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The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival
By Becca Newell.
For some, Labor Day weekend can be a bittersweet occasion, symbolizing the unofficial end of summer, but for jazz enthusiasts across Maryland and beyond, it’s the most wonderful time of the year: The Monty Alexander Jazz Festival. In its eighth year, the Easton-based festival returns with the sensational and eponymous Monty Alexander, along with his hand-picked selection of musical companions—all newcomers, save for past festival favorite René Marie.
The festivities kick off in the evening of Friday, September 1st with trumpeter/vocalist Bria Skonberg, described by the Wall Street Journal as one of the “most versatile and imposing musicians of her generation.” The Canadian songwriter’s musicianship frequently draws comparisons to the legendary Louis Armstrong.
The fun continues with Saturday’s jam-packed schedule, starting with a free community concert at 11 a.m., featuring the United States Navy Band Commodores. The 18-member group, recognized as the Navy’s premier jazz ensemble, will perform an eclectic mix of traditional big band music and exciting jazz vocal arrangements. Trumpeter Sean Jones and his band will delight festival-goers during a Saturday afternoon performance. Since childhood, Jones’ musical vision—influenced by Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis—has been intertwined with spirituality. In addition to mastering the art form, Jones is heavily involved in education. Most recently, he was named Chair of the Brass Department at Berklee College of Music.
The day concludes with an 8 p.m. performance by jazz vocalist René Marie. With a style that borrows elements from folk, R&B, classical, and country genres, Marie’s body of work explores the human experience. Through her creative lyricism and sensual vocal delivery, Marie offers an enlightening experience for audience members.
Considered one of the top five jazz pianists ever, Monty Alexander closes out the festival weekend on Sunday, September 3rd. The Jamaican-born musician is renowned for his vibrant personality and musical expression that combines elements of the blues, gospel, calypso, and reggae into an energetic, swingin’ performance that’s not to be missed.
Jazz on the Chesapeake is a program of Chesapeake Music. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Jazzonthechesapeake.com or call 410-819-0380.