Branford Jazz Events Schedule Summer 2013

The 2013 Branford Jazz on the Green Series is coming JUNE 27th!  Please come join us!

The Branford Jazz on the Green Series is pleased to announced that we are again back for EIGHT Thursday nights in row beginning Thursday night, June 27th at 6:30pm and concluding on Thursday night, August 22nd. (NO July 4th. Happy Birhtday America!) Click here to check out our amazing line-up!

The Branford Jazz on the Green Series ... It's HOT! It's SMOOTH! It's COOOL!



Attempting to create his own artistic expression as an authentic jazz vocalist, Giacomo Gates defined jazz singing by his following of legends Louis Armstrong, Jon Hendricks, Eddie Jefferson, Betty Carter, and Anita O’Day, among many others.

Now paving his own successful musical path with six acclaimed cd’s, this jazz superstar will make his impact on the Branford Town Hall stage on Thursday, June 27th as part of the Branford Jazz Series.

Starting early on in his childhood days, Giacomo sang and played guitar as a teenager, but with no real opportunities to perform in Alaska until nearly the end of his time there, he journeyed to Washington State and Tucson, Arizona working on new projects.  After sitting in on a variety of musical activities, he decided to return to his native Connecticut and devote his full attention to music.

Blessed with a full-bodied voice, an extraordinary rhythmic precision and an unerring sense of lyricism, Giacomo’s music set him apart from nearly every other vocalist on the scene.  Like his mentors, Giacomo would sometimes translate great instrumental solos into Vocalese, including the works of Lee Morgan, Chet Baker, Gene Ammons, Charlie Rouse and many others in the classical jazz compositional field.

From that angle, he sometimes vocalizes as an instrument – trombone, flute, bass and even drums.  Originally developed while working a steady duo gig with a pianist in Connecticut, Giacomo would improvise bass lines or drum sounds in support of piano solos.

Playing major U.S. clubs, New York’s Birdland, the Five Spot, and the Jazz Standard, Philadelphia’s Zanzibar Blue, Blues Alley in Washington, D.C. and Snug Harbor in New Orleans and major festivals like Detroit/Montreux,  Telluride, Caramoor, Sedona, Clearwater, Fairbanks Summer Arts, and at countless universities and jazz societies, this internationally recognized recording artist, singer, educator, interpreter and lyricist has produced enormous appeal and a grand following including his tour and teachings thru Europe, Russia and Australia.

Gates has six heavily acclaimed CD’s, with his release, “Songs of Gil Scott-Heron-The Revolution Will Be Jazz” on Savant, garnering rave reviews in the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, NYC Jazz Record, All About Jazz, Hartford Courant, Jazz/Times and Downbeat magazines and a two page feature in Jazziz along with great reviews on many jazz websites.  The Savant cd reached number one for six weeks on the National Jazz Week Chart regarding national radio airplay, the most played jazz recording on jazz radio in the United States and after 12 weeks, still in the top twelve. Previous to that, “Luminosity”, on G88 Music, a cd/dvd, reached #18 on the National Jazz Playlist.  “Blue Skies” and “Fly Rite” both reached the top 12 in National Jazz Radio Airplay. All six have garnered acclaim, and were internationally released.  His latest release, “Miles Tones, Giacomo Gates Sings the Music of Miles Davis” is currently #1 on National Jazz Radio.  Gates was voted “Talent Deserving Wider Recognition” by the Down Beat Critic’s Poll, for the past seven years.  The Jazz Journalist’s Association has nominated Gates as “Best Male Jazz Vocalist” every year from 2003 to 2013.  In 2009 & 2010, Gates was voted #1 in the DownBeat Critic’s Poll for “Rising Star”.

This Branford Jazz Series entertainer teaches at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and Southern Connecticut State University, along with giving private lessons, workshops, clinics and master classes.

“I am always happy to perform in the state that I am from,” said Gates.  “I have traveled everywhere but its so very special to perform for people who live in Connecticut.”

         For more information on Giacomo Gates, Click Here



VINCENT INGALA ~ July 11th  Rescheduled to  Friday, July 12th

This evening concert for July 11th has been cancelled due to the pending weather. 
We have rescheduled for tomorrow evening, Friday July 12th. 

In 2011, contemporary instrumental R & B performer Vincent Ingala loved playing in the Branford Jazz Series so much so, that once he received an inquiry to see if he would be interested in returning for the 2013 series, it didn’t take him long to respond.

“We immediately accepted because we loved playing on the Branford Town Green two years ago,” said Ingala.  “We are very happy to return because we love the town of Branford and we get so much satisfaction out of seeing the enjoyment people show when they listen to our music”.

With that being said, jazz fans will once again be able to see and hear the smooth contemporary r & b music from Ingala and his group on Thursday, July 11 at 6:30 p.m. on the Branford Town Green as part of the 2013 Branford Jazz Series.

With his involvement in music at such a young age, it is to no one’s surprise that success would come so soon for Ingala.  After receiving his first drum set at the age of four and later, given his first guitar in third grade, when he began strumming Elvis Presley tunes, many sensed  that there was something special going on and this was later evident when in fifth grade he mastered the keyboard  before trading it in for the saxophone. 

The Branford Jazz Series performer cites tenor saxophone players, Sam Butera, Richard Elliot and Wilton Felder as being among his major influences and one of his prouder moment’s cane when, at age 16, he was asked to open for smooth jazz superstar, saxophonist, Dave Koz.

With his numerous academic and music accolades, awards, and scholarships, Ingala is coming off an exhilarating two years of show stopping appearances, including performances with jazz legends Dave Koz and Peter White. Vincent has opened in the past for saxophonist, Kim Waters, singer songwriter and guitarist, Jonathan Butler and trumpeter/composer Chris Botti.  Crisscrossing the nation, he recently made his debut at Spaghettini’s Grill and Jazz Club, and was featured on the Dave Koz Alaskan Cruise in 2011 and will be on board  for Koz’s 2013 Mediterranean voyage.

Back in January of 2011, Smooth Jazz Journalist of the Year nominee, Denis Poole, commented that ‘North End Soul’ from Ingala was an outstanding piece of work. In fact, it proved to be the stepping stone for what became a truly remarkable year for the young musician. While in San Diego, California, at what became known as “The Lemonade Weekend”, Ingala owned the stage at Anthology and later performed with Peter White at the Hard Rock Hotel.  Twelve months later, his ever growing fan-base was rewarded with his next project, ‘Can’t Stop Now’.   With seven original compositions, two spellbinding covers and guest performances from contemporary jazz pianist and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Fritzen and Grammy winning smooth jazz keyboardist, producer and pianist Gregg Karukas, ‘Can’t Stop Now’ is just a small sampling of his instrumental ability.

“It means a lot to us to be playing at the Branford Jazz Series this year.  We are always honored to keep jazz music going.  We are very happy to be playing in any capacity that we can” said Ingala.  “We are honored to be performing in front of people who enjoy our music and it is simply gratifying to see people dancing and singing along with us at our performances.   Branford is very supportive of jazz as it is and we couldn’t think of a better place to play.”

For more information on Vincent Ingala, Click Here



Whether it was sharing his love for jazz music with fellow Connecticut followers or touring with premier Broadway shows throughout Russia, China, Japan or South Korea, the one thing which remains constant for musician Ed Fast is his  unselfish devotion to the Latin jazz ensemble.  The Branford Jazz Series will welcome Fast and his “Conga-Bop” group on Thursday, July 18th, 2013, starting at 6:30 p.m., on the Branford Town Green. 

 As the percussion playing leader of the group, Ed has become a celebrated figure in the Hartford, Connecticut area through his band’s many well-received appearances throughout the state.  As a versatile, Hartt-School of –Music-trained percussionist, Fast is right at home sitting-in on occasion with the Hartford Symphony or gigging in backup bands  at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun Casinos accompanying big-name favorites, including Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Martin Short, and Paul Anka.   In addition to being a bandleader, composer, arranger, and much-in-demand utility player, this jazz enthusiast is a multi-instrumentalist who not only plays drums but also timbales, congas and, far too rarely, vibes, a percussion instrument he dearly loves.

 Fast, who was born in Albany, New York, and grew up in Old Lyme, Connecticut, took mariba lessons as his first step towards playing vibes and for his following of great vibraphonist Milt Jackson. However, it was the swinging, sophisticated music of vibist/bandleader Cal Tjader that sparked his passion for Latin Jazz, the musical love of his life.   The drummer was inspired to search for conguero Bill Fitch, who went on to become an important musical mentor.  Fitch connected Fast to the music’s history and provided essential insights into the world of Afro-Cuban percussion.  As he moved from the role of student to professional, he balanced his work between Latin Jazz, Broadway musicals, and symphony performances.   All pieces of Hartford’s musical world benefited from Fast’s impeccable musicality, with his love for Latin Jazz at the center of his musical output.

 Ed built a wealth of musical knowledge and experience during his formative years that he eventually applied with his group, Conga Bop, on the 2007 album Straight Shot.

  Since 1995, Ed has been involved in a variety of musical projects throughout Connecticut, New York, and around the world.  He was the drummer on the national tour of “Chicago” and also performed with Chita Rivera on the national tour of “A Dancer’s Life”.   While in New York, the Branford Jazz Series performer was casted as a drummer on Broadway for “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, Radio City Music Hall, and was Music Director of the Hartford-based youth group, Latin Flavor, at the Havana International Festival of Jazz (Cuba). Fast was on National Tour of  “The 101 Dalmatians Musical”.   He has also performed at the Bushnell Theatre with many Broadway tours including “Wicked”, “Showboat”, and “Music Man”.

 “We are very excited to have a date at the Branford Jazz Series”, said Fast.  “We are looking forward to this event.  We have heard a lot of great things about the jazz series and the crowds on the town green and we are ready to share our music for all to enjoy.”

For more information on Ed Fast & Conga-Pop, Click Here

 BRIAN TORFF~  July 25th 

Cancelled do to weather.  He will be joining us for the 2014 Jazz Series

Clearly when legendary bassist Milt Hinton offered North Haven’s Brian Torff an opportunity to tour with jazz artist Cleo Laine in 1974, the noted musician sensed he had a promising artist in his sight.  Now, some 40 years later as a successful performer, composer, author, and teacher, Torff will be performing his fresh take on the genius of legendary arranger, bandleader and pianist Duke Ellington, at the 2013 Branford Jazz Series.  The performance will take place on Thursday July 25, starting at 6:30 p.m., on the Branford Town Green.

                A renowned bassist and composer, Brian continued his professional career by recording and performing with pianists Mary Lou Williams and Marian McPartland and toured Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong with the jazz violin virtuoso, Stephanie Grappelli.  He later played in pianist Erroll Garner’s last group and worked in the big bands of Oliver Nelson, and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra.

                Later, in 1979, Torff joined in a duo with pianist George Shearing.  In the course of their 3 ½ year union, they toured throughout the United States, Europe, Brazil and South Africa and were featured on such shows as the  “Tonight Show”, “Merv Griffin”, and their own PBS special from the Café’ Carlyle in New York City.  They later received national attention and were invited to perform at the White House in 1982 for President Ronald Reagan.  Brian and George’s third album won a Grammy Award for vocalist Mel Torme’.  

                The Branford Jazz Series entertainer is a noted composer who has contributed works for records with Shearing, Larry Coryell, Union trio and his own recordings-“Life in East Bumblepuck”, “Hitchhiker of Karoo”, “Manhattan Hoe-Down”, and “Working ‘On A Bassline”.    Brian has written scores that have been performed by the Boston Pops, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Pittsburgh Symphony, and has appeared as conductor, composer, and clinician for numerous high school and college jazz festivals.  He is a published writer on music and musicians, composer for big bands, and director of the Summer Jazz Workshop at Fairfield University.  Torff is listed in the Groves Dictionary of Jazz and has been featured in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Downbeat Magazine, Jazz Times, and many other publications.  He was Fairfield Artist of the Year in 2008. 

                Brian lived in Paris in early 2008, where he wrote his book, “In Love With Voices: A Jazz Memoir.”  He is currently featuring his bass playing and new compositions in a trio and quartet settings.  If that wasn’t enough to impress his followers, Brian is currently the Music Program Director at Fairfield University and is the featured bass soloist, leading his trio and is the musical director for the Django Reinhardt New York Festival, which has appeared at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center and the Birdland in New York City. 

                Scheduled to appear with him at the Branford Jazz Series are his Fairfield University faculty musicians: Jamie Finnegan (trumpet, cornet), Rick Saldron (alto sax and flue), Steve Moran (tenor, baritone and soprano sax), John Fumasoli (trombone), David Childs (piano), Don Mulvaney (drums), and Darryl Tookes (vocals).

                “It’s a great thrill for us to be performing at this year’s Branford Jazz Series,” said Torff.  “We are a relatively new group and there is never an abundance of opportunities to play in jazz.  You cherish ever time you get a chance to perform.  For us, to actually do a summer jazz series is a real thrill and people, I know, will enjoy listening to a new beat of Duke’s music.”

               For more information on Brian Torff, Click Here

REUNION JAZZ ENSEMBLE~ Aug 1st     Rescheduled to Sunday, Aug. 18th

The Reunion Jazz Ensemble – made up of a group of long time friends who include Grammy Award winners, Broadway veterans, top Hollywood arrangers, and musicians who have performed around the world- will perform as part of the Branford Jazz On The Green Series on Thursday, August 1st, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.

 Reunion was formed in the 1970’s as the combined brainchild of the late Stan Wheeler, Yale Law School professor and former Branford resident, and several talented members of the Yale Jazz Ensemble of that era.  Besides Wheeler (trumpet), original founding members of Reunion were Paul Lieberman (tenor sax and flute), Paul Sullivan (piano), Steve Perrett (trumpet), and composer/arrangers Brad Dechter (alto sax), Jeff Fuller (bass),and Frank Bennett (drums).  The three composer/arrangers provided the book of exciting and varied originals and standards that the group still uses in concert today.

 The band’s first concert was in Manchester Village, VT, where Wheeler had a home.  He invited the group to come  and perform at the historic Manchester Inn.  The event marked the beginning of the group’s tradition of getting together at least once a year, hence the name Reunion.  The individual members inevitably moved away from New Haven to enjoy successful careers in music.  Bennett and Dechter became (and still are) highly respected composers in Los Angeles.; Sullivan, Lieberman and Fuller worked on the New York Jazz scene for many years before dispersing across New England (ME,MA, and CT).

 In recent years, since Wheeler’s untimely death in 2007, the group has re-assembled to participate in each of the six Stan Wheeler Memorial Concerts held at the Yale Law School in early April.  The Yale Jazz Ensemble, with which Stan continued to play until his death, has likewise performed at each of these concerts, a reminder that jazz at Yale, which the original members of Reunion helped get going, is alive and well.

 Reunion’s lineup for this year’s Jazz On The Green includes original members Steve Perrett (trumpet), Paul Lieberman (piano), Paul Sullivan (piano) and Jeff Fuller (bass).  Joining them will be known local jazz luminaries Bob Kolb (alto sax), Tim Moran (baritone sax), Tony Lombardozzi (guitar), and Jesse Hameen II (drums).

 "We're really looking forward to sharing our original compositions and arrangements of great jazz standards with the high quality audiences at the Branford Jazz on the Green Series.  Folks will get a chance to hear some well-known local jazz artists, like Jesse Hameen II, Bob Kolb and Tim Moran, in a "little big band" context.  They will be joined by international touring artists Paul Lieberman (sax/flute) and Paul Sullivan (piano), whose appearances on the CT Shoreline are rare, but always exceptional!,” said Fuller.


Entertaining audiences across American and internationally in far away places like the Soviet Union, England, Japan, and Taiwan, performing in notable venues and jazz festivals in places like Sacramento, California, Sun Valley, Idaho, and Washington, D.C., the United States Coast Guard’s Dixieland Band will be appearing on the Branford Town Hall stage to showcase their jazz hits on August 8, 2013.

The band, originated in 1970, performs classical jazz, blues and rage with a “New Orleans” flavor.  They have appeared in such places such as: Preservation Hall in New Orleans, Times Square in New York City, the Blue Note Club in Taipei (Taiwan), the Embarcardero in San Francisco, the John F. Kennedy Center Millennium in Washington, D.C. and the Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  The group has also performed on numerous radio and television broadcasts across the nation, including CBS News This Morning, and Fox and Friends.

Members of the group include:

.  Musician 1st Class Cedric Mayfield, clarinet, joined the U.S. Coast Guard Band in July 2010. He is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and the University of Memphis. Cedric has performed in a variety of musical settings. He came to the Coast Guard Band by way of the U.S. Air Force Band in Europe, where he toured extensively as a band member, leader, and soloist. Prior to being stationed in Europe, he was a member of the U.S. Air Force Band of the West, stationed in San Antonio. In 2008, he was part of a specially collected group of musicians who embarked upon a three month tour of the Middle East as part of a troop morale and social outreach program. In the Air Force, he performed in a variety of ensembles, including concert band and chamber music groups, as well as jazz, pop, and rock bands. As a civilian, he has also performed with a national tour of the Broadway musical The Music Man and spent four seasons with Galveston Island Musicals. Many of his compositions and arrangements were featured as a founding member of the acclaimed ensemble the S.A. Jazz Workshop. Though he expresses himself in many genres, classical music is Cedric’s first love. He has had the privilege of sharing the stage with Wynton Marsalis, Chick Corea, Kirk Whalum, Bill Mays, Marvin Stamm, Shelly Carol, B.B. King, the Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, and many others.

. Musician 1st Class Thomas Brown, trumpet, is a native of Sparta, Michigan. He was a member of the Chicago Civic Orchestra in 2001 and 2002. In 2001 MU1 Brown performed the Alexander Arutiunian Trumpet Concerto as the winner of the Brevard Summer Festival Concerto Competition. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1998 with a Bachelor of Music degree in trumpet performance and received a Master of Music degree from Indiana University in 2001. He has studied with Charles Daval, John Rommel, Arnold Jacobs, and Adolph Herseth. MU1 Brown joined the United States Coast Guard Band in July 2002.

. Musician 1st Class Sean Nelson plays trombone in the U.S. Coast Guard Band and jazz trombone in the United States Coast Guard Dixieland Jazz Band. He received a Bachelor of Music degree from Sam Houston State University, studying trombone with Henry Howey, and a Master of Music degree from the University of North Texas, studying trombone with Tony Baker and jazz composition with Paris Rutherford and Rich DeRosa. While at North Texas, he was trombonist and composer for the world renowned One O’Clock Lab Band. As a native of Dallas, Texas, he freelanced with big bands, salsa bands, top 40/cover bands, and orchestras, as well as performing aboard several ships for Princess Cruises. His is an active arranger and composer and recently won two awards from Downbeat Magazine for his big band arrangements of "Beautiful Love" and "Just Friends".

. Chief Musician Mark McCormick, contrabass, received both his bachelor of music and master of music degrees from the Manhattan School of Music. He has performed at the Spoleto Festival USA, the Waterloo Festival in Princeton, New Jersey and the Texas International Double Bass Symposium. In New York City he has appeared at Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall and Merkin Hall with the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, the Prism Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra New England, the Manhattan Philharmonic and the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra. MUC McCormick has recorded on the Vox, Bridge, Newport Classic and KOCH International labels. A recording of the music of Alan Hovhaness, in which he performed as principal bassist, was voted most popular classical album for 1995 in Great Britain, as well as being nominated for a Grammy Award in the United States. MUC McCormick joined the United States Coast Guard Band in 1997.

. Musician 1st Class Robert Langslet is the pianist for both the U.S. Coast Guard Band and the U.S. Coast Guard Dixieland Jazz Band. Prior to his appointment, he lived and worked in the greater New York area, performing in a wide variety of venues including the Blue Note Jazz Club, Carnegie Hall, and the Morgan Library. In December 2012 he received the honor of serving as the keynote performer for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Holiday Gala at the British Consulate-General of New York. MU1 Langslet has performed with a diverse array of artists, including Rich Perry, Candido Pomero, Francisco Mela, five-time Grammy nominee Bobby Sanabria, and the Oregon Symphony.

A gifted arranger, MU1 Langslet’s compositions and arrangements have been performed in a variety of settings. In April 2012 his original arrangement of the Bill Evans composition Nardis was selected by the two-time Grammy nominated Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra to be performed at Lincoln Center.

MU1 Langslet received his Master of Music degree from The Manhattan School of Music, magna cum laude, and his Bachelor of Music degree from William Paterson University, summa cum laude. He hails from Portland, Oregon, and joined the U.S. Coast Guard Band in June 2012.

. Prior to joining the Coast Guard Band in May 2009, Musician 1st Class Nathan Lassell, percussion, received a Bachelor of Music degree from George Mason University and a Master of Music degree from Rice University. A native of Arlington, Virginia, he has been an active freelancer in the Washington, D.C. area, performing at the Kennedy Center and for radio and television broadcasts as timpanist/percussionist with the National Cathedral Choirs. While still in high school he appeared as a soloist with the U.S. Air Force Band as the George S. Howard Young Artist Competition winner. MU1 Lassell has performed with the Nashville, Knoxville, Huntsville, San Antonio, and New World Symphonies, among others. In 2005 he was a fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and was twice a member of the National Orchestral Institute.

. Musician 1st Class Robert Holtorff, Audio Engineer, was born in Chicago, raised in Omaha, and spent quality time in San Antonio and Washington, DC. He studied architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, broadcast journalism at the University of Nebraska, and Audio and Recording at Northeast College in Nebraska. MU1 Holtorff came aboard the US Coast Guard Band in 2010.  Prior to that, he was a member of the US Air Force Band from 1994 to 2009, where he worked as the engineer for the world-renown jazz big band The Airmen of Note. He also toured extensively with the USAF Concert Band, Chorus, Strings, and Ceremonial Brass. Though relatively new to the Coast Guard, he voluntarily deployed to Alabama to assist with the Deepwater Horizon relief effort in August 2010.

MU1 Holtorff has toured through Canada, Mexico, and 48 states, and twice toured through the Middle East and Europe in support of Operation Desert Greetings and Operation Season’s Greetings. He has designed, optimized, and installed touring sound systems at the Kennedy Center, the National Mall, the White House, numerous jazz festivals, dozens of high level protocol events, and in the cargo bays of two KC-10s and a KC-135. He has provided front-of-house and/or monitor engineering support for Kurt Elling, The New York Voices, Karrin Allyson, Blues Traveler, Ron Carter, Phil Woods, The Empire Brass, Doc Severinson, Jose Feleciano, Herbie Hancock, Paquito D’Rivera, Bob Berg, Cleo Lane, Peter Erskine, and Presidents George W. Bush  and Bill Clinton, among others. He occasionally teaches and lectures on sound system design, computer analysis, and sound system optimization.

“We always have a great time representing the Coast Guard at Jazz Festivals across the United States,” said Chief Musician Mark McCormick.  “Being able to play at the Branford Jazz Festival and in our home state of Connecticut is an event that is very exciting for all of us in the band..”




Allowing his parents to believe that one day he would grow up to become a preacher, Clay Ross didn’t stray far from that at all.  Instead of preaching with words, this New York City resident spreads his message through the music of Brazilian Bluegrass threads.  The artist will be performing at the Branford Jazz Series on August 15th, 2013 on the Branford Town Green, starting at 6:30 p.m.

                Known as a guitarist, vocalist, composer and songwriter, Ross has released five albums as a leader through the acclaimed labels Ropeadope Records and Motema Music.    His music comprises a wide range of styles including rock, pop, jazz, funk, world, blues, and bluegrass.  After receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in composition from the University of Charleston, Ross became a vital component of the South Carolina jazz scene and relocated to New York City in 2002.  In 2005, he became a member of Cyro Baptista’s world renowned percussion ensemble “Beat the Donkey”, with whom he toured regularly until 2009 before joining Canadian folk star April Verch from 2009 to 2012.  In 2006, he was honored as a U.S. Jazz Ambassador and has since represented the United States as a cultural ambassador on tours to Macedonia, Greece, Kosovo, Turkey, Belfast, the United Kingdom, Senegal, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon, and Brazil.  Clay is currently performing at concert halls and music festivals around the world as a solo artist and leading his pan-american roots music band “Matuto”.

Throughout 2010, Clay Ross delivered a new album of unrelated digital downloads, one song at a time.  The resulting album, ”Entre Nous,” has a title borrowed from the lifelong book club of his late grandmother and here, Ross imagines each track as it’s own musical short story.

                The Branford Jazz Series artist spent much of the last year touring with Canadian fiddle star April Verch, who was featured in the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics.  Still, he found time to lead his own group  Matuto, debuting at the Legendary Blue Note Jazz Club, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, and The Kennedy Center on the heels of his 2009  Ropeadope Records debut of the same name.   Mixing musical styles has been a signature of Ross’ sound since the beginning.  With multiple tours as a U.S. Jazz Ambassador, a five-year stint with renowned Brazilian Percussionist Baptista, and performances at bluegrass festivals across North American under his belt, Clay‘s resume’ speaks to his eclectic tastes and versatile talents.

                “Matuto”, which is Brazilian slang for “country bumpkin”, plays original music inspired by Northeastern Brazilian Rhythms and American Folk Music.  The albums 11 tracks consist of seven Ross originals, four heavily reworked American folk tunes and alternates between instrumental and vocal songs. 

                “We are thrilled to be performing in the Branford Jazz Series,” said Ross.  “We couldn’t be more excited.  This seems to be an exciting event and a lot of fun to be a part of.  We hope that the entire Branford audience will get up and dance to our music.”

For information on Clay Ross - Matuto, Click Here


LAO TIZER ~ August 22ND

Inspired by his passion and drive toward a mixture of jazz, rock, classical, jam band influences, and Afro-Cuban and world rhythms, keyboardist/composer Lao Tizer, and his self-titled group TIZER, will headline the 2013 Branford Jazz Series on Thursday, August 22nd, 2013 on the Branford Town Green starting at 6:30 p.m.

            Surrounded by veterans world class musicians, Lao has created a dynamical rich ensemble with new melodic, harmonic possibilities, best exemplified in the title and spirit of his 2007 solo album, “Diversify”. TIZER’s new album, “Downbeat”,   co-produced by Lao and guitarist Jeff Kollman,  includes twelve new original compositions, including the first single, “World in Rhythm”, co-written with Emmy award winner and Grammy nominated guitarist Chieli Minucci, who is best known as the founder and leader of Special EFX.

            Over the last few years, TIZER, a 2011 nominee for “Jazz  Group of the Year,” has taken their multi-faceted world fusion around the globe, including the Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta, the Joy of Jazz Festival in Johannesburg, the Dubai Jazz Festival, Barbados Jazz Festival, the Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival and the Festival International Providencia Jazz in Santiago, Chile.  In addition to their usual whirlwind of U.S. dates, their 2012 schedule included the Jarasum International Jazz Festival in South Korea and four shows in Russia.

            The Branford Jazz series performer was a “Best New Jazz Artist” nominee in 2002. Diversify spent many weeks on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart in 2007-2008.  Lao and his group has a host of multi-genre and multi-national appeal that expands beyond the usual jazz enthusiasts.  The list includes the likes of Zappa Plays Zappa, Jethro Tull, Issac Hayes, Al Jarreau, Spyro Gyra, George Benson, Soulive, Babyface, Bruce Hornsby, and Robin Thicke.

 TIZER’s “Downbeat” album is the first studio album for his group and the first album that he has co-produced, with its balanced sounds of live rhythm sections of drums, bass, percussion, and keys, translating a funky, high energy of jazz driven by a swirl of guitar, saxophone, percussion and old school synth textures. 

            The collective members of his group include renowned jazz guitarist, composer and producer Minucci, violinist, Karen Briggs, bassist Rufus Philpot, saxophonist, vocalist and percussionist, Steve Nieves, and drummer Raul Pineda.

            Joining Lao and TIZER this August will be Minucci, Pineda, and Senegaleese bassist Cheikh N’Doye.

            “First of all, Connecticut as a whole is a very fertile ground for jazz. It is a hot button area for this type of music which is great,” said the 34 year old Tizer.  “We need more areas like this and it is always a pleasure coming to Connecticut.”  “I am glad to see the town of Branford has started this jazz series up.  These types of events are so good for the community first of all.  It allows everyone the opportunity to experience the redeeming quality that jazz brings.  I hope to see the Branford Jazz series grow even more in the future, so artists will have the same opportunity that we have to showcase their talent.”

  For more information on Lao Tizer, Click Here