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Kroon at Vespers, Ray forever, Rosewoman at Dizzy’s

Ron Scott | 9/26/2013, 12:15 p.m.

The Steve Kroon Latin Jazz Sextet is the right group to prolong the heat at Emmanuel Baptist Church Jazz Vespers (279 Lafayette Ave. in Brooklyn) on Sept. 29 at 3 p.m.

The noted percussionist Kroon plays great music regardless of the genre. He earned his reputation with a well-equipped arsenal of percussive instruments, having been a former mainstay with bassist Ron Carter and late R&B vocalist Luther Vandross. He is complimented by his able Sextet ,consisting of pianist Igor Atalita, bassist Ruben Rodriguez, vibraphonist Bryan Carrott, Craig River on saxophone and flute, and drummer Diego Lopez. Broadway star and vocalist Lillias White performs as a special guest. She has appeared in such Broadway hits as “FELA!” and “Chicago.”

“This is a musical tradition that gives us a voice to the hopes, dreams, frustrations and pain that expresses the human experience. Simply put, jazz is the musical incense that collects and carries the prayers of a people,” stated the Rev. Anthony L. Trufant, senior pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church.

For more information on Emmanuel Baptist Church Jazz Vespers and to register, go to www.ebcconnects.com/jazz-vespers or call 718-622-1107 and 347-460-8179.

Ray Charles, the iconic vocalist, pianist and composer, refused to be categorized. His unique singing style incorporated the genres of gospel, country, blues, R&B, soul and jazz, and he added “call and response,” which dates back to slavery and the Southern Black church. For his individual style and contributions to American music, Charles will be honored with his own stamp as part of the United States Postal Service’s “Music Icons Forever” series. Charles’ stamp became available at local post offices on Sept. 23, which would have been his 83rd birthday.

The Postal Service dedicated the new stamp with two first-day-of-issue ceremonies on Sept. 23 in Atlanta at the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center at Morehouse College and at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.

The stamp art features an image of Charles, taken later in his career, by photographer Yves Carrère. The stamp sheet was designed to evoke the appearance of a vintage 45 rpm record sleeve.

One side of the sheet includes the stamps and the image of a sliver of a record seeming to peek out the top of the sleeve. A larger version of the photograph featured on the stamp and the logo for the “Music Icons” series appear on the reverse side.

To commemorate the new stamp, Concord Music Group will offer “Ray Charles Forever,” a CD/DVD compilation featuring rare live performances and even a previously unreleased track—a special version of “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” The collection will be available at most Post Offices, usps.com and ebay.com/stamps.

During his inspiring career, Charles earned 17 Grammy Awards and the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987, the National Medal of Arts in 1993 and the Kennedy Center Honors in 1986. That same year, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He also brought soul to the White House for several different presidents.

Charles’ rendition of “America the Beautiful” turned the straight, somewhat mundane anthem into a soulful, down home gospel spiritual. Kanye West’s big hit “Gold Digger” would have never happened had he not sampled Charles’ “I’ve Got a Woman.” The singer put the blues and soul in country music—listen to his “Seven Spanish Angels.” He went to straight-ahead jazz on his instrumental on his “One Mint Julep.” Charles was a soul genius who made all the genres work for his creative style.

In honoring Charles, Billy Joel noted, “This may sound like sacrilege, but I think Ray Charles was more important than Elvis Presley.”

Pianist and vocalist Michele Rosewoman is getting exceptional reviews on her new CD, “New Yor-Uba: 30 Years—A Musical Celebration of Cuba in America.” The double set CD is debuting on her own Advance Dance Disques label. She will be performing many of the cuts from the album at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola (60th Street and Broadway) Sept. 30 through Oct. 1. Some members of her all-star ensemble will include trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, saxophonist Antonio Hart, tenor saxophonist Billy Harper, trombonist Stafford Hunter, Howard Johnson on baritone sax and tuba, Gregg August on bass and drummer Adam Cruz.

Rosewoman is credited with being one of the first composers to synthesize sacred Cuban folkloric music with contemporary jazz.

Correction: In last week’s column, the website for singer-songwriter Okaru Lovelace was wrong. The correct website is www.okarulovelace.com.