Princeton University to hold jazz festival this April


Jazz at Princeton University, with the help of famed jazz saxophonist and composer Rudresh Mahanthappa, will present the inaugural Princeton University Jazz Festival on April 13.

A free, day-long event that features an outdoor lineup of today’s top jazz stars will be held from noon until 6:30 p.m. on Alexander Beach outside of Richardson Auditorium on the campus of Princeton University.

Dave Holland, multiple Grammy Award-winning bassist and 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, will headline the event with the help of Princeton University Jazz Small Group I in a ticketed concert.

Tickets for this sole concert are $15 for the general public and $5 for students. They are available at or by calling 609-258-9220.

“We are very excited to launch this new festival bringing together a wide array of today’s most creative and accomplished jazz artists performing with our remarkably talented students,” Mahanthappa said in a statement. “A full afternoon of diverse, free concerts capped by an evening with the legendary Dave Holland – it promises to be a fantastic day of music, as well as an opportunity for the community at large to come together and enjoy what we hope will become an annual tradition.”

Other artists in the festival will include:

Joel Frahm, a saxophonist who studied classical piano and bassoon before taking to the tenor saxophone when he was 14 years old. Frahm went to Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School for the Arts and earned his B.A. in Jazz Performance at Manhattan School of Music. He also developed a reputation as a saxophonist who can accompany and work with singers – a quality he exploits and mines to this day.

Frahm has become one of the more in-demand saxophonists, standing among the top-tier players in New York, as well as globally. He’s released a number of recordings under his own name – mostly for the Palmetto, Anzic and Smalls labels. Additionally, his contributions to others’ recordings now exceed the 100-title mark.

Tia Fuller, who is a touring artist and full-time professor at Berklee College of Music. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, (magna cum laude) and Master’s degree in Jazz Pedagogy and Performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder (summa cum laude). She was selected to be a member of the all-female band touring with R&B star Beyoncé and is a featured soloist on Beyoncé’s DVDs.

Dave Holland, a bassist, composer and bandleader whose passion for musical expression of all styles and dedication to creating consistently innovative music ensembles have propelled a professional career of more than 50 years and earned him top honors in his field including multiple Grammy Awards and the title of NEA Jazz Master in 2017. Holland stands as a guiding light on acoustic and electric bass, having grown up in an age when musical genres — jazz, rock, funk, avant-garde, folk, electronic music and others — blended freely together to create new musical pathways.

He was a leading member of a generation that helped usher jazz bass playing from its swing and post-bop legacy to the vibrancy and multidisciplinary excitement of the modern era, extending the instrument’s melodic, expressive capabilities. Holland’s virtuosic technique and rhythmic feel, informed by an open-eared respect of a formidable spread of styles and sounds, is widely revered and remains much in demand. To date, his playing can be heard on hundreds of recordings, with more than 30 as a leader under his own name.

Ingrid Jensen, who has been hailed as one of the most gifted trumpeters of her generation. She graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1989, then recorded three highly acclaimed CDs for the ENJA record label. After a teaching stint as the youngest professor in the history of the Bruckner Conservatory in Linz, Austria, Jensen settled in New York City in the mid-1990s where she joined the jazz orchestras of Maria Schneider (1994-2012) and Darcy James Argue (2002-present).

Jensen is also a dedicated jazz educator, having taught at the University of Michigan and Peabody Conservatory, the Centrum Jazz Workshop, the Dave Brubeck Institute, the Banff Centre Workshop in Jazz & Creative Music, the Stanford Jazz Camp and the Geri Allen Jazz Camp for young women. Since her victory at the Carmine Caruso Trumpet Competition in 1995, Jensen has sat on the judges’ panel twice. In 2018 she served as Artist-in-Residence at the prestigious Monterey Jazz Festival.

Pedrito Martinez, a Grammy-nominated percussionist from Havana, Cuba. Martinez has recorded or performed with Wynton Marsalis, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and Sting, and has contributed to more than 50 albums. Martinez was a founding member of the highly successful Afro-Cuban/Afro-Beat band Yerba Buena, with whom he recorded two albums and toured the world. He received the Thelonious Monk Award, Sphinx Award for Excellence and was named Percussionist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association every year from 2014-2017. His career as a leader began in 2005 with the formation of The Pedrito Martinez Group, whose performances have included festivals, performing arts centers and venues throughout the U.S., Europe, Australia and Latin America.

Donny McCaslin. Days before his January 2016 death, David Bowie released his final album, “Blackstar.” While the record represented an endpoint for the legendary artist, it also marked a new beginning for jazz lifer Donny McCaslin who, armed with his saxophone, defined Blackstar’s visionary stylistic fusion.

Charenée Wade began singing at the age of 12. From an early age, she immersed herself in the sounds of iconic vocalists from Sarah Vaughan and Nancy Wilson to Dianne Reeves, Phyllis Hyman and Dee Dee Bridgewater. Wade continued developing her talents at the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, opening for Herbie Hancock at the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival. At Manhattan School of Music, Wade continued to develop her musicianship and became an even more polished performer and notable arranger and composer.

Wade has excited international audiences with the ingenuity of her phrasing and vibrancy that her big personality projects on stage. She was named First Runner-Up in the 2010 Thelonious Monk Vocal Competition. In 2015, she performed in an epic Salute to Betty Carter at Jazz at Lincoln Center. In 2017, Wade was honored to be one of the recipients of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Millennial Swing Award. She has worked with notable artists in the industry including Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Terri Lyne Carrington with her Mosaic Project. Wade also contributed her virtuosic vocalese to Rufus Reid’s Grammy-nominated recording called Quiet Pride.

Jazz at Princeton University, ​under the direction of Rudresh Mahanthappa, serves to promote this uniquely American music as a contemporary and relevant art form. The program’s goals are to convey the vast musical and social history of jazz, establish a strong theoretical and stylistic foundation with regard to improvisation and composition, and emphasize the development of individual expression and creativity. Offerings of this program include academic coursework, performing ensembles, master classes, private study and independent projects. Students also have the opportunity to participate in academic courses from the music department curriculum that encourage the study of the historical, social, theoretical, stylistic and creative issues that pertain to the jazz idiom.