Charlie Parker Jazz Festival: The Wallace Roney Orchestra, Lionel Loueke, Melissa Aldana, Kris Bowers with special guest Chris Turner

Wallace Roney earned the admiration and respect of his colleagues and his elders since age 16. He has been an integral part of the band with Tony Williams, Ornette Coleman, Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones, Walter Davis Jr., Herbie Hancock, Jay McShann, David Murray, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, Curtis Fuller, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Dizzy Gillespie to name a few. He was one of the few musicians in his generation who learned and perfected his craft directly from alliances with Jazz Masters. But his most important and meaningful relationship was with Miles Davis. Wallace was mentored by Miles Davis after Miles heard him in 1983 at his birthday gala performance in Carnegie Hall. Their association peaked when Miles chose Wallace to share the stage at his historic performance in Montreux in 1991.
In what must be one of the grandest musical gestures imaginable, Wayne Shorter, one of the most important composers in the history of Jazz music and arguably the greatest living composer in Jazz today, bestowed on to Wallace Roney the scores to two large scale, large ensemble pieces that Wayne conceived and composed for Miles when he was still in the band but were never recorded (or even performed) and told Wallace he was now the person who could best fully realize these works. These two major works, Legend (composed in 1967) and Universe (composed in 1968 and 69) are amazing in their scope and breadth (they are written for as many as 18 pieces, including english horn, bassoon, french horn, flutes and clarinet along with more traditional instrumentation) and show Wayne to already be a fully formed masterful composer and orchestrator of large scale works at this early date in his career. Wayne also included a third unrecorded composition, Twin Dragon which was written for Miles in 1981 at his request as he was looking for material to perform for his comeback. Wallace Roney, who has performed and recorded with Wayne and was Miles Davis’ only protégé, has become a pivotal artist on the scene in his own right. With his vast experience with these great artists, he is clearly the right choice to bring this important music to life.
Hailed as a “gentle virtuoso” by Jon Pareles of The New York Times, guitarist/vocalist Lionel Loueke follows up his acclaimed Blue Note releases Karibu and Mwaliko with the extraordinary Heritage. Co-produced by piano great and Blue Note label mate Robert Glasper, Heritage finds Loueke at the helm of a new lineup with a more electric sound. In addition, Loueke, long known for his nylon-string acoustic guitar, does not feature that instrument on Heritage. He transitions to steel-string acoustic and electric guitars A veteran of bands led by Terence Blanchard and Herbie Hancock, Loueke is bringing jazz into vibrant contact with the sounds of West Africa, in particular his native Benin. The title Heritage is a direct reference to his personal odyssey. “I have two heritages,” Loueke says. “One is from my ancestors from Africa, and that goes through my music, my body, my soul, every aspect of what I do. But also I have the heritage from the Occident, from the West, from Europe and the U.S. I speak English, I speak French, and I have that heritage too. I called this album Heritage because I’ve been blessed by all different parts of the world, and most of the songs reflect that.”

25 year old Chilean saxophonist and composer Melissa Aldana had already caught the ears of the New York jazz scene before winning the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition last September – the first female instrumentalist and first South American to do so in the history of the competition. Now the entire world are discovering her. She picked up the saxophone by age 6, inspired by her father Marcos Aldana – himself a world class saxophonist – and he taught her how to transcribe the solos of great saxophonists – not least Charlie Parker. On stage she is joined by her “Crash Trio” featuring bassist Pablo Menares, also from Chile, & Cuban drummer Francisco Mela (dr) as she was on her forthcoming June 17 Concord Records album also entitled “Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio”.

Pianist Kris Bowers is one of the newest and brightest lights on the jazz landscape. Schooled in jazz and classical music, raised amid the rap and hip-hop of the 1990s, inspired by the cinematic power of the great film composers of recent decades, Bowers’ sound – though rooted in traditional styles – is open to numerous external influences that keep the music fresh and vibrant for a new century. This rich and eclectic sensibility is evident from the very first notes of Heroes + Misfits, an ambitious debut album that positions Bowers at the forefront of a talented sextet and showcases a musical and compositional style that – while clearly rooted in the jazz tradition – is also reflective of an eclectic musical age. Bowers musical sensibilities were taking shape before he even saw the light of day. The story has it that his parents positioned headphones on his mother’s belly and piped soft jazz directly into his evolving consciousness in the months before he was born. And it was just the beginning.

This classically trained crooner is a soul singer for the ages and a writer for our times. Starting at four years old, Chris Turner was a member of the Kairos Youth Choir, at nine with the San Francisco Opera Company, the Young Musicians Program at the University of California (YMP), the School of the Arts (SOTA) in San Francisco and was the featured vocalist for the SF Jazz High School All-Stars. In the GRAMMY High School Jazz Ensemble, he performed with many GRAMMY artists. Chris graduated from the New School University for Jazz and Contemporary Music. Chris has toured worldwide with Esperanza Spalding and Bilal and he recently opened for Gregory Porter at Town Hall in NYC. He performed on BET “106 & Park” as a MusicMatters “Artist To Watch” and premiered his first single, “Liquid Love”. Chris currently has a digital mix tape called “LOVElife Is A Challenge” and is featured on new recordings by Eric Harland, Kris Bowers, and Harvey Mason Sr.