Kathleen Battle, one of the most renowned opera sopranos in the world, will grace the Blue Note stage for one night only on June 19 for two shows at 8 and 10:30 p.m. During the last decade, her many projects have included recitals, concert programs, a CD and performances devoted to spirituals and recordings with jazz musicians.
Battle, a five-time Grammy Award winner, will be accompanied by pianist Cyrus Chestnut, who is equally at home in jazz, gospel and classical settings. This is perhaps the first time an international diva of opera has appeared at the famed West Village jazz club, which means these shows should not be missed. We aren’t sure of Battle’s repertoire, but be assured, it will be astounding.
The collaboration will bring the music together for an unforgettable evening, and this isn’t Battle’s debut in the jazz arena. In December 1993, she was joined by Martin Katz and Kenny Barron on piano, drummer Grady Tate, saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. and bassist David Williams at Carnegie Hall for a concert featuring the music of Handel, Haydn and Duke Ellington as well as Christmas spirituals.
She also collaborated with other musicians, including trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, in a recording of baroque arias entitled “Baroque Duet.” In October 1998, she joined pianist Herbie Hancock on his album “Gershwin’s World” in Ravel’s Prelude in C# Minor.
On the opera stage, she performed in a variety of Mozart, Rossini and Donizetti operas and made her role debut as Marie in Donizetti’s “La fille du regiment” at the San Francisco Opera in 1993. Between 1990 and 1993, she performed in several productions at the Metropolitan Opera.
Pianist Jason Moran, a witty improvisationist whose innovative voyages knock fans on their heels and keeps them in the front seats of tomorrow, will hang for a one-nighter at the Blue Note on June 20. He will be joined by drummer Herlin Riley, who has had varied associations with Harry Connick Jr., Dr. John and Ahmad Jamal. The two will lead an exciting evening, with two shows at 9 and 11:30 p.m.
McCoy Tyner, the dynamic pianist from the original John Coltrane Quartet, will join forces with trumpeter Charles Tolliver and his big band on June 21-24 at the Blue Note to recreate the music of Coltrane’s seminal 1961 album “AFRICA/BRASS” for two shows at 8 and 10:30 p.m.
The recording, featuring arrangements and orchestrations by Tyner and Eric Dolphy, was Coltrane’s first of many releases for the Impulse! label. A four-time Grammy winner and NEA Jazz Master, Tyner has contributed to some of the most classic albums and groups in jazz history, including Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things” (1960).
An entirely self-taught musician, Tolliver has gained an outstanding reputation as a trumpeter, bandleader, composer and arranger. Tolliver’s Grammy-nominated “With Love” (2007) earned him the Jazz Journalists Association’s Best Large Ensemble of the Year Award for the Charles Tolliver Big Band.
In 1971, he and Stanley Cowell founded Strata-East Records, one of the first artist-owned jazz record labels. Tolliver released many albums and collaborations on Strata.
For more information on the upcoming week of events, call (212) 475-8592.
After a year of deliberation and intense pressure, the board of trustees for the Grammy Awards have reversed their decision and voted to reinstate the award for Best Latin Jazz Album. The board had their annual meeting in late May and added three awards: Best Urban Contemporary Album, which includes elements of rock, pop and urban; Best Compendium of Classical Music; and Best Latin Jazz Album.
Drummer Bobby Sanabria led the charge in New York against the board’s decision to eliminate the Latin jazz category, along with other Latin jazz musicians and supporters. Sanabria noted, “We are happy the board of trustees reversed their decision, and we hope this opens the door for other categories to be reinstated. We still have a long way to go.”
Last year, the categories were reduced from 109 to 78; there will be 81 categories at the awards ceremony on Feb. 10, 2013, in Los Angeles. Neil Portnow, the president and chief executive of the Recording Academy, noted the decision to restore the Latin jazz category came after several academy members from the Latin jazz community made a strong case at this year’s meeting for reviving the award.
A new Music Educator of the Year Award will be presented as part of the Special Merit Awards Ceremony that takes place during GRAMMY Week, beginning with the 56th GRAMMY Awards in 2014. “The music educators are the unsung heroes who produce so many outstanding musicians in the field,” said Sanabria.
The weekly Friday Singers Connection Open Mic and Jam, hosted by singer-songwriter Okaru Lovelace, will celebrate “Summer Jazz & Brazilian Music” on June 15 from 8-11 p.m. at University of the Streets, 130 E. 7th St. at Avenue A, second floor.
A special guest, guitarist and vocalist from Brazil Celso Loch, will perform with the evening’s house band with Dimitry Kolesnik on bass. The night’s music will be a mix of jazz, samba, bossa nova and blues. All listeners and instrumentalists pay only $5; participating singers pay $5 per song with no cover charge.