Monty Alexander Jazz Festival Wraps Up Successful Weekend of Jazz

Monty Alexander and Friends

Monty Alexander and Friends

Labor Day Weekend’s Monty Alexander Jazz Festival began with a packed auditorium at the Academy Art Museum for a concert featuring jazz vocalist Caterina Zapponi. Backed by an all-star ensemble, Zapponi, Italian by birth, wove a magical spell with French and Italian songs. The ensemble included Lauren Cohen, on bass, Sardinian Alberto Pibiri on piano, Israeli Yotam Silberstein on guitar, and Chuck Redd on drums and vibraphone.

The Incomparable René Marie

The Incomparable René Marie

Friday evening at the Avalon Theatre, renowned jazz vocalist René Marie and her musicians produced one of the most amazing, creative and original concerts of all the Shore Festivals to date. A 2015 Grammy Award Nominee for Best Jazz Vocalist, René performed works from her latest CD, entitled “I Wanna be Evil.”

Saturday morning’s venue began in the beautiful Thompson Park. Dave Robinson, on cornet, led the Conservation Classic Jazz Band through favorites like Benny Goodman’s “Blue Lou.” Tiny tots and seniors danced in sunshine filtering through the trees. Reaching back to early New Orleans, the four piece band then led a streaming line of folks to the patio of the Tidewater Inn, where they played a full 90 minute set.

Monty Alexander introduced the afternoon’s “all-star band” comprised of Eric Alexander on sax, Harold Mabern on piano, John Webber on base and Joe Farnsworth on drums. The Avalon burst at the seams as Monty came on stage Saturday night. The evening’s theme was to stretch back to 1962 when Monty accompanied Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole at Jilly Rizzos Piano Bar in NYC. Allan Harris sang the role of Nat King Cole in Jilly’s Piano Bar. His baritone has an uncanny resemblance to Cole’s distinctive timbre. Clint Holmes, the British born and incredibly talented singer took command of the Sinatra tribute, rendering other Sinatra favorites.

Pianist Jermaine Gardner with mother Jaqui and Monty Alexander

Pianist Jermaine Gardner with mother Jaqui and Monty Alexander

Jermaine Gardner, a young blind pianist with Asperger’s Syndrome, opened the Sunday afternoon concert at the Avalon Theatre. Described by many as a child prodigy, his performance roamed from Beethoven through Joplin to Brubeck. His impromptu duet with Monty Alexander playing Harry Belafonte’s “Banana boat song” brought Jermaine a standing ovation.

The Festival’s finale turned the spotlight on Alicia Olatuja, her husband Michael on five string electric bass, David Rosenthal on Fender Stratocaster guitar, Toru Dodo on piano and Otis Brown III on drums. Alicia is one of the most original and creative jazz vocalists around today.

Alicia Olatuja

Alicia Olatuja

This 6th Monty Alexander Jazz Festival was a testament to the increasing level of talent garnered by Monty Alexander, Artistic Director, and the dedication of the volunteer team which pulled off a first class Jazz Festival on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Article courtesy of John Malin; Photos courtesy of Blake Wise

Concert Central: 2015/2016 Jazz on the Chesapeake concerts announced!

The 2016 Series can best be summed up as
Back by Popular Demand!

Special pricing for all three concerts is $140. Chuck Redd and Joe Alterman/Lena Seikaly concerts are $45 each. Tickets for René Marie are $55 each.

Buy Tickets

December 11, 2015A Holiday Jam with Chuck Redd and the All Stars. Chuck Redd will lead an All-Star band fusing jazz and the holidays. Chuck’s mastery of the vibraphone and drums is equaled by the talent he chooses to join him.

Chuck Redd


February 13, 2016A Special Valentine: Joe Alterman and Lena Seikaly. Joe Alterman, joined by vocalist Lena Seikaly, will return for his third annual Valentine concert on Saturday, February 13th. Joe and Lena have thrilled audiences as they provide a fresh and appealing rendition of jazz classics.

Alterman - Seikaly

May 12, 2016
An Intimate Evening with René Marie. The Series will have a sensational close on May 12th as René Marie returns with her Quartet. At the 2015 Monty Alexander Jazz Festival, Rene brought the audience to its feet over and over.

Rene Marie


All concerts will be held at
the Academy Art Museum at 8 p.m.


The 7th Anniversary Monty Alexander Jazz Festival will be held over the 2016 Labor Day weekend.


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Jazz on the Chesapeake is in the business of surprises and never more so than this December 11th. Chuck Redd, recently recognized by Hot House Jazz magazine as the nation’s best vibraphonist in 2015, has assembled an All-Star band to create holiday magic.
Capturing this musical surprise is pianist Ted Rosenthal just back from a tour of Japan. Ted will be appearing with Chuck and taking the piano lead on songs that are featured in his album Wonderland. Turn up your speaker, click on the listen button, enjoy a musical journey and then join us for Wonderland live at The Academy Art Museum.
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Tickets for the Holiday Jam with Chuck Redd and the All Stars are now on sale. The concert will be held at the Academy Art Museum in Easton, MD on 12/11 .To purchase tickets go to or call 410 819 0380. See MoreSee Less

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Jazz on the Chesapeake is a program of Chesapeake Music.