned Boney James four RIAA gold albums, a Soul Train Award and two NAACP Image Award nominations. Billboard named him one of the Top Three Contemporary Jazz Artists Of The Decade along with Kenny G and Norah Jones. “I love playing live, maybe more than I ever did,” says James. “A lot of guys get tired of the traveling but it’s still a joy for me every time I go out there and play.” $59-$99

Fri, October 15 @ 7:30 p.m. Tierney Sutton & Ann Hampton Callaway – In Technicolor

Tierney Sutton (vocals)
Ann Hampton Callaway (vocals)

Jazz queens Tierney Sutton and Ann Hampton Callaway join forces for the first time with a tribute to famous film music. Tierney (“a serious jazz artist who takes the whole enterprise to another level” —The New York Times) and Callaway (“one of the best equipped jazz vocalists swinging today” —Chicago Tribune) will perform solos, duets and exciting new arrangements of songs you’re sure to remember from movies both classic and contemporary including, but not limited to: “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” “Blue Skies,” “As Time Goes By,” and “Windmills of Your Mind.” $59-$69

Fri, November 5 @ 6:00 p.m. + 8:30 p.m. TD James Moody Jazz Festival: Django Festival Allstars

Samson Schmitt (guitar)]
Ludovic Beier (accordion)
Pierre Blanchard (violin)
DouDou Cuillerier (guitar)
Antonio Licusati (bass)

Hailed by The Wall Street Journal as “the greatest jazz show in town,” the Django Festival Allstars brings their unique, high-energy performance to NJPAC. This internationally renowned group brings the music of one of the greatest guitar players of all time, the legendary Gypsy Jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. Reinhardt’s driving, swinging style became known as “hot jazz” and it continues to grow in popularity throughout the world…in great part to the success of the Django Festival Allstars, who honor the traditions of this “gypsy jazz” adding their own interpretations, arrangements and original compositions with stunning virtuosity. $49

Fri, November 6 @ 6:00 p.m. TD James Moody Jazz Festival: Bethany Baptist Church Jazz Vespers: Buster Williams

Buster Williams (bass)

Co-presented by the Bethany Baptist Church Jazz Vespers, NJPAC welcomes back master musician Buster Williams. A native of Camden, NJ, Buster Williams is a prodigious artist whose playing knows no limits. At age 17, he was playing bass for the Gene Ammons/Sonny Stiff band; the long, long list of jazz giants with whom he’s performed and recorded since then includes Art Blakey, Betty Carter, Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, Sonny Rollins, and Sarah Vaughan, just to name a few. His arrangements and compositions have been rec­orded by (among others) Roy Ayers, Roy Hargrove, Larry Coryell, Freddie Hubbard, Buck Hill, the Jazz Crusaders, Mary Lou Williams, and Herbie Hancock. His deep, resilient and inventive playing has made him the bassist of choice throughout the jazz world. “After working almost continuously for 30 years as a sideman,” says Buster Williams, “I decided it was time to take the plunge, step up to the front, play my music, and express my concept of a cohesive musical unit. I’ve served my apprenticeship under many great masters and feel that it’s my honor and privilege to carry on the lineage that makes this music such an artistically rich art form.” FREE

Sat, November 6 @ 7:00 p.m. TD James Moody Jazz Festival: Pedro Giraudo + Nimbus Dance

Pedro Giraudo Tango Quartet:
Pedro Giraudo (bass, bandleader)
Nick Danielson (violin)
Rodolfo Zanetti (bandoneon)
Ahmed Alom (piano)

Based in Jersey City, N.J., the boundary-pushing, community-driven modern dance ensemble performs a special program as part of the TD James Moody Jazz Festival—including the world premiere of Raucous Caucus Tango, a collaboration with Latin Grammy Award-winning tango virtuoso Pedro Giraudo and his Tango Quartet. Giraudo is regarded as one of the most compelling tango artists today— an active cultural ambassador for the beautiful and passionate music of his native Argentina. This creative mash-up of bawdy storytelling, slapstick humor, and exquisite choreography pokes fun at our electoral process, set to the passionate, dramatic rhythms of Argentine tango. $59

Sat, November 6 @ 8:00 p.m. TD James Moody Jazz Festival: Chaka Khan with Special Guest Leela James

Chaka Khan (vocals)
Leela James (vocals)

The reigning Queen of funk, soul, and R&B—and 10-time Grammy Award winner—Chaka Khan returns to NJPAC for what’s sure to be a classic concert, featuring such iconic hits as “I Feel for You,” “Through the Fire,” “I’m Every Woman,” “Ain’t Nobody” and others. “The influence of a vocal institution such as Chaka Khan never fades far from the minds of millions of fans… She makes each tune she touches a standout that is hard to resist, and even harder to forget.” (Soul Tracks)

Leela James first burst onto the scene with her 2006 debut album A Change is Gonna Come, introducing audiences to her considerable vocal chops and garnering nominations for Outstanding New Artist at the NAACP Image Awards and Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist of 2008 at the Soul Train Music Awards. For Leela, it’s always been about the soul. So much so that she was nicknamed Baby Etta as a little girl growing up in Los Angeles. Along with Chaka Khan and Al Green, she counts Etta James among her vocal heroes and paid homage in 2012 by recording her album Loving You More…In the Spirit of Etta James. Leela’s influences run the gamut of vocalists from soul to funk, and jazz, and her interpretation of music touches on synesthetic. $49-$119

Fri, November 7 @ 2:00 p.m. TD James Moody Jazz Festival: WBGO Children’s Concert: Don Braden Septet

Don Braden (tenor sax, flute)
Septet (Line-up TBA)

Don Braden is known around the world as an exciting and interactive jazz soloist, a creative and prolific composer, a passionate and energetic educator and as a specialist at arranging and performing classic popular songs in the modern jazz style. Having spent years as the saxophonist with greats like Betty Carter, Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard and Roy Haynes, he has developed a harmonic and rhythmic sophistication giving him a unique approach to improvising as well as composing and arranging. According to All About Jazz, he “creates accessible music built atop the pillars of wit, honesty, swing, and heart, and delivers music that alternately cooks, calms, struts, and soars." No stranger to NJPAC, Braden served 15 years as the Music Director of its Wells Fargo Jazz for Teens program. FREE

Thu, November 11 @ 7:30 p.m. TD James Moody Jazz Festival: New Jersey Premiere of Christian McBride’s The Movement Revisited: A Musical Portrait of Four Icons

Christian McBride (bass, bandleader)
Sonia Sanchez (orator)
Willie Perdomo (orator)
John Murillo (orator)
Dion Graham (orator)
Christian McBride Big Band (line-up TBA)
Gospel choir (TBA)

NJPAC Jazz Advisor, bassist, composer, bandleader and Grammy Award winner Christian McBride has played everything from Monk to Funk. But this latest project is his most ambitious yet: The Movement Revisited, a full-length work for jazz orchestra, vocalists and orators, celebrating the great leaders of The Civil Rights Movement. The words—and the praises—of Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King, Jr. and President Barack Obama will be spoken and sung in this inspiring performance. Celebrating its New Jersey premiere, this all-encompassing work transcends the topical and the political and crosses into the realm of the spiritual, celebrating not just what it means to be Black in America but what it means to be human on this earth. Orators Sonia Sanchez, Willie Perdomo, John Murillo and Dion Graham will accompany the 18-piece Christian McBride Big Band, reading excerpts from The Movement Revisited. According to the Los Angeles Times, this is “a work that was admirable—to paraphrase Dr. King—for both the content of its music and the character of its message.” $29

Fri, November 12 @ 8:00 p.m. TD James Moody Jazz Festival: Chris Botti

Chris Botti (trumpet)

Since the release of his 2004 critically acclaimed CD When I Fall In Love, Chris Botti has become the largest-selling American instrumental artist. His success has crossed over to audiences usually reserved for pop music and his ongoing association with PBS has led to four #1 jazz albums, as well as multiple Gold, Platinum and Grammy Awards. Most recently, his latest album Impressions won the Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album. Performing worldwide and selling more than four million albums, he has found a form of creative expression that begins in jazz and expands beyond the limits of any single genre. $29-$79

Fri, November 12 @ 7:30 p.m. TD James Moody Jazz Festival: Lillias White


Tony Award (Best Featured Actress in a Musical, The Life) and Daytime Emmy Award winner (Outstanding Performer in a Children’s Series, Sesame Street) Lillias White is world-renowned for her glorious voice and extraordinary ability to communicate the heart of a song.

According to The New York Times, she is a “one-of-a-kind performer who combines the sass of a classic blues mama with the skill of a Broadway star.” Her first solo studio album, Get Yourself Some Happy!, was released this past summer via Old Mill Recording. It is the culmination of a 30-year friendship and professional collaboration between White and her musical director-accompanist, Timothy Grephenreed (The Wiz), who passed away in 2020. “This recording, Get Yourself Some Happy!, is a labor of love put together by the late, great Timothy Graphenreed, Dr. Joshua Sherman, and myself," said White. “It was a joy to create. The songs were handpicked and heartfelt—and we hope the album brings smiles to your faces. I want people to see you (with your earbuds in) smiling—and wonder what you’re listening to. I hope you go out and get yourself some happy!” $50-$70

Fri, November 13 @ @ 2:00 p.m. TD James Moody Jazz Festival: The WBGO Story Bright Moments From Newark to the World

“The WBGO Story: Bright Moments From Newark to the World” is a 55-minute award-winning documentary that tells the story of how WBGO 88.3 FM came to become a powerful cultural force that now reaches millions of Jazz listeners around the world. Released earlier this year, the film focuses on WBGO’s creation and features interviews and stories from people who helped launch the station, including its founder, Bob Ottenhoff, and its longtime special events and community relations coordinator Mrs. Dorthaan Kirk, an NEA Jazz master recipient and widow of Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Broadcasting for more than 40 years, WBGO is New Jersey’s first public radio station and a global cornerstone in the field of jazz. “It’s more than just music to jazz listeners,” says producer Chris Daniel, who grew up in Jamesburg, in Middlesex County. “I really just wanted to tell a good story about how people love the music and how they worked together to promote it.” FRE

Sat, November 13 @ 8:00 p.m. TD James Moody Jazz Festival: Dianne Reeves and Artemis

Dianne Reeves (vocals)

Artemis:
Renee Rosnes (piano)
Anat Cohen (clarinet
Ingrid Jensen (trumpet
Nicole Glover (saxophone)
Noriko Ueda (bass
Allison Miller (drums)

Five-time Grammy Award winner Dianne Reeves is the pre-eminent jazz vocalist in the world, known for her breathtaking virtuosity, improvisational prowess and unique jazz and R&B stylings. Among her many honors, she has received honorary doctorates from Berklee College of Music and the Juilliard School, and the NEA designated her a Jazz Master—the highest honor the United States bestows on jazz artists.

Hailing from America, Canada, Israel, Chile and Japan, Artemis is an international, multi-generational all-star group featuring jazz musicians Renee Rosnes (lives in West Orange, NJ), Anat Cohen, Ingrid Jensen, Nicole Glover, Noriko Ueda & Allison Miller. It recently won Best New Artist by Jazz Times 2020 Reader’s Poll and Mid-Size Ensemble of the Year 2020 by Jazz Journalists Association. “Each individual member of this supergroup is a bona fide jazz titan,” says the President of Blue Note Records, Don Was. With passion, power and sensitivity, they create unforgettable performances of high-wire interplay and pure joy. $29-$79

Sun, November 14 @ 11:00 a.m. + 1:00 p.m. TD James Moody Jazz Festival: Dorthaan’s Place: Cyrus Chestnut

Cyrus Chestnut (piano)

NJPAC continues Dorthaan’s Place, its popular Sunday jazz brunch series curated by Newark’s First Lady of Jazz, Dorthaan Kirk. The series made its debut during NJPAC’s 2012-13 season and has grown ever since. “The finest in jazz is on the menu…anticipation runs high at Dorthaan’s Place, whether you’re there for the music, the food, the scene, Dorthaan, or all of the above.” (All About Jazz)

This edition presents the piano stylings of Cyrus Chestnut, “the best jazz pianist of his generation” (Time). Taking a break from touring the world’s clubs, concert halls, and jazz festivals, he’ll stop by NICO Kitchen + Bar for a musical brunch that’s not to be missed. Learn why The New York Times calls Cyrus “a wildly imaginative improviser whose solos are free-associative delights, full of dark and swinging riffs, rumbling low notes, and splatters of upper register tickles.”

There are two brunch seatings: 11:00 a.m. (music begins at 11:30a.m.) and 1:00 p.m. (music begins at 1:30 p.m.). $45

Sun, November 14 @ 3:00 p.m. TD James Moody Jazz Festival: 10th Annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition

Christian McBride (co-host, bass)
Dianne Reeves (co-host, vocals)
Steve Williams (judge)
Jazzmeia Horn (judge)
John Pizzarelli (judge)
Sheila Jordan (judge)

The divine Sarah Vaughan—Newark’s greatest musical gift to the world—got her start as the winner of a talent contest. Now, NJPAC honors her legacy every year with the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition. For this special 10th anniversary of “The SASSY Awards,” jazz greats Christian McBride (NJPAC’s Jazz Advisor) and Dianne Reeves will both co-host and and perform as guest artists. This event offers outstanding jazz singers a one-of-a- kind platform for embarking on a career in the music business—and offers audience members a chance to discover the jazz stars of tomorrow. Gifted young contestants from around the world are evaluated on vocal quality, musicality, technique, performance, individuality, artistic interpretation, and ability to swing. The winner receives a $5,000 cash prize. Past winners include Cyrille Aimée, Jazzmeia Horn, Quiana Lynell, Laurin Talese, and more. Deadline for singers to enter is September 7, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. EST. For more information or to enter the competition, visit SarahVaughanCompetition.com. $39

Sat, November 20 @ 7:30 p.m. TD James Moody Jazz Festival: Swingin’ at 96: Anat Cohen and the Newport All-Stars Salute George Wein

Anat Cohen (saxophone, clarinet)
Christian McBride (bass)
Kenny Barron (piano)
Randy Brecker (trumpet)
Lewis Nash (drums)
Lew Tabackin (flute, tenor sax)
Peter Washington (bass)

This year’s TD Moody Jazz Festival will end with a stellar musical line-up honoring pianist and bandleader George Wein, who founded the Newport Jazz Festival in 1954. He went on to found the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 1970 and was honored in 2015 with a Grammy Trustees Award for his festival-production work. Wein will be lauded with an all-star celebration led by musical director/contemporary swing saxophonist and clarinetist Anat Cohen. The Newport Jazz All-Star lineup will pay tribute to Wein’s 65+ years of great jazz concerts and 96 years of living. This evening is sure to be one of the most memorable nights in Wein’s long and storied career and the history of jazz at NJPAC. Wein, universally is regarded as the single most significant producer and impresario jazz has ever known. $59

Fri, November 21 @ 3:00 + 7:00 p.m. TD James Moody Jazz Festival: Maria Schneider Orchestra

The last time the Maria Schneider Orchestra performed in the tri-state was in November 2019 at New York City’s now defunct Jazz Standard. NJPAC is thrilled to welcome the ensemble back to the area which will surely be THE highlight of the jazz season. For the past quarter–century, beginning with her orchestra’s debut album Evanescence (1994), composer/conductor Maria Schneider has developed a deeply personal way of writing for her 17–member collective; like Duke Ellington, she has tailored her compositions to highlight the individually expressive voices of her soloists. In July 2018, Maria Schneider was awarded the highest honor in jazz, as a recipient of the 2019 Jazz Masters Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Maria and her orchestra are fresh off of winning two Grammy Awards, “Album of the Year” award from Grand Prix de L’Academie du Jazz, Jazz Journalists Association, and NPR Jazz Critics Poll, as well as a nomination for a Pulitzer Prize for their latest album, Data Lords. $59

Thu, December 09 @ 7:30 p.m. Jane Lynch: A Swingin’ Little Christmas Live in Concert

Jane Lynch (host, vocals) Kate Flannery (vocals) Tim Davis (vocals) The Tony Guerrero Quintet

Emmy and Golden Globe Award winning actress Jane Lynch (Glee, Hollywood Game Night, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) is getting into the holiday spirit. Joined by her friends Kate Flannery (best known for her portrayal of “Meredith the Drunk” on NBC’s The Office) and Tim Davis (vocal producer for Glee), this festive concert includes fresh takes on classic Christmas carols and new nostalgia-inspired tunes. The bandleader, Tony Guerrero, fuses clever jazz arrangements with tight vocal harmonies performed by the jazz group, The Tony Guerrero Quintet. The show’s eponymous album A Swingin’ Little Christmas hit Billboard's Top 10 Adult Contemporary chart. On Sale July 18th.

About NJPAC

New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located in downtown Newark, N.J., is America’s most diverse performing arts center, and the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey – where great performances and events enhance and transform lives every day. NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the state’s and the world’s best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city. Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts. NJPAC has attracted nearly 10 million visitors (including over 1.7 million children) since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents.

NJPAC is located at 1 Center Street, Newark, New Jersey; a short walk from the Newark Penn Station stop by Newark-bound PATH Train or Amtrak. $29 and up. To purchase, contact NJPAC at 1.888.GO.NJPAC/1.888.466.5722. Health + Safety Protocols: NJPAC regularly updates its COVID protocols and procedures based on CDC, federal, state, city, and other scientific data. At this time, masks are recommended, but not required.

This story appears courtesy of AMT Public Relations.
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