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Bassist Gerald Veasley headlines Coltrane Memorial Contemporary Jazz Series April 9 at CFAC
The John Coltrane Memorial Contemporary Jazz Series continues with a free concert by renowned bassist Gerald Veasley, who is joined by drummer/percussionist Warren Smith and non-Western wind instrument specialist William Cole, on Friday, April 9, at 7 p.m. in the Community Folk Art Center’s Black Box Theater-Dee Davis Room, 805 E. Genesee St., Syracuse.
Coordinated by Cole, professor and chair of the Department of African American Studies in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Coltrane Jazz Series is sponsored by SU’s Office of the Chancellor, the Department of African American Studies and the iLearn Program in The College of Arts and Sciences.
“We are thrilled to present Gerald Veasley, one of today’s most audacious and innovative bassists,” says Cole. “While he has strong commercial chops, Gerald truly thrives in an improvisatory setting. He is one of the most versatile bassists around.”
Veasley is best known for his work with keyboardist Joe Zawinul of Weather Report. The Philadelphia native has also recorded with saxophonist Grover Washington Jr., pianist McCoy Tyner and singers Teddy Pendergrass and Dianne Reeves, and has toured with trumpeters Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. Veasley has been named Best Electric Bassist in Jazziz magazine’s annual readers’ poll, and his band has been voted the city’s best by Philadelphia Magazine. In addition to being a popular jazz DJ in Philadelphia, he has served as president of the local chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Smith has led a varied career that includes groundbreaking work with singer Aretha Franklin, avant garde saxophonist Sam Rivers and jazz drummer Max Roach. One of Smith’s earliest recordings dates from 1957, when he played marimba for Miles Davis. Since then, he has worked with some of the biggest names in jazz (including Count Basie, Quincy Jones and Charles Mingus) and rock (Janis Joplin and Van Morrison). Smith is a veteran Broadway pit artist who also has taught at the collegiate and scholastic levels, founded the Composers Workshop Ensemble and Max Roach’s MBoom percussion ensemble, and run Studio Wis, a performing and recording space for young New York jazz artists.
Cole is founder of the Untempered Ensemble, an acclaimed seven-piece jazz group, and artistic director of Shadrack Inc., a multicultural organization that supports artists of color. As a performer, Cole has worked with such luminaries as saxophonists Ornette Coleman and Julius Hemphill, guitarist James “Blood” Ulmer and poet Jayne Cortez. Cole specializes in Asian double reed horns, including Chinese sonas, Korean hojok and piri, and Indian shenai and nagaswarm, as well as Ghanaian bamboo flute, Tibetan trumpet and digeridoo. In addition to “John Coltrane,” he is the author of “Miles Davis: The Early Years” (Da Capo Press, 1973) and “Miles Davis: A Musical Biography” (Morrow Quill Paperbacks, 1980).
More information about the concert is available by calling the Department of African American Studies at (315) 443-4302.
The John Coltrane Memorial Contemporary Jazz Series continues with the William Parker Trance Quartet (Thursday, April 22) and the Untempered Ensemble with violinist Billy Bang (Wednesday, May 5).