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New Jersey Performing Arts Center Presents Free 2022 Bethany Vespers Concert Series


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Saturday, February 5 | 6:00PM

Stefon Harris

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“His music needs no labels like ‘postmodern’ or ‘cutting edge’. It is Stefon Harris music, as Charles Mingus, he insisted, was Mingus music.” —Nat Hentoff, Jazz Times Magazine Educator.

Vibraphonist and Composer, Stefon Harris has been heralded as “one of the most important young artists in jazz” by The Los Angeles Times. A four-time GRAMMY nominee, he is a seven-time Best Mallet player by the Jazz Journalist Association, the recipient of Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award, Downbeat’s Critics Poll Winner for Vibraphone (2015, 2013) and 2014 Expanded Critic’s Poll for Vibes from Jazz Times. He won a 2014 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album for Wonder: The Songs of Stevie Wonder as a member of the SF Jazz Collective.

Harris earned a BM in Classical Percussion and a MM in Jazz Performance from Manhattan School of Music. He tours worldwide with his bands Sonic Creed, Blackout and Ninety Miles. Harris teaches at New York University and is Artistic Director of Jazz Education at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). He has been Artist in Residence at Fontana Chamber Arts, Kalamazoo, The Lied Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, and San Francisco Performances. Harris currently teaches at the Brubeck Institute through their Distance Learning program and at the Institute’s Summer Jazz Colony. Stefon’s landmark TED Talk, “There are No Mistakes On The Bandstand” was the most watched in its 2011 release and has over 500,000 views. He has emerged as a leading informance presenter in Corporate Leadership workshops with Fortune 100 companies around the world. In 2014 Stefon co-founded The Melodic Progression Institute with business partner Clif Swiggett. Their first app, Harmony Cloud was released on iTunes in January 2016.

Saturday, March 5 | 6:00PM

Russell Malone

“Obviously, we are in the capable hands of a master. Absolutely fluid touch and beautiful integration between moving lines and harmonic cadences. The sound of the instrument is well- balanced throughout the entire register. The relaxed quality of everything that’s being played gives it such a warm feeling. To play that stuff is extremely hard. This is an absolute master, the best of the best.” (Kurt Rosenwinkel), responding to Russell Malone’s solo performance of “Remind Me” on Playground (MaxJazz, 2004), in a DownBeat Blindfold Test.

Russell Malone is one of the signature guitar players of his generation. The several recordings since 1992, Malone is as well-known on the international circuit for helming a world-class quartet and trio as he is for his long-standing participation in Ron Carter’s Golden Striker Trio, and his recent consequential contribution to the musical production of the likes of Sonny Rollins and Dianne Reeves, who recruited Malone for his singular tone, refined listening skills, limitless chops, and efflorescent imagination.

In all these circumstances, Malone addresses the tradition of its own terms, refracting the vocabularies and syntax of such heroes as Charlie Christian, Chet Atkins, George Van Eps, Johnny Smith, Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, Pat Martino, and George Benson into an argot entirely his own. A master of all tempos, a relentless singer, he spins his stories—n idioms ranging from the urban and downhome blues, country, gospel, various corners of the American Songbook, and hardcore jazz – with a soulful, instantly recognizable instrumental voice, and seasons them with sophisticated harmonies that are never “too hip for the room.”

“I take pride on being open enough to play with anybody,” says Malone, citing encounters with such diverse artists as B.B. King, Andy Williams, James “Blood” Ulmer, and Ornette Coleman.

“I love to swing, but I won’t turn up my nose at any style of music-or any other musician—because it’s different. I’ll play with anybody, if the music is good.”

Saturday, April 2 | 6:00PM

Samara Joy

April’s featured performer is jazz vocalist Samara Joy. With a voice and style mature beyond her 22 years, this is a rising star you won’t want to miss. Samara won the 2019 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition at NJPAC and released her self-titled debut album just last year. Samara is fresh off winning Best New Artist 2022 by Jazz Times Magazine. “Samara Joy has a voice that seems to have a gravitational pull keeping the planets in orbit.” —WGBO Radio

Saturday, May 7 | 6:00PM

George Cables

Our featured performer in May is legendary jazz pianist George Cables. The bandleader, sideman, and composer has played on dozens of records with the biggest names in jazz, from Sonny Rollins to Max Roach. His all-star group The Cookers has been making music together since 2010. “George Cables has spent the past six decades perfecting a forthright, unpretentious style that seems to swing of its own accord.” —The New Yorker


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.

Co-Presented by Bethany Baptist Church and New Jersey Performing Arts Center sponsored by TD Bank | a world of jazz music just minutes from home.

Bethany Baptist Church
117 W. Market Street
Newark, NJ 07103

FREE. To reserve or for more info, contact NJPAC at 1.888.GO.NJPAC / 1.888.466.5722

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