The World Stage Performance Gallery is bringing the Jazz Masters series from their Leimert Park home to the Ford Theatres on August 18th at 6pm for a big band benefit concert and tribute to guitar legend Kenny Burrell. With music direction by John Beasley, the event will be an evening of contemporary large ensemble sounds with Burrell’s Los Angeles Jazz Orchestra Unlimited and Beasley’s MONK’estra. Featured guests will be legendary guitarist Lee Ritenour and singers Gretchen Parlato, Georgia Anne Muldrow and Dwight Trible. The event is sponsored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas and Metro. Tickets are available here.
“For Kenny Burrell’s tribute, outdoors on a hot summer night, with the moon high at the Ford Amphitheatre, you are going to hear jazz luminaries play the solid, straight-ahead, elegant, and soulful style of jazz that Kenny Burrell helped create with Burrell playing in his big band, followed by a new modern jazz big band, MONK’estra, raising the temperature playing jazz with a contemporary twist,” says John Beasley, the event’s music director. “A stellar ensemble of the finest jazz musicians in Los Angeles who spend their days playing on film, TV, and records get loose and set themselves free playing in big bands. Expect syrupy-sounding horns, exciting textures from the brass sections, propulsive sounds from the rhythm teams, imaginative soloing, and wall-to-wall sound of envelope-stretching arrangements from the The Los Angeles Jazz Unlimited Orchestra and MONK’estra, plus special guest guitarist Lee Ritenour and three mesmerizing vocalists.”
This amazing list of talent will honor guitarist and composer Burrell in an evening that recognizes his prolific 60+ year career as well as his continued support of arts education. Kenny Burrell is one of the most respected jazz artists in the world. He has been active from 1951 to the present as a guitarist and composer in a variety of musical contexts including solo, small combo, large ensemble and symphony orchestra. He is a producer and recording artist whose extensive discography includes the critically acclaimed Guitar Forms; Ellington is Forever; and Kenny Burrell and John Coltrane. He has recorded 97 albums under his own name and several hundred with other artists. He has performed and recorded with many of the most influential musicians in jazz history including Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson, Tony Bennett, Billy Holiday, Quincy Jones, Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Smith, Art Blakey, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, and Louis Armstrong.
Burrell, recipient of many awards, including a Grammy®, was named a 2005 Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, a title awarded annually to a handful of living figures in recognition of their exceptional contributions to the field of jazz. He also received a 2004 Jazz Educator of the Year award from DownBeat magazine for academic achievement and excellence in jazz education.
Burrell’s Los Angeles Jazz Orchestra Unlimited (LAJOU), features some of the finest jazz musicians in Los Angeles and will showcase new music by LAJOU co-directors Burrell, Charley Harrison, and Dr. Bobby Rodriguez. The players in LAJOU include Burrell on guitar, Andre Delano, Randall Willis, Justo Almario, Hitomi Oba, and Charlie Owens on sax, Francisco Torres, Nick DePinna, Ryan Porter, and Maurice Spears on Trombone, Charlie Davis, Harry Kim, Rob Schaer, Courtney Jones, and Rodriguez on Trumpet, and a rhythm section of Billy Mitchell, Trevor Ware, and Clayton Cameron, all conducted by Harrison.
The Grammy®-nominated John Beasley has become one of the top jazz pianists and music directors on earth having directed tours by Steely Dan, Queen Latifah, and A.R. Rahman, shows including the Los Angeles Symphonic Jazz Orchestra, the United Nations sponsored International Jazz Day Concerts, the 2005 season of American Idol, various other music reality television shows and much more. His MONK’estra is a 17-piece BIG modern jazz BAND that captures the spirit of Monk’s unique quirkiness, offbeat accents, and punchy dissonances, in his fresh arrangements of Monk’s and others classic and original compositions. Beasley’s contemporary twist incorporates Afro-Cuban rhythms, modern jazz, hip-hop, big band instrumentation, and stunningly atmospheric ensemble textures, powerfully driven by a propulsive rhythm section. The MONK’estra BIG BAND features sax players Bob Sheppard, Jeff Driskill, Justo Almario, Tom Luer, and Tommy Peterson, trumpeters Bijon Watson, Jamie Horvaka, Brian Swartz, and Gabriel Johnson, trombonists Francisco Torres, Wendell Kelly, Ryan Dragon, and Steve Hughes, bassist Rickey Minor, and drummer Gary Novak, with Beasley on keys.
Growing up in L.A. in the 60s, Grammy® award-winning guitarist Lee Ritenour received a rich cross section of exposure to jazz, rock and Brazilian music. From one of his first sessions at 16 years old with the Mamas and Papas to accompanying Lena Horne and Tony Bennett at 18, his 40-year eclectic and storied career is highlighted by a Grammy® Award win for his 1986 collaboration with Dave Grusin, Harlequin; 17 Grammy® nominations; numerous #1 spots in guitar polls and the prestigious “Alumnus of the Year” award from USC. He has recorded over 40 albums, with 35 chart songs, notably the Top 15 hit “Is It You,” which has become a contemporary jazz radio classic. In the 90s, Ritenour was a founding member of Fourplay, the most successful band in contemporary jazz, with keyboardist Bob James, bassist Nathan East and drummer Harvey Mason. The first Fourplay album in 1991 spent an unprecedented 33 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s contemporary jazz chart. Adding to this legacy is his latest CD Smoke ‘n’ Mirrors; the recently completed Grammy® nominated recording Amparo, (a follow-up with Dave Grusin to their highly-successful 2001 Grammy® Award nominated contemporary classical crossover CD) and producer of Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band’s latest CD Act Your Age which was nominated for three Grammys.
Acclaimed jazz singer, and former Burrell student, Gretchen Parlato has performed and recorded with musicians such as Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Barron, Esperanza Spalding, Terence Blanchard, Marcus Miller and more. Parlato’s 2009 sophomore release, In a Dream was given rave reviews by NPR, Jazz Times, the Village Voice, and The Boston Globe. Billboard magazine hailed it as “the most alluring jazz vocal album of 2009.” Her 2011 release The Lost and Found received over 30 national and international awards including iTunes Vocal Jazz Album of the Year and Jazz Critics Poll No. 1 Vocal Album of 2011.
Born to musical parents in Los Angeles, California, Georgia Anne Muldrow was born to play. Surrounded by music of all types and origins, and reading at the age of two broadened her receptivity to learning new information about the world around her. To this very day she carries the same spirit, and that makes her instrumentation and songwriting so unique. She has worked with trailblazing underground artists such as Dudley Perkins, her mother Rickie Byars Beckwith, Madlib, Wildchild, M. E. D., Big Pooh, Prince Po, The Visionaries, Casual, Jimetta Rose, and Eagle Nebula as well as commercial artists like Mos Def and Erykah Badu. Her releases include the Worthnothings, Olesi : Fragments Of An Earth, Sagala, Beautiful Minds, The Message Uni Versa, Umsindo, Early, Kings Ballad, SomeOthaShip, and the full length jazz album Ocotea.
Long affiliated with The World Stage, Dwight Trible is a singer who combines the best of vocal virtuosity with musicianship and improvisational skills to the delight of audiences and musicians alike. In addition to performing with his own group, the Dwight Trible Ensemble, Dwight is the vocalist with the Pharaoh Sanders Quartet and is also the vocal director for the Horace Tapscott Pan Afrikan Peoples’ Arkestra. Dwight has worked with such notables as Oscar Brown Jr., Charles Lloyd, Billy Childs, Kenny Burrell, Kenny Garrett, Harry Belafonte, Della Reese, Patrice Rushen, and LA Reid. Dwight’s collaborations with Horace Tapscott, Billy Higgins, Kamau Daaood and others have produced some of the finest musical moments in Los Angeles in recent years. Like his mentors, Dwight is not content to use his music just to entertain people, he uses his music to bring people together, to bridge the gap between the races, and to heal the human heart.
This event has reserved seating with ticket prices starting at $35 and additional prices at $50 and $65. Purchase by August 11 and save $5! Tickets are available at www.FordTheatres.org or 323 461-3673 (for non-visual media 323 GO 1-FORD). To learn about discounts for groups of 8 or more, please call 323 769-2147.