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Coltrane Fest, Bartlett at Kitano’s, Frank Wess memorial

12/26/2013, 12:24 p.m.
John Coltrane

A spiritual context, an exploratory trail and unique improvisational skills that soar above the heavens are what John Coltrane contributed to this music called jazz.

While Coltrane passed away on July 17, 1967, his music continues to influence generations of musicians and listeners.

On Dec. 23-Jan. 5, 2014, his legacy will continue with the third annual John Coltrane Festival at Smoke Jazz and Supper Club (2751 Broadway) in Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

The mainstays of the previous festivals—saxophonist Eric Alexander, pianist Harold Mabern and bassist John Webber—will be joined by special guest drummer Louis Hayes for the first three nights, followed by trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and saxophonist Vincent Herring for a special weekend engagement that includes New Year’s Eve. This will be the first year that Alexander will be playing with a sextet.

The festival concludes with two nights each of the Wayne Escoffery Quartet and the Marcus Strickland Quartet. Both Wayne Escoffery and Marcus Strickland have their own voices that reflect a fluid creative form of expression with an inspirational touch of Coltrane.

“The Coltrane festival has been great for us,” said Paul Satache, co-owner of Smoke Jazz and Supper Club. “People respond to Coltrane’s music, which is so powerful, and the musicians have really delivered.”

For more information and reservations, call 212-864-6662 or visit the website smokejazz.com.

Carl Bartlett Jr., a youngster on the jazz scene who has been honing his saxophone chops around town at various venues, will step up the pace as he makes his appearance at the noted jazz club Kitano (66 Park Ave. at 38th Street) on Jan. 2, 2014.

The Carl Bartlett Jr. Quartet features pianist Yoichi Uzeki, bassist Dylan Shamat and drummer Dwayne “Cook” Broadnax. Bartlett has a varied repertoire, ranging from traditional jazz to funk. Dancing isn’t allowed, but that won’t stop the audience from feeling the grove of this rising saxophonist.

Bartlett is a native of Queens, N.Y., and follows in the footsteps of his father, the elder Carl Bartlett, and his uncle, Charles Bartlett, who formed the popular 1960s dance band the Bartlett Contemporaries. His current CD, “Hopeful,” is well worth listening to and was impressive enough to catch many critical ears.

There are sets at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. For reservations, call 212-885-7119.

On Jan. 4, 2014, at 6:30 p.m., the life and music of jazz legend Frank Wess will be celebrated at St. Peter’s Church, located at 619 Lexington Ave. at 54th Street in Manhattan.

The musical directors will be Jimmy Owens and Jerry Dodgion. Participating musicians will include Jimmy Heath, Kenny Barron and Michael Weiss, among others.

This date coincides with Wess’ birthday (Jan. 4, 1922). Wess, who passed away on Oct. 30 at the age of 91, was one of the key members of Count Basie’s Big Band, and during his tenure, he introduced the flute, which became a key element in jazz music.

From 1959 to 1964, he won Down Beat’s critic poll for flute. He was one of the most influential musicians in jazz history. His accomplishments and music are cemented in the annals of jazz history.

For more information, call 212-935-2200.