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La Jolla Music Society

The Blue Note 85th Anniversary Celebration Tour

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Part of

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2024 · 7:30 PM



JOEL ROSS, vibraphone

Prelude Interview hosted by Robert John Hughes · 6:30 PM


Blue Note Records is celebrating its 85th Anniversary with a US tour starring The Blue Note Quintet, a group brought together to honor the label’s rich history and pave the way for the eclectic artists of today’s roster. Six-time GRAMMY Award nominee Gerald Clayton leads the band as musical director and pianist. “Gerald Clayton is one of the most accomplished, distinctive and innovative pianists performing today” says Don Was, the label’s President since 2012. Rounding out the group is vibraphonist Joel Ross, saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, drummer Kendrick Scott, and bassist Matt Brewer.

Gerald Clayton earned recent Recording Academy recognition for Happening: Live at the Village Vanguard, his debut release on Blue Note Records. Collaborating over the years with such distinctive artists as Diana Krall, Roy Hargrove, Dianne Reeves, Terence Blanchard, John Scofield, Terri Lyne Carrington, Peter Bernstein, Ambrose Akinmusire, Gretchen Parlato, Ben Wendel, the Clayton Brothers Quintet, and legendary band leader Charles Lloyd, Clayton currently serves as director of the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, following service as musical director for the Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour. Under the instruction of Billy Childs, Clayton earned a Bachelor of Arts in Piano Performance at USC’s Thornton School of Music following a year of intensive study with Kenny Barron at The Manhattan School of Music.

Joel Ross continues refining an expression that’s true to his sound and his generation. In 2019, the vibraphonist-composer issued his anticipated Blue Note debut, the Edison Award-winning record KingMaker, to  critical acclaim, followed by his 2020 release Who Are You? which features his band Good Vibes at their most synchronous. New York Times critic Giovanni Russonello praised the album for the ways it “speaks to a new level of group cohesion…more tangle, more sharing, more possibility.” The Parable of the Poet, Ross’ third release for Blue Note Records, explores feelings of self-awareness—confidence, doubt, regret and forgiveness—through storytellings and retellings.

The music of saxophonist and composer Immanuel Wilkins is filled with empathy and conviction, bonding arcs of melody and lamentation to pluming gestures of space and breath. Listeners were introduced to this riveting sound with his acclaimed debut album Omega, which was named the #1 Jazz Album of 2020 by The New York Times. The album also introduced his remarkable quartet with Micah Thomas on piano, Daryl Johns on bass, and Kweku Sumbry on drums, a tight-knit unit that Wilkins features once again on his stunning sophomore album The 7th Hand, which explores relationships between presence and nothingness across an hour-long suite comprised of seven movements.”

Kendrick Scott was born in Houston, Texas, and grew up in a family of musicians. By age 8 he had taken up the drums and later attended Houston’s renowned High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, a school which has produced an impressive array of musical talent including Scott’s label-mates Jason Moran and Robert Glasper, as well pop star Beyoncé and many others. While still attending HSPVA, Scott won several DownBeat Magazine student awards, as well as the Clifford Brown/Stan Getz Award from the International Association of Jazz Educators. He was later awarded a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music, where he majored in music education. Scott has toured with Herbie Hancock, Charles Lloyd, The Crusaders, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Kurt Elling, and Terence Blanchard, also appearing on several of the trumpeter’s Blue Note albums including Flow (2005), A Tale Of God’s Will (2007), and Magnetic (2013).

Matt Brewer was born in Oklahoma City and grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, surrounded by a family of musicians and artists. At the age of 10, Matt fell in love with the bass and began a lifelong study of music. He graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy, and then went on to study at the Juilliard School. He’s travelled the world playing in the bands of Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Greg Osby, Steve Coleman, Dave Binney, Gerald Clayton, Ben Wendel, Aaron Parks, Vijay Iyer, Dhafer Youssef, Antonio Sanchez, Mark Turner, Steve Lehman, Ben Monder, and Lage Lund, among many others). He has been a frequent guest lecturer at the Banff Center, and is an adjunct faculty member at the New School University.