Jazz at Lincoln Center will head out on a “Songs We Love” tour featuring rising stars in New York City jazz. The tour features Riley Mulherkar as Musical Director, with Vuyo Sotashe, Brianna Thomas and Shenel Johns on vocals with Julian Lee, Mariel Bildsten, Mathis Picard, Barry Stephenson and TJ Reddick.
Today’s rising stars in jazz music are to preform “Songs We Love,” from March 3-19. The tour will feature a journey through the first 50 years of jazz music under the musical direction of Riley Mulherkar, along with three guest vocalists who will join the band of New York’s rising stars. By combining their unique talents, the group will perform their way through decades of music, beginning with the early blues, the jazz of the 1920s, and then ending in the early 1950s. With this, Iconic singers included such as Ma Rainey, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland.
The “Songs We Love” tour will kick off in March with nine shows throughout the north, east and south coasts. The tour was first presented as the 2016 Season opener at Lincoln Center in New York City. For over three decades, Jazz at Lincoln Center has been a huge advocate for genres such as jazz, culture, and arts education globally. With the help of Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and many guest artists throughout the generations, this venue produces thousands of performances, education, and broadcast events for people around the world.
By providing new opportunities to present great jazz programming, the Jazz at Lincon Center can feature up and coming musicians who are rising in fame. This allows for their mission ““to entertain, enrich and expand a global community for jazz through performance, education, and advocacy.”
Musician Riley Mulherkar has been recognized as a “smart young trumpet player” by The New York Times, along with being praised by The Wall Street Journal as a “youngster to keep an eye on.” By being a founding member of the band, The Westerlies, Riley helps create a hybrid genre of music that can be both “folk-like, lovely and intellectually rigorous” (NPR Music). Riley works with many leading and up-and-coming artists today, he was born and raised in Seattle, but later moved to New York to study at The Juilliard School, later receiving the Knowles Prize for Jazz and the Peter Mennin Prize for “outstanding achievement and leadership in music.”
In 2011, Riley was named a “rising jazz artist” by Wynton Marsalis in JET magazine, and in 2014 was the first recipient of the Laurie Frink Career Grant at the Festival of New Trumpet Music. He is serving as an ambassador for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s “Jazz for Young People” program in both New York and St. Louis. All of this experience and accolades position him as the perfect musical director for Songs We Love.
Vocalists on tour include South African jazz vocalist Vuyo Sotashe, who moved to NYC in 2013 after being awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to pursue Master of Music at William Paterson University. Since then, he has gone to win numerous awards including first prize at the very first Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival Vocal Competition in 2014, and more recently, he won the Audience prize award and placed second over-all at the Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition in 2015.
Brianna Thomas is another vocalist who has described by The NY Times stating, “Ms. Thomas has a strong voice and a big range, descended from Sarah Vaughan and Betty Carter and routed through Dianne Reeves, with clarity and confidence and a little dirt.”
Paring with these vocalists with a voice that embodies passion and a personal style that sways effortlessly from jazz, to R&B, to gospel is Shenel Johns, who has emerged as one of the shining stars of her generation.
Accompanying Riley Mulherkar and the three guest vocalists is Julian Lee, who quickly established himself as one of the most versatile saxophonists of his generation. Lee is the beneficiary of the 2017 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award from Jazz at Lincoln Center and has performed both internationally and nationally with a wide array of critically acclaimed artists.
Along with these well-astounded artists, Mariel bildsten will also join on the trombone. She is known as the lead trombonist in Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra and tours internationally with the rock band, Brass Against. Mariel has performed at Carnegie Hall, Radio City, O2 Arena, Birdland Jazz Club, the Apollo Theater, the Chicago Jazz Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, Caramoor Jazz Festival, Smalls Jazz Club, and Smoke Jazz Club, and many more.
On piano is French-Malagasy pianist Mathis Picard, who has recently released his new album Live at the Museum, showcasing his diverse talent. Considered one of the most sought-after bassists on the scene today, Barry Stephenson also joins the tour with his raw talent. On drums is TJ Reddick, already a world traveler, who has performed in many countries including France, Brazil and Belize. TJ is an energetic musician ready to light up any stage.
Together, these musicians are bringing a young dynamic vibe to each performance that you won’t want to miss.
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Tour dates, tickets and showtimes can be found on their website.