The Yale Undergraduate Jazz Collective is excited to announce the lineup for our fifth annual Jazz Festival at Yale, a student-organized weekend of musical events, to be held April 22-23. The Jazz Festival is one of the highest quality free festivals in the country, bringing world-class musicians to give concerts and talks on Yale’s campus with no tickets required, free and open to the public. This year’s lineup will feature our most diverse and celebrated artists yet: Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, M’Balia Singley, Adam O’Farrill’s Stranger Days, Richard Bona, and Randy Weston.
The Yale Undergraduate Jazz Collective seeks to promote a community of music education on Yale’s campus and in New Haven. We serve as the hub of Yale’s jazz community by organizing concerts, talks, and events throughout the year, lobbying for a formal jazz curriculum at Yale, and of course, by hosting our fast-growing annual Jazz Festival. Last year’s Jazz Festival, which featured Grammy Award-winning artists Wayne Escoffery and Arturo O’Farrill, drew in hundreds of audience members and was extremely well received by the Yale, New Haven, and greater New England communities. You can read more about the Collective in this recent New York Times Article or on our website.
This year, we are proud to be hosting a new lineup of phenomenal musicians and educators. Each artist will present in conjunction with their performance a talk, discussion, or masterclass. For more info on each our amazing performers and a detailed schedule,* please check out artists bios and posters attached below or head to our website!
The Collective is excited to once again partner with the Yale University Art Gallery. Our headlining acts will perform in the Gallery’s beautiful Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Lecture Hall. The Yale University Art Gallery has long supported Jazz on our campus and we are very thankful that they will be hosting Jazz Festival events for the the third year in a row!
All events are funded by our sponsors, the University, local New Haven businesses, and the Yale University Art Gallery. The Jazz Collective would like to particularly thank our Platinum Sponsor the Side Door Jazz Club in Old Lyme, CT, one the country’s best clubs which programs amazing music all year round, as well as our Gold Sponsor, WPKN (89.5 FM), listener supported community radio.
We are excited to make all these events free and open to the public! We hope to see you all there!
*event locations and start times are subject to change, please check our website for an updated schedule closer to the date
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On Saturday, April 22nd, the Collective is thrilled to be hosting Yale alumnus M’Balia Singley (SY’94), as the festival opening headliner. M’Balia is a singer who approaches jazz standards with a “fiercely individualistic style and a generous dollop of gospel grounding,” and an “ace” songwriter with a caustic wit and piquant attitude born of lived experience. Her infectious bluesy vocals have been likened to those of Cécile McLorin Salvant, and her list of collaborators includes such renowned artists as John Legend and Orrin Evans. She will bring her powerful and unique artistry to the stage alongside her longtime pianist Sarah Slonim, who she performs with bimonthly at Smalls, NYC. Before her performance she will be leading a discussion and Q&A about her time studying at Yale and her prolific artistic journey since then.
Our Sunday headliner, performing and giving a talk on the afternoon of April 23rd, is Grammy Award-nominated New Orleans trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah. Scott, hailed by critics as “Jazz’s young style God,” is a beacon of innovation in jazz today and the architect of a new genre called Stretch Music. He is known for developing the harmonic convention known as the “forecasting cell” and for his use of an un-voiced tone in his playing, emphasizing breath over vibration at the mouthpiece, widely referred to as his “whisper technique.” Over the past decade Scott has also scored award-winning films, designed an interactive media player called the Stretch Music App, and has collaborated with McCoy Tyner, Prince, Marcus Miller, Mos Def, and Solange Knowles among others. He will be performing and delivering a pre-concert talk at the Jazz Festival at Yale in promotion of his newest record, Ruler Rebel, which will be the first in a three album set that Scott is producing to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the very first Jazz recordings of 1917.
This year’s Festival will also feature the young powerhouse group, Adam O’Farrill’s Stranger Days. Trumpeter and composer Adam O’Farrill has been featured on Grammy Award-nominated and Latin Grammy Award-winning albums. His own group’s 2016 release, Stranger Days earned the New York Times’ acclaim; they wrote that, “Mr. O’Farrill establishes both a firm identity and a willful urge to stretch and adapt.” The band is comprised of some the most talented young players in the New York jazz scene today–O’Farrill is joined by the notable Chad Lefkowitz-Brown on tenor saxophone, the seasoned Walter Stinton on bass, and O’Farrill’s own brother, Zack, on drums. In conjunction with their performance, the ensemble will be conducting a performance workshop with current Yale students.
Finally, we have the pleasure of co-hosting the incredible Cameroonian bassist, vocalist, and composer, Richard Bona, as well as the visionary pianist composer, Randy Weston at the closing event of the Festival. The two artists will perform consecutive sets on the evening of Sunday the 23rd at Toad’s place. This final concert is organized by the Yale Department of Music as part of the Africa Into Jazz/Jazz Into Africa series. Richard Bona has been described by the Los Angeles Times as “an artist with Jaco Pastorious’s virtuosity, George Benson’s vocal fluidity, Joao Gilberto’s sense of song and harmony, all mixed up with African culture.” A Grammy Award Winner, Bona has collaborated with top jazz artists such as Pat Metheny and Bobby McFerrin. Randy Weston has been said to have “the biggest sound of any jazz pianist since Ellington and Monk, as well as the richest most inventive beat.” His long list of honors and awards include NEA Jazz Master (2001) and a spot in the “DownBeat Hall of Fame.”