Boston Jazz week includes performances at local libraries

From April 29 to May 8 greater Boston will be celebrating “ the music that defies definition and recognizes no boundaries.” Officially proclaimed by the Mayor Menino and coordinated by the nonprofit JazzBoston, “Jazz Week ‘11: This Is Jazz” spotlights for the fifth year the vibrant local jazz scene with events in venues ranging from clubs, galleries and churches to libraries, universities and hotels.

While more than 200 events at nearly 80 venues are planned, Dorchester and Mattapan, though home to many jazz aficionados, will host few participating events, though slightly more than in the previous four years.

This year’s highlight is a two-part stage and screen salute to Eric Jackson, who celebrates the 30th anniversary of his 89.7 WGBH Radio jazz program in May. An all-star salute to Jackson at Scullers Jazz Club on May 2 will feature Danilo Perez, Walter Beasley, Grace Kelly, Terri Lyne Carrington, Cecil McBee, Rebecca Parris, and Phil Wilson.

Though events at Ryles, Regattabar, Wally’s and other established jazz venues vary in admission price, there are plenty of free events to enjoy.

“Jazz Swarms” (May 2-6) are a series of free one-hour noontime performances in the food court of the State Transportation Building, featuring large ensembles of a different instrument on each of the five weekdays — trumpets, flutes, saxophones, percussion, and trombones. Phil Wilson joins the Trombone Swarm for the grand finale on May 6.


“Jazz Week @ the Boston Public Library” returns for the 5th year to the Central Library in Copley Square with a series of free afternoon and evening films, conversations, and performances.

On May 7, SoWa’s Thayer Street Outdoor Concert Series debuts with music by Your Neighborhood Saxophone Quartet. The series continues on the first Saturday of each month through October.

Even closer to home, the educational “Riffs & Raps: Jazzin’ the Generations” will return to two local branch libraries: Wednesday, April 27 at 10:30 a.m. at Lower Mills and on Saturday, April 30 at 2 p.m. at Mattapan. “Travel on a live musical tour through time, from the roots of jazz in blues and spirituals through the Great American Songbook right up to the many sounds of jazz today. Come move mind and body with guides Arni Cheatham (saxophones), Bill Lowe (bass trombone, tuba, percussion), and Kevin Harris (keyboards) as they use jazz standards and originals to bridge the gap between generations.”
On two Sundays, May 1 and May 8, the Kurtis Rivers Quintet will be giving free concerts at VFW Ramsey Post, 54 Woodrow Ave. from 7:30-10 pm.

Kurtis Rivers, lead saxophonist in the Makanda Project, has been a consistent force on the Roxbury jazz scene leading groups and keeping the music alive at various local venues.  He is on the faculty of New England Conservatory’s Woodwind and Brass Program and  has been featured on many albums including those by Harlem Art’s Ensemble, Mulatu, Carolina Funk, and Either/ Orchestra.

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