Princeton University to hold inaugural jazz festival

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Music notes

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

The free event featuring an outdoor lineup of jazz stars will be held from noon to 6:30 p.m. on Alexander Beach outside Richardson Auditorium on the campus of Princeton University Princeton.

Dave Holland, a multiple Grammy Award-winning bassist and 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, will headline the event with the Princeton University Jazz Small Group I in a ticketed concert. Tickets, $15 (general public) and $5 (students), are available at music.princeton.edu 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 press release.

“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,” Mahanthappa said.

Other artists performing at the festival will include:

• Joel Frahm, a saxophonist who studied classical piano and bassoon before taking to the tenor saxophone when he was 14. Frahm has developed a reputation as a saxophonist who can accompany and work with singers – a quality he exploits and mines to this day.

• Tia Fuller, a touring artist and full-time professor at Berklee College of Music. Fuller was selected to be a member of the all-female band touring with Beyoncé and is a featured soloist on Beyoncé’s DVDs.

• Ingrid Jensen, who has been hailed as one of the most gifted trumpeters of her generation. Jensen settled in New York City in the mid-1990s and joined the jazz orchestras of Maria Schneider (1994-2012) and Darcy James Argue (2002-present). In 2018 she served as Artist-in-Residence at the 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 Afro-Cuban/Afro-Beat band Yerba Buena, with whom he recorded two albums and toured the world. His career as a leader began in 2005 with the formation of the Pedrito Martinez Group.

• 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 has excited international audiences with the ingenuity of her phrasing and vibrancy that her big personality projects on stage.

Jazz at Princeton University serves to promote a uniquely American music as a contemporary and relevant art form, according to a press release. The program’s goals are to convey the 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.