Carmen Bradford with Kevin Bales, Quentin Baxter & Billy Thornton April 19 & 20
April 19 & 20
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2019 Grammy Nominee, Carmen Bradford!
Born in Austin, Texas and raised in Altadena, California, Carmen Bradford grew up with music in her home and in her heart. It was only natural that Carmen would follow in the footsteps of her great family legacy being the daughter of legendary trumpeter/composer Bobby Bradford and world-renowned jazz vocalist/author Melba Joyce. Her grandfather Melvin Moore sang with Lucky Millender and Dizzy Gillespie’s Big Band, in the 1940’s and sang with the Ink Spots making Carmen the third generation of incredible musicians. She has carved out a place in music history for herself and is playing an integral role in this uniquely American art form called jazz. Carmen Bradford is Jazz Royalty.
Carmen was discovered and hired by William “Count” Basie and was the featured vocalist in the legendary Count Basie Orchestra for nine years. She has since performed and/or recorded with: Wynton Marsalis, Shelly Berg and John Clayton along with the Clayton/Hamilton Orchestra, Nancy Wilson, Doc Severinsen, Tony Bennet, Jeremy Monteiro, James Brown, Patti Austin, Byron Stripling, Dori Caymmi, George Benson, Lena Horne, Frank Sinatra, Joe Williams, DIVA Jazz Orchestra, the National Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, The Dani Felber Big Band, Dallas Symphony, Oklahoma Symphony, Vancouver Philharmonic and countless artists around the world. Carmen performed on two Grammy award winning albums with the Basie Band in the 1980’s and later collaborated on a third Grammy Award winning album, “Big Boss Band,” with guitarist George Benson in 1991. Her soulful voice warmed the hearts of Americans through the celebrated performance of the classic duet, “How Do You Keep The Music Playing?” on the TONIGHT SHOW with the Johnny Carson Show that same year.
Carmen began another chapter in her illustrious career as a solo artist with her critically acclaimed debut album “Finally Yours” (Evidence Records) in 1992. The 1995 release of her second solo album, “With Respect,” (Evidence Records) called the established the Atlanta-based singer as one of jazz music’s most diverse and exciting vocal stylists proving to the world that Carmen Bradford was a unique voice in jazz in her own right.
Carmen teamed with singer/composer Kenny Rankin for the Benny Carter Songbook Project making history once again. As Carmen looked around the room she exclaimed “What an honor!” upon seeing many faces of music history involved in the making of this special album. Some notable attendees were Joe Williams, Ruth Brown, Bobby Short, Peggy Lee, Shirley Horn, Jon Hendricks, Diana Krall, Dianne Reeves, among others. Carmen was chosen to sing “Key Largo” for this Grammy award-winning album. Her performance on “The Benny Carter Songbook” marked Carmen’s fourth studio collaboration reaffirming her stardom.
On occasion, Carmen has loaned her talented voice to stage productions and the music of Hollywood films, cartoons, television commercials, and the theatre. She sang on the haunting soundtrack for Oprah Winfrey’s “Beloved,” and starred in the title role of Duke Ellington’s Folk Opera “Queenie Pie” at the University of Texas, Butler School of Music.
Carmen’s 2004 release, “Home With You,” (Azica Records) is a warm and beautiful collection of piano/vocal duets with talented artist Shelly Berg. The album is yet another departure for Carmen, offering her fans a stripped down, intimate portrait of the artist they have grown to love. Carmen Bradford returned to her big band roots with her new release, “Sherrie Maricle & The DIVA Jazz Orchestra,” featured on Live from Jazz At Lincoln Centers’ Dizzy’s Club.
Carmen’s 2015 release, titled, John Mills “Invisible Design” Featuring Carmen Bradford is another example of Carmen Bradford’s ability to sing all forms of jazz be it straight ahead jazz, blues or jazz fusion, and swing it like nobody can. With the first ever, Christmas album, the 2015 release of the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, directed by Scotty Barnhart, titled “A Very Swingin Basie Christmas” on Concord Records, with Johnny Mathis, Carmen Bradford, and Ledisi was another first for Carmen as well.
In 2016, Carmen Bradford was asked by South African trumpeter, Darren English, to be a part of his new critically acclaimed Nelson Mandela tribute Cd, titled “Imagination Nation”, Hot Shoe Records. Whether it is a duo concert with Shelly Berg, Big Band with the ladies of DIVA, or her new favorite: performing with Symphony Orchestras around the world, it’s all a great fit!
In 2018, Carmen Bradford was presented with a jewel! The opportunity to teach again! Carmen is the Resident Artist, Vocal Jazz Professor, at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. The new jazz program is called “RJAM” Roots, Jazz and American Music, and she is loving it!
Carmen Bradford’s 2019 Grammy Nominated performance, from the album, “All About That Basie” with the Count Basie Orchestra, Conducted by Scotty Barnhart was an opportunity to pay tribute to the great, Ella Fitzgerald, singing Miss Fitzgerald’s hit, ‘Honey Suckle Rose’ along with other featured artist, Stevie Wonder, Kurt Elling, Take 6, Jamie Davis, Jamie Davis, Jon Faddis, and Joey DeFrancesco. Carmen Bradford’s body of work reflects a vast depth of musical experience and technical brilliance. She is also recognized for the overwhelming passion she brings to the lyric. She has truly contributed to the perpetuation and preservation of this great American art form called jazz.
Kevin Bales, Quentin Baxter & Billy Thornton – Bios
Kevin Bales – Musician, Teacher, Performer
By some measures, Kevin Bales was a latecomer to jazz, already 17 when he encountered the sounds and structures and became captivated by the freedom and corresponding challenges of the music. But if late to the party, he wasted no time in immersing himself in the celebration, declaring total commitment to what would be his life’s work and backing his announcement by resigning his job and designated career in computer programming. Kevin could commit to jazz with a reasonable degree of expectation. He was already an accomplished pianist, with classical chops refined since the age of 10. So accomplished he was invited to audition for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, then under the direction of its most storied conductor Robert Shaw, at age 16.
Kevin’s initial career move was to the University of North Florida and a budding if little-known jazz program. There he met and performed with, and went on to record and tour with, a number of monumental artists who had settled into that burgeoning North Florida jazz scene. Giants like Wynton Marsalis, Louie Bellson, Eddie Daniels, James Moody, Ben Tucker, Ira Sullivan, Sam Rivers, and Nat Adderley. He counts among his mentors bassist Ben Tucker, multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan, guitar legends Nathen Page and Jack Petersen, and the fiercely individual saxophonist Bunky Green. His meeting with Bunky Green led to five years of tours. His encounter with guitarist Nathen Page blossomed into 15 years of spot tours and four albums. And his work with trumpeter extraordinaire Marcus Printup has become a lifetime association that has included recordings on Blue Note/Capital records. Ten years touring and recording with vocal iconoclast Rene Marie culminated in the a Grammy Nominated album.
Few artists have the patience for teaching – as are few teachers accomplished players. But Kevin has amassed a reputation for his prowess in both professions. While still a senior at North Florida he was drafted into a full teaching load, and continued to be an integral part of the school’s jazz program for upwards of a decade. Today, Kevin manages his own jazz program, overseeing an ambitious schedule of ambitious jazz students.
Kevin has amassed a long list of awards and a reputation as one of the finest jazz pianists performing anywhere. In 1994, less than a decade into jazz, he won the American Pianist Association’s Jazz Piano Competition. In addition to nearly every important jazz venue in the South, he has performed in some of the most acclaimed clubs and festivals in America and around the world: the JVC Jazz Festival in New York, The Bakery in Los Angeles, The Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center jazz series, the Toronto and Edinburgh jazz festivals, and the Moscow Center for the Performing Arts.
For a jazz musician, Quentin Baxter could not have been born at a better time or in a better place. All the styles of this great American art form we enjoy today had made their marks, putting jazz on the way to becoming American classical music, a journey that would take only 25 years more. By the summer of 1970 when he touched down in Charleston, South Carolina, the first 75 years of jazz saw blues, ragtime, swing, bop, free jazz and fusion become the pulse and face of American culture.
The coastal city of Charleston was the cradle of the North American slave trade in Africans in the southeastern United Statesjackphoto2 and as a result of their interaction with Europeans, who they outnumbered for more than 200 of the Lowcountry’s 335 years, the culture of the place is a kind of African Christian one, not quite like any other place in the world. They have come to be known as Gullahs, an American people with West African roots, most closely identified with Sierra Leone.
On Aug. 28 of 1971, in walked Baxter, destined at birth, it seems, to be a percussionist. Baxter comes from a family of drummers. Both his mother and father played drums in church, as well as his three brothers. “I’ve been playing percussion instruments in church for as long as I can remember,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I don’t remember not playing some type of percussion instrument!”
Baxter was educated in public schools of Charleston County and is a graduate of North Charleston High School. While in his teens, Baxter was regarded as one of the most “in demand” and respected musicians in gospel as he was first-call for numerous regional concerts and served as minister of music in his home church, drummer for Christians United for Christ Community Choir and youth musician for Gospel Music Workshop of America.
Continuing his education, Baxter attended the University of South Carolina and later the College of Charleston, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Theory & Composition and still serves on the faculty as Adjunct Professor of Jazz Percussion.
He also serves as musical director for the Charleston Jazz Initiative, a multi-year research project that explore the jazz history and legacy of African American musicians from Charleston and other places in the Carolinas.
As he continues toward his peak with a prodigious work ethic, he performs, composes and arranges, teaches, designs sound and leads bands.
Baxter is an extremely versatile drummer having played numerous styles of music during his career. He facilitated the drum position at Serenade, a “state-of-the-art” production/musical review, toured throughout the United States, Europe, Japan, Korea, Guam, St. Croix, Hawaii, Jamaica, South Africa, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Mexico, Scotland, Ireland and Greece, and is now regarded as one of the most sought after musicians in the Southeast.
While at home, Baxter still serves as musical director of The Charleston Grill in Charleston Place Hotel, performs locally with the Gradual Lean, Brazil, Q. Baxter Jazz Ensemble, the faculty and students of the College of Charleston, as well as live recordings with his own group, Emanon Art Ensemble. He also leads and writes for Franklin Street Five, a modern jazz band affiliated with the Charleston Jazz Initiative that pays tribute to the famed Jenkins Orphanage Band tradition and other local roots of jazz.
Baxter has worked with other great artists including Monty Alexander, René Marie, Allan Harris, Fred Wesley, James Spaulding, Bobby Watson, Ira Sullivan, Billy Childs, Eddie Henderson, Donald Byrd, Charlie Byrd, Gregory Hines, Sonny Fortune, Doug Carn, Wycliff Gordon, Marcus Printup, Terry Gibbs, Buddy DeFranco, Frank Gordon, Malachi Thompson, Obie Jessie, Ronald Westray, Marcus Roberts, Me’Shell NdegéOcello andIndia.Irie.
He recalls some of his most memorable and inspirational musical experiences in the coastal areas of Charleston, Beaufort, Savannah, and Jacksonville playing with greats like Oscar Rivers, Teddy Adams, Billy Barnwell, Tommy Gill, Kevin Hamilton, Charlton Singleton, Lee Burrows, Jimmy Minger, Kevin Bales, Wayne “Nekbone” Mitchum, George Kenny, St. Julian German, Joey Morrant, Frank Duvall and Lonnie Hamilton III.
Baxter’s sound is already his own. While still young he’s been sitting at the drum kitand playing other percussion for decades now and joining that with amazing innate talent and living and working in a cultural crucible, he’s an innovator. He also brings out the best in other players as his recordings attest. He’s first-call for Monty Alexander and René Marie, live or in the studio, because he comps and drives with his own feel as well as adds to any band’s uniqueness with his ability to solo.
jackphoto1In Baxter you hear Big Sid Catlett, Art Blakey, Max Roach and Roy Haynes, perhaps his two favorites [Max & Roy]. He personifies swing, playing from inside the beat he feels, pushing it decisively but elegantly to produce a wholeness that warms the soul. He’s equally adept with sticks, mallets, brushes and his hands and he plays washboard and tambourine with uncanny precision. Baxter is completely comfortable playing Caribbean rhythms, swing, straight ahead bop and church. He played in school marching bands, too.
All of his variations, however, are imbued with Gullah rhythms, or the Gullah ostinato, as he calls it, a one-measure rhythmic repetition where the bottom, or bass drumrhythm, involves subdividing beat two into two beats and resting on the first of the two beats while emphasizing the second of the two beats.
Ben Riley, the famous drummer who played with Thelonious Monk in his important bands in the 1960’s met Baxter about 12 years ago at the Savannah Jazz Festival, located in Riley’s hometown of Savannah, Ga. He said of Baxter, “He was a young fella’. I met him actually through Teddy Adams (a Savannah trombonist). I told Teddy this is a very talented young man.
… We got to talking and he said he was from a church background. I could hear that. I was a Baptist originally but during a short period of time I went to a Pentecostal church. The rhythms in that church made me think of another way of playing. I could hear that in him. There’s a different way to play in church. If you listen to the rhythms, the beats, you get the chink-a-chang, laid back, really forceful rhythm going on. He plays with that rhythm. I heard that right away.”
Baxter plays with intensity, not volume.
He is part of a lineage that has run from enslaved African drummer boys in early Charleston drum and fife corps, to Herbert Wright and Stephen Wright from Jenkins Orphanage, to Swing Era master Tommy Benford, to big band master Rufus “Speedy” Jones, to modernist Alphonse Mouzon.
As deeply rooted as he is in entertainment, cultural and spiritual tradition, Baxter is no bland neoclassicist. He keeps moving forward, building all the time. In January of 2005 Baxter performed a world premier concert in Tokyo of koto and drumset. A little later that year, he wrote music for a 21st century avant-garde sound and visual installation titled Art Moves Jazz , a collaboration between his Emanon Trio with saxophonist Kebbi Williams and bassist Delbert Felix and Charleston digital visual artist John Duckworth.
In October of 2006 Baxter scored and arranged the music for local filmmaker Brad Jayne’s “Song of Pumpkin Brown.” In November, he performed, engineered, and co-produced René Marie’s “Experiment in Truth,” which was released during their performance for the Wachovia Jazz Series of Spoleto Festival USA in 2007, thus recognizes him to be the first Charleston native ever to play the series. Baxter is currently working on a solo drum recording, “Gullah Breadbasket: A Drummer’s Perspective.”
Raised to a pack of wild musicians in the rural Tifton, GA, our young William rebelled in ways only a conformist could. At 15 he picked up the double bass and began to learn the great American art form, Jazz. The end.