21st Annual Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival
Hosted by Dee Dee Bridgewater
The 2016 Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival highlights the legacy of jazz pianist, composer, educator and bandleader Mary Lou Williams with two consecutive nights of performances featuring some of today's most exciting and respected jazz musicians.
Friday, May 13 brings the unique staged concert presentation of "A Conversation with Mary Lou Williams." Directed by Golden Globe– and Emmy Award–winning actor S. Epatha Merkerson (Law & Order, Lackawanna Blues), this evening features the music of Mary Lou Williams, interspersed with dialogue and vignettes of Williams's life and work. Performed by pianist and music director Geri Allen, vocalist Carmen Lundy as Mary Lou Williams, Kenny Davis (bass), and Kassa Overall (drums), with a script written by Farah Jasmine Griffin, the work premiered at Harlem Stage in 2014.
On Saturday, May 14, Allison Miller's Boom Tic Boom premieres selections from its newest recording Otis Was a Polar Bear (Royal Potato Family), set for release in March 2016. Drummer Allison Miller--a D.C. area native who has gained wide acclaim as a bandleader and drummer for the likes of jazz masters such as Dr. Lonnie Smith to pop stars such as Natalie Merchant--is joined by pianist Myra Melford, violinist Jenny Scheinman, cornetist Kirk Knuffke, clarinetist Ben Goldberg, and bassist Todd Sickafoose.
Also performing are Jane Bunnett and Maqueque, featuring Canadian saxophonist/flutist Jane Bunnett and five talented Cuban women, in selections from their self-titled, debut CD (on the Justin Time label), which won a 2015 Juno Award for (Group) Jazz Album of the Year. The band, whose name means "the spirit of a young girl" in an Afro-Cuban dialect, blends Cuban music and jazz with authentic island vocals, tres guitar, fretless bass, piano, and, of course, batas and congas.
Grammy Award–winning drummer, composer, and bandleader Terri Lyne Carrington brings music from her latest album, Mosaic Project: Love and Soul, featuring vocalist Oleta Adams, Ingrid Jensen (trumpet), Tia Fuller (saxophone), Amy Bellamy (piano), and Elena Pinderhughes (flute).
Performance Timings: Friday, May 13 - 1 hour, with no intermission. Saturday, May 14 - approximately 3 hours, including two brief pauses between sets.
Note: There will be a post-performance discussion with the cast immediately following the performance on Friday, May 13.