Celebrate the 20th year of concerts highlighting the legacy of jazz pianist, composer, educator, and bandleader Mary Lou Williams with performances featuring some of today's most exciting and respected jazz musicians.
Friday, May 15 includes hard-swinging drummer Sylvia Cuenca, and her Organ Group. Heard most recently in the KC Jazz Club with Kevin Mahogany, Cuenca toured regularly with Clark Terry and Joe Henderson, among others, before breaking out as a bandleader herself. Trumpeter Ingrid Jensen is joined by her Berklee Quintet. Jensen, in the words of the late Marian McPartland, plays "with all the brilliance and fire of a true virtuoso…warm, sensitive, exciting, and totally honest." Friday concludes with a set by pianist and bandleader Michele Rosewoman with her Latin jazz ensemble New Yor-Uba, whose most recent recording, 30 years, A Musical Celebration of Cuba in America, has been widely praised, garnering the number one Latin Jazz recording spot in NPR's 2013 critics poll.
In what will certainly by a sold-out performance on Saturday, May 16, the Center welcomes past recipients of the Center's Mary Lou Williams Jazz Award. Performing that night in an extended set is the Ladies Sing the Blues project, headlined by show-stopping vocalist Catherine Russell, daughter of the 2005 Jazz Award recipient, the late Carline Ray. Joining Russell are Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead alumnae vocalists Brianna Thomas and Charenee Wade. The Nation praises the group, saying, "all three women found nooks and crannies in the material that you might not have known were there." The vocalists will channel the spirit of "cakewalking baby" crossover singer Ethel Waters, and 1920s blues divas Bessie Smith ("the Empress of The Blues"), Mamie Smith ("the Queen of the Blues"), and Ma Rainey ("the Mother of the Blues").
Performance Timing: Approximately 3 hours--three 50-minute sets, with brief pauses after each set.
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