One of the most compelling and exciting young jazz artists ushering the genre into groundbreaking new territory is trumpeter/bandleader Etienne Charles, who, still in his 20s, has already recorded three impressive and well-received albums for his own Culture Shock Music imprint. His new album, Creole Soul, is a captivating journey of new jazz expression. It buoyantly taps into a myriad of styles rooted in his Afro-Caribbean background and plumbs the musical depths of the islands, from calypso to Haitian voodoo music. Also in the jazz amalgam mix are rock steady, reggae, belair, kongo and rock as well as the influence of Motown and R&B music Charles listened to on his parents’ record player when he was growing up.
New York based tenor saxophonist/composer SEAMUS BLAKE is recognized as one of the finest exponents of contemporary jazz. His music is known for its sophistication, bold improvisations and “sheer swagger”. John Scofield, who hired Seamus for his “Quiet Band,” called him “extraordinary, a total saxophonist.” Seamus Blake’s recent releases, Live at Smalls (Smalls Live 2010), Bellwether (Criss Cross Jazz 2009) and Live in Italy (Jazz Eyes 2009), have garnered considerable critical praise for his masterful playing, his fine compositional skills and for his facility as a leader. Live in Italy was awarded 4.5 stars in Downbeat. Described as “a knockout”, “one of the elite albums of the year” and “as exhilarating as a shot of espresso”, it is on many Top of the Year lists.
Pianist/vocalist Champian Fulton grew up with music in her home. Her father (jazz trumpeter and educator Stephen Fulton) and mother quickly recognized their daughter’s interest in music at an early age. The presence of her father’s musician friends, including Clark Terry and Major Holley, also served to stimulate her focus on music. She began studying piano with her grandmother at the age of five, while she later took up singing, drums, and trumpet before eventually settling on piano and vocals. The family moved to Lemars, IA, in 1994 after Stephen Fulton became director of the Clark Terry Institute for Jazz Studies. Champian participated in the summer camp jazz program there, where she met other young jazz musicians from her area and formed the Little Jazz Quintet.
Aloysius Foster was born in Richmond Virginia on January 18, 1943.His family moved to New York when he was a child, so as a boy growing up in Harlem he had the opportunity to visit the Apollo theatre in it’s hey day. He heard Miles Davis in 1958 with his sextet that featured John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb.
Bassist/composer Ben Allison is one of a few band leaders working in jazz today who has developed his own instantly identifiable sound. Known for his inspired arrangements, inventive grooves and hummable melodies, Ben draws from the jazz tradition and a range of influences from rock and folk to 20th century classical and world music traditions, seamlessly blending them into a cinematic, cohesive whole.
Hailey Niswanger (pronounced “NICE–wonger”), graduated in December of 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Jazz Performance from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, on a full scholarship. Hailey has an impressive list of accomplishments that reach far beyond the borders of her home in Portland, Oregon, and well beyond her years.
About the Northampton Jazz Festival
The fourth annual Northampton Jazz Festival will be presented starting September 2nd with nightly events around the greater Northampton area, culminating in an all-day free concert on Saturday September 6 from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. in downtown Northampton, Massachusetts. Building on the success of the last three years, the NJF Saturday event will feature the main stage on Hampton Avenue (behind Thorne’s Market) and at the A.P.E. Gallery on Main Street.
The Fest presents internationally known musicians, as well as established local performers and promising players from area colleges and high schools. Attendees can enjoy beer and wine and food from area restaurants that make Northampton a favorite among “foodies.” Other Fest events include, Tuesday night jazz at the Clarion Hotel, Food & Music events on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday night’s Jazz Strut at several venues in Northampton.
“The Jazz Festival is the perfect event to showcase both Downtown Northampton and really great jazz music,” said Steven Campbell, president of the Northampton Jazz Festival. “The Fest is growing into a week-long festive celebration.”
The event is sponsored, in part, by a growing number of regional and local businesses. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.
Attendees can also watch the “12 Mile Meal Challenge,” and root for their favorite local chefs. The 4th Annual event takes place from 11am to 3pm and will feature chef teams from three area restaurants, at the Chef Tent.