The 31st Cape May Jazz Festival "Legends….and more Blues" April 17-19 2009 presented by NJ Division of Travel and Tourism and Bank of America opens featuring a Tribute to Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughn with "Have a Song on Me Celebrating Mr. B" and the Big Band Music of the 40s and 50s with the B Swingers Big Band and Steve Butler. Billy Eckstine, known as Mr. B, became the most influential ballad singer during this era with an appealing baritone voice. It has been said Steve Butler "looks and sounds hauntingly similar to Billy Eckstine…capable and convincing" and the Big Band one of the best. Sabrina Carten is convincing honoring Sarah Vaughn.
More Blues Saturday night with Grammy Award winner James "Superharp" Cotton whose pedigree is a veritable who's who in the world of Blues. Cotton and his Blues Band continue to showcase his immense talent and keep him one of the most sought-after, hard-driving blues musicians touring the world today. More Blues continues all weekend at Cabanas with Andrew Jr. Boy Jones, Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang, Alan Weber and Frenz and Juke Joints Last Stand.
Legendary Odean Pope, known for his fiery, often intense solos, dazzling elevations and throbbing, husky sounds, opens Aleatheas Restaurant at the Inn of Cape May for an 8:30pm Jazz Dinner and late Show with open seating available. Pope worked with Max Roach for many years and permanently joined the Max Roach Quartet in 1979. Barbara King will continue the legends with a Tribute to Sarah Vaughn. "Barbara King's dusky, Sarah Vaughn-like qualities mark her as a talent to watch" says Lloyd Sachs, Chicago Sun-Times. Enjoying a mix of family background cultures from Cuba, Jamaica and Costa Rica and surrounded by music and dancing, Barbara was introduced at an early age to jazz legends such as Sarah, Ella, Dinah and Billie who influence her singing.
Opening up Carneys Main Room Saturday night, Cuban percussionist Mayra Casales brings her band "Women on Fire" with Cuban Francois Zayas, drums. Born in Cuba, raised in Miami her earlier influences began with the Afro-Cuban musical culture of her surroundings. Her fiery, heartfelt spirit with strong roots in Cuban music is always present. Mayra is a versatile vocalist, percussionist, arranger, lyricist and composer who is considered one of the most complete percussionists of our time.
DC Sharon Clark returns by popular demand for the Jazz Dinner and late show in Aleatheas Saturday night. Sharon is an amazing, exceptionally gifted talent having performed at the Kennedy Center, Blues Alley, with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and for President Bill Clinton and can be seen weekly in clubs and hotels in the DC area. Her performances include jazz standards but also lesser known songs performed by Ella, Sarah, Johnny Hartman and Nancy Wilson.
Woody and Carol saw Roni Ben-Hur in NYC and knew he was a must for the festival. He is a very charming, talented guitarist and composer offering creative melodies, brilliant solos and dazzling original compositions. As a leader he has won high praise from jazz critics around the world. Gary Giddins describes Ben-Hur "as eloquent as a cool breeze, this understated exercise in bebop equilibrium goes down so easy you might underestimate the magic. A limber and inventive guitarist….keeps the modernist flame alive and pure with a low flame burning in every note."
Sylvia Cuenca opens Carneys Main Room Friday night with her organ quartet. Sylvia swings impeccably with her authentic feel for the Latin genre. Originally a sideman who performed with almost everyone around the NYC area, her band performs in clubs and festivals in the US and around the world. Performing in the Boiler Room at Congress Hall Saturday night, the Michael Thomas Quintet is a powerful and energetic group that is deeply rooted in the rich tradition of hard-bop and blues with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers their major influence.
Along with the usual high energy jams Saturday and Sunday in Carneys, the complimentary workshops and CD Signing Party, Juke Joints Last Stand will be in Cabanas Sunday afternoon.
This is a fun, stimulating band with a juke joint jamming feel that is mainly blues - a not to be missed experience.
The schedule, musician's information and sounds bytes are found on the web. For more information or to be put on the mailing list please call 609-884-7277. An All Event Weekend Pass to attend 18 events beginning 8pm Friday through 4pm Sunday is $150 general admission. Individual Friday or Saturday Night All Event Wristbands are $55. Saturday afternoon Jam wristbands are $35, Sunday Jams $25. Reserved Seating is available at the Theatre at Lower Regional High School for an additional $25pp. Complimentary Festival Transportation running every 10 minutes is available between venues all weekend.
The 31st Cape May Jazz Festival is presented by New Jersey Department of State Division of Travel and Tourism VisitNJ.Com and Bank of America and sponsored by the Delaware River and Bay Authority, Barefoot Wines, Jazz Times, WRTI Temple Public Radio, WBGO Jazz 88, WCFA 101.5, WTTH the Touch, Cape May Star and Wave, Verizon Wireless with generous support from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey Cultural Trust, local businesses and donors.