The 2010 Isthmus Jazz Festival features new blood, old favorites and two extraordinary out-of-town stars. The big names are Chicago's Frank Catalano, a hard-blowing tenor saxophonist who first made his mark as a teenager; and L.A.'s Tierney Sutton, a vocalist with an unusual approach to her craft.
Sutton, the headliner, performs a ticketed concert at the Wisconsin Union Theater on Saturday, June 5. Catalano plays for free on the UW Memorial Union Terrace on Friday, June 4. Eight local acts also play free sets on the Terrace on both June 4 and 5, with Lake Mendota as a picturesque backdrop.
The rain location for the Terrace events is the UW Memorial Union Rathskeller. Inside or outside, the Isthmus Jazz Festival promises a sweet start to summer '10.
See IsthmusJazzFestival.com for more information.
Friday, June 4
Caravan Gypsy Swing Ensemble
The quintet plays bright, amiable gypsy swing, influenced by Django Reinhardt's classic music of the 1930s and '40s. You can expect the fleet-fingered guitar solos and chugging rhythms characteristic of the style, but Caravan Gypsy Swing adds a few appealing touches of its own. A clarinet replaces the traditional violin; original compositions mix with Django standards; and Latin sounds occasionally work their way into the mix.
Caravan Gypsy Swing will perform tunes from its 2010 album An Evening at the Brink Lounge, released on Django's 100th birthday.
Gerri DiMaggio & Friends
Gerri DiMaggio has a knack for bringing singers together. This year, she features Sally DeBroux and Jeannie Woodall for a series of duets, solo spots and ensemble numbers. All three are strong vocalists in their own right, but together they're sure to drive the Terrace crowd wild, as DiMaggio's sets usually do at the Isthmus Jazz Festival.
This year's theme is "From New York to Rio," reflecting DiMaggio's two loves: standards from the Great American Songbook and Brazilian music. Expect a heavenly mix of Tin Pan Alley melodies and Latin rhythms.
See accompanying article.
Tony Castañeda Latin Jazz Super Band
Percussionist Castañeda is known for his Latin Jazz Sextet, featuring a solid groove and solid solos. For the Isthmus Jazz Festival, he adds special guests Louka Patenaude (guitar), Meraj Mehta (timbales) and Nic Cowles (flute) to form a Super Band. They'll play Latin jazz classics from Castañeda's repertoire along with new arrangements devised especially for this beefed-up group.
Saturday, June 5
Isthmus High School Jazz All-Stars
At every Isthmus Jazz Festival, Edgewood College's Dan Wallach works wonders with a group of enthusiastic young students. The next generation of jazz stars includes players from West to Sun Prairie to Middleton, and you'll be surprised at how polished they sound.
Jeff Peronto Jazz Orchestra
Jeff Peronto has been a force in local jazz for over 30 years, best known for leading MATC's ensembles. He started the Jeff Peronto Jazz Orchestra in 2008 after leaving MATC for health reasons, and now trumpeter Jon Schipper has assumed the role of music director. "The main focus is to have a polished ensemble that can inspire younger musicians and keep this music alive in their minds," Schipper says.
The band performs classic big-band music by the likes of Count Basie and Woody Herman but features other styles (Latin, New Orleans) to keep listeners on their toes. As Schipper puts it: "We try to throw you a curve."
Francesca Esmé Quartet
Esmé has been performing at clubs around Madison since graduating from the jazz program at the University of North Texas. She's got big pipes, a repertoire of intriguing originals, and an intimate way with a lyric.
Madison Jazz Orchestra
The veteran ensemble does justice to the big-band format, massing brass and reeds against a swinging rhythm section while skillful improvisers speak their piece.
Tierney Sutton (headliner)
8 pm, Wisconsin Union Theater
See accompanying article.
It's an Isthmus Jazz Festival tradition - the 11-piece Latin jazz ensemble capping the night with an irresistible blend of mambo, merengue and salsa as bodies writhe in front of the stage. Why mess with tradition?
Jazz Personality of the Year
The Isthmus Jazz Personality of the Year is Cathy Sullivan, who coordinated the Jazz at Five series for 15 years. Sullivan helped bring in national performers as well as supporting local talent, and under her watch the event grew from a few dozen people a show to a few thousand. She'll be honored at Tierney Sutton's concert at the Wisconsin Union Theater on June 5.