The Virginia Arts Festival recently announced its impressive line-up for this season’s Attucks Jazz Series, which will begin September 24. There will be seven shows, each featuring a world-class jazz artist in the intimate club setting of the Attucks Theatre. “Since jazz is such an important and uniquely American art form, and was traditionally played in clubs, the Festival added the Attucks Jazz performances with smaller shows in a 120-seat room, with a club setting at the historic Attucks Theatre,” says Rob Cross, the festival’s executive director. “The Attucks is the perfect venue as one of the country’s premiere African- American theaters, where many jazz pioneers have performed.”
Starting off the season on September 24th is tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson. Jackson came into international prominence touring and recording with the legendary drummer Art Blakey as a member of his band, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Symbolizing a new generation of musicians that blended tradition with neo-jazz, Jackson went on to release 14 recordings as a band leader and tour and record over 135 CDs with many jazz greats. In addition to his performances, Javon Jackson is a highly sought after jazz educator, conducting clinics and lectures at universities throughout the United States and abroad.
Next up on October 22nd, the Attucks Jazz Series will present vibraphonist Behn Gillece. Gillece has built a reputation on the New York jazz scene as a virtuosic instrumentalist and prolific composer. Gillece has performed his music throughout the world at venues including Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and Fat Cat. He has also performed at music festivals in Nice, North Sea, Ghent, Montreal and Toronto.
The third show is slated for November 19th and will feature American jazz guitarist, Vic Juris, hailed as one of the premier guitarists of the 21st century, with an undeniable command of the acoustic and electric guitars. His 25 recordings have catapulted to the Top Ten Airplay Charts and have received widespread critical acclaim. On December 10th, trombonist John Allred will take the Attucks Theater stage. Traveling all over the states and abroad, John has played with many familiar renown jazz artists. Most recently John stepped out on his own and has many album projects in the making, including his second solo release and a duet album with his father, fellow jazz trombonist, Bill Allred.
The season’s Attucks series will continue in 2017 with vocalist Carmen Bradford on January 14, vocalist Milton Suggs on February 11, and trumpeter Sean Jones on March 18. The series – co-produced by Norfolk’s SevenVenues – is being directed once again by jazz pianist John Toomey. His trio will accompany each guest artist. Tickets for each show are on sale for $20. For information and to purchase tickets, call Virginia Arts Festival box office, (757) 282-2822 or visit www.vafest.org.