Branford Jazz Events Schedule Summer 2014

The 2014 Branford Jazz on the Green Series is coming JUNE 26th!  Please come join us!

The Branford Jazz on the Green Series is pleased to announced that we are again back for NINE Thursday nights in row beginning Thursday night, June 26th at 6:30pm and concluding on Thursday , August 21st. 

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

HOBO CONGRESS:~ June 26th ~ Opening Night

Proudly sculpturing their own artistic identity after years of following some of the jazz industry’s finest performers. HOBO CONGRESS will showcase their talent on the opening night of the Branford Jazz Series, Thursday, June 26th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

WILL EARLEY is a Connecticut native who has been playing music since he started his first band at the age of 12.  He attended Naugatuck Community College, where he studied with jazz guitarist Joe Beck (Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra).  He later pursued guitar at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, California, where he studied with renowned guitarists Scott Henderson, Dan Gilbert and Allen Hinds.  While in Los Angeles, Will did session work at Paramount Studios for Virgin Records.  He has been a successful local musician since his return to Connecticut and is a proud album recorder with Mos Opus, Hot Chaos, and GGL.  Currently, Will is playing all over New England with Hobo Congress, The Greg Sherrod Band, and Le Pompe’.

JOSH BRUNEAU is an inspired young trumpet player, who has followed late jazz performers, hard bop trumpeter, Lee Morgan, and jazz trumpeter Freddie Hubbard as his influences.  Bruneau attended the University of Hartford’s Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz and studied and performed with hard bop saxophonist and flutist Rene McLean, American jazz bassist Nat Reeves, and jazz trombonist Steve Davis.  Still only in his mid-twenties, Josh has toured Europe twice, once with the Jackie McLean Institute All Stars and with trombone legend Curtis Fuller.

With his extensive experience and comparison as both a performer and educator with many icons in American music including late jazz legends Jackie McLean and Maynard Ferguson and rock icons “The Allman Brothers Band”, KRIS JENSEN has toured with Dickey Betts (“Dickey Betts and Great Southern) and has recording credits with various artists including the New England Jazz Ensemble, Joan Osborne, and others.  Jensen is active in jazz education as a teaching artist in Hartford, Connecticut at the Bushnell’s “Jazzicians” and leads his own student group”The BluTonz” youth jazz ensemble based in Hamden, Connecticut.  He continues to perform and record with many Connecticut based world class artists and tours both nationally and internationally with “Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band.”

BENJ LEFEVRE is a founding member of the Northeast Funk/Rock band “Deep Banana Blackout”, a group that started out in 1995, and toured the United States  and overseas for many years.  The group developed a following due to the high energy Funk, Soul, Jazz and Rock they blended.  DBB had varied musical influences and many of the same artists shared the stage and played with the group, including: funk and soul jazz saxophonist Maceo Parker, drummer Clyde Stubbefield, jazz and funk trombonist Fred Wesley(James Brown) just to name a few.

JORDAN GIANGRECO has been playing keyboards professionally for well over 20 years and includes in his style Blues to Reggae to Folk to Progressive Jazz.  He has played with the well-known cover band of the Grateful Band, “Shakedown”, the George Baker Band, and the Travis Moody Band ( a well-known local Branford band).  Jordan is best known as a founding member of “The Breakfast”, who in 2004 accepted a “Jammy Award” for Best New Groove category.  He is currently performing with the band known as “Viral Sound.”

ERIC HYLAND has been a percussionist since the age of 13 and holds a background genre including marching, orchestral, jazz, funk, electronica, hard rock, and pop.  Eric’s  current projects include: “The Cosmic Dust Bunnies”, “Viral Bunnies”, “Freeplay”, and “Hobo Congress”

“We are honored and excited to be performing at the Branford Jazz Series,” said Giangreco.  “Our band has a lot of fun in each and every one of our performances and we are waiting to show those in attendance our joy of music.”





When legendary bassist Milt Hinton offered North Haven’s Brian Q. 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 bassist, composer, author and educator, Torff and his band, New Duke, will be performing a fresh take on the genius of legendary arranger, bandleader and pianist Duke Ellington at the 2014 Branford Jazz Series. 

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

 "This concert at the Branford Jazz Series is an opportunity to see and hear Duke Ellington's music in a new light,” said Brian Torff. “New Duke is a group of working professionals and educators at Fairfield University. Together we have created a new take on Ellington's music. The arrangements are in a contemporary vein and utilize funk, rock, hip-hop, reggae, and Afro-pop beats in an attempt to give Ellington's music a new perspective. These scores came from a National Endowment grant that was obtained by my colleague, Dr. Laura Nash in 2010. We will be repeating this workshop at Fairfield University in late June and July of this year.”

Torff lived in Paris in early 2008 and wrote his book, “In Love With Voices: A Jazz Memoir.”  He currently features his songs with his funk rock horn band, Phantom Pluckers, www.phantompluckers.com. If that wasn’t enough to impress his followers, Brian is currently the Music Program Director and Professor of Music at Fairfield University.  Brian is the musical director for the Django Reinhardt New York Festival and they will be touring this summer with appearances at the Newport Jazz Festival, Aspen Music Festival and Birdland in New York City. Torff enjoys his tenure as the Jazz Series director at the Westport Arts Center in Westport, Connecticut.

 Scheduled to appear with him at the Branford Jazz Series are his fellow New Duke musicians: Jamie Finegan (trumpet, cornet), Rick Sadlon (alto sax and flute), Steve Moran (tenor, baritone and soprano sax), John Fumasoli (trombone), David Childs (piano), Don Mulvaney (drums), and Darryl Tookes (vocals). “They are all tremendous musicians.” said Torff.

 “It’s a great thrill for us to be performing at this year’s Branford Jazz Series,” said Torff.  “We are will be making our first recording in mid-July and Branford will be the perfect warm-up for us. You cherish ever time you get a chance to perform and I believe people will enjoy listening to the new beat of Ellington’s music. I think Duke would approve!”

 For more information about Brian Torff, Click Here



When Hall High School band director Bill Stanley began the Monday night ritual with the Hartford Jazz Orchestra back in October of 1965 at King Phillip Junior High School in West Hartford, Connecticut, the group worked diligently with a series of new and interesting muscle arrangements to help acquire a surplus of quality musicians and an invigorating attendance following to add to what they already had in place.   

  Now close to some 40 years later and under the present leader, Donn Trenner, the Hartford Jazz Orchestra will shine under the Branford Jazz Series spotlight.  Bob Vater at the helm during the 1970’s, the HJO performed concerts with the Woody Herman, Stan Kenton bands along with joint appearances with jazz greats Zoot Sims and Clark Terry.  It was about at this time that Chic Cicchetti joined the band as a section trombone player.  The HJO moved to Newington High School around 1979 and continued under the direction of John Mills. 

 The band moved back to Manchester for a short time again under the direction of Bill Stanley and simultaneously, Cicchetti began to make his presence felt with his stellar musical arrangements, which led to his ultimate leadership.  In the early 1980’s, the band moved to The Rocking Horse Cafe’.   There were many personnel changes through all these years with a definitive surge in the quality of musicianship with the addition of Jack Nedorostek on lead trumpet and Tony DiMaggio on lead trombone.  Seb Giacco has played the lead alto sax chair since the band’s inception.  Dick Prestage, presently in the trumpet section, also is an original member but moved to Florida for three years before returning to the organization. 

The band subsequently moved to the then famous Club 880 which, at that time, was the mecca of the Hartford jazz scene.    It was during this time that singer Bobbi Rogers joined the group and remained with the group until her recent passing.  Singer Nicole Pasternak, another amazing talent (who will be performing at the Branford Jazz Series later in the year with Bill Cofrances) also performs with Trenner and the HJO orchestra.   She, in fact, will be joining the Hartford Jazz Orchestra on stage. 

 The HJO was the house band at the 880 until the club owner expired and the establishment began to show signs of instability.  Under Chic’s leadership, the band moved to The Great American Café’ in Glastonbury, CT for a short stay, then on to the Ramada Inn in East Hartford.  In 1998, the HJO moved to the Arch Street Tavern where it remains to this day. Chic Cicchetti died in May of 2000 and prior to his passing, he expressed the wish that his music would be under the stewardship of Dick Prestage, Jack Nedorostek, Don West, and Seb Giacco.  The present leader of the HJO is Donn Trenner. 

 Trenner, assigned to the Special Services in the Air Force, organized three orchestras early on in his career and produced a weekly show.  After his discharge from the service, he played with Bud Morrow, Charlie Barnett, and Tommy Dorsey, all of big band era fame.  Much of Donn’s career focused around that of a jazz pianist, playing with Charlie Parker and Stan Getz among others.  Over the years, he traveled with the Les Brown Orchestra and participated in seven of the famed Bob Hope Christmas USO tours.  Donn has worked as pianist-conductor for such artists as Lena Horne, Nancy Wilson, Vicki Carr, Dick Haymes, Jose Feliciano, and  Jack Jones just to name a few. Donn was the musical director for the highly acclaimed “Steve Allen Show” and conducted many international orchestras and performed in TV specials for Swedish Broadcasting, German Broadcasting and the BBC.  While a musical director for Shirley Maclane, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for her TV special “Gypsy In My Soul”.  In 1976, Donn was musical director at the Kennedy Center for a 3 hour TV special on the eve of Jimmy Carter’s presidential inauguration.  For 18 years, Donn was musical director for Ann-Margret and later in 1998 was a pianist/musical director for the multi-talented Rita Moreno.  Donn moved back to the east coast in 1996, where he makes his home in Guilford, Connecticut and re-constructed his multi-track studio there, doing synchronized performances for live stage.   Trenner also teaches and emphasizes vocal development in addition to live recordings and coaching with local artists.  The HJO welcomed Donn into their fold in 1999 and he assumed the leadership role of the Hartford Jazz Orchestra upon the death of Chick Cicchetti in May 2000.   Recognized as a versatile and indefatigable member of the region’s musical scene for more than a half century, Chick was celebrated as a trombonist, pianist, arranger, and virtuoso joke-teller.  In addition to countless club and dance dates, Ciccchetti also played trombone in the 1950’s and ‘60s in the Hartford Symphony, as well as the Connecticut Opera orchestra.  He was also for many years a regular in the house band at the Oakdale Musical Theatre in Wallingford.  Im 1979, Cicchetti became the personal conductor and pianist for Sergio Franchi, an arrangement that lasted until the singer’s death in 1990.

 “We are very happy to be performing in Branford and the Jazz Series on the Green,” said Trenner.  “This gives the Hartford Jazz Orchestra a chance for more exposure and we are elated to be doing this.”

For more information on Hartford Jazz Orchestra  Click Here


One graduated from the Berklee College of music in Boston, Massachusetts while the other matriculated at Dartmouth College.  One performs solo and group engagements throughout New England and the latter is an active performer and composer, traveling internationally to play and teach with a variety of groups.  Together, both David Newsam and Fred Haas will showcase their musical talents along with drummer Tim Gilmore and bassist David Clark as part of the Branford Summer Jazz Series on the Green

David grew up in Connecticut, where he was a student of Robert Shaw and a graduate of Berklee College of Music, where he studied with fellow guitarists Jim Kelly, Larry Baione and William Leavitt.  David also completed his studies in the Modern American Music  program at Longy School of Music, where he studied with Thom Noren and the late Charlie Banacos.  He currently works as an assistant professor in the guitar department at Berklee where he has taught since 1989.  He is also employed as a senior lecturer in music at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, where he teaches guitar and jazz improvisation.  David created the jazz guitar program at the University of New Hampshire and coaches jazz ensembles. 

As a performer, David performs solo and group engagements throughout New England.  He has performed in concerts and clinics with many noted musicians among them guitarists Jim Hall, Bucky Pizzarelli and Howard Alden, pianists Dave McKenna, and James Williams, drummers Ed Shaugnessy, Louis Bellson, Bob Moses and Alan Dawson, and jazz legends Clark Terry, Phil Wilson, Joe Williams, and Milt Jackson.  He has extensive theatre experience including performances with Jack Jones, Mitizi Gaynor, Dianne Carroll, The Fifth Generation, The Shirrelles, and Carol Channing.  David’s recent concert appearances include performances at Berklee College of Music, Longy School of Music, Dartmouth and St. Anselm Colleges, The House of Blues and the Boston Hatch Shell.  He is also the author of the book, “Making Money Teaching Music”, published by Writer’s Digest Books.  He has produced the instructional DVD Accelerate Your Classical Guitar Playing, for Rittor Music in Japan,  and authored the course, Fundamentals of Classical Guitar, for Berklee Online.  Davis is also a member of the Back Bay Guitar Trio. 

A distinguished Senior Lecturer in Music, Fred Haas has performed with the likes of jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, the late Ray Charles, trumpeter Clark Terry, jazz vibraphonist Milt Jackson, jazz guitarist Gene Bertoncini, jazz drummer Joe Morello, trumpeter, the late Don Cherry, vocalist Karrin Allyson, drummer Matt Wilson, pianist John Proulx   and many others.  A graduate of Dartmouth College (1973), Fred teaches saxophone, jazz, piano, jazz improvisation, jazz history and music theory.  He also mentors jazz combos as part of the Performance Lab program in the Music Department,  In 1996, Fred founded Interplay Jazz & Arts, an intensive holistic workshop in jazz that integrates yoga and meditation with the study of improvised music and other artistic disciplines.  He has recorded many CD’s, including several for his own JazzToons label.  Fred is also an active performer and composer, travelling internationally to play and teach with a variety of jazz groups. 

“We are very excited about performing at this great event, “said Newsam.  “We are ready to spread the gospel of jazz in our performance at the Branford Jazz Series.”

For more information on this group,   Click Here




Inspired by parents who absorbed success in the world of jazz music, saxophonist Billy Cofrances and singer Nicole Pasterank took the benefits left to them along the way and created a very successful jazz reputation.  Now the two aforementioned artists will join forces on the Branford Town Green as part of the Summer Jazz Concert Series on July 24, 2014. The son of saxophonist Billy Cofrances, Sr., and vocalist “Rainy Day” Cofrances, this accomplished performing artist has found his voice mastering both the alto and tenor saxophones. His love for bebop and hard bop was influenced by following his father and luminaries such as jazz saxophonist Sonny Stitt, alto saxophonists Art Pepper and Cannonball Adderley.

Billy has been a fixture in the New England jazz scene for well over three decades.  Having played his earlier years with small and big bands alike, he continues to perform with his own quartet as well as record on occasion.  The Berklee alum has had the opportunity to perform with many wonderful artists.     Some of Billy most memorable venue appearances include: Silver Mine Tavern, Main & Hopewell, 500 Blake Street, Colonial Thymes, and Ocean Cliff. Billy continues to play and bring inspiration the great American song book, with his tempos and interpretation of the music.

Vocalist Nicole Pasternak, a native of Hartford, Connecticut and the sixth of seven children, absorbed music at the early age of nine, where she was awarded a scholarship to play violin and later studied acoustic guitar and classical piano.  She was drawn to jazz, where she started out on piano, then moved out front to sing.  Nicole traveled abroad to attend the American College in Paris, singing in the metro and small clubs.  A three-year stint in Northern California led to her first professional gigs before she returned home to the Northeast and continued her singing career.  In 1986, she formed a group with then-husband, bassist George Sheck “Nicole and Friends” soon became known as one of the region’s favorites.  In 1987, “Nicole and Friends” recorded “Winter Samba”, an album or original work.  In 1989 she released “Nicole/The Song Is You” with Cexton Records.  The mother of two, Nicole has lent her talents to a number of projects for children.  She has been a collaborator on the SoundWorshop recordings released in Korea to promote English language for children.  She has been a contributor to the “Songs of Love” organization, creating personalized songs for children who suffer life-threatening illnesses.  Her inspired song “The Baby Is Here” was chosen in 1997 as the theme for the Adoptive Parents Committee of Long Island, New York.  Her festival highlights include the New Haven Jazz Festival, West Palm’s Sugar Fest, Berkshire Jazz Festival and the Berks Country Jazz Fest.  Her New York City venue highlights include Birdland, Tavern On The Green, Latin Quarter, Metronome, Tribeca Grille and Chez Suzette.

Aside from fronting her own groups, Nicole appears regularly as the featured vocalist with pianist Alan Simon’s Quartet, the Harold Zinno Jazz Quartet, the Joe Holmes Swing Band and the Sonny Caroll  Orchestra.  In concert with the talented Lalama Brothers, Ralph and Dave, she has grown in popularity with jazz audiences in New York City, the Tri-State area and beyond. 

Tenor saxophonist Ralph Lalama is well known through his work in such prestigious bands as the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Joe Lovano Nonet, Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich and Jon Faddis. He has earned three Grammys and has nine CDs as a leader, five of them on the distinguished Criss Cross jazz label. Lalama’s own trio, “Bop Juice, Live at Smalls” is available on the SmallsLive label, and he appears regularly at the popular, renowned Greenwich Village jazz club. His recording, "The Lalama Brothers: Erie Avenue" co-led with his brother, pianist Dave Lalama, features Peter Washington (b), Kenny Washington (d) and special guest Joe Lovano. The brothers' recording is currently enjoying high praise and high ranking on the nation's top jazz charts. Lalama is the husband of vocalist Nicole Pasternak. He is an accomplished jazz educator at NYU and SUNY Purchase, as well as leading jazz clinics across the USA and abroad. He is a longtime member and a featured soloist every Monday night at The Village Vanguard, with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. His website is: http://www.ralphlalama.com

“I am very excited about my Branford Jazz on the Green Series debut.  I am looking forward to communicating my love of music, making people happy, and sharing this experience with my dear friend, Nicole.  I can think of no better experience than playing in my own backyard,” said Cofrances.  

 ELAN TROTMAN   ~ July 31st

Saxophonist Elan Trotman, has quickly become one of contemporary jazz’s most thrilling and emotive performers, and continues to stand out and push boundaries as a composer, performer, and recording artist. So much so that he’s becoming the go-to sax-man for smooth jazz artists like Peter White, Paul Brown, Keiko Matsui, Brian Simpson, Rick Braun, a guest spot on the Dave Koz 2012 Cruise to Europe, and a 2013 Summer Tour with Jonathan Butler and Sheila E. Trotman’s playing, though inspired by Grover Washington, Jr. and Kirk Whalum, among others, displays his own fresh ideas and distinctive tone. So much so that he’s a 3-time winner of the New England Urban Music Award for Best Jazz Male, 2-time nominee for a Boston Music Award, and winner for Instrumentalist of the Year (Barbados) in 2011. Born and raised in Barbados, the native island of pop star Rihanna, and educated at the world-renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, Trotman approaches jazz in his own way. Blending Caribbean rhythms from his roots with skillful horn textures, his playing is full of surprises. “I like to stretch out, take chances on my solos and on my records.” Inspiring and eminently listenable, Trotman’s music is never predictable.

With 6 Top 25 Billboard singles already to his credit, Elan takes pride in always writing and producing his music. Love and Sax, Trotman’s 5th CD, debuted at #20 on Billboard Contemporary Jazz Albums in June of 2011. The single “Heaven In Your Eyes” that featured Brian Simpson climbed all the way to #11 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs Chart. In the fall of 2011, Elan followed up with another single, a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “As” with trumpeter Lin Rountree, which reached #16 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Radio Chart. Prior to “Love and Sax” his 2009 release “This Time Around” gained significant airplay for the funky remake of Bill Withers hit “Lovely Day” by reaching #6 on the smoothjazz.com Top 50 Indie Chart, and the self-penned, feel good summer track “100 Degrees”.

For his 6th album “Tropicality”, Elan proudly showcases his Caribbean heritage with his newest release on Woodward Avenue Records . ‘We “islanders” are happy people by nature, and that quality has always been evident by the way our music grooves. It’s a story of my journey from “Bridgetown to Beantown”, and features rhythms and grooves from not just Barbados, but surrounding Caribbean Islands, Cape Verde, and Latin America. Guitarist and good friend Peter White co-produced the album, along with special guest appearances by Paul Brown, Terri Lyne Carrington and Nick Colionne.

Trotman has recorded and performed with a number of world-class musicians, including Roberta Flack, Patti Austin, Will Downing, Phil Perry, Jamie Foxx, Kirk Whalum, Peter White, Gerald Albright, Dave Koz, Jeff Lorber, Paul Brown, Keiko Matsui, Raul Midon, Brian Simpson, Marlena Shaw, Earl Klugh, Average White Band, Brian McKnight, Johnny Gill, Nathan East, Najee, Nick Colionne, Gerald Veasley, Terri Lyne Carrington, Rick Braun, and Don Grusin to name a few. A huge sports fan, Trotman has performed the National Anthem on numerous occasions for such teams as the Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers. He put together the band that performed for NBA star Ray Allen’s wedding and performs annually for Theo Epstein’s charity event “Hot Stove Cool Music,” jamming with MLB Gold Glove pitcher Bronson Arroyo, and former ESPN analyst Peter Gammons. Says Trotman: “I hope that everyone, including people of all ages who might listen to straight-ahead jazz, smooth jazz, rock or gospel, enjoys the music and the performance. It’s for them.”


For more information about Elan Trotman, Click Here



JAY ROWE~  August 7th

At an early age of 3 ½, Milford resident Jay Rowe started to develop a love for music that became a premonition that his interest would become something more than just a hobby.  Now some years later as a fan of smooth jazz, a music degree graduate, an accomplished performer and a founder of a non-profit organization to help raise money for public school music education, Rowe shares his jazz enthusiasm with the Branford Jazz Series on August 7, 2014 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Jay began his study of music appreciation at age 12 and chose piano as his instrument of choice.  He attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a bachelor of music degree in 1985, where he became a part of the New Haven music scene, along with fellow Connecticut native Marion Meadows (a former Branford Jazz series performer).  Jay formed a band that began playing as an opening act for whatever smooth and contemporary jazz acts that played in the New Haven area including: The Rippingtons, David Benoit, Bela Fleck, Stanley Jordan, and Jeff Lorber.  When Meadows got his record deal and went on the road, he took Jay with him as part of his band.  He credits Marion and saxophone player Nelson Rangell for being the catalysts that started his career.  In fact, Rowe worked with Nelson on his In Every Moment CD. Since then, he has performed and recorded with artists Ken Navarro, Chieli Minucci, Special EFX, Chuck Loeb, Paul Jackson Jr., Jeff Kashiwa (a 2014 Jazz Series performer), Kim Waters, Eric Darius, Rick Braun, Bobby Caldwell, Phil Perry, and Pat Dinizio.  He performs regularly at many major jazz festivals in the United States and has also performed at festivals in the United States, Portugal, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, South Africa, and Indonesia.

            As a solo artist, pianist and keyboardist, he has recorded and released five cds, “A Dream I Had” (1994), “Jay Walking” (1997), “Laugh Out Loud” (2001),  “Red, Hot and Smooth” (2006) and “Live At Daniel Street” (2011).  Jay is also the founder of Smooth Jazz For Scholars Inc., a non-profit organization which puts on fund raising concerts to raise money for public school music education.   

            “Events like the Branford Jazz Series enriches the community as a whole.  It is a win-win for everybody,” said Rowe.  “This is a well- attended event, the sound is excellent and the series is presented in a favorable way.  This is a great opportunity for all of us as musicians.”


For information on Jay Rowe, Click Here

KJ DENHERT ~ August 14th

Known for her special intermingling of urban folk and jazz, musician K. J. Denhert will be returning to showcase her jazz musical masterpieces on the Branford Town Green on Thursday, August 14th as part of the Branford Jazz 2014 summer concert series, starting at 6:30 p.m. A four time nominee of Independent Music Awards and in 2009, named as one of Jazz.com’s top featured vocalists, K.J. has appeared at numerous jazz festivals and has residences at the ’55 Bar’, Smoke in New York City, the Baz Bar in St.Barthelemy of the Caribbean, and the prestigious Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy.  Her latest, “Album No. 9”, a collection of 60’s jazz, pop, and rock standards was released in the fall of 2010.  Consistently recognized and praised for her pathos, originality and musicianship, K.J., is a one of a kind songwriter, guitarist, and performer. 

Born Karen Jeannne to parents from the island of Grenada, she was the first US citizen born to a small family.  Her only brother, born in Aruba, had taken an interest in music and it was on one of his discarded guitars that K.J. wrote her first song.   Back in the late 1980’s, she toured for six years as the lead guitarist and occasional vocalist with an all-female band called “Fire”, playing rock and top-40 music throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.  While working in Cleveland, Ohio, she started the “Mother Cyclone” label and made her first recording.  Moving home to New York in 1997, she formed the “New York Unit”, a group she still performs with.  K.J. was named among the six winners of the Kerrville New Folk Song contest in June 2006 and in August of 2005 won the Mountain Stage New Song, for “Little Mary”. 

Although she continues to define herself as an urban folk and jazz artist, Denhert decided to explore her talents in Album Number 9, which resulted in a collection of jazz, pop, and rock.  Unrestrained in its musical content and delivery, Album No. 9 marks a number of firsts for KJ, including performing for the first time without a guitar on “Alfie”, to writing and recording her first French song –“Chanson Baz Bar”- and her first reggae song –“Choose Your Weapon” to unveiling her first video for the iconic Beatles song, “Help”.  K.J’s inimitable way with lyrics is obvious throughout her career, whether she’s singing about the misadventures of trying to make a record on her remarkable version of Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” or learning not to sweat the small things on “Let It Go”, which was co-written with German singer San Glaser, and which contains what she claims is “her favorite bridge of all time, offering a tip of the hat to Donald Fagen”.

Recording at Bicostal Music Studios in K.J.’s home town of Ossining, New York, she co-produced Number 9 with studio owner Hal Winer, whose world class facility has hosted the likes of Rob Thomas, the Yellow Jackets and Bjork.  She is supported by a strong cadre of players, including longtime band members Mamadou Ba (Harry Belafonte, Regina Carter) on bass and drummer Ray Levier.   Saxophonist Aaron Heick (Richard Bona, Chaka Khan, Sting) has remained a regular since his debut on K.J.’s 2007 recording Dal Vivo a Umbria Jazz.  KJ recently released her 10th album, known as “Destiny”, a track which was inspired by a quote from was the most famous French fabulist and one of the most widely read French poets of the 17th century, Jean de La Fontaine. The quote reads as such: “A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.”  The songs are all original and features the many players who have made Denhert’s dreams of being a successful songwriter who plays for the joy of music come true.  Since her last appearance in Branford, KJ has traveled to Istanbul, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and twice to Cairo.

 “Our concert on the Branford Town Green was one of the highlights of the last 10 years,” said KJ.  “I am thrilled to be invited back, it was the surprise concert that filled my heart.  I am excited to share another evening in Branford because the people were an amazingly warm and receptive audience.  What more is there?  NOTHING!!!”. Visit www.kjdenhert.com to learn more.       

  For more information about KJ Denhert, Click Here

JEFF KASHIWA ~ August 21th 

Seattle native, Jeff Kashiwa knew he was destined to be a musician following his junior high introduction to woodwinds. His instincts were correct. He became known as one of the most compelling young saxophonists in contemporary jazz during his first year with The Rippingtons. Kashiwa performed hundreds of shows all over the world and appeared on many of the band’s classic recordings. Now he appears on the Branford Town Green on Thursday, August 21st to close out the 2014 Branford Jazz Series, starting at 6:30 p.m.

 Having established himself in the 1990's as one of the most diverse saxmen in contemporary jazz during his decade long tenure with The Rippingtons, Kashiwa’s instincts led him to more dynamic endeavors through his solo career. It surprised many when Jeff left the group to venture out on his own, but he had things to say through his own music. Kashiwa has nine CDs released under his own name and has continued to record as a guest artist with many other artists as well. In 2004, Kashiwa founded The Sax Pack, a trio of saxophone headliners, featuring himself, Steve Cole and Kim Waters. The group released two CDs together and charmed audiences with their Rat Pack style reparte' in tours across the U.S. and abroad. 

In 2006, Jeff reunited with The Rippingtons for their 20th Anniversary Tour and continues to record and tour with the group as often as his busy schedule will allow. In addition to touring with The Sax Pack and his own group, Kashiwa has expanded his career to include the realm of music education, teaching various courses through the music program at Shoreline Community College in Seattle. 

His cd, Let It Ride features a host of great musicians in the world of Contemporary Jazz; Russ Freeman, David Benoit, Chuck Loeb and Tom Schuman of Spyro Gyra. Let It Ride has been in the top 4 Best Sellers in Smooth Jazz on Amazon.com. 

“Branford is a beautiful town that I love playing in,” said Kashiwa.  “The fans are so loyal and so enthusiastic that I am excited to return to the East Coast.”

For more information about Jeff Kashiwa

For For more information about Jeff Kashiwa, Click Here