FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 22, 2021
Matt Merewitz, Fully Altered Media / 215.629.6155 / [email protected]
James Michael Nichols, BRIC / 718.683.5980 / [email protected]
BRIC JAZZFEST, ACCLAIMED THREE-DAY MARATHON JAZZ FESTIVAL, FINALIZES LINEUP WITH ADDITION OF NICK HAKIM, FRED WESLEY & THE NEW JBs, ADAM O’FARRILL & ADI MEYERSON
Artists join already impressive lineup featuring Cecile McLorin Salvant, Sun Ra Arkestra, Madison McFerrin, Kurt Elling feat. Charlie Hunter, Hailu Mergia, L’Rain, Thana Alexa, Stas THEE Boss, Linda Diaz, Sasha Berliner, Sean Jones, Jaimie Branch & more
The festival will close with a Brooklyn Jam Session led by Louis Cato with special guests!
BROOKLYN, NY — BRIC, an arts and media institution anchored in Downtown Brooklyn whose work spans contemporary visual and performing arts, media, and civic action, announced today the addition of singer-songwriter Nick Hakim, who will present the recent Small Things collaboration with Roy Nathanson, trombonist Fred Wesley & The New JBs, trumpeter-bandleader Adam O’Farrill and bassist-vocalist-composer Adi Meyerson to a lineup already stacked with legends and emerging artists at the in-person return of Jazzfest to BRIC House (647 Fulton St.) this Fall.
One of BRIC’s premiere performing arts programs, JazzFest is a widely-known three-day marathon Jazz music festival that brings together legendary figures, groundbreaking artists and newcomers stretching across the spectrums of jazz and the styles it continues to influence. In August, BRIC announced that JazzFest would return in-person to BRIC HouseOct. 21-23 after being virtual in Spring 2021.
This year’s lineup is co-curated by artist Madison McFerrin along with Executive Producer Lia Camille Crockett and Winter JazzFest Founder Brice Rosenbloom.
The curation of this year’s seventh annual BRIC JazzFest continues to expand the idea of what a jazz festival in 2021 can be, presenting a plurality of sounds from across the spectrum of Black music.
“Our mission with BRIC JazzFest is to push the boundaries of what one might think of as jazz and make it accessible to all listeners.” said Lia Camille Crockett, Director of Performing Arts at BRIC. “Many of the innovators past, present and future are based right here in Brooklyn, touring the world with some of the biggest names in music while also creating their own phenomenal work, and JazzFest is a home for all of that.”
Thursday’s headlining artist Cecile McLorin Salvant, an illustrator, textile artist, and Grammy-winning singer, is a prime example of an artist who represents the dazzling possibilities of the music’s multi-medial future, with the musical chops that reflect a deep commitment to the discipline. Through an innovative reworking of the “Great American Songbook,” Salvant and her duo partner, the great jazz pianist Sullivan Fortner, represent the best of the tradition’s past, present, and future. A recent recipient of the MacArthur Genius grant, Salvant is making history through her work on Ogresse, the first feature-length animated film ever to be made by a Black woman.
Another artistic polymath on the program is Taja Cheek aka L’Rain, a Yale-educated MoMA PS1 curator whose sonic references run the gamut from J Dilla to Brahms to Philip Glass, hailed by Pitchfork for crafting “uncanny soundscapes [with] elements of jazz, R&B, psych, soul, drone, and beyond with buoyant melodies and raw field recordings, [L’Rain] form[s] her own enveloping mix of avant-pop and music concrète.” The vibraphonist Sasha Berliner, who counts Bobby Hutcherson, Bjork and Hiatus Kaiyote as influences, is another example of the artistic ethos that BRIC JazzFest is going for. Berliner, a winner of the 2018 LetterOne Rising Stars award and a recent graduate of The New School, is readying a 2022 release featuring a band of musical shapeshifters such as James Francies, Marcus Gilmore and Melanie Charles.
One new addition, bassist-composer Adi Meyerson unveiled a shapeshifting second album in August 2021 titled I Want To Sing My Heart Out in Praise of Life, which takes listeners on a six-part musical journey inspired by the life and work of iconic avant garde visual artist Yayoi Kusama. Using Kusama’s work and intentions as a springboard, Meyerson aims to create a sonic safe haven for listeners that mirrors an ideal, utopian society devoid of negativity and strife.
The festival will also include performances from seasoned veterans like Fred Wesley & The New JBs. Wesley is one of the forefathers of funk, still setting the standard with his jazz-funk band The New JBs. Together for more than 30 years, the band is a living celebration of roots funk and more, performing such hits as “Pass the Peas” made with James Brown and the JBs, as well as selections from his Parliament Funkadelic years and his own jazz and blues compositions.
Kurt Elling, who will appear in an innovative configuration serving up a torrent of boisterous funk, indelible beats, and all-too-current lyrics, that boasts the talents of producer-guitarist Charlie Hunter and two stars of the hip-hop generation: drummer Corey Fonville and bassist-keyboardist DJ Harrison (both of the genre-hopping band Butcher Brown). The project evokes shades of The Mizell Brothers, Madlib, Bill Withers and Arthur Prysock.
The highly respected trumpeter and educator Sean Jones, a former member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and educator at institutions including Peabody Conservatory, Berklee College of Music and Duquesne Duquesne University, represents the core jazz programming of BRIC JazzFest. The Baltimore-based musician has a soulful gospel-tinged sound. Inspired by Freddie Hubbard, D’Angelo, Cece Winans, Jones brings a band of young artists including pianist Orrin Evans and drummer Mark Whitfield, Jr.
Present-day jazz music isn’t just about mastering of a single instrument, and perhaps there is no more stunning example of this than multi-instrumentalist Louis Cato, a singer, drummer, guitarist, bass player, saxophonist, whose talents epitomize the infinite possibilities of a modern-day musician. Best known as a member of Jon Batiste & Stay Human, the house band of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” he’s also known for his collaborations with Snarky Puppy, David Sanborn, George Duke, and A Tribe Called Quest.
In the 1980s and 1990s, saxophonist-composer-poet-actor Roy Nathanson personified downtown cool as a member of The Lounge Lizards and later with his signature group, The Jazz Passengers, bringing him together with trailblazers such as Hal Willner, Debbie Harry, Elvis Costello and Jeff Buckley. In the 2000s, he began teaching in New York City schools, where he met a new generation of iconoclasts, leading up to recent collaborations with the genre-agnostic Onyx Collective and neo-soul singer Nick Hakim, with whom he released an acclaimed April 2021 album entitled Small Things. Of the collaboration, RollingStone.com wrote “The two musicians met while playing a gig with the polyglot downtown jazz group Onyx Collective at New York Winter Jazzfest in 2018. Both had been in the Onyx Collective orbit for years: Hakim as an associate and frequent collaborator; Nathanson as the mentor and former teacher of the group’s co-founder, Isaiah Barr. When Hakim read through some of Nathanson’s poetry and asked if he could put the words to song, the jazz veteran agreed immediately.” Meanwhile the New York Times described the project thusly: “Hakim has a voice made of smoke that can rattle you like thunder…as he wanders through Nathanson’s wistful, stream-of-consciousness poetry.”
Like Nathanson, a life-long New Yorker, Brooklyn-based trumpeter Adam O’Farrill recently made headlines in a top feature slot of The New York Times Fall Preview. A collaborator with artists including Mary Halvorson, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Anna Webber, Mulatu Astatke and Onyx Collective, his band Stranger Days have been a unit since 2015. NPR has said, “O’Farrill likes to mix his music, as befits a New Yorker of Cuban, Mexican, Jewish, African-American, German, Irish heritage. His music affirms that a diverse population feeds a robust culture.” The current lineup features saxophonist Xavier del Castillo, bassist Walter Stinson, and his older brother Zack O’Farrill. While best known as the son of composer-pianist and 9x GRAMMY-winner Arturo O’Farrill and grandson of celebrated composer and big band leader Chico O’Farrill, critics and audiences are finding that O’Farrill is differentiating himself from his family in his use of restraint and an economical approach to composition and improvisation. The Times wrote “Since his teens, O’Farrill has prioritized restraint, so that his huge range of inspirations could emulsify into something personal, and devilishly tough to pin down.” Additionally “there’s little disagreement that [Adam] is among the leading trumpeters in jazz — and perhaps the music’s next major improviser.”
The festival features several performers who aren’t typically included on the menu at a jazz festival, including Stasia “Stas THEE Boss” Irons, the rapper hailing from the Pacific Northwest who first made her mark as a member of the pioneering queer rap duo THEEsatisfaction, whom NPR described as having “constructed a cosmology of political consciousness, poetic lyricism and viscous, funky instrumentation that sticks like cooling caramel.” A member of the interdisciplinary art collective Black Constellation, Irons’s recent output includes “I’M A KING” with drummer-producer Kassa Overall, a long-running stint as DJ on Seattle’s freeform KEXP, a Miles Davis-themed mixtape called “On the Quarner,” and collaborations with her mentor Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces/Digable Planets fame.
Linda Diaz, a native New Yorker who grew up in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Diaz makes dreamy R&B anchored by her skilled and soulful voice. In 2020, Diaz won the Tiny Desk Contest presented by NPR music. With over 6,000 entries across the country, she won with her song “Green Tea Ice Cream.” And Hailu Mergia, an Ethiopian keyboardist, accordionist, and bandleader, who rose to prominence in the early ’70s fronting the Walias Band, an instrumental funk and jazz ensemble and fixture of the Addis Ababa hotel circuit. Immigrating to the U.S. in the early ’80s, Mergia issued a series of homemade solo releases while working as a taxi driver, later rediscovered by the Awesome Tapes from Africa label, whose reissues in the 2010s helped him mount a successful late-career surge that resulted in the 2018 comeback album Lala Belu.
This year’s festival is co-curated by Madison McFerrin, a singer-songwriter based in Brooklyn whose sound “shows wonderful vocal dexterity, deftly swerving from sharp, clearly enunciated staccato bursts to fluttery, free-form melismata,” according to the New York Times. As the guest curator at BRIC Jazzfest this year Madison brings refreshing programming flavor to the lineup.
“We’re intentionally celebrating innovators in the space, as well as contemporary artists who don’t fit within the typical jazz mold,” said Madison McFerrin, Co-Curator of BRIC JazzFest. “I’m thrilled to be a part of bringing this powerful lineup to BRIC House.”
The full lineup can be found below and also on BRIC’s website.
THURSDAY, OCT. 21
Cecile McLorin Salvant
Sean Jones Quartet
SuperBlue: Kurt Elling featuring Charlie Hunter
Adam O’Farrill Stranger Days — JUST ANNOUNCED
FRIDAY, OCT. 22
Sun Ra Arkestra
Roy Nathanson & Nick Hakim — JUST ANNOUNCED
Stas THEE Boss
Thana Alexa: ONA
Adi Meyerson — JUST ANNOUNCED
SATURDAY, OCT. 23
Brooklyn Jam Session led by Louis Cato & Special Guests
Fred Wesley & The New JBs — JUST ANNOUNCED
c’est tois (branch/stewart/holmes)
**In accordance with the Key to NYC mandate BRIC House will require proof of vaccination in order to attend Jazzfest this Fall.**