Sal Riggi, Executive Director of Cape May Jazz Festival, provides a sneak peek of the weekend
Contrary to rumors that have been circulating over the past several months, the Cape May Jazz Festival is alive and well. This will become evident on the weekend of November 12-14 when the 34th Cape May Jazz Festival (sponsored by the Bank of America) electrifies the city of Cape May as it has done for the past 17 years.
The Cape May Jazz Festival has music for young and old. From straight-ahead jazz, to Latin jazz and blues, from young guns to seasoned masters, this festival’s music appeals to all audiences. The festival will feature several changes: the headliner performances will be held at the Star of the Sea auditorium rather than the LCMR High School Performing Arts Center. While the LCMRPAC is a state of the art facility, the move to the Star of the Sea auditorium keeps all of our patrons in Cape May, where they can enjoy the wonderful shops at the Washington Street Mall, and some of the finest restaurants in the state.
Another addition to the Cape May Jazz Festival includes the announcement of a new partnership between the Friends of Cape May Jazz, Inc. and the Stockton College Performing Arts Center. This new partnership presents opportunities in support of our mission to preserve the original American art form we know as jazz. This new partnership ensures a bright and exciting future for the Cape May Jazz Festival.
There’s no better way to prepare for this festival than to enjoy a sneak peek preview of the schedule of performances.
The festival kicks off on Friday, November 12 with the multi-Grammy Award-winning Yellowjackets. Now in their 25th year, the Yellowjackets continue to expand and redefine musical movements. The Yellowjackets boast a line-up that has produced some unforgettable performances, making them a band that continues to grow. They will be performing at the Star of the Sea auditorium at 8 and 10pm. Other performances taking place Friday night include the Terell Stafford Quintet at the Victorian Gardens at the Marquis de Lafayette at 9 and 10pm. Terell Stafford is a gifted and versatile trumpet player with a voice all his own. His quintet features jazz legends Tim Warfield on sax, Pat Bianchi on organ, Chris Beck on drums, and Daniel Sadownick on percussion.
At Carney’s Main Room, Umar Raheem and New York Connection perform three sets from 9pm-1am. A prolific composer, arranger, and orchestrator, saxophonist Umar Raheem strives to keep his music inspirational, innovative, and in the best classical jazz tradition.
In Carney’s Other Room, in her first performance at the Cape May Jazz Festival, Taeko performs three sets from 9pm-1am. A singer with a voice all her own, this native of Japan has assimilated the all-American art form of jazz with astonishing originality. Bearing touches of her many influences, from Ella Fitzgerald to Anita Baker, while remaining distinctly herself, Taeko takes each song she sings and makes it her own.
In the mood for some Friday night blues? Then head on over to Cabanas where the Jonny Hirsch Blues Band, performs three sets from 9pm-1am. The 28-year-old singer/guitarist is often compared to the likes of Jamiroquai, Steely Dan, and Tower of Power. Fusing together elements of rock, funk, jazz, and skat singing with a powerful voice and a dynamic saxophone, Jonny’s music has taken on a genre all of its own.
Monnette Sudler’s Ladies Night Out, featuring festival favorite Monnette Sudler, performs two shows, at 8:30pm and 11pm, in Aleathea’s at the historic Inn of Cape May. Combining the electrifying styles of jazz funk and African rhythm, with soulful vocals and enchanting storytelling, this rare jewel of the music industry has performed at concerts and festivals in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and across the United States.
On Saturday the festivities continue early in the morning with our famous complimentary music workshops held at the Cape May Elementary School and co-sponsored by long-time jazz festival supporters, The Center for Community Arts. The workshops include a beginner’s guitar workshop with Bob DeVos; advanced guitar workshop with Monnette Sudler; and a saxophone workshop with Tim Price. All three workshops are held from 11-12 noon. From noon-1pm a percussion jam for youth and adults will be held with Marc Jacopec and company.
Immediately following the workshops you can enjoy the Saturday afternoon jam sessions. In Carney’s Main Room there will be a pre-jam session from 12-12:50pm featuring festival favorite, young Immanuel Wilkins and the Immanuel Wilkins Jazztet. Following the pre-jam session Umar Raheem and New York Connection perform from 1-4pm. Invited guests include Sherry Butler, Henry Hunt, Jeannie Brooks, Winston Byrd, Clifford Buggs, Larry Toft, Tim Price, Jim Fittipaldi, Teddy Royal, Geno White, Bob Devos, Web Thomas, and Mike Dempsey.
In Carney’s Other Room the pre-jam session kicks off from 12-12:50pm with Clef Club Satin Dolls All Girls Jazz Band. Following the pre-jam in Carney’s Other Room is long-time festival favorite Bill McGrady along with invited guests from 1-4pm. The well-known blues jam takes place with the Tom Larsens Blues Band from 1-4pm.
The fun continues Saturday night when Javon Jackson featuring the legendary Les McCann performs two shows at 6:30 and 8:30pm at the Star of the Sea auditorium. Javon Jackson and Les McCann bring an exhilarating mix to the Cape May Jazz Festival. Javon Jackson came into international prominence as a member of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Music legend and pianist Les McCann began his career in the early 1960s when he recorded with his trio for Pacific Jazz Records. In 1969, Atlantic Records released Swiss Movement, which featured political criticism of the Vietnam War. After the success of Swiss Movement, McCann began emphasizing his vocals, becoming an innovator in the soul jazz style.
Other performances taking place on Saturday night include Ralph Petersons’s Unity Project featuring Sean Jones and Gary Thomas at Victorian Gardens at the Marquis de Lafayette with two performances at 9 and 11pm. Ralph Peterson made his recording debut with Blue Note Records up-and–coming all-star group Out of the Blue. This dynamic trio is not to be missed.
Over at Carney’s Other Room the Bob DeVos Trio will present a sound to die for; rich, full, deep, positive, round and warm. Bob DeVos has been hailed as a master playing with such jazz greats as Ralph Bowen, Freddy Cole, Etta Jones, and Danny Valentin, to name a few. The Bob DeVos Trio plays three sets from 9pm-1am.
Looking for some Latin jazz? Then get ready for 3D Ritmo de Vida performing at Carney’s Main Room with three sets from 9pm to 1am. 3D Ritmo de Vida is a Latin dance band led by drummer Michael Tate. The band exudes a Latin tropical mix of funky salsa and Caribbean Soul with a New York attitude. The bands hot Latin rhythms combined with sizzling vocals will have everyone out of their seats. Still wanting for more blues? Then head back over to Cabanas where the Chris Bergson Blues Band will be rocking the house with three sets from 9pm-1am. Acclaimed New York-based guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Chris Bergson creates his own blend of rootsy blues and soul.
Looking to just chill a little bit with a unique twist? Then head over to the Boiler Room at Congress Hall where vibraphonist Joe Baione will play three sets from 9-1am. Joe Baione has a passion for all things jazz. His energetic performances on the vibes make audiences sit up and notice because of his unique style.
The Cape May jazz tradition at Aleathea’s continues with two performances by acclaimed vocalist Demetria Bailey at 8:30 and 11pm. Demetria Bailey has a great presence and connects with her audience like no other performer. Her range of songs cover such standards as Hoagy Carmichael’s “Skylark” and Harold Arlen’s “Stormy Weather” to the ‘50s hit for the Platters, “Only You”, which is given a whole new structure as a solo. Demetria mixes the musical genres throughout her performance with some real surprises.
Sunday marks the closing day of this great music festival. The day starts with long-time jazz festival favorites Little Jazz Giants performing the pre-jam at Carney’s Main Room from 12-12:50pm. This young group of musical prodigies continues to wow the audience every year! Another long-time festival favorite, Jordan Williams and the Young Jazz Lions performs the other pre-jam session in Carney’s Other Room at the same time. This highly talented group of “young lions” continues to bring the audience to their feet at every festival.
The final super jams of the festival take place from 1-4pm with Monnette Sudler Afro Jazz Connection performing in Carney’s Main room; The Budesa Brothers in Carney’s Other Room; and long-time Cape May Jazz Festival friend and audience favorite Alan Weber and Friends electrifies the house in Cabanas. The Sunday super jams are a special time at the close of the Cape May Jazz festival. They are full of energy and surprises. Special invited guests which appear at each venue include Barbara Walker, Lois Smith, Demetria Bailey, Andre Williams, Jesse Andrus, Rick Tate, Jr., Elliot Levin, Winston Byrd, Michael Ray Blondy, Brent White, David Cole, Tony Vattimo, Charles Beasley, Sammy Jones, Darryl Berge, Omar Hill, and Michael Dempsey.
You haven’t fully experienced the Cape May Jazz Festival unless you experience the closing super jam sessions (especially the closing chorus of “When the Saints Go Marching In”). Hold on to your drinks because you just might have a group of musicians marching across the bar!
On a special note I just want to make an announcement: THE BYRD IS BACK! Marking his first return to the Cape May Jazz Festival in several years, renowned musician Winston Byrd will be returning and will be taking part in our jam sessions. Winston not only is a great musician but a fantastic entertainer and great person. I can assure you that when Winston plays the energy in the room increases ten-fold!
Well, there you have it, a complete preview of the 34th Cape May Jazz Festival. As you can clearly see the Cape May Jazz Festival is indeed ALIVE and WELL! It’s true that the festival has faced challenging times recently with the weakened economy, the lack of a Convention Hall, and the recent reorganization; however, I’m sure you agree that the line-up for this festival is clear evidence that the Cape May Jazz Festival will be around for many years to come.
On behalf of the Executive Board I want to thank all of our generous supporters, including the New Jersey State Council of the Arts, our presenting sponsor Bank of America, the Richard Stockton College Performing Arts Center, Barefoot Wines, Sunset Beach Gifts for sponsoring our T-shirts, Carney’s, Cabanas, Martini Beach, Aleathea’s Restaurant at the Inn of Cape May, Victorian Gardens, Jersey Cape Realty for providing our box office space, the City of Cape May, and the many other businesses and people who have continued to support the Friends of Cape May Jazz, Inc., in our mission to preserve this original American art form, and the Cape May Jazz Festival.
Because of your support, the goose continues to lay golden eggs and the Cape May Jazz Festival will continue bringing cool sounds and hot licks to a town that truly deserves it. Thank you Cape May!
For tickets call (609) 884-7200.