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Directions / FAQ
The Town Hall Presents
TOWN HALL ENSEMBLE
Rent the Hall
Arts in Education
Arts In Education
Educational Outreach Program
Summer Internship Program
Black History Month
DONATE / SUPPORT
Young Patrons Circle
Major Gifts and Foundation Support
The Town Hall Ensemble
All-Star Ensemble Celebrates the Cultural and Musical History of New York City
Music Director Steven Bernstein Leads an All-Star Lineup of New York Musicians with Special Guest Artists, Poets and Narrators
Revisiting the history of The Town Hall means exploring some of the most important cultural and musical events in New York City over the past century. The Town Hall Ensemble performs and celebrates these great movements and historic music performances that occurred on this iconic stage. Trumpeter, arranger and bandleader Steven Bernstein leads an ensemble featuring some of the best musicians in New York City, an all-star collective of diverse voices, cultures and styles.
In 2019, Town Hall's Arts in Education program introduces THE student outreach initiative. The program, like the Town Hall Ensemble itself, celebrates diversity and the power of words and music as a catalyst for change and social justice.
All-Star Ensemble Celebrates the Cultural and Musical History of New York City
An impactful presence on the New York scene over the past 30 years, trumpeter, composer, arranger and bandleader Steven Bernstein has immersed himself in such a wide array of music with his bands Sexmob (his primary vehicle for exploring the slide trumpet, a rare instrument that he picked up in a Woodstock guitar shop back in 1977), Millennial Territory Orchestra, Diaspora Soul, Universal Melody Brass Band, Spanish Fly, Blue Campfire and the Butler-Bernstein Hot 9 that he defies easy categorization. A former member of the Lounge Lizards and Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Band, Bernstein has also composed works for film, theater and dance in addition to doing arrangements for a diverse list of artists ranging from Lou Reed to Lee “Scratch” Perry, Allen Toussaint, Marianne Faithfull, Linda Ronstadt, Rufus Wainwright, Darlene Love, Mario Pavone, Bill Frisell, John Lurie and the Kansas City All-Stars. His lengthy list of sideman credits includes recent recordings by Laurie Anderson (Heart of a Dog), Roswell Rudd (Trombone for Lovers), Mostly Other People Do The Killing (Loafer’s Hollow), Antony and the Johnsons (Turning) and Nels Cline (Lovers). He also continues to perform with Ray Anderson’s Pocket Brass Band, Omaha Diner and the Kamikaze Ground Crew.
During his recent residency at The Stone in NYC, he trotted out Sexmob, Millennial Territory Orchestra, Spanish Fly, Blue Campfire and Universal Melody Brass Band. Says the trumpeter-composer-arranger of his modus operandi in all of his wide-ranging musical situations: “I’m trying to present this way of looking at music where you can do a Jelly Roll piece, then a Leonard Cohen piece, then an Ornette Coleman piece, then a Duke piece and then a piece by The Band. And it’s not even about it being eclectic, it’s just music. Let’s play it. Here’s a chart, let’s go!”.
Charismatic and dynamic saxophonist/bandleader Lakecia Benjamin's electric stage presence and fiery sax work, has shared stages with Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, The Roots, Macy Gray and many others, brings the soul and funk up to a fever pitch in a show that's guaranteed to keep crowds dancing day or night. Though her own music with her band Lakecia Benjamin and Soul Squad is immersed in the vintage sounds of James Brown, Maceo Parker, Sly and the Family Stone and the Meters as well as classic jazz, Benjamin's soaring, dance floor-friendly grooves take the classic vibe to a whole new level. The constant throughout it all is Benjamin's summery, sultry alto saxophone, adding something special on every cut - be it a smoldering late-night ambience, an erudite, forceful jazz intensity or the tight funk multi-horn harmony sections that pepper the proceedings throughout.
A streetwise New York City native born and raised in Washington Heights, Lakecia Benjamin has become one of the most highly sought-after players in soul and funk music. She first picked up the saxophone at Fiorello LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, after which she joined the renowned jazz program at New York's New School University. By that time, she was already playing with renowned jazz figures like Clark Terry and Reggie Workman, which led to gigs and tours with a wide array of artists such as Rashied Ali, the David Murray Big Band, Vanessa Rubin and James "Blood" Ulmer. With her deep jazz roots, she was soon in demand as an arranger and horn section leader, landing stints with such acclaimed artists as Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Macy Gray, the Roots, and Anita Baker.
Currently, Benjamin is a featured musician for Gregory Porter as well as a featured musician and arranger for comedy star Craig Robinson and the Nasty Delicious. (Robinson, best known for his work on TV's The Office as well as such popular films as Pineapple Express and Hot Tub Time Machine, tours regularly with the Nasty Delicious band serving as the main foil in his popular comedy act). Benjamin has also had the honor of performing at the White House at President Obama's inaugural ball. She's performed on four continents and her extensive recording credits include saxophone and arrangements for Santigold, Maurice Brown, the Clark Terry Big Band, Krystle Warren and TalibKweli, among others.
If ever an artist could be called an octopus, Luis Bonilla is it. The California raised, Costa Rican trombonist, composer and arranger has sought out, taken in and mastered an incredible array of musical styles. His success as a sideman with such greats as McCoy Tyner, Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Bowie, Tom Harrell, Freddie Hubbard, Astrud Gilberto, Willie Colon and Toshiko Akiyoshi attests not only to the skill and variety of Bonilla's talent, but also to a mind restlessly committed to exploring some of the most complex and demanding music of our time.
Yet there is nothing rarefied about the Bonilla experience. He has worked as a studio musician with Tony Bennett, Marc Anthony, La India and Mary J. Blige and understands and exploits the liveliness of pop as well as the rhythmic sway and punch of Latin Jazz. Currently a member of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra under Arturo O'Farrill's direction (both 2009 Grammy winners) and Dave Douglas's latest group (Dave Douglas & Brass Ecstasy), Bonilla is one of those rare artists whose work is always expanding, taking in more and more while remaining singular and focused: "Bonilla may be a trombonist used to handling that big long sliding thing, but when it comes to execution of his ideas, he lets nothing slide" (All About Jazz).
Critics praised his first two albums on the Candid label, Pasos Gigantes (1998) and iEscucha! (2000), acknowledging Bonilla's ability to give voice to radically different musical sensibilities with an ease and seamlessness that belies the rigor and sophistication of the music. Pasos Gigantes made Jazziz's top ten Latin list of 1998. Even as early as these first two albums, critics noted Bonilla's leadership and sophisticated use of tonal colors. As a faculty member at both Temple University and Manhattan School of Music, Bonilla has an intuitive sense in how to bring out the best in those working with him. Listen to any of his albums and you will hear an extraordinary level of trust and inspiration in each band member's playing. As the critic for All About Jazz noticed, "Bonilla gives his colleagues ample space to breathe, adding momentum to the flow of his compositional ideas."
His next album, 2007's Terminal Clarity was a celebration, reflection and aesthetic extension of his years working with Lester Bowie. While retaining the brash harmonic structures of his mentor's work from Brass Fantasy to his earlier and justly famous work with the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Bonilla adds a "contagious exuberance" (Jazzwise magazine) that is at the heart of his artistic vision. Without in any way diminishing Bowie's audacity , Bonilla manages to balance "the cerebral and the down-and-dirty (Jazz Times), taking "bold steps to merge Latin genres, free jazz and a variety of other influences (Latin Jazz Corner).
In Bonilla's latest album, I Talking Now! (2009), he pushes these disjunctions even harder, politely demanding that we feel connections between wildly disparate styles of music. A heady mix of swing, rock, free jazz, funk, movie soundtracks, avant-garde noise and ballads, I Talking Now, for all its musical diversity, speaks with one voice. It is a distinctly American vision, a gentle craziness that suggests that every one and every sound can co-exist if we just keep on taking in more and more. Luis Bonilla is moving in directions that are expanding our notions of jazz and leading us into startling new realms with "remarkable creativity and versatility" (Newsday).
Heralded as “the pre-eminent improvising violinist of his generation,” Zach Brock is an violinist and composer whose music draws on the traditions of jazz, classical, world, and popular music. Zach received his first Grammy Award in 2017 for his work on Snarky Puppy’s album Culcha Vulcha and Downbeat Magazine named him the 'Rising star Violinist' of 2013. His acclaim as a bandleader has grown through appearances at venues such as Carnegie Hall and festivals like “Tudo é Jazz” in Brazil, while his reputation as a sideman has spread through his work with legendary bassist Stanley Clarke, contemporary instrumental super-group Snarky Puppy, and jazz masters Phil Markowitz and Dave Liebman. Zach has made ten recordings as a leader or co-leader and is the first violinist to record for the venerable Dutch jazz label Criss Cross. Zach has also represented the U.S. Department of State as a Musical Ambassador in the Solomon Islands, has performed as a featured soloist for two Sundance Festival feature film scores, and is currently an “Artist In Residence” at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Jazz pianist, keyboardist, producer and composer Marc Cary holds tight to his roots in Washington, D.C.’s go-go music scene, but they represent only one element among the myriad. Cary’s interests run from Indian classical to Malian music to hip-hop. He started his career working with Betty Carter, a legendary vocalist famous for drawing soul and sincerity out of her bands, and went on to work with Roy Hargrove, Dizzy Gillespie, Erykah Badu, Shirley Horn, Stefon Harris, Q-Tip and – most influential of all – Abbey Lincoln.
For the Love of Abbey
(2013) is his first solo piano record, and possibly his most intimate. Covering 10 of Lincoln’s songs, and offering three original tunes in tribute to her, Cary conjures a shimmering, timeless aura that bespeaks the spiritual and artistic lessons that the late singer conferred upon him.
“I went to Abbey’s house and watched her play the piano and sing these songs,” Cary remembers. “She could play any song but she was a very minimal player. Maybe the melody note and a couple other notes. That was how she would hear it, and I always had to think about it like that when I played.” On the solo disc, the challenge was to apply her focus on peaceful, unadorned melody within a lush habitat of pianistic harmony.
Critics agree that Cary has achieved a remarkable balance. JazzTimes calls the album “a moving love letter to one of his mentors,” and says “For the Love of Abbey shimmers and soars.” CriticalJazz.com gave the record five stars, arguing that it “successfully transform[s] the work of his friend and mentor into a personal statement with deep spiritual and emotional content.”
Guitar explorer NELS CLINE is best known these days as the lead guitarist in the band Wilco. His recording and performing career - spanning jazz, rock, punk and experimental - is well into its fourth decade, with over 200 recordings, including at least 30 for which he is leader. Cline has received many accolades including Rolling Stone anointing him as both one of 20 "new guitar gods" and one of the top 100 guitarists of all time.
Cline's most recent release, Lovers, out now on Blue Note Records, is a collection of "mood music" over 20 years in the making.
Beyond Wilco, Cline performs in a duo project with jazz guitar prodigy Julian Lage in addition to a quartet The Nels Cline Four (that includes Lage plus bassist Scott Colley and drummer Tom Rainey). Cline also performs in CUP, a duo with wife and musical collaborator Yuka Honda (Cibo Matto) and leads The Nels Cline Singers (featuring Scott Amendola, bassist Trevor Dunn and Cyro Baptista).
A sublimely talented young trombonist and vocalist versed in jazz, Brazilian music and the Afro-Cuban tradition, Bay Area-born Natalie Cressman gained fame as a member of Phish leader Trey Anastasio’s solo project and work with Nicholas Payton and Wycliffe Gordon. Still in her early 20s, Cressman’s musical pedigree is impeccable, growing up as the daughter of vocalist Sandy Cressman and Santana trombonist Jeff Cressman. When her dream of being a ballet dancer was derailed by an injury, she committed to music completely, and hasn’t looked back. A virtuosic instrumentalist and gifted singer, she has made good on her prodigious beginnings, working with a diverse range of artists including salsa icon Pete Escovedo’s Latin Jazz Orchestra, world music giant Jai Uttal and the Pagan Love Orchestra, and iconoclastic multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum. Her latest release,The Traces EP, is a stunning session that demonstrates Cressman’s far-reaching interests, combining jazz, pop, R&B, and world music into an intoxicating hybrid.
Instagram.com/natcressman // @natcressman
Twitter.com/natcressman // @natcressman Soundloud.com/natcressman
Marika is a cellist, singer, composer, song-writer and teacher. A native of NYC, Marika was exposed to a varied creative life from an early age. Her parents owned a jazz club on the Upper West Side and she was fortunate to enjoy an exciting classical music life as the granddaughter of the great cellist, Emanuel Feuermann. She was a regular on Sesame Street, was a member of New York Youth Symphony, spent summers at the chamber music camp, Greenwood, was a student at festivals in Europe and busked in NYC with her high-school string quartet. Marika received her B.A. from Barnard College in political science and cello performance at the Juilliard School, where she studied with Ardyth Alton. Shortly after completing her studies, Marika left NYC and moved to San Francisco, CA. It is there that she began to explore a musical life outside of the western classical tradition of her childhood training. In addition to playing in the Berkeley and Santa Rosa Symphonies, she joined Quartet San Francisco and enjoyed performing and recording for a host of artists and films including, Tom Waits, Mr. Bungle, Xiu Xiu, Santana and Finding Nemo.
JT LEWIS has performed/recorded with over 200 artists from all genres from the Jazz greats such as Stanley Turrentine, Roy Ayers, Herbie Hancock, Lena Horne, and Dave Sanborn, to the Pop icons such as Tina Turner, Sting, Lou Reed, Marianne Faithfull, Elvis Costello, Whitney Houston, Debbie Harry, Garland Jeffreys, and Vanessa Williams, to the Jazz revolutionaries such as Don Pullen, David Murray, Henry Threadgill, Marc Ribot, Sonny Sharrock, Pete Cosey, Bill Laswell, Kip Hanrahan, and many more.
JT has been holding down the drum chair for Vanessa Williams for 20 years and counting. He is currently co-leader of the Avant Metal Jazz band “HARRIET TUBMAN”, featuring Melvin Gibbs (Bass) and Brandon Ross (Guitars)
JT’s discography is....
Pedro "Pedrito" Martinez, from Havana, on percussion and vocals; percussionist, Jhair Sala, from Lima, Peru; electric bassist, Alvaro Benavides, from Caracas, Venezuela, and Edgar Pantoja-Aleman, from Santiago de Cuba “Since arriving in the United States at the end of the 1990s, the Cuban percussionist Pedro Martinez has been all over the place, putting rumba and guaguancó into the weave of all kinds of groups. But when his drums, singing and writing are the focus – as is the case in his new band, which plays complex, blenderized Africa-to-the-New-World funk – he’s an incomparable performer.” Ben Ratliff, New York Times June 25, 2010 Pedrito's group has a completely new and absolutely brilliant approach to timba! It's like a timba conjunto - congas, bongó, piano, bass… Like Arsenio's or Chappottín's conjuntos, the only metal percussion is the bongosero's bell, so the overall volume level is much lower, allowing the nuances of the exquisite vocal harmonies and hand percussion to come through much more clearly, but without sacrificing any of the intensity. The music and arrangements are pure, creative, original timba - ALL timba - no smorgasbord of danzón, reguetón and chachachá filler tracks - every single song has gear changes, melodic cuerpos, great coros and mambos, funky, song-specific piano tumbaos, world-class lead vocals by Pedrito and Ariacne, and the best 3- and 4-part coros I've heard from any timba band.
Lenny Pickett is currently the bandleader for NBC's Saturday Night Live, where he has played the saxophone in the house band since 1985. He composes music for dance and theater including two collaborations with filmmaker Frederick Wiseman (Welfare: The Opera and more recently Titicut Follies: The Ballet). His concert music has been performed by the Kronos Quartet, the New Century Saxophone Quartet, and The Borneo Horns, among others. Lenny also contributed compositions for recordings by Alan Ginsberg and William Burroughs, and he teaches in New York University's Jazz Studies Program.
One of today's most wide-ranging instrumentalists, Scott Robinson has been heard on tenor sax with Buck Clayton's band, on trumpet with Lionel Hampton's quintet, on alto clarinet with Paquito D'Rivera's clarinet quartet, and on bass sax with the New York City Opera. On these and other instruments including theremin and ophicleide, he has been heard with a cross-section of jazz's greats representing nearly every imaginable style of the music, from Braff to Braxton. Primarily a tenor saxophonist, Scott once placed directly below the great Sonny Rollins in the DownBeat Readers Poll. Scott has been heard numerous times on film, radio and television, and his discography now includes more than 250 recordings. His releases as a leader have garnered five-star reviews from Leonard Feather, DownBeat Magazine and other respected sources worldwide, and have appeared in many "Best of the Year" lists. Scott's collaborators on disc have included Frank Wess, Hank Jones, Joe Lovano, Ron Carter, and Bob Brookmeyer, and he has performed with the Grammy-winning Maria Schneider Orchestra for more than 25 years. A busy traveller, Scott has performed in some fifty-five nations, once completing tours on five continents in a three-month period. He has performed in such diverse and prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, the Village Vanguard, the Library of Congress and the Vienna Opera House. His performances for dignitaries worldwide have included a U.S. Presidential Inauguration and a command performance honoring the birthday of the king of Thailand. Scott's group was selected to be the closing act at the Knitting Factory's Sun Ra Festival in New York City. Scott has also written magazine articles and liner notes, and was an invited speaker at the Congressional Black Caucus Jazz Forum in Washington, D.C.
Ricardo “Ricky” Rodriguez was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, where he also started his music studies. He received his Bachelor of Music in Classical Bass performance under the tutelage of professors Federico Silva and Jose García at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico in 2004. Having mastered classical music, Ricky moved to New York City to experiment and increase his musical development in different musical style: Jazz. He took private lessons with two of his bass heroes, Mr. Larry Grenadier and Mr. Scott Colley. Within a year, Ricky was performing with internationally distinguished musicians such as: David Sánchez Quartet, Branford Marsalis, Michele Rosewoman, Miguel Zenón Quartet, Adam Rogers, Lionel Loueke, Clarence Penn, Ignacio Berroa Quartet, Dave Samuel, Dave Schnitter, Janis Siegel, Joe Locked, Marlon Simon and the Nagual Spirit, Pedrito Martínez, Mayra Casales, the Rodríguez Brothers, Osmany Paredes Quartet, Papo Vázquez and Pirates Troubadours, Donny McCaslin trio, Luis Bonilla and Trombonilla, Paoli Mejias, Ricardo Pons and Causa Común , The Pleneros de la 21, The Samuel Torres Band , Cristos Rafalides and the Manhattan Vibes, Ximo Tebar and the four lights and the Chico O' Farril Afro-Cuban Big Band and The Arturro O' Farrill and The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra , Michel Camilo's trio and many others. Since then, Ricky has performed with some of the giants in Latin Jazz today. These included performances with legendary jazz icons such as: Ray Barretto, Endel Dueño, Giovanni Hidalgo, Jerry González, Chuchito Valdéz, Tony Lujan, Erik Figueroa trio, Mandy Visoso and his orchestra, as well as memorable performances with masters such as: Branford Marsalis, Danilo Pérez, David Sánchez, and Ignacio Berroa. In 2006, Ricky represented the United States alongside 150 groups that participated in a world tour known as "The Jazz Ambassadors," as part of the 2006 Jazz at Lincoln Center American Music Abroad “The Rhythm Road Program.” Ricardo Rodriguez has played in several award-winning albums.
Canadian singer, trumpeter and songwriter Bria Skonberg has been described as one of the “most versatile and imposing musicians of her generation.” (Wall Street Journal). Recognized as one of 25 for the Future by DownBeat Magazine, Bria Skonberg has been a force in the new generation of jazz with her bold horn melodies and smoky vocals, and adventurous concoctions of classic and new. Bria is signed to Sony Music Masterworks’ OKeh Records and released her debut LP in September 2016, Bria, which won a Canadian JUNO award and made the Top 5 on Billboard jazz charts. She collaborated again with producer Matt Pierson, as well as multi-Grammy winner Gil Goldstein, for her second Sony album, With A Twist, released May 2017. Noted as a millennial “shaking up the jazz world,” (Vanity Fair), Bria Skonberg has played festivals and stages the world over, including New Orleans Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, and hundreds more. Further accolades include Best Vocal and Best Trumpet awards from Hot House Jazz Magazine (2014-15), Outstanding Jazz Artist at the New York Bistro Awards (2014), DownBeat Rising Star (2013-15), and a nominee for Jazz Journalists Association Up and Coming Artist (2013). She is an avid educator and supporter of public school opportunities, giving numerous workshops and concerts for students of all ages. Bria has been a faculty member at the Sacramento Traditional Jazz Camp (2008-present), Centrum Jazz Camp, performs outreach on behalf of Jazz at Lincoln Center and co-founded the New York Hot Jazz Camp for adults in 2015. She is also co-founder of the New York Hot Jazz Festival. www.briaskonberg.com www.facebook.com/briamusic www.twitter.com/briaskonberg Instagram: briaskonberg
Virgin Islands native Ron Blake currently resides in New York City. He has released four recordings as a leader; in addition, his discography numbers over 60 recordings as a guest and sideman. He is a member of NBC’s Saturday Night Live Band (2005) and is on faculty at the Juilliard School (2007).
Blake took up the saxophone at age 10 in St. Thomas public schools. He attended the National Music Camp (79-81) and graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy (80-82), later matriculating into Northwestern University (1986). After graduation from Northwestern, Blake worked extensively in the Chicago area before being appointed to the faculty of the University of South Florida in Tampa in 1990.
In 1992, Blake re-located to New York joining Roy Hargrove’s Quintet. In addition to his contemporaries, he’s worked with many masters including Art Farmer and Roy Haynes. Blake’s debut recording Up Front and Personal with special guest Johnny Griffin was released came in 2000. He completed a Masters degree at NYU in 2010. His releases on Mack Avenue include Lest We Forget, SONIC TONIC, and Shayari, and he won a Grammy as a member of Christian McBride’s Big Band in 2011 for their release, The Good Feeling. In addition he has two Grammy nominations with Gerald Wilson Orchestra, New York, New Sound in 2011 & Yerba Buena, President Alien in 2005. Most recently, Blake won his 2nd Grammy in 2017, again with the Christian McBride Big Band (Bringin’ It) and received an Emmy (2016-17) for his contributions to Saturday Night Live as a member of the SNL Band.
Blake co-founded the 21st Century Band and the Tahmun record label with Dion Parson in 1998. Since then he’s continued to work as a performer and educator through his affiliation with the 21st Century Band, the VI United Jazz Foundation, and his appointment at the Juilliard School. His working relationship with bassist Christian McBride spans over 15 years, as a member of the Christian McBride Band and other projects.
In January 2014, Blake received recognition from the U.S. Congress and the Virgin Islands Legislature for his commitment to education and his music accomplishments.
"Phenomenal tubist Marcus Rojas" (Whitney Balliet,
The New Yorker
) is a native of New York City. Considered one of "the best all around tuba players in the world" (Harvey Pekar,
); among the diverse groups in which he has played are the Metropolitan Opera,New York City Ballet,New York City Opera, American Symphony, American Ballet Theater, Joffrey Ballet, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the New York Pops, EOS, Radio City Music Hall, Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy, Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis, ensembles led by Gil Evans, George Russell, Jim Hall, Lionel Hampton, Dave Douglas, Wayne Shorter, David Byrne and P.D.Q. Bach. He has also appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the Today Show, Saturday Night Live and The Grammys from New York City.
Previous Guests and Collaborators
Two-time Grammy® winner
“Lisa Fischer in concert is addictive. Every performance is so enriching, so exciting, so transcendent that you want more. With remarkable vocal range and vocabulary, Fischer can sing soul, jazz, rock, gospel, pop, folk and classical with equal facility and authority. She often mixes styles in the same song, sometimes in the same vocal line. Her approach tends to be intimate, artful and almost meditative, accompanied by her interpretive dancing, but she also can cut loose and funk with fierceness and rock with abandon.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune, July 2016) Ms. Lisa Fischer and her band Grand Baton first set out on tour in 2014, with no product to sell, no recordings or video to help book or promote shows, no t-shirts. Despite all that, based on Lisa’s reputation alone, they were invited to play in clubs, at the Newport and Monterey Jazz Festivals, and at concert halls all over the globe, winning accolades from critics, devotion from fans, and — always – invitations to return, soon.
Their music is an organic gumbo of progressive rock, psychedelic soul, and African, Middle Eastern, Caribbean rhythms and classical influences. In performance, they re-invent songs by Led Zeppelin, Amy Grant, Little Willie John, and The Rolling Stones as well as Lisa’s originals. After decades bringing raw soul to the stage for The Rolling Stones, Sting, Tina Turner and Nine Inch Nails, Lisa is emerging as the most inventive and heartfelt interpreter of classic rock songs working today.
Lisa won her first Grammy for “How Can I Ease The Pain,” from her 1991 album So Intense. With a hit song on the radio and a Grammy win, a major solo tour seemed inevitable, but Lisa was on the road, backing either her beloved mentor Luther Vandross or The Rolling Stones. Lisa was a legend in the music industry; everybody loved her sound. But she never put her own band together, never toured under her own name. Now, after years of supporting other artists, electrifying the world’s largest arenas with the power of her voice, Ms. Lisa Fischer has finally taken center stage.
The Oscar-winning 2013 documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom changed the course of Lisa’s musical journey. Featuring clips of Lisa’s legendary duet with Mick Jagger on “Gimme Shelter” and glowing testimonials from famous colleagues, the film showcased her virtuosity and vulnerability, earned her a second Grammy, and left audiences eager to see and hear more. “Ms. Fischer has become the unexpected star of Mr. Neville’s film,” said the New York Times.
Now Lisa is exploring new territory. She is featured on new projects by Lang Lang, Yo-Yo Ma, Billy Childs, and recently collaborated with the Alonzo LINES Ballet. On tour with Grand Baton, Lisa continues to inspire rave reviews from
Will Hermes is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, a longtime contributor to National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” and author of Love Goes To Buildings On Fire: Five Years In New York That Changed Music Forever -- a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice in 2011. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Slate, Spin, and The Believer, and has twice been featured in the Da Capo Best Music Writing series. He tweets at @WilliamHermes.
Hal Willner is among the most eclectic and wildly original music producers in contemporary music. Growing up in the late sixties and early seventies, he turned his childhood obsessions of TV variety shows, sixties FM and old time radio, comedy albums, and any music that his classmates hated into a inimitable career. Best known for his multi-artist concept records interpreting the music of Nino Rota, Thelonious Monk, Kurt Weill, film music of Walt Disney, and Charles Mingus, his productions also include records by Marianne Faithfull, Lou Reed, Allen Ginsberg, Laurie Anderson, and William S. Burroughs. In television, Willner has been providing “sketch music adaptations” for NBC’s Saturday Night Live for the past twenty three seasons. He was Music Producer on the legendary show Night Music and on the film soundtracks to Short Cuts, Kansas City, Million Dollar Hotel, Finding Forrester, and Gangs of New York. At UCLA Live he has produced The Harry Smith Project (April 2001) and (with Janine Nichols) two Halloween evenings of Edgar Allan Poe (October 2001 and 2002). Hal Willner brings his peculiar genius and uncommon imagination to UCLA Live this season as Artist in Residence.
“operatic, unhinged, punk and terrifying”- timeout.com
Eric Mingus is a bit of a polymath when it comes to his music. Trained classically as a vocalist, he sings the blues like nobody's business, improvises with the best of them, and plays a fierce bass. Creates worlds with his words whether he speaks or sings. When famed producer Hal Willner needs that special moment in his multi artist shows, he calls Eric. Hubert Sumlin loved the way Eric brought “soul” to the blues. When Elliott Sharp wanted a vocalist for his project Terraplane, he knew Eric was the right voice to bring the contemporary blues to his musical vision. Eric has a unique sensibility when bringing music to film, and has scored two documentaries on boxing for ESPN. His passion to write and perform poetry was encouraged by Allen Ginsberg and Jack Micheline. One of Eric’s most recent successes is the creation of his unique take on the Who’s Tommy. Working with Hal Willner, Eric brought a brilliant reworking of a rock classic to the Adelaide Arts Festival (2015)
Described by Vibe magazine as “one helluva rock’n’roller-coaster ride” and by Pop Matters as “a treasure waiting to be found,” Toshi Reagon is a one-woman celebration of all that’s dynamic, progressive and uplifting in American music. Since first taking to the stage at age 17, this versatile singer-songwriter-guitarist has moved audiences of all kinds with her big?hearted, hold-nothing-back approach to rock, blues, R&B, country, folk, spirituals and funk. The New York Times described her blend as “…a love of mixing things up…[her] vocal style ranges from a dirty blues moan to a gospel shout to an ethereal croon.” Her live performances, in particular, aren’t just accessible; they’re irresistible. And Toshi Reagon loves her audiences. Leading her renowned band–BIGLovely, launched in 1996–she instantly connects, inspires and empowers.
Over nearly 30 years, Reagon has collaborated with top innovators across a wide spectrum of the entertainment field. Since Lenny Kravitz chose her, straight out of college, to open for him on his first world tour, she has gone on to share stages with notable colleagues such as Nona Hendryx, Elvis Costello, Ani DiFranco, Pete Seeger, Dar Williams, Lizz Wright, Me’shell NdegéOcello and Marc Anthony Thompson (aka Chocolate Genius). Her performances with her mother, Bernice Johnson Reagon–civil rights activist and founder of the a cappella group, Sweet Honey in the Rock – are legendary.@WilliamHermes.
Since starting NRBQ more than five decades ago, Terry Adams has been the driving force behind their artistic and critical success. Adams’ consummate musicianship, distinctive rocking jazz piano, and innovative use of Clavinet, as well as his irreverent sense of humour, have delighted and dazzled audiences around the world.He’s also performed with the Sun Ra Arkestra (under the direction of Marshall Allen), Carla Bley, John Sebastian, Link Wray and Roswell Rudd, among others. As a producer, he’s introduced music fans worldwide to The Shaggs, Boozoo Chavis and Captain Lou Albano. Recent releases include : Happy Talk (NRBQ), Love Letter to Andromeda, Ten By Two (with Marshall Allen) and Talk Thelonious.
An icon of performance art and the indie-music world, Anderson is one of the most revered artists working today, as prolific as she is inventive. She is a musician, performance artist, composer, fiction writer, and filmmaker (her most recent foray, Heart of a Dog, was lauded as an “experimental marvel” by The Los Angeles Times). Anderson moves seamlessly between the music world and the fine-art world while maintaining her stronghold in both. A true polymath, her interest in new media made her an early pioneer of harnessing technology for artistic purposes long before the technology boom of the last ten years. Regardless of the medium, however, it is exploration of language (and how it seeps into the image) and storytelling that is her métier. As John Leland recently noted in The New York Times, “After 40 years, still, no one tells stories like Laurie Anderson.”
Steve Buscemi has built a career portraying some of the most unique and unforgettable characters in recent cinema. Buscemi, a multiple award-winning actor, starred in the HBO hit drama, Boardwalk Empire, which garnered him a Golden Globe Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and two Emmy nominations. Buscemi has also won an Independent Spirit Award, The New York Film Critics Award and was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role in MGM’s Ghost World, He was nominated for an Emmy for his role as Tony Blundetto in the The Sopranos, plus received additional Emmy nominations for his appearances on NBC’s 30 Rock and IFC’s Portlandia In addition to his talents as an accomplished actor, Buscemi has proven to be a respected writer and director. He marked his full-length feature film directorial debut with Trees Lounge which he also wrote and starred in. Buscemi also has many TV directing credits, including Homocide: Life on the Street (DGA Award nomination); The Sopranos (Emmy and DGA Awards for Season 3’s “Pine Barrens” episode); 30 Rock, Nurse Jackie, and Portlandia. In 2008 Buscemi started Olive Productions with Stanley Tucci and Wren Arthur, a NY based company which produces his Emmy-winning AOL series Park Bench with Steven Buscemi and various other projects including the documentary A Good Job: Stories of the FDNY for HBO. In 2016, Steve co-starred in the critically acclaimed web series Horace and Pete as well as in Joseph Cedar’s film Norman. He was most recently seen in Armando Iannucci’s political satire The Death of Stalin, and in the feature film Lean on Pete from director Andrew Haigh. He’ll appear opposite Andrea Riseborough in the feature film Nancy written and directed by Christina Choe. He also appears in Channel 4 (UK) and Amazon Prime’s anthology series Phillip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams. He will reprise his role as the voice of “Wayne” in Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation set for release July 13, 2018. He will co-star opposite Daniel Radcliffe in the upcoming TBS’ anthology comedy series Miracle Workers, executive produced by Lorne Michaels.
Gina Gershon has been working as an actress, singer, writer and jewsharp player for many years. She was the first solo jewsharp player to play Carnegie Hall with Sting for his Rainforest Fund benefit last year . She’s played with Christian McBride, Herbie Hancock, the Scissor Sisters, and Paul Simon to name a few. Her album In Search of Cleo was also made into a book - How I Found My Pussy and Lost My Mind. She’s done many movies. A few she likes include The Insider, Bound, Face Off, Showgirls, Killer Joe, The Player, Prey for Rock and Roll, and will be performing at the Cafe Carlyle June 5th - 16th.
Emily Haines is best known as the dynamic lead singer and front woman of the Canadian rock band Metric. She is a member of the critically acclaimed band Broken Social Scene and also performs solo projects under the moniker Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton. In fall 2017, Haines released her first Soft Skeleton album in 10 years and third overall, Choir of the Mind. NPR Music’s First Listen described the LP as “an ambitious collection that expands Haines’ solo palette in every way,” and the New York Times explained the LP as “a nuanced meditation on loss and injustice, and a stunning showcase for Ms. Haines’s vocal harmonies.” Haines performed to sold out crowds in select cities across the U.S. Also in 2017, she performed on the new Broken Social Scene album Hug of Thunder and toured the world with the band.
On May 11, 2018, Mark Kozelek released his self-titled album, Mark Kozelek, on Caldo Verde/Rough Trade. The 88-minute, double CD was recorded in San Francisco hotels and studios between May 2017 and January 2018. Mark has also completed work on a new Sun Kil Moon album to be released this November. Mark recently acted in the independent film Passing Through, written and directed by Jason Massot. Mark will be touring throughout 2018, both solo and with Sun Kil Moon, in South America, Europe, USA and Canada. Mark is currently at work on a collaboration with Donny McCaslin and Jim White, to be released in 2019.
Geoff Muldaur is one of the great voices and musical forces to emerge from the folk, blues and folk-rock scenes centered in Cambridge, MA and Woodstock, NY. During the 1960’s and ‘70’s, Geoff made a series of highly influential recordings as a founding member of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and the Paul Butterfield’s Better Days group, as well as collaborations with then-wife Maria and other notables (Bonnie Raitt, Eric Von Schmidt, Jerry Garcia, etc.) He left the stage and recording world in the mid-1980’s for a working sabbatical but continued, however, to hone his craft, albeit ‘flying beneath radar’. He composed scores for film and television, garnering an Emmy in the process, and produced off-beat albums for the likes of Lenny Pickett and the Borneo Horns and the Richard Greene String Quartet. And his definitive recording of “Brazil” provided the seed for - and was featured in - Terry Gilliam’s film of the same title. With his magical voice and singular approach to American music intact, Geoff is once again touring the world. Recent performances have included The Lincoln Center in New York City, The Getty Art Center in Los Angeles, Royal Festival Hall in London. Geoff may be heard regularly as a guest on Live From Here (formerly A Prairie Home Companion) and has been featured on a variety of National Public Radio shows, including Weekend Edition and All Things Considered.
If you don’t know who Bill Murray is, what are you even doing here? A cosmic clown, a humorist, and one of the great caddies of our time. No one’s done it better for longer.
Bob Neuwirth is a songwriter and painter who currently lives on the West Coast.
Writer, musician, cultural provocateur, Greg Tate lives in Harlem. His most recent book is Flyboy 2: The Greg Tate Reader. Since 1999, he has also led the conducted improv ensemble, Burnt Sugar, the Arkestra Chamber.
The Milk Carton Kids
Founded in 2011, The Milk Carton Kids swiftly emerged as a major force in the continuing American folk tradition, blending ethereal, oscillating harmonies and intricate, inventive musicianship with a uniquely powerful brand of contemporary songcraft. 2013’s ANTI- debut, THE ASH & CLAY, proved their national breakthrough, earning The Milk Carton Kids their first GRAMMY® Award nomination, for “Best Folk Album.” A second GRAMMY® nomination for “Best American Roots Performance” followed in 2015, honoring “The City of Our Lady,” from The Milk Carton Kids’ acclaimed third studio album, MONTEREY. The Americana Music Association Award-winners for “Best Duo/Group,” The Milk Carton Kids have spent much of the past decade on tour, as international headliners, worldwide festival favorites, and special guests to such like-minded artists as Old Crow Medicine Show, Punch Brothers, Sarah Jarosz, The Lumineers, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Josh Ritter, and The Avett Brothers. Ryan and Pattengale have also made numerous high profile media appearances, including TBS’ Conan, CBS This Morning, and NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concerts.
Teddy Thompson is an acclaimed singer-songwriter with a career that has consistently garnered critical praise. NPR proclaims that he’s “the musical equivalent of an arrow to the heart,” while The New York Times calls his work “beautifully finessed.” Teddy released his first, self titled album in 2000. Thompson also toured as part of Rosanne Cash’s band before signing with Verve. Soon after, Thompson released his much lauded 2006 sophomore album Separate Ways, which demonstrated how much his songwriting, performing and record-making skills had evolved since his debut. It was followed in 2007 by Up Front & Down Low, a collection of personally charged readings of classic American country songs that demonstrated Thompson’s increased assurance as a performer and interpreter. In 2008, Thompson released the upbeat and highly acclaimed, A Piece of What You Need, which was declared “one of this year’s best” by The Guardian and debuted at #9 in the UK’s pop charts. A fifth studio effort, Bella, was released February 2011 to much acclaim and led to touring the world with Elton John among other things. In 2014 Thompson gathered his musical clan to release Family, one of the folk records of the year which garnered a multi page, in depth piece from The New York Times magazine. In 2016 Teddy released Little Windows, a record of original duets with singer Kelly Jones. The album was recorded live to tape and features an all star band of backing musicians. Teddy also produced Dori Freeman’s debut album which was hailed by The New York Times as one of the year’s best. 2017 sees the release of the long awaited Shelby Lynn & Allsion Moorer duets record produced by Thompson. Not Dark Yet released last August.
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
Triumph the Insult Comic Dog is a puppet character puppeteered and voiced by Robert Smigel, best known for mocking celebrities in an Eastern European accent. As his name indicates, Triumph’s comedic style is almost exclusively insult comedy. A Yugoslavian Mountain Hound, Triumph often puffs a cigar, which usually falls out of his mouth when he starts talking. He debuted in 1997 on NBC’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien and also appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien from time to time, as well as the short-lived TV Funhouse, TBS’s Conan, and Adult Swim’s The Jack and Triumph Show. Smigel and Triumph have been ejected from several events for Triumph’s antics, including Westminster (three times), the Honolulu line for auditions for American Idol, and the 2004 Democratic National Convention (while shooting an aborted movie project).
Internationally recognized and acclaimed poet Anne Waldman has been an active member of the “Outrider” experimental poetry community, a culture she has helped create and nurture for over four decades as writer, editor, teacher, performer, magpie scholar, infra-structure curator, and cultural/political activist. Her poetry is recognized in the lineage of Whitman and Ginsberg, and in the Beat, New York School, and Black Mountain trajectories of the New American Poetry.
Joan as Police Woman
Joan as Police Woman (Joan Wasser) is a world-renowned recording artist, songwriter, performer, producer and multi-talented instrumentalist. Her 2018 album Damned Devotion (PIAS) was released in February to universal acclaim. Wasser has collaborated and toured with artists including Lou Reed, John Cale, Toshi Reagon, Reggie Watts, Antony & The Johnsons, and Rufus Wainwright, several of whom have featured on her own records. “Soulful adventurism – a voice so wondrous and moving it makes everyone else’s seem ordinary and mundane” - The Guardian “Ravishing and lovelorn” - Mojo | “The coolest woman in pop” - The Times
Peter Wolf’s encyclopedic musical knowledge came in handy when he and some like-minded Boston players formed the J. Geils Band, much of whose early repertoire was drawn from Wolf’s vast record collection. The band soon became a local favorite injecting a much-needed jolt of raw, uninhibited rock ‘n’ roll into the ‘70s scene and was soon signed by Jerry Wexler for Atlantic Records. Between 1970 and 1983, the J. Geils Band released 13 influential albums, topped the pop single charts with 1981’s “Freeze Frame,” “Love Stinks,” “Centerfold,” and earned a reputation as one of rock’s most exciting live acts, thanks in large part to Wolf’s flamboyant, hyperactive stage presence. After going solo with 1984’s Lights Out, Wolf continued to stake out new musical territory with the subsequent releases Lights Out, Come As You Are, Up to No Good, Long Line, Fool’s Parade, Sleepless and Midnight Souvenirs, and A Cure For Loneliness. His solo work has seen him collaborate with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Merle Haggard, John Lee Hooker, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Little Milton, Wilson Pickett, Shelby Lynne and Neko Case. Wolf temporarily reunited with his J. Geils Band cohorts for live shows on several occasions between 1999 and 2015, but his solo career has remained his creative focus, as A Cure for Loneliness makes clear.
Sunday, October 22, 2017
Thursday, May 24, 2018
Tomorrow is a Long Time:
Songs from Bob Dylan's 1963 Town Hall Concert