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Festivals Report

Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s Life And Music Celebration – San Jose Jazz Summer Fest



Steve Turre and the Eulipion All-Stars

RAHSAANATHON: A Celebration of the Life & Music of Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Special Report by Tomas Peña from San Jose, California

Steve Turre and the Eulipion All-Stars at Cafe Stritch

Saw Steve Turre and the Eulipion All-Stars at *Cafe Stritch, where they celebrated the life and music of the late, great Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

In a set that lasted nearly two hours, the group performed selections from Rahsaan’s repertoire with a sense of reverence and swing.

The word, Eulipion, refers to what Kirk called, “Agents of Change” – Poets, painters, musicians, writers and artists who changed the world.

On hand was Betty H. Neal, whose spoken word intro can be heard on the tune, Theme for The Eulipions: “You wouldn’t forget him either if you met im where i met him talkin about desolation desolation isi sraliorad station round about a 2am on week night you walk into desolation like that and suddenly out of nowhere comes a warm song you aren’t about to forget it thisis the first ime i’ve heard him at the airport i know he moves along th epiers he calls himself a journey agent a eulipion syas hi freinds the poets and the artists adn the musicians are eulipions too listen to his tune he calls it the duty free gift for the traveller.” 

Also on hand was Dorthaan Kirk, Rahsaan Roland Kirk alumni and Steve Turre, who joined Kirk’s band when he was an up and coming trombonist, “Trying to figure things out.”

Scan 209Kirk was an American jazz multi-instrumentalist who played tenor saxophone, flute and many other instruments. He was renowned for his onstage vitality, during which virtuoso improvisation was accompanied by comic banter, political ranting, and the ability to play several instruments simultaneously.

He was also an innovator and a  formidable composer, as evidenced by the band’s interpretations of Bright Moments, Serenade to a Cuckoo and Dorthaan’s Walk among others.

The Eulipion All-Stars are: Trombonist Steve Turre, reed players James Carter and James Mc Neal, pianist Matt Clark, bassist Marcus Shelby, drummer Darrell Green, guest vocalist Terri Odabi and Betty Neals, spoken word.

Thank you, Cafe Stritch for the Bright Moments and a Rahsaanathon of epic proportions. The Third Annual Cafe Stritch Rahsaanathon runs through August 9th, 2015.

Photos: Tomas Peña
Artwork: Ramsess

Third Annual Cafe Stritch Rahsaanathon 2015

A graduate of Empire State College with a dual major in journalism and Latin American studies, Tomas Peña has spent years applying his knowledge and writing skills to the promotion of great musicians. A specialist in the crossroads between jazz and Latin music, Peña has written extensively on the subject.

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Festivals Report

TD Toronto Jazz Festival – June 24 to July 3, 2022



TD Toronto Jazz Fest 2022

10 Days of Free Shows — Say What!

My TD Toronto Jazz Festival started mid festival, Tuesday, June 28th, early evening. It was all about Juno winners and nominees. The first act, Sammy Jackson and her quartet performing at the TD Main Stage at the OLG Grove.

Sammy Jackson - Photo by Paul J. Youngman
Sammy Jackson – Photo by Paul J. Youngman

Sammy Jackson won a Juno for vocal jazz album of the year. Her band, made up of Jackson on Vocals, Thomas Fleming – guitar, Chris Pruden – keys, Mark Godfrey – bass and Ian Wright playing the drums. Jackson sang songs from her award winning 5-track EP With You, featuring original compositions. Sammy Jackson added some songs from her 2016 release, the 5-track EP Take Me Back, to make for an enjoyable hour long performance. Jackson’s songs are about joy, vulnerability, long distance relationships, and love. Jackson blends jazz, R&B, soul and pop with her beautiful voice.

Sammy Jackson - Photo by Paul J. Youngman
Sammy Jackson – Photo by Paul J. Youngman

Jackson covers an impressive vocal range, and her phrasing is delightful. Jackson shines on the ballads. I especially enjoyed “Bad Reception” and “Every Time We Say Goodbye”.

Sammy Jackson concluded her show with one dedicated to her son, entitled “Chuckie”, a toddler who happened to be in the audience and made a cameo at the front of the stage. This tune was upbeat and had a happy go lucky, dance groove to get everybody moving.

I spoke with Jackson after the show, I asked her if she noticed the Juno enhancing her career? She said, “I think it’s why I’m here. The Juno increased my exposure. So that’s great. Thank you Juno!”

Kellylee Evans - Photo by Danilo Navas
Kellylee Evans – Photo by Danilo Navas

Kellylee Evans performed the evening of the 28th and I was not going to miss her concert at the TD Main Stage. Kellylee Evans was in great vocal form and in accompaniment with a wonderful band made up of Joel Visentin – keyboards, Mark Godfrey – bass, Rich Grossman – guitar, and Ian Wright on drums.

Evans has suffered some serious physical setbacks in her recovery from a tragic accident in 2013. She has an injury that is effecting her ability to walk and even to stand. She performed the show from a sitting position.

Kellylee Evans - Photo by Danilo Navas
Kellylee Evans – Photo by Danilo Navas

Evans puts her heart and soul into her singing. She is a Juno winner for vocal jazz album of the year for Nina, released in 2010. One of my favourite vocal jazz albums.

This evening, Evans performed songs from her new 5-song EP Green Light as well as many others. A beautiful, dynamic, high energy performance—even from her seated position.

Alexis Baró Quintet - Photo by Paul J. Youngman
Alexis Baró Quintet – Photo by Paul J. Youngman

I started off Wednesday, the 29th with the amazing trumpet playing of Alexis Baró. The Alexis Baró Quintet was performing at the TD Stage at Festival Village in Yorkville.

I really enjoy Baró’s trumpet playing. I think he is one of the most expressive players in the Afro Cuban style. Baró performed songs from his new album Ma Raiz.

Larnell Lewis Band - Photo by Paul J. Youngman
Larnell Lewis Band – Photo by Paul J. Youngman

I only stuck around for a few of the songs as Joy Lapps and Larnell Lewis were performing at the TD Main Stage at the OLG Grove, a few streets south. It is most unfortunate to have these scheduling conflicts. However, It is amazing to have so much talent at one festival.

Joy Lapps and Larnell Lewis performed on the TD Main Stage Wednesday the 29th – a dynamite performance. The band, made up of Larnell Lewis – drums, Joy Lapps – steelpan, Jeremy Ledbetter – piano, Elmer Ferrer – guitar, Rob Christian – woodwinds, Andrew McAnsh – trumpet and Marc Manhertz – bass.

Larnell Lewis Band with Joy Lapps - Photo by Paul J. Youngman
Larnell Lewis Band with Joy Lapps – Photo by Paul J. Youngman

“Rejoice” was the title of one of the songs performed and to hear this band is to rejoice. When I listen to Larnell Lewis play I feel the pulse through my soul. I think this is the most heartful drummer I have ever heard. His music is uplifting, powerful, dynamic, his beats, fills and rhythms, just outstanding. He shares his heart with the audience, nothing is left on the stage. 

Now to get ready for a return to Koerner Hall, after 2 years of isolation, for one of the few ticketed events, the Gregory Porter band. Excited? Yes, indeed!

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