By Gregory Burrus | Posted Friday, August 10, 2018
In the first half of our 2018 Downtown After Sundown Summer Season that started May 25, 2018, we have had some absolutely wonderful, truly professional and swinging live jazz concerts. From a very pleasing opening weekend performances by vocalist Candice Reyes with saxophonist Abel Mireles of the CRQ Quintet that was followed by the TNT Quartet with Peter Lin and then Charlie Apicella, Gene Ghee and Radam Schwartz. We had a number of 100 plus audience members enjoy memorable performance led by the award winning 16-year-old pianist Leonieke Scheuble with Nick Scheuble, and the dynamic bassist Thadeus Expose. A very entertaining jazz fusion performance by Darryl Clark's DC Fusion band with drummer Abdullah Rahman, pianist Howard Hall and vibraphonist Kevin Sloane had folks hanging off the sidewalk, blocking gazebo traffic and continually asking for more.
We've also had some truly great and well know jazz professionals and their bands come through our Jazz on Sloan Gazebo such as guitarist Charlie Apicella, saxophonist Gene Ghee, guitarist Bob DeVos, every body's favorite pianist Dave Braham, trombonist Ben Williams, veteran saxophonist Mike Kaplan, sax man Mike Lee, bassist Ed Howard, to a former semi-finalist in the Thelonious Monk International Drum Competition, drummer Sylvia Cuenca to everybody in between that played with all these folks, we can truly say "thank you" because the music has been jumpin.
We've had some absolutely wonderful local, talented vocalist come thru and knock us out, such as very talented vocalist Ife Basim, Hollis Donaldson, vocalist Omisanya Karade's Love and Light event and the 2014 International Women in Jazz “Youth in Action” award winner Natazsha Scheuble. Add in a few special performances like Eddie Brown's TASE Band, the special performance by the semi-finalist competitor of the prestigious Montreux Switzerland Jazz Festival, pianist Mamiko Wantanbe, and of course the extremely crowd pleasing evening by Flamenco guitarist Jonathan Fritz. Add in the live music of the Free Speech Quintet, the smooth night of music provided by the Richard Reiter Jazz band and the beautiful jazz music doesn't stop.
We just closed this half of the season with one phenomenal astounding night of live music when the prolific organist Radam Schwartz, who has played with the greats Arthur Prysock, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Al Hibler, David Fathead Newman and one of my favorite organists Charles Earland. To our delight Radam brought out his 1970's real world Hammond B3 Organ, combined with Desmond Schwartz on Drums and Peter Lin on Trombone, they absolutely blew away another 100 plus standing room only gazebo crowd because once folks heard the music, they stopped and never left. Clearly we can say part 1 of the Downtown After Sundown Season has gotten off to a great start.
So, yes, from a 19-piece Maplewood Community Music Big Band in Spiotta Park to the always professional sounding Carol Deminski's Little Jazz Birds, we covered the gamut of jazz music that just makes people happy.
We've has some wonderful visitors in our audience, such as noted jazz historian Barbara Kukla who recently completed The Encyclopedia of Newark Jazz, the venerable 85-year trombonist Slide Hampton, and more. Yes, the audiences now pop in to spend the evening from Central Jersey, North Jersey and from New York City for our Jazz performances, which is very cool and we are just at the half way point.
2018 Downtown After Sundown 2nd Half of the Season - Jazz Preview
Well the 2nd half of the summer is here and as you can see we have a plethora of great Jazz performances coming your direction starting this weekend with our very own Grammy Award winning composer and violinist Zach Brock, whom Stanley Clark confirmed French Violinist Jean Luc Ponty's impression that Zach Brock is the guy "whose got the Stuff."
Also this weekend from our South Orange family of jazz professionals will be the Johnson Brothers, Mark and Billy Johnson. Drummer Mark Johnson, who is an established name in the international jazz scene since 1978 and a recipient of the National Endowment of the Arts grant, has played and toured with such artists as Abbey Lincoln, Walter Davis Jr., Cassandra Wilson, Jackie McLean, Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine, Steve Colman and David Murray to name just a few. William Owens Johnson - Billy studied with such jazz greats as Ron Carter, Richard Davis, Buster Williams, Cecil McBee, and Rufus Reid, played with the touring big bands of vibraphone giant, Lionel Hampton and the great tenor saxophonist Illinois Jaquet, with whom he played at the 1992 presidential inaugural ball. Billy then went on to work with his greatest mentor, the most recorded hard bop drummer in history, Arthur Taylor. As a member of the final incarnation of Taylor’s Wailers, Billy toured the world extensively and developed fully from a big band sideman into a modern jazz musician.
In future articles we will mention other upcoming events but for now we will mention that Maplewoodstock standout performer Whitney Jackson will be gracing the South Orange Gazebo and showcasing her Jazz Vocalist skills. And a very special Jazz event is coming when DarrylClarkFusion is at Spiotta Park showcasing the likes of pianist Nat Adderley Jr., who spent much of his music career arranging and writing as music director for Luther Vandross tours, saxophonist Marshall McDonald, best known for his 20+ years on the Lead Alto chair with The Count Basie Orchestra, and performances with Lionel Hampton and Paquito D’Rivera amongst many other luminaries. This special August 24th event will be in Spiotta Park.
Add in the fact we added in special once-a-month Sunday Jazz Jams which next up is the Peter Lin Jazz Jam and than add in a season ending major jazz jam with the Carrie Jackson All Stars. All vocalists and instrumentalists are invited in to participate.
We still have more jazz performers and events we did not mention that happen at the Gazebo, like the Wednesday South Orange Farmers Market Jazz Jam and the Thursday SOPAC Playing Piano's Around South Orange, but its clear the Jazz On Sloan at the South Orange Gazebo is going to be swinging hard right up 'til the end of the Jazz season.
Yes, the Jazz scene is alive and kicking all Around South Orange, New Jersey with some of the best professionals, worldwide gracing the stage of the South Orange Gazebo and Spiotta Park, and we have a lot more to come. Come on out and join your neighbors and friends and experience some of the best jazz there is worldwide right here in South Orange, New Jersey. It's all free, brought to you by the South Orange Village Center Alliance and the Town of South Orange, so stop on in and say hi.
Gregory Burrus, Your Live Music Ambassador, invites you to stay tuned as there is much more to come.
Gregory Burrus is a supporter of local businesses, community events, jazz, blues musicians and local art exhibitions. On a regular basis, Gregory Burrus is promoter and manager of Downtown After Sundown Live Music Concerts for South Orange, NJ.
Gregory promotes events through social media marketing, writing articles, blogging and photojournalism. Having fun living life while helping others.
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