The 7th Annual New Jersey City University Alumni Jazz Big Band Concert is being held in celebration of the 100th birthdays of Nat King Cole and Art Blakey. The free concert will take place at the J. Owen Grundy Pier, Exchange Place, Jersey City. Seating is on a first-come, first served basis. In the event of rain, the concert will be held in the Harborside Atrium, Harborside 2 and 3 at 34 Exchange Place.
Marsalis has a personal connection to Blakey; in 1980 he joined the drummer/bandleader’s long-running combo the Jazz Messengers, a proving ground for up-and-coming musicians. Since his Jazz Messengers stint Marsalis has won nine Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, the National Medal of the Arts, and the National Humanities Medal, among many other awards and accolades.
Allan Harris will salute Nat King Cole—appropriately, as Harris’ vocal style has been compared to Cole’s, as well as those of other greats such as Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra. Harris will be joined on stage for several duets with New Jersey-based Antoinette Montague.
The Alumni Jazz Big Band will include New Jersey City University alums who studied at the school as far back as the 1960s, when its jazz program was first created.
The band members are drummer Rich DeRosa; sax players Mark Friedman, Bob Magnusson, Dave Noland, Dustyn Richardson, and John DiSanto; trumpeters Alex Norris, Nate Eklund, and Vinnie Cutro; trombonists Rob Edwards, Mike Modero, and Conrad Zulauf; and faculty member Garry Dial on piano. The band will also feature three students: bassist John Benitez, trombonist Juanga Lakunza, and trumpeter Alejandro Pizarro-Leon.