On Saturday, August 29, the festival is pleased to present Knoxville’s own, pianist, Keith Brown in a concert/CD release party at The Square Room. The Journey confirms Brown’s status as an up and coming young artist on the larger jazz scene. The youngest son of world-renowned pianist, Donald Brown, Keith has been hearing jazz music since the cradle. Heavily influenced by the “Memphis 3”--Mulgrew Miller, James Williams, and his father, as well as another Memphian, Phineas Newborn, the younger Brown is forging his own way fusing jazz, funk, r&b, and country. His band includes Grammy award winning drummer Terreon “Tank” Gulley, who also produced Brown’s CD, Kenneth Whalum, a hot new hip hop player and Kirk Whalum’s nephew, and Russell Gunn, one of the most talked about young trumpeters on the national jazz scene. Rounding out the band are the formidable young Knoxville players, Jamel Mitchell on sax and Clint Mullican on bass.
On Saturday, August 29, the festival highlights Knoxville’s excellent jazz musicians and celebrates its vibrant jazz history with a jazz jaunt through downtown Knoxville led by Knoxville History Project Director, Jack Neely. Following the tour comes Jazz in a Hot Scruffy City, an afternoon of local jazz bands, an art exhibit, and vintage jazz films at Scruffy City Hall.
Following Benny Golson at around 9:45 p.m. is French pianist extraordinaire, Manuel Rocheman. A longtime favorite on the European jazz scene, Rocheman began his career at twelve years of age when he sat in on jam sessions in Paris jazz clubs. He studied in New York in 1980 where he was mentored by Tommy Flanagan and Jaki Bayard and by 1983 was performing professionally. Critics and the public delight with his playing. “He has what it takes, proves it unostentatiously, and never cheats,” wrote Francis Marmand in Le Monde.
The festival opens with tenor sax icon, Benny Golson on Friday, August 28 at US Cellular Stage at the Bijou. To say that Benny Golson is among the greatest living jazz players in the world may sound like hyperbole. Yet few jazz musicians can claim to be true innovators and fewer yet can boast of a career that redefines the word “jazz”. “His playing is always full of surprises,” said University of Tennessee Jazz Studies professor, Keith R. Brown. “It’s swinging and soulful. He’s the perfect example of the best of the best in jazz.”