TICKET LINK | https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/6057514 ONLINE TICKET SALES END 4 HOURS BEFORE SHOWTIME. TICKETS MAY ALSO BE PURCHASED AT THE DOOR.
Blue Stem Jazz Presentation | Heralded as one of the most important saxophonists of our time, composer and producer, Chico Freeman has perfected an immediately recognizable approach to music and composition, blending what he has experienced from his past and providing fluidity into a future of infinite musical possibilities. In the early 2000s, with dozens of recordings as a leader, Freeman moved from New York to Europe to start a new chapter of his life — exploration by focusing on his own self-improvement and self-reflection. His thirst to immerse himself in his music, his curiosity to explore working with different musicians and living in different cultures and challenging himself to be better than he was. “As much as I’ve travelled and on the road playing with such masters as McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Jack DeJohnette, Sam Rivers, Sun Ra, Dizzy Gillespie and so many jazz greats, as well as leading my own groups including founding “The Leaders” and the group “Roots,” an inner voice was telling me, you need to go to another level both musically and personally,“ Freeman explains. “You need to work with other musicians from different cultures and create new avenues of expression.
Mike Allemana highlights include performances with Dr. Lonnie Smith in 1998 and 1999, a four-year residency at Andy’s Jazz Club with tenor saxophonist Ron Dewar from 1998-2002, a 2005 performance at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center with Von Freeman and drumming legend Mickey Roker, a 2006 performance with Von Freeman and master drummer Jimmy Cobb, and performances with alto saxophonist Steve Coleman. In 2010, Mike toured to Poznan, Poland to perform with fellow Chicago guitarists Bobby Broom and Jeff Parker for the Made in Chicago Festival. The Jazz Institute of Chicago commissioned him in 2011 to arrange Von Freeman’s original compositions for a 10-piece ensemble for the Made in Chicago concert series at Millennium Park which featured special guests Eric Alexander, Julian Priester, and Steve Coleman.
Richard D. Johnson has strong territorial jazz roots. He was first introduced to the piano at the age of five by his father, a gospel pianist from Baltimore, MD. Since then, he has cultivated a rich and pedigreed musical background being schooled by some of the most legendary jazz musicians and studying at the most esteemed institutions of music. After receiving a scholarship and graduating from the Berklee School of Music in just two years, Richard entered the Boston Conservatory where he earned a Master’s degree in Jazz Pedagogy. He then went on to receive an Artist Performance Diploma at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at New England Conservatory under the direction of the influential Ron Carter. Richard was invited to become a member of Wynton Marsalis’ Septet and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, which he did from 2000-2003. He also played as part of the Russell Malone Quartet, Delfeayo Marsalis Quintet & The Bobby Watson Quartet. After completing his tenure with those groups Richard started the Reach Afar program for young people ages of 7-17, educating them about elements of jazz in hip-hop. Richard has traveled extensively, sharing the gift of jazz to audiences around the world. As a representative of the United States through the U.S. State Department, Richard was named United States Musical Ambassador. During that time he did six state department tours that took him to Central and South America, Africa, & The Middle East affording him the opportunity to perform in more than 76 countries. Richard has also accompanied such jazz icons as Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Arturo Sandoval.
Bassist Avery Sharpe was born in Valdosta, Georgia and his first instrument was the piano. “I started playing when I was eight years old,” he recalls. “My mother is a piano player/choir director in the Church of God in Christ, and she gave lessons to everybody in the family—I’m the sixth of eight children—but it didn’t stick until it got to me.” He moved on to accordion and then switched to electric bass in high school, after his family had relocated to Springfield, MA. He studied economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA., while he played electric bass in gospel, funk, and rock groups. With encouragement from renowned bassist Reggie Workman, he learned acoustic bass and soon was performing with Archie Shepp and Art Blakey. In 1980, Sharpe won a spot in McCoy Tyner’s group and worked with him for the next 20 plus years, playing hundreds of gigs worldwide and appearing on more than 20 recordings with Tyner. Sharpe’s credits also include sideman stints and recordings with jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsales, Yusef Lateef, Bobby McFerrin, Pat Metheny Billy Taylor. and many more His first recording as a leader was the 1988 album Unspoken Words on Sunnyside Records. In 1994 he started his own artist record label, JKNM Records. To date he has more than 12 titles as a leader for JKNM Records, Sharpe is equally adept at songs and longer compositional forms. In 1989, he wrote and conducted the soundtrack for the movie An Unremarkable Life. A decade later, his six-movement piece America’s Promise debuted with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. In the 1990’s Sharpe received a commission by the classical group Fideleo to write three extended works. In 2004, he wrote a musical portrait for the stage for Chamber Music Plus. The stage production Raisin’ Cane, has been touring since 2007 and features the actress Jasmine Guy (featured actress from TV, “A Different World”) and Sharpe’s Trio. In 2006, he was commissioned by the Springfield Symphony to write a Concerto for Jazz Trio and Orchestra which premiered in the 2007, featuring the Trio with (former “Tonight Show” Musical Director)Kevin Eubanks on acoustic guitar. Avery continued his historical connection with releases of CDs, honoring Jesse Owens “Running Man”, Sojourner Truth-“Ain’t I A Woman”, Sister Rosetta Tharpe-“Sharpe Meets Tharpe”.
Yoron Israel is one of the most sought out musicians of his generation. His latest recording “New Dreams” featuring his group “Trio Plus” continues to receive rave reviews. He has produced other fine works such as “This Moment,” “Visions – The Music of Stevie Wonder,” “Basic Training – Celebrating John Coltrane,” and “A Gift For You,” among others. All feature Yoron’s prolific drumming style, along with his refined compositions, and arrangements. As Jack Dejohnette quotes,“Yoron Israel is a drummer who has excellent taste. He has a sense of direction and a feeling of joy in his drumming, compositions, and arrangements. Yoron Israel is an important voice you should listen to.” In addition to leading such dynamics bands as “Trio Plus,” High Standards,” “Organic,” and “Connection,” Yoron Israel has been featured on over 300 recordings as an accompanist, and has toured nationally and internationally with some of the most prolific artists in history, including Sonny Rollins, Horace Silver, Abbey Lincoln, Tony Bennett, Ahmad Jamal, Art Farmer, Kenny Burrell, Jim Hall, Larry Coryell, Jimmy Heath, Pharaoh Sanders, David “Fathead” Newman, Joe Lovano, Tom Harrell, Roy Hargrove, James Williams among countless others representing a wide variety of musical genres. He has also worked in theatre, television, in addition to performing in orchestral, chamber and big band settings.