Jazz at Princeton University, helmed by acclaimed saxophonist/composer Rudresh Mahanthappa, presents the first Princeton University Jazz Festival on Saturday, April 13. The world’s newest jazz festival highlights a lineup featuring the bands of today’s top jazz stars as well as jazz greats playing with Princeton’s exceptional student groups.
Free daytime performances, to be held outdoors at Alexander Beach in front of Princeton’s Richardson Auditorium, begin at noon. At 8 p.m., bassist Dave Hollandwill perform with Small Group I in a ticketed event at Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall, 68 Nassau Street. Tickets are $15, $5 students.
Schedule of free performances:
Noon-1 p.m.: Small Group X with Special Guest Joel Frahm, saxophone
1:20-2:20 p.m.: Small Group A with saxophonist Tia Fuller and trumpeter Ingrid Jensen
2:40-3:40 p.m.: Charenée Wade Quartet with Wade on vocals, pianist Oscar Perez, bassist Paul Beaudry, drummer Darrell Green
4-5 p.m.: Pedrito Martinez Group with Martinez on percussion and lead vocals; Isaac Delgado, Jr. on keyboards and vocals; Sebastian Natal on electric bass and vocals; Jhair Sala on percussion
5:20-6:30 p.m.: Donny McCaslin Quartet with McCaslin on saxophones, keyboardist Jason Lindner, bassist Jonathan Maron, drummer Zach Danziger
“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,” says Mahanthappa. “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.”
The event is part of the dynamic Jazz at Princeton University season, which also features the Jazz Vocal Collective with Nnenna Freelon (Feb. 16), the Jazz Vocal Collective (April 15), Small Groups I & A (April 24), Jazz Vocal Improvisation Ensemble (April 25), Small Group X (April 29), and Creative Large Ensemble with Terri Lyne Carrington (May 11).
Born in Racine, Wisconsin in 1969, saxophonist Joel Frahm studied classical piano and bassoon before taking to the tenor saxophone when he was 14 years old. In 1985, his family moved to West Hartford, Connecticut, where he attended the jazz program at Hall High School and met pianist Brad Mehldau. After graduating high school, 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 has worked with artists including Matt Wilson, Maynard Ferguson, Betty Carter, Dewey Redman, Lee Konitz, Pat Martino, Andrew Hill, Larry Goldings, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ben Allison, Ingrid Jensen, Dena DeRose, and Kyle Eastwood. He also developed a reputation as a saxophonist who can accompany and work with singers – a quality that he exploits and mines to this day. Among the vocalists he has shared the bandstand and the studio with are Cyrille Aimee, Rondi Charleston, Laine Cooke, Dana Lauren, Chris McNulty, Jane Monheit, Janis Siegel, Tessa Souter, and Joan Stiles. In 2004, Frahm, collaborating with Mehldau, released Don’t Explain for the Palmetto label. In the decade-plus since, 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, saxophone
Mack Avenue recording artist Tia Fuller 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, GA, (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. She has appeared on a number of major television shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show, Today Show, Good Morning America, BET Awards, American Music Awards and Total Request Live, and the 2010 Grammy Awards. She performed as the featured soloist with Beyoncé for President Obama at the White House. Tia’s most recent recording is the 2018 Diamond Cut produced by Terri Lyne Carrington and featuring Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland. Tia has toured with Terri Lyne Carrington’s Grammy-winning Mosaic Project, Esperanza Spalding’s Radio Music Society tour, and Dianne Reeves. She has also performed with luminaries such as Ralph Peterson, Rufus Reid, Geri Allen, the Nancy Wilson Jazz Orchestra, Wycliffe Gordon, Jon Faddis Jazz Orchestra, Chaka Khan, Jay-Z, Jill Scott, Patti LaBelle, Sheila E, Dionne Warwick, Janelle Monae, and Aretha Franklin. The saxophonist has been featured on the covers of Saxophone Today, Jazz Education Journal, DownBeat and JazzTimes. She has received numerous awards including winning DownBeat Critic’s Poll-Rising Star two years in a row for Soprano Sax (2014), Alto Sax and Flute (2013).
Dave Holland, bass
Dave Holland is 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 thirty as a leader under his own name. He has performed with legends including Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Sam Rivers, Betty Carter, Anthony Braxton, Chick Corea, Gary Burton, and others. He continues to assemble, record, and perform with ensembles including duos and trios to big bands with artists like Steve Coleman, Jason Moran, Chris Potter, Eric Harland, and many others. As a leader and collaborator, Holland continues to tour the world and still serves the music as an educator. He is an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music (UK).
Ingrid Jensen, trumpet
Born in Vancouver and raised in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Ingrid Jensen 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). More recently, Jensen has been performing with the Grammy-winning Terri Lyne Carrington and her Mosaic Project. Jensen is a featured soloist on the Christine Jensen Jazz Orchestra’s Juno-award-winning album, Treelines (2011), and its successor, Habitat (2013). She has performed with artists ranging from Clark Terry to Esperanza Spalding, and alongside British R&B artist Corrine Bailey Rae on Saturday Night Live. She has also recorded with Canadian pop icon Sarah McLachlan. In addition to her busy sideman and featured soloist schedule, Jensen leads her own quintet, quartet and organ trio. 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. One of Jensen’s closest collaborators is her sister, saxophonist/composer Christine Jensen. In addition to recent performances of their revamped version of “Porgy and Bess,” the sisters released a small group recording entitled, Infinitude. Ingrid’s latest album Invisible Sounds was featured on NPR’s Jazz Night in America. Ingrid plays a custom Monette trumpet, built personally by the master builder Dave Monette.
Pedrito Martinez, percussion
Grammy-nominated Pedro Pablo “Pedrito” Martinez was born in Havana Cuba in 1973. Since settling in New York City in the fall of 1998, 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 which 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 US, Europe, Australia and Latin America. The group’s 2013 debut album was nominated for a Grammy Award and chosen as one of NPR’s Favorite Albums of 2013 and The Boston Globe Critics’ Top Ten Albums of 2013. Habana Dreams, their second album, was released in 2016 with guest artists Ruben Blades, Isaac Delgado, Wynton Marsalis, and Angelique Kidjo. It was named #1 Latin Jazz Album in the NPR Jazz Critics Poll, and was praised by the Wall Street Journal as “hip and irresistible.”
Donny McCaslin, saxophone
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. A few years after Blackstar‘s release, McCaslin released his new album, Blow., a definitive statement that fully realizes Bowie’s influence and McCaslin’s evolved artistic direction. “Before working with him, things like this didn’t seem possible to me,” McCaslin says of Blow., the most daring work of his two-decade, GRAMMY®-nominated career. “The affirmation of that project and how wonderfully that turned out artistically — I feel like anything is possible now.” Despite McCaslin’s extensive, acclaimed career — he grew up gigging with his father’s jazz ensembles in Santa Cruz, California, attended Berklee College of Music, and began his recording career in the late ’90s — collaborating with Bowie altered how he approached his craft. “His aesthetic in the studio was, ‘Go for what you’re hearing, don’t worry about what it’s going to be called or categorized as,'” McCaslin recalls of the late icon. “‘Let’s have some fun. Let’s make some music.'” With the expansive, diverse Blow., McCaslin takes Bowie’s philosophy to heart. According to McCaslin, the “natural progression” that led to Blow. began with 2016’s Beyond Now. Compromised of originals written after Blackstar‘s recording but before Bowie’s death, as well as covers of Bowie, Mutemath, and Deadmau5, the record contains what McCaslin describes as “the seed” that grew into Blow.: His moody, electro-tinged rendition of Bowie’s “A Small Plot of Land.” Ultimately, McCaslin returns repeatedly to a specific phrase: “new territory.” He’s propelling his music to places that seemed unreachable — to the extent that he’d even conceived of them —just a few years ago. And Blow. isn’t the endpoint. “The live show is really evolving,” says McCaslin, thrilled to share his fresh material with audiences around the world. “It’s going to continue to evolve and we have this vision of how it’s going to evolve. It’s going to be much different from what it has been.” Recent years have been a whirlwind for McCaslin, but Blow. proves he’s ready for his next chapter: “Going all in with new territory is really stimulating to me.”
Charenée Wade, vocals
Native New Yorker Wade began singing at age 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. Other recent highlights include performing with Robert Glasper and MacArthur Fellow and choreographer Kyle Abraham on the multi-media re-imagination of Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach’s “Freedom Now Suite” at The Kennedy Center. Wade’s latest CD, Offering: The Music of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson, is a re-interpretation of the poet’s musical. Wade is a professor at the Aaron Copland School at Queens College and was recently appointed to Peabody Institute of John Hopkins University.
Jazz at Princeton University under the direction of Rudresh Mahanthappa serves to promote this uniquely American music as a contemporary and relevant art form. Our 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 course work, performing ensembles, master classes, private study, and independent projects. They 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.