On Sunday October 7, the Angel City Jazz Festival returns to the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre. Co-presented by The Jazz Bakery, the festival kicks off at 5:00 PM with the Peter Erskine’s New Trio. Following that, at 6:00 PM the Mark Dresser Quintet plays with special guest Bobby Bradford. Then at 7:00 PM the Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet will take the stage. Finally at 8:15 PM the Archie Shepp Quartet will headline the evening, with Ambrose Akinmusire guesting. This set represents Shepp’s first LA area performance since the 1980s! The Theme for the 2012 festival is “Artists & Legends,” with influential artists sharing the stage with their legendary mentors.
Archie Shepp really began his career as a professional musician when Cecil Taylor gave him an opportunity to join his group in 1960. John Coltrane’s appreciation of his artistry led to Shepp’s recording contract with Impulse!. Throughout the 1960s he participated in a collective innovation which introduced a new set of possibilities for African American music. Known as “Free Jazz” or “Avant-Garde Jazz” Shepp’s music spoke to a generation not content with the status quo in terms of music and social equality. As a spokesperson for this new music Shepp proved to be intelligent, educated, forceful and controversial. Through it all, in his music, spoken and written words, and non-musical jobs, he was a forceful advocate for equality and justice. Beginning in the 1970s Archie Shepp began to experiment with the various forms of his African American musical heritage. Mainstream jazz, traditional spirituals and blues, and original compositions were explored in settings ranging from duos to his Attica Blues Big Band. Currently residing in Massachusetts, he teaches music history as a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In addition to Ambrose Akinmusire guesting, Shepp’s quartet on this set includes Tom McClung on piano, Steve McCraven on drums and Avery Sharpe on bass.
Born and raised in Oakland, California, Ambrose Akinmusire was as a member of the Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble, where he caught the attention of saxophonist Steve Coleman who was visiting the school to give a workshop. Coleman hired him as a member of his Five Elements band for a European tour. Akinmusire studied at the Manhattan School of Music before returning to the West Coast to take a master’s degree at the University of Southern California and attend the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in Los Angeles. 2007 was a big year for Akinmusire as he won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition, and released his debut recording Prelude…To Cora on the Fresh Sound New Talent label. He moved back to New York City and began performing with Vijay Iyer, Aaron Parks, Esperanza Spalding, and Jason Moran. It was also during this time that he caught the attention of Bruce Lundvall, President of Blue Note Records. Akinmusire made his debut on the Blue Note label in 2011 with the album When the Heart Emerges Glistening, featuring his quintet of tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III, pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Justin Brown. Sam Harris will be playing piano on this gig however.
Peter Erskine began playing the drums at the age of four and has been at the forefront of world-class jazz ensembles for 40 years. His first major professional work was with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, which he joined in 1972. After a three year stint with Kenton and a two year stay with Maynard Ferguson, Erskine joined Weather Report in 1978. The excellence of the partnership between Erskine and bassist Jaco Pastorius was an integral part of that group’s success.
Following his four year, five album gig in Weather Report including the Grammy Award winning 8:30, he began to play with Mike Brecker, Mike Mainieri, Don Grolnick and Eddie Gomez in the group Steps Ahead. Erskine’s other touring and recording credits of over 600 albums and film scores include Steely Dan, Diana Krall, Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard, Gary Burton & Pat Metheny, Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Bass Desires (with John Scofield, Bill Frisell and Marc Johnson), the John Abercrombie Trio, the Yellowjackets and many more. He has also recorded with his own groups, including trios with John Taylor, Palle Danielsson, Rita Marcotulli, and bands with guitarist Nguyen Le and bassist Michel Benita (“Trio E_L_B”), as well as a trio he shares with pianist Alan Pasqua and Darek Oles, plus his “New Trio” featuring his nephew Damian Erskine on bass and pianist Vardan Ovsepian.
Mark Dresser is an internationally acclaimed bass player, improviser, composer, and interdisciplinary collaborator. Currently he composes, performs, records, and tours with the collective Trio M featuring pianist Myra Melford and drummer Matt Wilson. Their CD Big Picture (Cryptogramophone) was ranked by several jazz critics as one of the “Best of 2007.” Dresser also collaborates with the trio Mauger featuring the celebrated alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa and veteran drummer Gerry Hemingway. Together they recorded the 2008 CD The Beautiful Enabler (Clean Feed).
Bobby Bradford grew up in Mississippi and moved with his family to Dallas, Texas in 1946. He moved to Los Angeles in 1953 where he reunited with Ornette Coleman, whom he had previously known in Texas. Bradford joined Coleman’s ensemble but was replaced by Don Cherry when he was drafted into the U.S. Air Force. After playing in military bands for several years, he rejoined Coleman’s quartet from 1961 to 1963. Bradford was again replaced, this time by Freddie Hubbard, when he left to pursue further studies. Later, Bradford began a long running association with the clarinetist John Carter, a pairing that brought both increased exposure. Following Carter’s death in 1991, Bradford fronted his own ensemble known as The Mo’tet, with which he has continued to perform since. In addition to Coleman, Bradford has also performed with Eric Dolphy, Charlie Haden, Vinny Golia and David Murray, who was previously a student of his in the 1970s. He is an instructor at Pasadena City College and Pomona College in Claremont, where he teaches The History of Jazz, known to be one the most popular classes available.
Joining Dresser and Bradford will be Marty Erlich on saxophone, Michael Dessen on trombone, Denman Maroney on hyperpiano and Michael Sarin on drums.
Tickets prices start at $35, $17 for full-time students with ID and $12 for children 12 and under. Tickets are available at www.FordTheatres.org or 323 461-3673 (for non-visual media 323 GO 1-FORD). For groups of 8 or more, please call 323 769-2147. For more information, visit: http://fordtheatres.org/en/events/details/id/383.