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Grammy-winning saxophonist and composer Joe Lovano stands alone at the vanguard of large and small group jazz. In 2015 alone, two major ensembles will be on display: Joe Lovano’s Village Rhythms Band – a natural extension of the tenor giant’s evolving body of work where West African influences and party atmospheres connect New York City and Lagos, and the acclaimed Wayne Shorter-influenced Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas Quintet: Sound Prints. From his Grammy-nominated symphonic work to his role as Gary Burton Chair of Jazz Performance at Berklee College of Music, the Cleveland native fearlessly challenges and pushes his conceptual and thematic ventures in a quest for new modes of artistic expression and new ways to define the jazz idiom. In 2014 Lovano won awards for Multi-reeds Player and Tenor Saxophonist of the Year from the Jazz Journalists Association and Tenor Saxophonist of the Year from Down Beat Magazine. He has released 23 celebrated albums on the Blue Note label; with the last three focusing on his quintet Us Five.
Few musicians share the ability of alto saxophonist/composer Rudresh Mahanthappa to embody the expansive possibilities of his music with his culture. What has materialized is a sound that hybridizes progressive jazz and South Indian classical music in a fluid and forward-looking form that reflects Mahanthappa’s own experience growing up a second-generation Indian-American. The current manifestations of that trajectory include his latest projectBird Calls, which issued its first release in February 2015. Mahanthappa has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and numerous commissions. He has been named alto saxophonist of the year for three years running in Downbeat Magazine’s International Critics Polls and for five years running by the Jazz Journalists’ Association. In April 2013, he received a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, one of the most prominent arts awards in the world.
Pianist, composer and Guggenheim fellow Myra Melford draws inspiration from a vast spectrum of cultural and spiritual traditions and artistic disciplines. In 2013, she released her first solo recording, Life Carries Me This Way and premieredLanguage of Dreams, her most ambitious project to date, combining narration, dance, and video with music for her quintet, Snowy Egret, which has a new release out in March 2015 (Enja/Yellowbird). Melford also performs in the collective Trio M with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Matt Wilson, and the duo, Dialogue, with clarinetist Ben Goldberg. In 2013, Melford was named a Guggenheim Fellow and received both the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and a Doris Duke Residency to Build Demand for the Arts at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, where she was the Artistic Director of the New Frequencies Fest:[email protected] in February 2015. She won the 2012 Alpert Award in the Arts for Music and has been honored numerous times in DownBeat’s Critics Poll.
Jazz vocalist and bandleader Michael Mwenso is a fixture of the Uptown jazz scene but is making his way downtown with his signature style and vocal chops. From a young age, the Sierra Leone-born singer has held his own with artists like James Brown in addition to playing and leading his own bands around the world. In 2010, Mwenso, personally invited by Wynton Marsalis, joined the programming team at Jazz at Lincoln Center, where he now heads the After-Hours program at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Mwenso has performed with Jon Hendricks, Jamie Cullum, Reginald Veal, Maceo Parker, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Marsalis and more.