The Annual Jazz at the Athenaeum summer concert series returns: June 9, 25, July 21, and 28, to the Music Room of the Athenaeum library located at 1008 Wall Street in La Jolla.
The series opens on Thursday, June 9, with a return visit by two favorite Athenaeum performers, pianist Fred Hersch and clarinetist Anat Cohen. One of today’s leading masters of the jazz piano, Hersch last performed at the Athenaeum series at TSRI in 2014. He is joined by the Anat Cohen, who last performed locally on the TSRI series in March 2015. Cohen has won hearts and minds the world over with her expressive virtuosity and delightful stage presence. DownBeat wrote, “Cohen not only proved to be a woodwind revelation of dark tones and delicious lyricism, but also a dynamic bandleader who danced and shouted out encouragement to her group. . .” This concert is supported in part by an award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation through the Western Jazz Presenters Network.
Saturday, June 25 brings an Athenaeum debut by the New York-based John Hollenbeck, The Claudia Quintet featuring Hollenbeck on drums, Chris Speed on clarinet and tenor sax, Matt Moran on vibes, Red Wierenga on accordion, and Drew Gress on bass. Formed by Hollenbeck in 1997, The Claudia Quintet has amazed audiences from Alabama to the Amazon. Over the past decade, the group has released seven CDs that are critically acclaimed worldwide and whose appeal extends well beyond, as well as includes, traditional jazz audiences. The Boston Globe commented, “Hollenbeck often favors themes and rhythms that find their source in folkloric ‘world’ music, especially that of Africa and Brazil. Those themes and rhythms are often offset by the malleable, porous sound of the quintet’s unique instrumentation, which allows for passages of quiet lyricism.”
The series continues on Thursday, July 21, with the Dayna Stephens Quintet, a bi-coastal band featuring New Yorkers Stephens on tenor sax and EWI (electronic wind instrument) and Philip Dizack on trumpet plus an LA-based rhythm section comprised of Athenaeum favorite and multi-Grammy winner Billy Childs on piano, Dave Robaire on bass, and Jonathan Pinson on drums. The New York Times heralded Stephens as a “must see,” writing, “everything flows with unusual fluency and makes you feel rewarded,” regarding his improvisational facilities. Stephens credits mentors like Wayne Shorter and Terence Blanchard, with whom he studied at the Thelonious Monk Institute, with teaching him the importance of melody in his original compositions, a sensibility that he also brings to his interpretations of jazz standards. For this date, Stephens features his NYC bandmate Philip Dizack.
The series concludes on Thursday, July 28, with the Curtis Taylor Quartet, featuring an Athenaeum debut by San Diego-based Taylor on trumpet, joined by another Athenaeum favorite pianist, the brilliant Eric Reed, plus Ben Williams on bass, and Richard Sellers on drums. Taylor relocated to San Diego in 2014 and quickly has become a leading player on the local scene. Taylor is joined for this concert by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis band alumnus Eric Reed, and by Taylor’s Michigan State classmate, Ben Williams, winner of the 2009 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Bass Competition. Williams has performed with the likes of Wynton Marsalis, George Benson, Chaka Kahn, Dee Bridgewater, Terence Blanchard, Roy Hargrove, Benny Golson, Stefon Harris, and Pat Metheny, with whom Williams won his first Grammy Award as a member of the Pat Metheny Unity Band.
Single tickets are $21 members and $26 for non-members. Or by the series: $76 members and $96 non-members. Seating is limited, so early reservations are strongly suggested. For tickets and information visit the ljathenaeum.org or call 858-454-5872.