August at Rockport Music

August At Rockport Music

This August, Rockport Music offers a wide variety of music with The Bad Plus and jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman to pianist Anthony De Mare in a tribute to Sondheim’s music on piano.  In mid-August, the 3rd Annual Rockport Jazz Festival brings such legendary jazz musicians as Kenny Barron and Christian McBride to genre-defying Donal Fox to young jazz artists like drummer Ali Jackson and jazz singer Cyrille Aimée. The month doesn’t end there as we also have many other performers including the Kingston Trio, Tom Rush, Paula Cole and Capitol Steps.

Bad_Plus_Cameron_WittigOn Thursday, August 7 at 8 pm, The Bad Plus joins with two-time Grammy nominated jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman for an unforgettable evening of music.  A uniquely audacious trio that has crossed into the mainstream to draw jazz fans and rock aficionados alike, the irreverent band of musical outlaws known as The Bad Plus rose to fame about a decade ago by transforming pop and rock anthems from Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” to Queen’s “We Are the Champions” into epic improvisational journeys, as well as more original material like the band’s 2012 album, Made Possible, which focused exclusively on new pieces contributed by all three musicians. Their latest project, The Rite of Spring, is a genre-smashing arrangement of one of the most influential and controversial works of the 20th century, Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring). The New York Times hails the group as, “better than anyone at mixing the sensibilities of post-60’s jazz and indie rock…“ 

Jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman is one of the most acclaimed and charismatic jazz artists to have emerged in the 90s. After graduating from Harvard, he moved to New York and within months, he was named the winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition and soon was touring and recording with jazz masters such as Charlie Haden, Joe Lovano and Pat Metheny.   Redman has recorded and performed with such legends from Dave Brubeck and Herbie Hancock to Ray Brown and B.B. King to The Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder. He has garnered top honors in critics and readers polls of DownBeat, Jazz Times, The Village Voice and Rolling Stone. He wrote and performed the music for Louis Malle’s final film Vanya on 42nd Street, and is both seen and heard in the Robert Altman film Kansas City.  Tickets:  $45-$78

Tony DeMareOn Friday, August 8 at 8 pm, experience the music of Sondheim performed as contemporary piano works.  Pianist Anthony de Mare will perform Liaisons: Re-imagining Sondheim from the Piano, a landmark commissioning and concert project.  De Mare is widely recognized as one of the world’s most versatile pianists and he conceived this project to expand the piano repertoire based on the songs of legendary musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim. The project has brought together 36 of the world’s foremost contemporary composers to “reimagine” one of Sondheim’s songs as a solo piano piece, including William Bolcom, Frederic Rzewski and Peter Golub.  The New York Times hailed de Mare and this performance as “…a champion of contemporary music, merged his passion for Sondheim with his effort to expand the recital repertory… the resulting project required formidable virtuosity.  Mr. de mare’s playing was dynamic and stylish… I loved it.”

On Saturday, August 9 at 8 PM ,owning one of the most powerful and dynamic voices in American popular music, Martin Sexton straddles the worlds of folk, soul, country and rock and roll with The Brothers McCann. For the last 25 years, his earnest songwriting, quirky stylistic shape-shifting and seemingly boundless vocal range has created a legion of devoted fans across the country, and the world. Black Sheep, his record label debut, vaulted Sexton into the main stages of the country’s folk festival circuit and soon the talented singer-songwriter began to bust out of the folk cocoon entirely with recordings that flirted with jazz, rock and roll and R&B. His songs have even appeared prominently on beloved television shows like Scrubs and Parenthood. Tickets: $45-$78

On Sunday, August 10 at 3 PM (Part I) & 7 PM (Part II) equal parts performance and masterclass, Women of Will is the remarkable summation of Shakespeare & Company Artistic Director Tina Packer’s 40-plus years spent investigating all things Shakespeare. Women of Will fuses riveting scenes with trenchant analysis and discussion to flesh out themes of love, loss, freedom, control, violence and power through the heroines of Shakespeare’s text. Along with director Eric Tucker and ace thespian Nigel Gore, Packer, who founded Shakespeare and Company in 1978, traces the chronological evolution of Shakespeare’s female characters, and examines Shakespeare’s own journey and growth as a writer. Packer and Gore have starred opposite each other in several productions, including Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (which netted Gore an Elliot Norton Award for Best Actor in 2010), Antony & Cleopatra, and Hamlet. Beyond his work with Women of Will, Tucker has a string of successful directing credits including Off-Broadway productions of The Libertine, The Belle of Belfast and 86’d, and  Uranium + Peaches (with Ed Asner) in Los Angeles. Tickets: $28-$46


Ali Jackson playing B&WThe 3rd Annual Rockport Jazz Festival opens on Wednesday, August 13 at 8 pm with the uniquely versatile jazz drummer Ali Jackson. Jackson has been the rhythmic backbone of the acclaimed Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis for eight years, while still fronting his own innovative and trailblazing band, the Ali Jackson Quartet. He has collaborated with a veritable Who’s Who of jazz greats including Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Diana Krall and Harry Connick Jr. among others.  A multitalented composer, arranger, music educator and jazz percussionist, Jackson is the ultimate modernist drummer of our times. He has gained a reputation of performing with remarkable technique, originality and passionate expression, as well as creating a strong portrait of emotions through his playing—with vivid dynamism, energy, intensity and technique.  JazzChat led by Ron della Chiesa at 7 pm. Tickets: $28-$46

On Thursday, August 14 at 8 pm, jazz vocalist Cyrille Aimée, performs at the Shalin Liu Performance Center.  Born of a Dominican mother and French father, the dynamic young Aimée brings an exotic, highly rhythmic-based approach to jazz singing, incorporating a Gallic gypsy swing with hints of salsa and samba into well-worn standards and original compositions. Winner of the Montreux and Sarah Vaughan International Vocal Competitions, the talented chanteuse boldly takes vocal jazz into new, intoxicating directions.  After five self-released recordings, Aimée will be releasing It’s a Good Day in 2014, her first on a major record label. The Washington Post hails her as “a voice like fine whiskey—oaky and smooth, with a hint of smokiness.”  JazzChat led by Ron della Chiesa at 7 pm. Tickets: $31-$52

On Friday, August 15 at 8 pm, Donal Fox performs Mashups in Afro-Blue in the Rockport Jazz Festival. A former Guggenheim fellow, composer/pianist Donal Fox expertly fuses jazz, classical and Afro-Cuban rhythms. His intricate compositions and dizzying improvisations could recall Thelonious Monk one moment and Bach the next while creating his own wholly unique approach to music. Expertly fusing jazz, classical and Afro-Cuban rhythms, composer/pianist Donal Fox deliberately and delightfully muddles musical boundaries. His intricate compositions and dizzying improvisations could recall Thelonious Monk one moment and Bach the next, but the former Guggenheim fellow has created his own wholly unique approach to music.  Among his many accolades, Fox is a recent recipient of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Letters Academy Award in Music.  Terrance McKnight of WQXR describes Fox as “Art Tatum on the right hand; Johann Sebastian Bach on the left; Donal Fox in the middle.” JazzChat led by Richard Tennant at 7 pm. Tickets: $31-$52

Legendary jazz pianist Kenny Barron brings his Kenny Barron Trio to perform in the Rockport Jazz Festival on Saturday, August 16 at 8 pm. One of the most sought-after pianists of the post-bop era, Kenny Barron has played on literally hundreds of jazz recordings. With over 40 recordings as a leader, Barron has received over nine Grammy nominations for his albums, including People Time with Stan Getz, Freefall and Wanton Spirit (a trio with Roy Haynes and Charlie Haden).  Barron consistently wins the jazz critics’ and readers’ polls, including Downbeat, Jazz Times and Jazziz magazines. In 2005 he was inducted into the American Jazz Hall of Fame and won a MAC Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a six-time recipient of Best Pianist by the Jazz Journalists Association and was a finalist in the prestigious 2001 Jazz Par International Jazz Award.  JazzChat led by Eric Jackson at 7 pm. Tickets: $49-$68

On Sunday, August 17 at 2 pm, Swing Xing! showcases three of the top swing guitarists in the world –Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniola,.  All hailing from different generations, this esteemed guitar trio combines the expert musicianship and precision of swing guitar with the whimsical flair of vaudeville.  Jazz guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli has been thrilling audiences with his signature swinging style for close to seven decades. Throughout that time, Bucky has played with a veritable Who’s Who of bandleaders and performers including musical giants like Benny Goodman, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, among others, as well as a stint in Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show Band. Pizzarelli, known for his masterful chord soloing and extraordinary rhythm, was also one of the first jazz guitarists to master the seven-string guitar. JazzChat led by Eric Jackson at 1 pm.  Tickets: $25-$39

On Sunday, August 17 at 7 pm, the Christian McBride Trio closes the Rockport Jazz Festival. One of the most exciting jazz artists of the modern era, bassist Christian McBride has redefined both his instrument and the perceived boundaries of jazz itself. Unafraid to dip his toes into R&B, funk, pop, fusion or big band, McBride’s massive technical and compositional skills have launched him into the rarified air of bonafide jazz masters.  For over 20 years, McBride has appeared in numerous musical settings with just about any musician imaginable in jazz as well as R&B and pop worlds. From playing with Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock to Bruce Hornsby, Sting and James Brown to opera legend Kathleen Battle—what has always been unique about McBride is his versatility.  The Christian McBride Trio includes pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr and the Trio’s Cd from last year Out Here showcased the Trio’s impressive chemistry and creativity.  JazzChat led by Rich Tennant at 6 pm. Tickets: $49-$68

On Friday, August 22 at 8 PM, The Kingston Trio, known for their role in the folk revival of the early 60’s, their iconic takes on traditional folk classics like “Tom Dooley” and for their trademark three-part harmonies, The Kingston Trio returns to Rockport for an unforgettable evening of vintage folk classics.  Featuring the talents of George Grove, Bill Zorn and Rick Dougherty, the Trio will perform beloved  hits like “M.T.A,” “Worried Man,” “Greenback Dollar” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” Tickets: $49-$68

On Saturday, August 23 at 8 PM and Sunday, August 24 at 5 PM, Tom Rush in what has become a delightful, much-anticipated Rockport tradition, folk legend Tom Rush returns to the Shalin Liu Performance Center. Rush’s easy, world-weary baritone and nimble finger-picking combined with his wry, poignant songwriting made him a star of the 60’s urban folk revival. Rush’s impact on the American music scene has been profound. He helped shape the folk revival in the ’60s and the renaissance of the ’80s and ’90s, his music having left its stamp on generations of artists including superstars like James Taylor and Garth Brooks. Rush’s timeless originals, including beloved songs like “No Regrets” and “Galveston Flood,” have become true classics, residing in the heart of the folk canon. His annual appearances in Rockport have become treasured “don’t miss” events. Tickets:  $49-$68 

On Thursday, August 28 at 8 PM and Friday, August 29 at 8 PM Rockport’s own Paula Cole has won Grammy’s and played sold-out arenas, but always manages to return to her hometown for a memorable night of smash hits like “I Don’t Want to Wait” and “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” as well as tunes from her most recent record, Raven.  A true Cape Ann treasure, Cole’s melodic gifts and storytelling prowess remain in fantastic form. Cole was born and raised in Rockport, Massachusetts, the daughter of an amateur musician and a visual artist. Cole’s sound has broadened in recent years, the songwriter delving into jazz, electronica and contemporary pop, but her stunning voice and melodic gifts remain constant. Tickets: $49-$68

On Saturday, August 30 at 3 & 8 PM, Capitol Steps gives political satire a musical makeover with the uproarious comedy troupe Capitol Steps.  Adapting familiar pop hits to skewer both sides of the political spectrum, the Capitol Steps revel in sardonic songs, side-splitting puns and over-the-top impersonations. The Capitol Steps began as a group of Senate staffers who set out to satirize the very people and places that employed them.   Born in 1981 when some staffers for Senator Charles Percy were planning entertainment for a Christmas party. They dug into the headlines of the day and created song parodies and skits which conveyed a special brand of satirical humor. In the years that followed, many of the Steps ignored the conventional wisdom (“Don’t quit your day job!”), and although not all of the current members of the Steps are former Capitol Hill staffers; as a whole, the performers have worked in a total of eighteen Congressional offices and represent 62 years of collective House and Senate staff experience.  Tickets: $45-$78

Please Note: the Rockport Chamber Music Festival concert with pianist Jeremy Denk which was re-scheduled from June is now on Monday, August 11 at 7:30 PM.

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