Vocalist Rene Marie, pianist Joanne Brackeen, trumpeter Eddie Henderson, saxophonists Javon Jackson and Donald Harrison, and bassist Mimi Rogers will headline the 18th annual Jazz in the Valley festival on Sunday, August 19, noon-6:00pm at Waryas Park in the City of Poughkeepsie.
Save the trip to the Blue Note Club in New York City or the Newport Jazz Festival and enjoy an afternoon packed with preeminent musicians on the Hudson River’s breezy shores, for performances spanning straight-ahead jazz to more contemporary and international interpretations. Women are prominent at this year’s festival, including bands led by Rene Marie and Mimi Jones. Joanne Brackeen, performing in the Javon Jackson Superband, was recently named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts.
ABOUT THE FESTIVAL
Jazz in the Valley is a daylong celebration held at two stages on a nine-acre green oasis in downtown Poughkeepsie. The main stage under the big tent at Waryas Park features the festival’s headline acts. The festival’s second stage for free performances by regional musicians has moved to Upper Landing Park directly adjacent to the Walkway over the Hudson.
Over nearly two decades Jazz in the Valley has presented a galaxy of star musicians, including several Grammy winners and National Endowment for the Arts “Jazz Master” honorees: Randy Weston, Ahmad Jamal, Ron Carter, Roy Hargrove, Cyrus Chestnut, Hugh Masakela, Kevin Mahogany, Bill Charlap, Cedar Walton, Jimmy Cobb, Delfeayo Marsalis, Curtis Fuller, Mulgrew Miller, Jimmy and Percy Heath, Eddie Palmieri, Arturo O’Farrill, Steve Turre, Michelle Rosewoman, Steve Nelson, Roy Ayers, Houston Person, Ray Mantilla, Lou Donaldson, and “Chocolate” Amenteros.
ABOUT THE FEATURED ARTISTS
Rene Marie was 42 when she began singing professionally, and her career quickly skyrocketed after she signed with the Maxjazz label in 1999. Vertigo, her second album with the label, was awarded a coronet ranking by The Penguin Guide to Jazz, at the time a distinction given to fewer than 85 recordings in jazz history. Marie made different waves in 2008 when she was invited to sing The Star Spangled Banner at a civic event in Denver and substituted the lyrics for Lift Every Voice and Sing, also known as the Black National Anthem. This arrangement forms part of the titular suite of Marie’s 2011 cd The Voice of My Beautiful Country (Motéma Music). Her most recent Motéma recording Sound of Red came out in 2016. Marie is also respected for primarily performing her own compositions.
Trumpeter and flugelhornist Eddie Henderson came to prominence in the early 1970s as a member of pianist Herbie Hancock’s band Mwandishi, and he went on to lead his own jazz fusion groups through the decade. After leaving Hancock, the trumpeter also worked extensively with Pharoah Sanders,Norman Connors, and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, turning especially to acoustic jazz by the 1990s. The versatile Henderson also earned a medical degree, and for many years he worked parallel careers as a psychiatrist and musician. His newest recording Be Cool was released earlier this year.
Named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2018, pianist Joanne Brackeen has over twenty albums to her name as well as having performed on dozens of other recordings. In 1969 she was the first woman to join drummer Art Blakey’s famed Jazz Messengers, continuing with the band for three years. Eventually she emerged as a band leader after stints with groups led by renowned saxophonists Joe Henderson and Stan Getz. In addition to her captivating improvisations, Brackeen has written intricate and rhythmically daring compositions in a wide range of styles. She is also a longtime full professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, as well as a guest professor at the New School in New York City.
Tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson came into international prominence touring and recording with the Jazz Messengers led by legendary drummer Art Blakey. He has gone on to release 14 recordings as a band leader, including six projects for Blue Note Records featuring collaborations with Betty Carter, Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson, Kenny Garrett, Jacky Terrason, John Medeski, and Vernon Reid. He has joined in dozens of touring and recording projects with jazz greats including Elvin Jones, Freddie Hubbard, Charlie Haden, Cedar Walton, Ron Carter, and Donald Byrd. Jackson is also Chair of the Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music. And in 2014 he began serving as Artistic Director for the Jazz in the Valley festival.
Multitalented bassist Mimi Jones also has credits as a vocalist, producer, music label owner, and filmmaker over more than two decades. Musically she made her name as a sidewoman to numerous stars including Kenny Barron, Beyoncé, Lizz Wright, Frank Ocean, Dianne Reeves, Roy Hargrove, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kevin Mahogany, Corey Glover, Toshi Reagon, Rachel Z, Ravi Coltrane, as well as Terri Lyne Carrington’s Grammy Award-winning Mosaic Project. She also founded Hot Tone Music in 2009, which has put out nine recordings including three led by Jones. Her ensemble project Black Madonna primarily includes Jones’ musical compositions, which typically blend aspects of jazz, funk, folk, and rock.
New Orleans-born and raised saxophonist Donald Harrison grew up in a home saturated with the city’s traditional brass bands, Afro-New Orleans culture, modern jazz, R&B, funk, classical, world, and dance music. His connection to New Orleans’ roots and a new American style of African culture was deepened by his father, a Big Chief. He went on to combine jazz with Afro-New Orleans traditional music on his critically acclaimed and influential albums Indian Blues (1991) and Spirits of Congo Square (2000). Perhaps Harrison’s signature creation is a musical style called “Nouveau Swing,” that merges jazz with modern dance music like R&B, Hip-Hop, Soul and Rock. Over three decades Harrison has been on stage and on recordings with some of the most influential artists of the 21st century including Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Roy Haynes, McCoy Tyner, Lena Horne, Ron Carter, Dr. John, Digable Planets, and Notorious BIG.
Jazz in the Valley is presented by the Hudson Valley based non-profit organization TRANSART & Cultural Services. Promotional partners for the festival are Metro North, Dutchess Tourism, the Poughkeepsie Journal, and the Walkway Over the Hudson.
Featured Image is of Mimi Jones by Nicholas Carter