Once you have listened to acclaimed vocalist, composer, and arranger Alicia Olatuja, you won’t soon forget her. Praised in the New York Times as “a singer with a strong and luscious tone,” Olatuja combines the earthy with the sublime, bringing a grounded relatability to genres as lofty as classical, as venerated as jazz, and as gritty as R&B.
Olatuja returns to ArtPower with her new project: Intuition: Songs From The Minds Of Women, celebrating the musical contributions of women composers by reinterpreting their songs through her own lens of classic, jazzy soul. Intuition is a dazzling journey through time, tempo, genre, language, and culture from some of the most respected artists of our generation, featuring songs by Sade, Angela Bofill, Brenda Russell, Linda Creed, Imogen Heap, Tracy Chapman, Kate Bush, and others.
Grammy–nominated and Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz award-winning drummer, bandleader, and vocalist Jamison Ross delivers the messages of humanity through the medium of jazz. A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Jamison realized his passion for music while growing up in his grandfather’s church, where he felt the power of music. He began his study of jazz as a high school student and gained worldwide acclaim as a featured musician in the Tribeca Film Festival–winning documentary CHOPS.
His 2015 debut release, Jamison, introduced the world to his concept of rhythm and melody and also garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Vocal Album. His sophomore release, All For One, takes listeners a level deeper into Jamison’s ethos. The album is a result of a personal revelation that “we all have the capacity to love with empathy in a deeper way.”
“He has the tools, the intelligence, the ability, and the talents. The future looks bright for Croker.”— Wynton Marsalis
Trumpeter/composer Theo Croker, is hailed as one the great promises of Black American Music. Star People Nation (his upcoming LP on Sony Masterworks) isn’t a sonic departure from his critically acclaimed release Escape Velocity, but a continuation toward a much grander musical legacy that is pushing the realms of futuristic melody, rhythm, and vibratory enlightenment.
The grandson of legendary trumpeter Doc Cheatham, Crocker is a student of Donald Byrd, a protégé of Wynton Marsalis, and a veteran of performances with such jazz greats as Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jimmy Heather, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and many more. Well-versed in the swing, bop, and modal styles of acoustic jazz, Croker’s own music reveals a love of organic funk, soul, and gooey, groove-oriented hip-hop. He is creating jazz that is both “timeless and of the moment” (Wall Street Journal).
“What I enjoy best is playing music. . . . I am a musician who happens to be blind. . . . I have been blessed with a God-given gift and my prayer is that I can continue to be a blessing and inspiration to others.”—Matthew Whitaker
Eighteen-year-old musical prodigy Matthew Whitaker grew up surrounded by music. A stunning talent on the piano and organ, he began playing music at the young age of three, after his grandfather gave him a small Yamaha keyboard. At age nine, Whitaker began teaching himself how to play the Hammond B3 organ, and four years later, he became the youngest artist ever endorsed by Hammond in its 80+ year history. At age ten, he performed at Stevie Wonder’s induction to the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame.
Whitaker has achieved international acclaim for his awe-inspiring talent. He has since toured the world and performed at hundreds of major events and jazz festivals, and appeared on The Today Show, Ellen, and CBS Sunday Morning, among other shows. A rising star, Whitaker will be making his San Diego debut at ArtPower.
“Jaw-dropping . . . one of the finest saxophonists going.”—Pitchfork
Few musicians share the ability of Rudresh Mahanthappa to embody the expansive possibilities of his music with his culture. He is an alto saxophonist and composer who materializes a sound that hybridizes progressive jazz and South Indian classical music in a fluid and forward-looking form that reflects Mahanthappa’s own experience growing up as a second-generation Indian-American.
The Indo-Pak Coalition, featuring Pakinstani-American guitarist Rez Abbasi and percussionist Dan Weiss, blends the sounds of jazz with Mahanthappa’s South Indian roots, creating a new and sublime complexity of sound. The result is a fiery jazz with Indian-Pakistani influences and a modern touch.
UC San Diego MFA student Sindhu Thirumalaisamy and UC San Diego economics professor Prashant Bharadwaj sits down with ArtPower artist Rudresh Mahanthappa to talk about how he fuses jazz and south Indian classical music, the name Indo-Pak Coalition, and what we can expect at his concert in San Diego.
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As a scion of an illustrious musical family, Cuban pianist Harold López-Nussa is one of the brightest lights on Havana’s thriving jazz scene. Son of drummer Ruy López-Nussa and nephew of pianist Ernan López-Nussa, López-Nussa was born into a musical household in Cuba and educated by his French grandparents. He took an early interest in classical piano before shifting his focus at age 20 to the fiery Cuban jazz of his homeland.
López-Nussa gained international attention when he won top honors at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Piano Competition in 2005 (a triumph that earned him a featured festival spot the following year). With his last album, New Day, the rising star refines his style and adds color to his artistic palette, asserting himself as a stylish composer whose technical abilities are matched only by his powerful playing.
“Harrold’s pop sensibilities and activist leanings shine through on the album, which is tied together by its catchy melodies—a rarity in critically acclaimed circles of modern jazz.”—Rolling Stone
Raised from the fires of (now infamous) Ferguson, Missouri, Keyon Harrold has developed a reputation as one of the world’s most sought-after, emotionally electric young trumpeters on the scene. His latest album, The Mugician, examines our troubled times through a far wider lens than any one tragedy. Sweeping and cinematic, the music draws on elements of jazz, classical, rock, blues, and hip-hop to create something uniquely modern, unmistakably American, and triumphantly cohesive—thanks to Harrold’s virtuosic skill as a trumpeter and songwriter, and his relentlessly optimistic belief in brighter days to come.
Keyon Harrold chats with Jazz88’s Dave Drexler on Inside Arts. Stream here >
“As a modern day Jazz musician and millennial at the same time, I like to blend the lines between genres and styles while still maintaining elements of the tradition.”—Braxton Cook
One of this generation’s emerging voices on the alto saxophone, Braxton Cook is also a talented vocalist and songwriter, whose sound blends soul, R&B, and jazz. Raised in Prince George’s County, MD, Cook’s upbringing helped to shape his unique style, which captures the spirit of the Jazz Age while continuing to push the genre forward for his generation.
A graduate of Juilliard, Cook has played alongside Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, Jon Batiste, and Robert Glasper; toured with Grammy-nominated trumpeter Christian Scott; performed with Rihanna at MTV’s 2016 Video Music Awards and on America’s Got Talent 2015 and 2016 seasons; and recorded with renowned rappers Mac Miller and Anderson .Paak on the song “Dang!,” from Miller’s album The Divine Feminine. Cook and his newly formed band will perform their latest album, Somewhere in Between, which aims to inspire artists and people from all walks of life to embrace their uniqueness.
“All elegance and awe.…Utterly captivating.”—Billboard
Singing in English and a wide range of African languages, Somi has had a fascinating artistic evolution. Born in Illinois to immigrants from Rwanda and Uganda, she has spent the last decade building a career as a jazz vocalist, songwriter, and activist through transatlantic sonicism and storytelling. Her newest album, Petite Afrique—a daring, relevant refashioning of what “jazz” and “African music” mean—is inspired by the vibrant African immigrant community that has become a vital part of Harlem.
Sammy Miller and the Congregation are on a mission to put generosity back into jazz and bring art back to the people. A native of Los Angeles, Grammy-nominated drummer, singer, and bandleader Sammy Miller has become known for his unique maturity and relentless focus on making music that feels good. Upon completing his master’s at Juilliard, Miller formed his ensemble, the Congregation. As a band, they are focused on sharing the power of community through their music—joyful jazz, a style that enriches, entertains, and uplifts.
Independently, the band members have performed and recorded with notable artists, including Wynton Marsalis, Lady Gaga, and Queen Latifah, at venues such as the White House, Lincoln Center, and the Hollywood Bowl. As the Congregation, they have opted to stick together to create globally conscious music with the intention to spread joy throughout the world.