Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts celebrates all that jazz during 2004-05 season


Arturo Sandoval, Diane Schuur, John Pizzarelli and David Sanborn are among the award-winning headliners in the Jazz Project, a season-long tribute to a truly American art form kicking off in October at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. The series offers a stellar lineup of jazz luminaries specializing in swing, Latin sounds, vocalizing, contemporary and cool jazz in programs for audiences of all ages.

"The Quick Center has a history of offering jazz events, but we feel this focused project will give our audiences a great understanding of the importance, substance and sheer magnitude of styles of this art form," said Deborah Sommers, Quick Center director of programming.

Many of the events will include interesting pre-concert discussions featuring Brian Torff, director of Fairfield University's Jazz and Popular Music Program and a noted jazz composer and bassist.

Grammy Award winner and jazz saxophone legend David Sanborn offers a selection of music, interspersed with insights from his more than four decades in music, on Friday, Oct. 15, at 8 p.m. Formerly a standout musician for James Taylor, David Bowie and Stevie Wonder, Sanborn released his solo debut, "Taking Off," in 1975 and has been exploring pop, rock and jazz possibilities ever since. From his 1991 album "Another Hand" on, he's concentrated on his jazz palette, garnering critical praise for his smooth, strong style and months on the Billboard charts along the way.

The John Pizzarelli Trio, featuring Pizzarelli, a hip vocalist/guitarist who's developed an army of devoted fans, will perform on Saturday, Dec. 11, at 8 p.m. Debuting in 1990 with "My Blue Heaven," Pizzarelli, son of famed guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, has released collections of Nat King Cole and The Beatles, performed a string of talked-about concerts at New York City's Birdland, and served as the jazzy face of Foxwoods Casino. Fast in the wake of his new album "Bossa Nova," his Quick Center appearance with his brother Martin on bass and Ray Kennedy on piano will be preceded by a pre-concert talk on the roots of Swing, featuring discussion of Cole and the Big Band sound.

Image: Aturo SandovalJazz trumpet icon and multiple grammy winner Arturo Sandoval, a founding member of Irakere, brings his unique blend of Afro-Cuban jazz, rock and classical to the Quick Center on Friday, Feb. 18, at 8 p.m. Born in Artemisia, Cuba, Sandoval has used classical training and the inspiration of legendary trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, a man he calls his "spiritual father," to blaze a unique trail of jazz and Afro-Cuban styles all his own. Unwilling to be pigeonholed, this seasoned pioneer has played with Cuban saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera, the Leningrad Symphony and, at the 2004 Grammy Awards, pop star Justin Timberlake. Torff will take on Latin jazz and its origins and Gillespie's legacy during a pre-concert discussion.

The cool sounds of hot jazz echo through the Quick again on Friday, Feb. 25, at 8 p.m. with "Jazz at Lincoln Center presents Music of the Masters: The Music of Dexter Gordon." One of the key innovators of bebop, this tenor saxophonist played in the language of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, but never lost the heart of the romantic ballads of Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster. This exciting evening will feature members of the Dexter Gordon rhythm section and The George Cables Trio, as well as saxophonists Wayne Escoffery, Jimmy Greene and Jerry Weldon.

Jazz appreciation continues with "Hangin' with the Giants" on Sunday, Feb. 27, at 3 p.m. This engaging program of interactive animation and live music and narration brings to life such musical greats as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. Suitable for youngsters in grades K through 5, this program helps children become more familiar with the musical form and the people who shaped it over several decades.

When it comes to jazz vocalization, you'd be hard pressed to do better than two-time Grammy winner Diane Schuur, who will perform at the Quick on Saturday, March 19, at 8 p.m. Since first stepping on the stage to sing at age nine, Schuur has garnered legions of admirers, including jazz greats Stan Getz, B.B. King, Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie. With her 3.5-octave range and sophisticated phrasing, Schuur's performances can evoke a 1950s jazz club, but she's equally at home lending her talents to pop, gospel and blues, making for a truly memorable night. Torff's pre-concert discussion will focus on great jazz vocalists, including Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and more.

Featuring one of the Quick Center's resident musicians, Sandip Burman and Friends brings audiences into the exciting world of Indian jazz-fusion on Thursday, March 31, at 7 and 9 p.m. Burman, who is a master of the tabla, lends his superb instrumental technique and spirit of invention to original compositions arranged for an intimate ensemble.

Torff will provide both a pre-concert discussion and much of the music during "A Tribute to Stephane Grappelli" on Thursday, April 14, at 7 and 9 p.m. Torff, who toured with jazz violin pioneer Grappelli, and accomplished violinist Randy Sabien will travel through an intriguing program mixing contemporary jazz and blues and original music that swings. The pre-concert discussion will consider "violinspiration," the legacy of Grappelli.

Four masters of jazz will round out the Jazz Project season on a memorable note with "Jazz in the Grand Manner" on Saturday, May 14, at 8 p.m. Co-sponsored with the Westport Arts Center, this event features Dick Hyman, Derek Smith, Bill Charlap and James Williams in a tribute to the very best in jazz piano. The evening will begin with a talk on the history and importance of the keyboard in the jazz world.

Tickets are available for single events, with discounts for students and seniors and some subscription plans. For tickets, call the Quick Center box office at (203) 254-4010 or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396. For more information, visit the website, www.quickcenter.com.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on June 1, 2004

Vol. 36, No. 264