Yale Bulletin and Calendar

July 27, 2001Volume 29, Number 34Five-Week Issue

Ray Charles

Annual festival to bring jazz greats to the Green

Three Grammy Award-winning musicians will jazz up the New Haven Green in August in a series of concerts being sponsored by Yale as part of its continuing celebration of its Tercentennial year.

Known this year as the Yale Tercentennial New Haven Jazz Festival, the three-part series of free concerts on consecutive Saturdays will feature as its main acts the legendary jazz, soul and blues singer Ray Charles; conga master and bandleader Poncho Sanchez; and vocalist Dianne Reeves.

"Yale has been one of the sponsors of the terrific New Haven Jazz Festival for many years," said President Richard C. Levin at a news conference announcing this year's line-up of performers. "We thought it fitting that, in Yale's Tercentennial year, we'd be the title sponsor of this longstanding signature event to celebrate the great and growing ties between New Haven and its hometown university. New Haven is a city on the move and the jazz festival will showcase the strengths of this great community for the residents of the city and the region."

Citizen's Bank is the presenting sponsor of the jazz festival, which has been a summer tradition on the Green in New Haven for 21 years.

Ray Charles, the eclectic singer of jazz, blues, soul, rock and roll, and country and western, will open the series on Aug. 11. The winner of 15 Grammy Awards, Charles is renowned for his top hits "Georgia," "I Got
a Woman" and "Born to Lose," and for breaking the boundaries of popular music by combining various musical styles on such records as "Genius Plus Soul Equals Jazz" and "Modern Sounds in Country & Western." Among his numerous other albums are "Hard Times," "Rockhouse," Sweet Sixteen Bars," "Doodlin'," "How Long Blues" and "Blues Waltz."

The opening acts for Charles' concert are the Kurt Elling Quartet and local pianist Count Steadwell and Friends.

Poncho Sanchez, who is celebrating over 20 years as a bandleader, will perform on Aug. 18. Known around the world for his style of Latin jazz, Sanchez won a Grammy Award for his 1999 release "Latin Soul" and has produced 18 other recordings. A former member of a band led by Cal Tjader, Sanchez started his own group in 1980 and has also performed with such noted musical figures as Tito Puente, Freddie Hubbard, Eddie Harris, Dianne Reeves, the Jazz Crusaders and Mongo Santamaria.

Vibraphonist Stefon Harris and his quartet will precede Sanchez. The opening act for the concert is the Wayne Escoffrey Quartet.

Singer Dianne Reeves, whose latest album "In the Moment: Live in Concert" recently won her a Grammy Award, will perform her tribute to Sarah Vaughn in the final concert on Aug. 25. Reeves had a decade-long artistic relationship with pianist and bandleader Billy Childs, and went on a world tour with Sergio Mendes in 1981. She began recording solo in 1987 for the Blue Note Label. Her recordings include "I Remember," which was No. 1 on the Billboard Jazz Chart for 12 weeks, "Never Too Far," "Quiet After the Storm" and "Bridges." Reeves has also performed with Lenny White, Stanley Turrentine, The Latin Ensemble and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, among others.

The Steve Turre Quintet will open for Reeves, preceded by drummer Jesse Hameen II.

Opening acts for all the concerts begin at 5:30 p.m.

"From Lillian's Paradise to the Monterey Café, which hosted some of jazz's most notable personalities, New Haven's connection to the history of jazz is rich and deep-rooted," said Mayor John DeStefano Jr. in announcing this year's concert series. "The New Haven Jazz Festival is both a testament and an opportunity to celebrate that bond."


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