Alexis Cole has been compared to such classic jazz singers as Sarah Vaughan and Anita O’Day; her luxurious voice and innovative interpretations make her an instant favorite with audiences of all ages. Cole will be accompanied by acclaimed musicians, saxophonist Eric Alexander, pianist John di Martino, bassist David Finck and drummer Kenny Washington.
(Sarasota, Florida) Rising young jazz vocalist Alexis Cole and her celebrated all-star quintet will appear on February 28, 7:30 p.m., as part of the 34th annual Sarasota Jazz Festival, February 23-March 1, 2014. Cole’s quintet includes saxophonist Eric Alexander, pianist John di Martino, bassist David Finck and drummer Kenny Washington. The concert is at The Players Theatre, 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets are $35 general admission; $30 Jazz Club members; $5 students. For tickets, call The Player’s box office at 941-365-2494. For group prices or more information about the 34th annual Sarasota Jazz Festival, call 941-366-1552, or visit www.jazzclubsarasota.com. (Please see full schedule below.)
With a voice praised as, “a deep contralto as smooth and dark as the richest espresso” (Jazz Times), 38-year-old jazz wunderkind Alexis Cole has seven recordings under her belt and is the winner of the 2007 Jazzmobile Vocal Competition and an award recipient at the Montreux Jazz Vocal Competition, as well as the Sarah Vaughn Competition in 2012. Christopher Loudon of Jazz Times says, “Cole’s easy sense of swing is strongly reminiscent of Sarah Vaughan.”
Born in New York City, and raised in Ft. Lauderdale, Cole began performing at established music venues while still in high school. She released her first CD in 1999, a duo project with Blue Note recording artist Harry Pickens. In 2004, she released a second CD, “Nearer the Sun,” which renowned jazz critic Scott Yanow lauded as, “a particularly strong effort from a jazz singer well worth discovering.” While completing her master’s degree in music in New York City, Cole performed at such esteemed jazz establishments as The Oak Room, Dizzy’s Club at Lincoln Center, and The 55 Bar. Since then, Cole has performed regularly at festivals, performing arts centers and jazz clubs throughout the world. A dedicated educator, Cole is also a guest artist-in-residence and speaker at universities and educational facilities around the United States. Most recently, she’s added the position of lead vocalist for the West Point Band’s Jazz Knights. As Swing Journal notes, “We’ve been waiting for the next great singer to come along, and finally… Alexis.” For more information, visit www.alexiscole.com.
Saxophonist Eric Alexander began playing piano at age six. The tenor sax became his obsession while at Indiana University. In 1991, Alexander placed second at the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition, a triumph that catapulted him into the whirlwind life of a professional jazz musician. He played with organ trios on Chicago’s South Side, made his recording debut with Charles Earland in 1991, and cut his first album as a leader, “Straight Up,” that same year. Since then, Alexander has appeared as a leader, sideman, producer, and composer on more than 70 albums. He has earned praise from critics and established his own voice within the bebop tradition. For more information about Eric Alexander, visit www.ericalexanderjazz.com.
New York-based jazz pianist, arranger and produce John di Martino has been described as a “shape-shifter,” for his genre-leaping musical creativity. Di Martino has performed and recorded with David “Fat Head” Newman, Pat Martino, Houston Person, and Taj Mahal. He is sought after as a musical director and his talents as arranger and pianist can be heard on recordings with Gloria Lynn, Grady Tate, and R & B artists Joe Thomas and Chico DeBarge. Di Martino’s discography includes several Grammy-nominated CDs including “Love” with Issac Delgado, “Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B,” and “Live And In Clave” with Bobby Sanabria. For more information about John Di Martino, visit www.johndimartino.com.
Bass player David Finck has performed with such esteemed and diverse artists as Dizzy Gillespie, The Manhattan Transfer, Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Rod Stewart, Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau, Tony Bennett, and Andre Previn. Over the years, Finck has become one of the most sought-after musicians in New York City, equally revered for his work in jazz, popular, Brazilian and classical music. His discography now lists more than 100 recordings, including platinum and gold-selling records with Rod Stewart, Natalie Cole, and Elton John. For more information about David Finck, visit www.davidfinck.net.
One of the many young hard bop revivalists to have arrived on the scene in the late ’70s and early ’80s, drummer Kenny Washington has been in particular demand with such legendary greats as Betty Carter, Johnny Griffin, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, and Tommy Flanagan. Washington’s recording discography numbers over 500 records, including collaborations with such top names as Ahmad Jamal, Clark Terry, Benny Green, David “Fathead” Newman, Freddy Cole, Jane Monheit, Arturo Sandoval, Betty Carter, and Dizzy Gillespie.
“This year’s festival showcases an inspired spectrum of established and emerging artists,” says Dave Walrath, president of the Jazz Club of Sarasota. “We’re particularly pleased to introduce Alexis Cole, a dynamic young performer, and her quintet of stellar musicians to area jazz enthusiasts of all ages.”
The Sarasota Jazz Festival is sponsored, in part, by Sarasota County Tourist Development tax revenues. Concert tickets are available at The Players’ box office: 941-365-2494, or online at www.theplayers.org. For group prices or more information about the 32nd annual Sarasota Jazz Festival, call 941-366-1552, or visit www.jazzclubsarasota.com.
The 2014 Festival at a Glance:
Sunday February 23 § 1- 4 p.m.
Free “Jazz in the Park’ Concert at Phillippi Estate Park
The Festival kicks off once again with this popular free outdoor concert. Enjoy an afternoon of great jazz in an inspired setting at beautiful Phillippi Estate Park. Bring a blanket or chair; no coolers, please! Phillippi Estate Park, 5500 S Tamiami Trail, Sarasota § 941-366-1552. Artists will be determined at a later date. Visit www.jazzclubsaraosta.org for updates.
Tuesday, February 25 § 3 p.m.
Youth Clinic at Riverview High School with Charlie Bertini and Jeff Phillips
Festival headliners Charlie Bertini and Jeff Phillips will present a seminar and jazz clinic for high school jazz students at Riverview High School. The clinic is free and open to the public. Come watch the area’s next generation of jazz enthusiasts and performers get mentored by this duo of veteran musicians. Riverview High School, 1 Ram Way, Sarasota § 941-366-1552
Tuesday, February 25 § 7:30 p.m.
The Charlie Bertini Quintet at the Players Theatre
One of the most versatile and respected trumpeters in the industry, Bertini has backed up such greats as Henry Mancini, Johnny Mathis, Liza Minella and Ray Charles and played on network television specials for Walt Disney World, Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus and PBS. Bertini has recorded 12 albums with Bill Allred’s Classic Jazz Band and has produced over 55 albums for other artists. Bertini will be joined by Eddie Metz, Jr. on drums, Jeff Phillips on keyboards and Charlie Silva on bass. $30 general admission § $25 club members § $5 for students with ID · 941-365-2494.
Wednesday, February 26 § 6:15-10:30 p.m.
Jazz Trolley & Pub Crawl
Jazz Trolley Night is back! Hop on board the trolley for a spirited evening on the town with great libations and live jazz at a variety of venues. Trolleys depart from the parking lot of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets are $15 if purchased in advance and $20 at the Trolley· 941-366-1552.
Thursday, February 27 § 7:30 p.m.
Peter and Will Anderson at the Players Theatre
Twin brothers Peter and Will Anderson are considered to be one of the most extraordinary jazz duos performing today. Their virtuosity has made them the saxophonists of choice for such stars as Wynton Marsalis, Jimmy Heath, the Village Vanguard Orchestra and Michael Feinstein. They’re joined by drummer Stephen Bucholtz, renowned bassist John Lamb and guitarist Alex Wintz. $35 general admission § $30 club members § $5 for students with ID · 941-365-2494.
Friday, February 28 § 7:30 p.m.
The Alexis Cole Quintet featuring John DiMartino and Eric Alexander
A favorite in jazz and cabaret venues of New York City, singer Alexis Cole has been called “one of the great voices of today.” Her singing has been compared to that of such classic jazz chanteuses as Sarah Vaughn and Anita O’Day. Cole is joined by an all-star group of some of today’s top jazz artists, including saxophonist Eric Alexander and pianist John Di Martino. $35 general admission § $30 club members § $5 for students with ID · 941-365-2494.
Saturday, March 1 § 7:30 p.m.
Dick Hyman and Ken Peplowski at the Players Theatre
The 2014 Jazz Festival closes out in grand style with a performance by these two giants of jazz. Dick Hyman has been a composer, arranger and musical director for television, theater and movies and has written the scores of a dozen Woody Allen movies. This great artist teams up with clarinetist and saxophonist extraordinaire Ken Peplowski, whose playing was hailed as “magic” by none other than the later Mel Tormé. $40 general admission § $35 club members § $45 VIP seating § $5 for students with ID § 941-365-2494.