Expect things to be a little spicier for this year’s Lawrence University Jazz Celebration Weekend. For the first time in the concert’s 30-year history, Jazz Celebration Weekend goes all Latin.
Brazil’s Grammy-winning singer Luciana Souza and her trio open the weekend Friday, Nov. 5. Trombonist Conrad Herwig, who has recorded Latin-styled tributes to Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane and Miles Davis, takes the stage Saturday, Nov. 6.
Souza will be joined by the Lawrence Hybrid Ensemble, while the Lawrence Jazz Faculty Quartet, Jazz Ensemble and Trombone Ensemble perform with Herwig.
Both concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, 510 E. College Ave., Appleton. Tickets are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.
“American jazz intersected with rhythms and forms from Brazil, Cuba, and Puerto Rico more than 60 years ago,” said Fred Sturm, director of jazz studies at Lawrence and JCW organizer. “Visionaries like Dizzy Gillespie, Machito, Mario Bauza, Chano Pozo and Stan Kenton started fusing the diverse elements and saxophonist Stan Getz scored a global hit in the mid 1960s with his jazzy bossa nova “The Girl from Ipanema.” Jazz musicians today are as beholden to Latin music influences as they are to swing concepts. Souza’s Brazilian heritage and Herwig’s amazing Latin-styled CDs make them the ideal headliners for a Latin-themed jazz festival.”
Raised in a family of bossa nova innovators, Souza has emerged as one of jazz’s leading singers and interpreters, creating music that transcends traditional boundaries. She has performed and recorded with Herbie Hancock — winning a Grammy Award in 2008 for her work on “River – The Joni Letters” — as well as Paul Simon, Bobby McFerrin, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. Her discography includes eight releases as a leader and more than 50 recordings as a side singer.
“Luciana is the personification of a musical ‘cross-over’ artist, equally comfortable singing Latin bossa novas, American popular standards, jazz, or classical chamber music,” said Sturm. “She’s a composer, a poet and a teacher who performs music about life and love. Her audiences get that immediately.”
The New York-based, 2005 Grammy Award-winning Herwig has created a highly identifiable niche in contemporary jazz with his series of “Latin Side” CDs honoring Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane and Miles Davis. His “Latin Side of Wayne Shorter” earned
Herwig a 2008 Grammy nomination and was cited on Downbeat Magazine’s “Best of 2008” list. He is a member of the jazz faculty at Rutgers University and also is a visiting professor of jazz studies at the Juilliard School of Music.
Professor of Music Nick Keelan, who teaches trombone at Lawrence, calls Herwig “a master” of the instrument.
“In his hands, the trombone has no limitations technically or musically. He plays the instrument so effortlessly. I place him in the top five of my favorite trombonists, alive and not, because of his creativity, musicianship, and great technical ability. Conrad’s music communicates with the listener because his pieces are interesting and engaging.”
In addition to the two visiting artist concerts, more than 1,000 university, high school and middle school instrumental and vocal jazz students will participate in daytime performances, educational clinics, and master classes on Saturday. All Saturday performances are free and open to the public.
“Jazz Weekend provides a jump start for school jazz programs across the Midwest,” said Sturm. “There’s no competition, no ratings, no awards. A team of the nation’s finest jazz educators offers joyful, inspired teaching, listening and learning.”
Since the inaugural Jazz Celebration Weekend in 1981, more than 20,000 students have participated in the event, directly impacting the quality of jazz education in Wisconsin and surrounding states.