2017 Festival Recap

Apr 20, 2018 | Blog

The 7th Annual John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival was highlighted with great performances from a mingling of up and coming talent, masters of the current genre and iconic jazz titans.

Featured Performances @ the 8th Annual John Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival 

Two new artists, Matthew Whitaker and Alexis Morrast, were introduced to an audience who, up until that time, had not heard their names.  After their performances, these young jazz artists will never be forgotten. Whitaker is a keyboardist, composer and singer who easily commanded his stage presence and repertoire. Vocalist Morrast interpreted the American songbook and jazz standards with a maturity far beyond her years.

Robert Randolph and the Family Band gave a stand-out performance.  The master of the steel guitar amazed the audience with his dexterity while the band delivered an intense and powerful succession of Blues, rock and R&B songs.

Spyro Gyra, a class act of venerable musicians, wrapped their skill, experience and obvious love of what they do, around their deep song list.  They delighted of the crowd.

As did the Gate City Divas. The Divas are an all female band made up of area professional musicians, all multi-instrumentalist. Their set included Blues music tinged with folk, funk and R&B. It was the first time the Coltrane Jazzfest hosted a band solely comprised of women.

Branford Marsalis playing soprano sax and pianist Joey Calderazzo played the most beautiful rendition of “In A Sentimental Mood” ever.  Their performance accented the unspoken communicative power of acoustic jazz.

Steps Ahead are the masters of contemporary fusion jazz. Co-founder Chieli Minucci, saxophonist Eric Marienthal, bassist Gerald Veasley, keyboardist Lao Tizer with vocalist Eliott Yamin combined improvisation, musical craftsmanship with innovative style, highlight the jazz continuum.

Latin Jazz elder statesman Eddie Palmieri showed why he’s won 10 Grammy Awards during his 50-plus year career.  Though specific songs that were recognizable to his fan base didn’t draw immediate reaction from the crowd, the commanding yet relaxed delivery of every selection drew in the entire audience.  He was magnificent.

Gerald Albright and Jonathan Butler brought the crowd pleasing energy and songs that’s come to exemplify the Coltrane Jazzfest. These two were at the top of their game. Performing separately and as a duo, they toggled between Albright’s showing his skill on multiple instruments to Butler’s mixture playing smooth instrumentals in addition to singing.

The goal is to always top the previous year which is a commitment festival organizers take to heart.  Although difficult, look for the 8th Annual John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival to exceed the goal.