33rd Jazz Celebration Weekend Features Kate McGarry, The Yellowjackets

Both ends of the jazz spectrum will be represented Nov. 8-9 when Lawrence University hosts its 33rd Jazz Celebration Weekend.

Grammy Award-nominated vocalist Kate McCarry, a four-time “Rising Star” honoree by Downbeat magazine, kicks off the weekend Friday while the legendary fusion quartet The Yellowjackets close the weekend Saturday evening. Both concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

Tickets, at $22-20 for adults, $19-17 for seniors and $17-15 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office in the Music-Drama Center, 920-832-6749.

The Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble and the Lawrence Jazz Band will each perform a free and open to the public concert Saturday, Nov. 9 at 1:30 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel as part of the weekend activities.

Kate McGarry’s latest disc, “Girl Talk,” landed on more than 20 “Best of 2012” jazz critic’s lists.

McGarry, who grew up in Massachusetts and now calls New York City home, has released six critically acclaimed albums. Her fifth CD, 2008’s “If Less Is More, Nothing Is Everything,” featured a mix of jazz standards, Brazilian songs and pop/rock covers. It her earned her a Grammy Award nomination for Best Jazz Vocal CD. Her most recent release, “Girl Talk,” in which she pays homage to her favorite female jazz vocalists, landed on more than 20 “Best of 2012” jazz critic’s lists.

Fred Sturm, director of jazz studies and improvisational music at Lawrence, said McGarry’s talent allows her to seamlessly traverse genre borders.

“In addition to her mastery of the jazz repertoire, Kate’s equally comfortable singing American songbook standards of George Gershwin and Irving Berlin, Broadway classics, the singer/songwriter hits of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon, the Latin tunes of Luciana Souza and Toninho Horta, and the pop tunes of Sting, Peter Gabriel, and Björk,” said Sturm. “She’s performing and recording with a broad range of cutting edge artists in small groups and big bands, and she’s a renowned vocal jazz teacher at the New England Conservatory of Music. We’re blessed to have such an eclectic artist gracing our Lawrence Jazz Series.”

The Yellowjackets, two-time Grammy Award winners among their 17 nominations, have been a mainstay of the jazz world since their founding in 1977. Comprised originally of top-notch Los Angeles session musicians, the band has featured various lineups over its 30-plus years history, with keyboardist Russell Ferrante the lone remaining original member.

The Yellowjackets current lineup features (l. to r.) Will Kennedy, drums; Russell Ferrante, keyboards; Bob Mintzer, saxophone; and Felix Pastorius, bass.

Dubbed “the most adventurous quartet in contemporary jazz music” by All Music Guide, the ensemble has produced 26 albums since 1981, including the just-released “A Rise in the Road,” which reviewer Ian Patterson described as “melodically seductive throughout.”

“Few international jazz/fusion acts have enjoyed so much popular success and have continuously maintained such high performance standards,” Sturm said of the Yellowjackets. “For more than three decades, the Yellowjackets’ personnel has been comprised of some of the best players in the world and respected by the rest. Their compositions, live performances, and recordings have been remarkably — and consistently — strong and artful. The current quartet is superb, and they’ll no doubt light up the Lawrence Chapel with their appearance.”

In addition to the headliner concerts, more than 750 middle and high school students from throughout Wisconsin and neighboring states will attend Jazz Celebration Weekend to participate and perform in the 35 educational jazz clinic sessions on campus. Visiting educational clinicians will include two Lawrence graduates, pianist Laura Caviani from Carleton College and composer/trumpet player Kyle Simpson from Washington & Jefferson University.

Other clinicians include trombonist Milas Yoes from Phoenix College, percussionist David Hagedorn from St. Olaf College and Dave Rivello, director of the New Jazz Ensemble at the Eastman School of Music.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.