Saturday, August 19
Scotland-born, Los Angeles-raised veteran saxophonist Richard Elliot is the 2017 GRandJazzFest headliner, taking the Rosa Parks Circle stage Saturday, Aug. 19, at 8 p.m. Long known as the “James Brown of Contemporary Jazz” for the intense soul inspirations of his recordings, Elliot has added GRandJazzFest to his relentless tour schedule. Audiences love Elliot’s joyfully exhausting onstage performances, digging deep into his R&B and jazz roots. Infectious melodies and funky grooves flow and follow a two-word mantra – Rock Steady – the name of his highly anticipated debut on Artistry Music. With a bestselling discography of more than 15 recordings since 1986’s Initial Approach, thousands of live dates spanning over two decades and one of the largest and most loyal fan bases in contemporary urban jazz, it’s incredible to hear Elliot declare: “What I’m doing now, enjoying this upward trend in my career, is seriously the most fun I have ever had.” The multi-talented tenor-man, composer and producer has been on one of the most incredible rolls of his career since the 2005 release of Metro Blue, which debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart. More at http://www.richardelliot.com/
Bryan Lubeck’s fiery Spanish guitar and smooth urban grooves made him a Billboard Magazine critic’s choice in 2006 and since then he has become a regular on contemporary instrumental stations around the world. The Sirius/XM plays of his Christmas songs make him one of the top 20 artist played each holiday season. Averaging well over 30,000 listeners a month on Spotify, Pandora, Apple Play and Google, he is also proving very popular in the streaming services. Tuscan Sky – his most recent work – spent more than 14 weeks on the various adult contemporary instrumental charts with 4 songs getting regular radio play from the album which features five Grammy winners. His live shows are equally popular, performing 2 act shows with Mindi Abair, Rick Braun, Richard Elliot, Brian Culbertson, Euge Groove, Craig Chaquico and more. Bryan will once again be providing the family guitar tent at GRandJazzFest 2019.
Formed in August 2003 by reedman Paul VornHagen and conguero Alberto Nacif, this exciting Cuban jazz combo has released four critically acclaimed Cds of mostly original compositions that have been featured on all the major jazz public radio stations throughout the U.S.
Winner of the 2005, 2007 & 2013 Detroit Music Awards for Best Jazz Recording and Best World Music Band, this combo has performed at all the major Michigan jazz/music festivals including Detroit, Michigan, Lansing, Birmingham, Raisin River, Great Lakes Folkfest , Blissfest, Wheatland Dance and Ann Arbor to name a few. The title cut of their 2009 Cd was used as a soundtrack for the USA Network TV show, Burn Notice. In June 2012, the band released their 4th Cd, Casa Versailles, which was featured on the #1 syndicated jazz radio program, Jazz After Hours w/Jim Wilke as well as many NPR programs nationwide. Casa Versailles won the 2013 Detroit Music Award for World Music CD.
All band members have won or been nominated for individual Detroit Music Awards as well teach at U of Michigan, Washtenaw CC, Jazz Camps and music studios. Their library program, The Rhythms of Cuba, has been presented at over 15 public libraries throughout southeastern Michigan. Other music performance venues include Chicago, Toledo, OH, Windsor, CAN and Oklahoma.
Current band members include Paul Vornhagen (Sax/flute/piccolo/percussion), Alberto Nacif (congas), Olman Piedra (timbales/congas), Jonathan Ovalle (timbales), Pat Prouty (bass), Paul Finkbeiner (trumpet) and Brian DiBlassio (piano).
Ed Stone and the Flowmasters performs Saturday at GRandJazzFest. Stone, a jazz guitarist and vocalist, has played in numerous Top 40 groups and brings his songwriting and music to national audiences. Joining Stone are the Flowmasters, with bass, drums and a keyboard for a smooth jazz show. They’ve performed at the New Center Park Summer Music Series, Idlewild Music Festival, Belle Isle Jazz Concert Series and at many other venues nationwide. More at www.edsterlingstone.com.
Terry Lower / Jazz Expedition Sextet performs Saturday at the festival. Lower, a virtuoso jazz pianist, has been a fixture on the Michigan jazz scene for over 30 years. He’s also performed outside the USA including stints on Carnival and Costa Cruise Lines and two concert tours in Italy. In 2016, Terry was named West Michigan Jazz Society’s Musician of the Year. Joining Lower on the Jazz Expedition Sextet will be Rob Smith on trumpet, Michael Dease on trombone, Jim Hayward on saxophone, Ray Tini on bass and Larry Ochiltree on drums. More at http://www.terrylowermusic.com/.
In keeping with a tradition established with the first GRandJazzFest in 2012, the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra with vocalist Edye Evans Hyde opens the 2015 event. For more than 35 years, the Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra has been one of Michigan’s premier jazz ensembles, featuring some of the finest musicians in the area playing swinging original compositions and arrangements as well as traditional favorites. (More at http://www.grjo.com.) 2011 West Michigan Jazz Society Musician of the Year Edye Evans Hyde has been singing jazz, blues and pop music for more than 30 years in West Michigan, Los Angeles, Asia and Europe. Over the years, Evans Hyde has shared the stage with world-renowned blues singer Linda Hopkins, pop singer Michael Bolton, vocalist Maria Muldaur, actress Connie Stevens, the late Ray Charles and Cuban trumpet player Arturo Sandoval. (More at http://edyeevanshyde.com.)
Sunday, August 20
The trio Nate Harasim & NILS featuring Brandon Willis takes to the GRandJazzFest stage on Sunday night. Harasim, a Grammy nominee and Soul Train Award recipient, is a producer, composer, keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist whose many live performances have included President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Ball, the Dubai International Jazz Festival and the 2015 GRandJazzFest. The Michigan-based artist’s album Rush debuted on the Billboard charts at No. 17 and was the No. 6 album of 2011 on SmoothJazz.com. Joining Harasim at GRandJazzFest is NILS, an L.A.-based guitarist whose talents are featured on the contemporary jazz hit “Impact” produced by Harasim. Rounding out the trio is Brandon Willis, a saxophonist featured on “Impact.” Willis is a rising star from Newcastle, Washington, who brings a soulful sound and charismatic persona to the northwest jazz scene. His eagerly anticipated debut album First Time was developed with the likes of pianist/arranger Eugene Bien, Kenny G’s touring guitarist John Raymond and keyboardist Donyea Goodman. More at http://www.nateharasim.com/ and http://brandonwillismusic.com/.
Four80East joins the Sunday lineup for GRandJazzFest 2017. The band is an electro-jazz collective that’s all about the groove. Mixing jazz with soul music and electronic production, the Canadian producer duo of Rob DeBoer and Tony Grace have created a signature bass-propelled sound that entrances listeners of their recordings and enthralls audiences at their live shows. Since breaking out with their critically acclaimed first release The Album in 1997, Four80East has been a mainstay on contemporary jazz radio and touring circuits with hits like “Eastside” and “Noodle Soup” and six subsequent albums. As a production team and as artists, DeBoer and Grace have had global success. They’ve won every major music award in their native Canada, from a Juno to a MuchMusic Award to a Canadian Radio Music Award. More at http://four80east.com/.
You might notice of something different at an organissimo performance. The audience isn’t the typical homogenous “jazz” audience. You’ll see a healthy mix of people from all walks of life; young and old, black and white, from hippies to corporate professionals and everything in between. organissimo’s music skirts over fences and satisfies a diverse range of tastes. You’re as likely to see people dancing as a group of folks intently listening.
As American cultural critic Elvis Mitchell wrote after witnessing a show at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, “The group’s toned, muscular playing keeps the crowd rapt, a condition noticeable by the fact that almost no one is talking.”
organissimo formed in November of 2000 with the goal of bringing jazz back to the people. organissimo’s sound is instantly identifiable yet constantly evolving, infusing elements of funk, gospel, blues, progressive rock, and Latin rhythms into a solid foundation of jazz. Shifting meters, deep grooves, melodic finesse and tight ensemble interplay are hallmarks of the organissimo sound.
organissimo’s music has received numerous awards. The latest CD, Dedicated, released in January of 2013, hit #5 on the JazzWeek charts and stayed in the Top 10 for 8 weeks. It hit #1 on the CMJ jazz charts and was named one of the Top 10 CDs of 2013. It received airplay on over 200 stations including Comcast’s MusicChoice and XM/Sirius Radio.
organissimo’s album, Groovadelphia, topped the CMJ Jazz Charts for three weeks at #1 and stayed in the JazzWeek Top 50 for 14 weeks, peaking at #22. It won two WYCE Jammie Awards for Best Jazz Album and Best Song and was also named one of the Best Releases of 2008 by WVPE, KJAZZ, CKCU-FM, and Jim Wilke’s Jazz After Hours program, syndicated on over 60 NPR stations nationwide. It is also nominated for a Detroit Music Award.
organissimo’s sophomore album, “This Is The Place“, hit #19 on the JazzWeek charts and a solid #4 on the CMJ charts. It also won two WYCE 2006 Jammie Awards for Best Jazz Album and Album of the Year , and was nominated for 2005 Detroit Music Award. Like its predecessor, it was named one of the Best Releases of 2005 by Jim Wilke ‘s Jazz After Hoursprogram in Seattle, WHRV in Virginia Beach, WBEZ in Chicago, WVIA-FM in Pittston PA, WBLVBlue Lake Public Radio, WLNZ in Lansing, WEMU in Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti, KXJS in Sacramento, and WYCE in Grand Rapids, Jazz 90.1 in Rochester NY, Real Detroit Weekly Magazine , the Detroit MetroTimes and the Lansing City Pulse. NPR also featured the CD as a part of its Open Mic series.
The group also won a WYCE Jammy award for Best Jazz Album for their debut CD “Waiting For The Boogaloo Sisters…” (which features prominent New York saxophonist Ron Blake ). The CD was also named one of the Best Releases of 2003 by Jim Wilke’s Jazz After Hoursprogram, syndicated on over 60 NPR stations nationwide.
The Isaac Norris Project is an assembly of Grand Rapids-area musicians who represent themselves individually as jazz, gospel, blues and R&B artists. Collectively under the direction of Isaac Norris, these musicians seek to develop and perform original smooth jazz and soul-inspired compositions. All have been great supporters of Norris by lending their talents for recording and performance of his original compositions in his latest CD release, Something to Say. The group includes Debra Perry on keyboard, Tom Cutts on guitar, Dee Washington on drums, John Parker on bass and Isaac Norris on saxophone. Washington and Norris are also new GR and Jazz board members. More at www.isaacnorrismusic.com.
Blushing Monk – the band selected to perform during GRandJazzFest 2017’s Student Showcase – is led by Dutcher Snedeker, a Grand Rapids-based pianist with a long history of live-jazz performance. Snedeker hails from a musical family where he grew up surrounded by a variety of music styles. A current master’s student at Western Michigan University and a GVSU graduate, he is an active part of the West Michigan music community, with multiple nominations at the local WYCE Jammies and a jazz award from ArtPrize 2013. Joining Snedeker as part of the Blushing Monk band are Brad Fritcher on trumpet, Caleb Elzinga on saxophone, Joe Vasquez on bass, Jordan Otto on drums and Olin Clark on guitar. More at https://www.dutchersnedeker.com/.