Jon Faddis (Ron Scott photo)

Roy Hargrove, undeniably one of America’s most remarkable trumpeter/flugelhornists and composers of the late 20th-21st century, is honored every month at The Jazz Gallery (1158 Broadway), which pays tribute to his legacy with the Roy Hargrove Big Band, on August 3 with two sets at 7:30p.m. and 9:30p.m.

The trumpeter first organized the Roy Hargrove Big Band in 1995, as a one-night affair to perform at the short-lived Panasonic Village Jazz Festival in New York City. But as usual with Hargrove’s new inventions, his big band became a worldwide phenomenon with distinct arrangements of his compositions and some favorite songs by his contemporaries.

The big band is an all-star line-up of eclectic musicians such as trumpeters Nathan Eklund and Duane Eubanks; trombonists Gina Benalcazar and Rashaan Salaam; saxophonists, alto sax and band leader Bruce Williams, tenor sax Camille Thurman and baritone sax Jason Marshall; and rhythm section bassist Danton Boller, pianist Tyler Bullock, guitarist Saul Rubin, and drummer Willie Jones. The Big Band features original band members and musicians who performed in his various ensembles.

As a purveyor of boundless flirtations with music that danced in his head and those outside influences that sparked his creativity like the imaginative Miles Davis, Hargrove took his fans on diversified excursions leaving them on the ledge to ponder what was coming next. He drew from a variety of genres: hip hop, soul, R&B, straight-ahead and bent idioms that encompassed his experiences from RH Factor to his trio musings, his hip quintets as a member of the Soulquarians, and his Afro-Cuban band Crisol, which won the Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album in 1998 for ”Habana.”  

Hargrove transitioned much too soon (November 2, 2018), at the age of 49. Fortunately, the two-time Grammy winner and co-founder of The Jazz Gallery left behind a diverse jazz catalog to be enjoyed, studied and performed. 

For tickets and reservations visit

The Newport Jazz Festival on August 4-6 is set to be this year’s paramount music event on the east coast. The festival, located in Rhode Island at Fort Adams State Park, features three stages all within short walking distances. 

The performance line-up is outrageous—it doesn’t matter whether you purchase a single-day ticket or three-day pass; once in your seat or standing up, be ready to swing in the deep, deep part of the jazz pond. Is this just pontification? Don’t think so. A partial list includes: vocalist Claudia Acuna, still a young gun pianist Julius Rodriguez, Charles Lloyd New Quartet, Charles McPherson Quintet, guitarist Julian Lage, Derrick Hodge, Christian McBride’s Jam Jawn (his soul funk jazz band), Bobby Watson All-Star Quintet (trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist Curtis Lundy, drummer Victor Jones, vocalist Carmen Lundy). James Brandon Lewis, Endea Owens & The Cookout, Dave Holland New Quartet (Kris Davis, Jaleel Shaw, and Nasheet Waits), Somi (who weaves African rhythmic stories with glowing Harlem textures), Harlem’s own Lakecia Benjamin and Phoenix, and Melvis Santa & Jazz Orishas.

This is pianist, percussionist, singer and composer Santa’s debut performance as a bandleader at Newport. She is the second Cuban female to lead a band at this festival; the first was legendary vocalist Celia Cruz. Santa is a young guru, who habitually combines the Black diaspora with her Cuban heritage, and Afro Cuban traditions. Her American jazz influences are actively absorbed from Brooklyn and Harlem where she performed her first gig at Minton’s. For the past two years when not committed to her own projects, she tours with Kenny Garrett. For this maiden voyage, the Grammy-nominated singer will be joined by her band Jazz Orishas with bassist Rashaan Carter, trumpeter Josh Evans, Brazilian jazz guitarist Vinicius Gomes, and drummer Allan Mednard. “Jazz Orishas has Afro Cuban, jazz and Brazilian influences,” said Santa. “I’m freaking out in a good sense about this Newport performance, it’s such a great opportunity and so exciting.” For a complete schedule and tickets visit or contact

What!! Jon Faddis is 70 already, where did time go? It seems like yesterday he was just 18 years old joining Lionel Hampton’s big band. And just recently, his fans filled Dizzy’s jazz club to capacity each night in Manhattan during his four-day engagement to celebrate his BIG 70.   Dizzy’s Club was most apropos for the celebration, since Dizzy Gillespie was Faddis’ mentor and great friend until his death. Faddis came out to an enthusiastic audience, who gave him an immediate standing ovation. The set opened with his mentor’s critically acclaimed “Gillespiana” album (1960 ) composed by Lalo Schifrin.  The able band’s interpretation was most expressive, covering the record’s multiple movements from “Blues,” “Pamamericana,” “Africana” and “Toccata.” It was an amalgamation of swinging blues, African rhythms and Latin melodies where at times Faddis’ stratospheric notes ricocheted off the sky, as the audience in awe shouted wow!! The roaring percussive conversation with drummer Dion Parson and guest Alioune Faye on djembe and sabor were an unforgettable jazz moment, as was the entire show. The performance offered the many sides of Faddis—his super notes flying high as astronauts and then his muted soft tones that gave ears a serene groove;  just listen to his album “Remembrances (Chesky Records 1998).  

The trumpeter’s established band members included: pianist David Hazeltine, bassist Todd Coolman, drummer Dion Parson, and the young saxophonist Erena Terakubo, whose rendition of “Stars Fell on Alabama” lit up the room, with her warm tone and lyrical phrasings. The young lady was an additional asset to an already well anchored ensemble.
Faddis sang Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World,” (with a comedic accent on “woorld”) in Satchmo’s voice of course. “I like singing this song, everybody knows it and it’s a good way to connect to the audience, and it’s a tribute to Louis Armstrong,” said Faddis. “Singing became part of my repertoire over the years because as Pops and Clark Terry said, when you get old, you have to save your chops and singing helps.” Another surprise guest was the trombonist Steve Turre, who led the band in a fiery version of Dizzy’s original tune “Night in Tunisia.” The audience sang a rousing happy birthday at the end of the set, along with a few standing ovations.

During Faddis’ illustrious five-decade career, he has made valuable contributions to the jazz community including his ten-year (1992-2002) tenure as leader of the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band.  “It was George Wein, who brought me on board for that project,” said Faddis. “I was honored to be in a position to commission new works (by over 35 composers) and tour the world, performing for the President of Chile, and the King of Thailand. I tried to mix generations of younger and older musicians to inspire each other. Renee Rosnes (pianist) was an indispensable part of that band for ten years.” 
As a first call trumpeter, Faddis has recorded across genre lines with such iconic musicians as Aretha Franklin, Mick Jagger, Lalo Schifrin, Tina Turner, Charles Tolliver, Oscar Peterson, and Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band. As a leader he has recorded a dozen albums.

“Contracts were offered to me but they weren’t that exciting,” says Faddis. “When very young I was asked to sign a ten-year contract. Most companies offered contracts in their favor; it wasn’t a win-win situation.”

While Dizzy was Faddis’ hero and mentor, he was also influenced by Snooky Young (lead trumpeter with Jimmie Lunceford), Bill Chase with Woody Herman, and Bill Catalano, Jr., who was Faddis’ instructor while he was still living in California and exposed him to live jazz playing at an early age. Faddis’ New York City influences were Clark Terry, Harry “Sweets” Edison (Count Basie), and Ernie Royal (Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Woody Herman).  “There were so many older musicians, who treated me like a son and some like a brother,” said Faddis during a phone interview. “I was on cloud nine working with those guys.

CORRECTION: The G.W. Carver Interpretive Museum in Dothan, Alabama was originally a segregated Greyhound Bus Station (not U.S. Post Office as stated in last week’s column).

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