Farrell Family Jazz at the Athenaeum | Summer 2022
June 29 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
An event every 2 weeks that begins at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, repeating until June 29, 2022
Jazz returns to the Athenaeum for our annual series of summer concerts in the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Music Room (at 1008 Wall Street in La Jolla). This series features both Athenaeum favorites and debuts by internationally acclaimed artists. Seating is limited so order soon!
These events will be presented in compliance with State of California and County of San Diego health regulations as applicable at the time of each concert.
The summer series opens on Wednesday, June 15, with a return performance of “Between a Smile and a Tear”—A Celebration of Toots Thielemans’ 100th Birthday, featuring Thielemans’s heir apparent on the harmonica, Gregoire Maret, and Thielemans’s longtime pianist Kenny Werner. The Athenaeum had the good fortune to host three performances by Thielemans, a true musical icon and pioneer of the jazz harmonica. As those who followed Thielemans’s long career know, he preferred to play with musicians who had their own identities and who challenged him to continue to grow musically, right up to his passing in 2016 at age 94. Thielemans took a special interest in Maret because he had his own sound and style, and while influenced by Thielemans, never sought to copy him. Accordingly, this tribute will feature songs Thielemans loved to play, including his standard “Bluesette,” but interpreted in new ways. As Gregoire puts it, the duo will “try to find new places where his spirit is truly honored but his music is being played through a new prism.” In addition to his 2019 performance with Kenny Werner, Maret has made past Athenaeum appearances with Jackie Terrasson and Luciana Souza. Werner has graced the Athenaeum stage with his own trio and with artists such as Joe Lovano, Claudia Villela, Oscar Castro-Neves, Peter Erskine, and Kenny Wheeler.
The series continues on Wednesday, June 29, with a two-piano performance by Mike Wofford and Josh Nelson. This concert is a special tribute to Athenaeum Executive Director Erika Torri on the eve of her retirement after 33 years at the library. Under her leadership the Athenaeum Jazz series has grown and flourished for the past three decades, beginning with the first concerts in the summer of 1989, which included Wofford. Wofford has recorded and performed with a long list of major artists, including Sonny Stitt, Stan Getz, Joe Pass, Quincy Jones, Benny Carter, Ray Brown, Lee Konitz, Chet Baker, Art Pepper, Joe Henderson, Benny Golson, and James Moody. He was also conductor and pianist for both Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald. With this extraordinary career, it is no wonder that DownBeat recognized him as “one of the outstanding pianists of our time.” He returns for this special occasion for a collaboration with top Los Angeles–based pianist Josh Nelson. Nelson has performed with some of the most respected names in jazz, including Kurt Elling, John Pizzarelli, Sheila Jordan, John Clayton, George Mraz, Jeff Hamilton, Dave Koz, Joe Chambers, and Peter Erskine. His previous Athenaeum appearances were with vocalist Sara Gazarek and guitarist Larry Koonse. Wofford commented, “Josh is an amazing pianist and composer whom I very much admire. He is a truly gifted player and one who understands the community and mutual collaboration so necessary to this approach to playing jazz. Our program will include standards, as well as original music by Josh and me.”
Next up on Thursday, July 7, is Andy Milne & Unison, featuring Milne on piano, John Hébert on bass, and Clarence Penn on drums. Milne returns to the Athenaeum, having made prior appearances with Ravi Coltrane, Ralph Alessi, and his own Dapp Theory quartet. Milne has been a distinct and respected voice at the heart of New York’s creative jazz scene for 30 years, collaborating with dancers, visual artists, poets, and musicians spanning jazz, classical, pop, folk, and world music. At the piano he skillfully blends poetic gravitas with a playful sense of order. He has recorded and toured throughout the world and has collaborated with a range of artists, including Andrew Cyrille, Sekou Sundiata, Bruce Cockburn, Fred Hersch, Ben Monder, Dianne Reeves, Jen Shyu, Tyshawn Sorey and Jamie Baum. A former student of Oscar Peterson, Milne was at the center of the M-BASE Collective as a core member of saxophonist Steve Coleman’s bands, as well as performing with Cassandra Wilson and Greg Osby. With Unison, enriched with creative insights from his multiple projects, Milne returns to his first love, exploring the intimacy of the piano trio. The synchronistic relationship Milne has enjoyed with bassist Hébert since 2010 is matchlessly rounded out with drummer Clarence Penn, who represents complimentary threads within the fabric of Milne’s piano trio philosophy—the intersection of texture and groove.
The series continues on Saturday, July 16, with the Joel Frahm Trio, featuring Frahm on tenor saxophone, Dan Loomis on bass, and Ernesto Cervini on drums. For more than 30 years, Frahm lived in New York City, working in jazz clubs, collaborating with other musicians, and honing his craft. He now lives in Nashville, where he continues to play the music he loves. His bold, inventive tenor sound has won fans in the United States and across the world. He has worked alongside Betty Carter, Kenny Barron, Freddy Cole, Dianne Schuur, Kurt Elling, Jane Monheit, Bill Charlap, Brad Mehldau, Matt Wilson, Cyrille Aimee, and many other top artists. He has played as a leader or sideman on more than 100 recordings, including Brad Mehldau’s Finding Gabriel, which won a 2020 Grammy Award as Best Jazz Instrumental Album, the Dafnis Prieto Big Band album, Back to the Sunset, winner of a 2019 Grammy, and the 2019 Grammy-nominated album, My Mood Is You, by vocalist Freddy Cole. He has appeared at major jazz festivals and has taught jazz classes around the world. NPR’s Fresh Air commented, “Joel Frahm has a brawny tenor saxophone sound, strong and confident from top to bottom … but his sound is just the start. The old jazz masters said a solo should tell a little story, meaning it should have a sure pace and momentum, interesting developments, maybe a twist or a new episode you didn’t see coming. Master storytellers keep us guessing what comes next. Joel Frahm has that knack.”
The series concludes on Saturday, July 30, with the Jenny Scheinman Quintet. Scheinman is a singer, fiddle player, and songwriter. She makes a return visit to Athenaeum, having performed in summer 2019 with Parlour Game, co-led with Allison Miller. She has been on numerous Grammy-winning recordings and has been one of the top violinists in the DownBeat Critics Poll for over a decade. Scheinman has released ten albums of original music and has worked closely with a wide range of jazz and Americana artists, including Jason Moran, Bill Frisell, Madeleine Peyroux, Nels Cline, Ron Miles, Lucinda Williams, Norah Jones, and Lou Reed. In her latest quintet she presents music she wrote in the wilderness of northern California during the shutdown. This drumless ensemble revels in full acoustic resonance and draws on Scheinman’s early string influences, such as John McLaughlin on Shakti, Django Reinhardt, and Wild West cinema. The band also features a few of her older compositions in celebration of 25 years of band leading and a return to the stage after 2 years of Covid hibernation. Her all-star crew includes Dee Dee Bridgewater’s pianist Carmen Staaf, Grammy-winning bassist Todd Sickafoose, who co-created the hit musical Hadestown, and alto saxophonist Beth Schenck and guitarist Matt Wrobel, whose 20-year duo collaboration pushes the band’s extrasensory perception to the brink of the unthinkable. The New York Times wrote, “Scheinman [has] a distinctive vision of American music, suffused with plainspoken beauty and fortified all at once by country, gospel and melting-pot folk, along with jazz and the blues.”