Opening Night 2024 ~ June 27th


2024 Schedule


Dan Pugach Big Band

Dan Pugach’s life and music have taken him around the world, and now he returns to his adopted home state of Connecticut. GRAMMY Award-nominated Drummer and Composer Dan Pugach and his Big Band will open the 2024 Branford Jazz Series on the Town Green on June 27th at 6:30 p.m. The concert will feature original compositions from his latest Big Band Album, “Bianca”, released in March 2024 on Outside in Music.

“I cannot wait to perform at the 2024 Branford Jazz Series with my 17-piece big band,” said Pugach. “We’ve been enjoying such immense enthusiasm for the music on my new album and I’m so delighted to play it at the iconic Jazz on the Green Series.”

A three-time winner of the ASCAP Foundation Jazz Composer Award and winner of the BMI Charlie Parker Composition Prize/Manny Albam Commission (BMI Jazz Composers Workshop), Dan was the featured drummer on the 2024 GRAMMY Award-winning album “How Love Begins”, co-produced by his wife, Nicole Zuraitis, and Christian McBride.

Pugach is the leader of the Dan Pugach Nonet and the Dan Pugach Big Band, playing his much-lauded original music and arrangements. The Nonet and Big Band tour regularly, playing at such venues as the Blue Note, Birdland Jazz Club, Bird’s Eye Basel, The 55bar, Smalls Jazz Club, The Jazz Loft, The Jazz Estate, Stowe Jazz Festival, and esteemed Performing Arts Centers across the country.

Dan’s debut nonet album, “Plus One” (2018), was released on UNIT Records, charted on jazz radio in the top 20, and included Dan’s GRAMMY Award-nominated arrangement of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” (Best Arrangement, Instruments with Vocals, with vocalist Nicole Zuraitis).


Dan Currently lives in both Brooklyn, New York and Connecticut. He received a Bachelor of Music Degree from Berklee College of Music – where he studied with Terri Lynn Carrington, Hal Crook, and Joe Lovano – and received his M.A. in music from the City College of New York, studying under Mike Holober and Scott Reeves.


His journey has taken him from the encompassing foundations of Israel to the borough of New York City known as Brooklyn and now to Connecticut. GRAMMY Award nominee drummer and composer Dan Pugach and his Big Band next proceed to the Branford Jazz Series as its opener for the 2024 series on June 27th at 6:30 p.m. on the town green.
A three-time recipient of the ASCAP Foundation Jazz Composer Award and a winner of the BMI Charlie Parker Composition Prize/Manny Albam Commission as part of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, Dan was the featured drummer on the 2024 GRAMMY award winning album “How Love Begins”, co-produced by his wife, Nicole Zuraitis and Christian McBride.
Pugach is the leader of the Dan Pugach Nonet and the Dan Pugach Big Band, playing his original music and arrangements. The Nonet and Big Band tour regularly, and have played at Bird’s Eye Basel, The Zone in Tel Aviv, Blue Note Jazz, Birdland Jazz Club, The 55bar, Smalls Jazz Club, The Jazz Loft, The Jazz Estate, Stowe Jazz Festival and esteemed Performing Arts Centers across the country.


New London Big Band

For as long as he can recall, New London Big Band leader, Sean Nelson, envisioned the day that he wanted to lead an epic jazz orchestra of 17 –plus musicians. A band that would play music old and new- ranging from the Roaring 20s to brand new compositions written by members of the group.

Well, the vision became a reality in the summer of 2016 when after he and a buddy saw a new place opening looking for music entertainment, Nelson called around looking for the best musicians he knew and the New London Big Band was formed.

On July 11th, Sean and his New London Big Band will return for another Branford Jazz Series appearance on Thursday, July 11 at 6:30 p.m. on the Branford Town Green.
Led by trombonist and composer Nelson, the 17 piece jazz orchestra plays a mix of classic jazz standards, upbeat dance tunes and original music by band members, and regularly features instrumental and vocal soloists. They play monthly to sold out crowds at the Social Bar +Kitchen in New London. Thanks to their local fan base, the band won “Best Jazz Band” for CTNOW’s Best of Hartford. The band is comprised of five saxophones, four trumpets, four trombones, a piano, guitar, upright bass and a drummer.


KJ Denhert

One of the most beloved and award-winning songwriters, guitarists, vocalists and bandleaders combining a legend of Urban Folk & Jazz will be performing at the 2024 Branford Jazz Concert Series on the Town Green and she goes by the name of KJ Denhert.
Calling Ossining, New York her home, KJ will be in Branford on Thursday, July 18th, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Sharing stages with artists ranging from Alicia Keys to Roberta Flack to Robert Cray and many more, KJ’s career spans 40 years, numerous albums, and an avid international touring schedule. A child of the 60’s, KJ’s music is both a rich tapestry of Urban Folk and Jazz and a reflection of the fiery time of cultural upheaval in which she lived. Echoes of James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Laura Nyro and Steely Dan’s combine with KJ’s own unique musical voice to create music that is both unique and relevant for today.

KJ has garnered critical acclaim, earning numerous awards over a decades long career. She has maintained a 20+ year residency at Manhattan’s storied 55 Bar before its unfortunate closing in May of 2022, and enjoyed notable artist residencies in Italy and on the island of St. Barthelemy. She has expanded her local musical horizons, adding two new regular gigs at Sunny’s in Brooklyn and Arthur’s Tavern in New York City with her all-star bands. She has released 10 albums, with her latest being “The Evening News.” The long awaited album was released on March 29th, 2024, her first in 10 years, and is being enthusiastically received by her fans. KJ has earned seven Independent Music Awards, as a winning finalist in the Kerrville New Folk Song Contest, the Mountain Stage New Song Contest and as a grand prize finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest.


Sherry Winston

Flautist Sherry Winston to Perform Branford Jazz Series on July 25

Known for her combination of eloquent taste and value of playing melodically, flautist Sherry Winston has achieved success in the music and business industries. Now on July 25th, she will display her exemplary musical attributes as part of the 2024 Branford Jazz Series.

A graduate of Howard University’s College of Fine Arts, School of Music and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Sherry has been awarded the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame Award, “women of Power” through the Stamford Urban League, the Links “Impact Through the Arts” Award (2017), the Louis Armstrong Award (2005), nomination for the NAACP “Image Award” (1989), the “Eubie Blake Award” selected by Billy Taylor (1991), the “Howard University Alumni Award (1984, 1989), the Cultural Achievement Award by the National Black MBA (1996), WBLS’s “Quiet Storm Award”, and Alpha Kappa Alpha’s “Partner in the Arts Award” in 2001.

Sherry performed at The White House for President and Mrs. Clinton and for President George H.W. Bush at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. She has appeared on “Emeril Live”, The Today Show, BET, and many other TV shows nationally. She hosted six shows for BET TV, with Lou Rawls and Saxophonist Najee at the San Francisco Jazz Festival. Sherry has been featured in the New York Times, Ebony. Black Enterprise, Odyssey Couleur, More and other national magazines and newspapers.


Willie Bradley

Trumpeter Willie Bradley to appear in Branford Jazz Series August 1
Music and education have always been entwined in the artistic vision of trumpeter, educator, counselor and fundraiser Willie Bradley. A go-to musician/trumpeter for many of music’s greats over the years, Willie will be part of the 2024 Branford Jazz Series on Thursday, August 1st on the Branford Town Green starting at 6:30 p.m.

A native of Orangeburg, South Carolina and a graduate of South Carolina State University, he earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Performance. His music reaches worldwide and can be heard on Smooth Jazz Radio Stations to include Sirius XM, Music Choice, Pandora, Spotify, and iHeart Radio. Willie has recorded six successful Contemporary Jazz projects and is currently completing his seventh CD. Throughout his music career, Willie’s musical productions have been considered for two Grammy Awards, two #1 Billboard Smooth Jazz Hits and he was selected as Beats Magazine 2021 Smooth Jazz Artist of the Year by The Smooth Jazz Network. His stage presence includes performances nationally and internationally with jazz greats including Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Frank Foster, Max Roach, Betty Carter, Gerald Alston, Ronnie Laws, Marion Meadows, Walter Beasley, George Clinton, Gerald Albright, James Lloyd, and Andre 3000. Willie has performed the National Anthem for the Baltimore Orioles, Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, Carolina Hurricanes, and the Los Angeles Clippers. He is also known for being a member of the brass section with The Original James Brown Band.


Jeff Kashiwa

Coming Soon


Blake Aaron

Named a “genius on the guitar”, by the Los Angeles Times and “Aaron’s guitar playing is stellar” by the Jazz World – Blake Aaron will take the Branford Jazz Concert Series by storm on Thursday, August 22nd.

Delivering a total of six #1 Billboard singles as a solo artist, three #1 Billboard singles as a producer and two #1 Billboard singles as a featured artist, Blake also was the Featured Artist on the #1 Billboard song of the Year 2022 with Kim Scott.

Following in the footsteps on the smash album Color and Passion, which had three #1 Billboard singles and one #1 Song of the Year on the Radiowave charts for 2019, Blake’s album release, Love and Rhythm, rockets out of the gate with another three #1 billboard singles, “She’s The One”, “Feels So Right”, and “Dreamland.” Now a Billboard #1 producer himself as well as artist with his self-produced, silky-smooth “Fall for You”, as well as producing Billboard #1 songs for other artists, Blake also teams up with hit producer Darren Rahn for the #1 Billboard single, “Groovers and Shakers,” the #1 for all of 2019 Radiowave single, “Drive,” with Greg Manning for the #1Billboard single “Feels So Right,” with fellow hit maker Adam Hawley for three #1 Billboard singles, “Sunday Strut,” featuring saxophonist Najee, “Dreamland,” and the most recent Billboard #1 hit, “She’s the One.”