A small but lively and enthusiastic crowd of lovers of jazz music gathered to hear jazz, funk, local and future legends of jazz share their passion for America’s number one art form: JAZZ.
Michael Sessions Sextet kicked off the days festivities promptly at 1:00PM. This talented saxophonist is a master of all reed instruments. Backing this local legend were Steve Smith-trumpet, Phil Ranelin-trombone, Trevor Ware-bass, John Rangel-piano, and Karon Harrison on drums. This hard bopping group set the tone for this worthy fundraising cause. They excelled on "Shortstop", "Coltrane", written by Bill Lee, and closed with "Waltz For Tapscott".
Trombonist Phil Ranelin Quartet consisted of the same rhythm section of the previous band. Phil is another local legend that I’m always thrilled to hear played trombone when I see him around town. This tight knit group played a hard driving set of straight ahead jazz. Featured tunes performed were "Milestones", "But Beautiful" (ballad), "Night Has A Thousand Eyes", and closed with his signature tune "Close Encounters Of The Very First Kind".
Vocalist Vertice Williams was the surprise hit of the afternoon. This was partially due to the fact that I wasn’t familiar her and her very talented group. She won me over very fast during her opening tune which is jazz standard entitled "Moondance". She continued her crowd pleasing set with a couple of original songs "Give Me Your Love", and "Loves Holiday". These two tunes revealed her pleasant smooth vocal styling in the R&B genre. She demonstrated her powerful vocal range on Etta James’s "At Last". The gifted musicians accompanying Vertice consisted of Michael McDonald-guitar, Stoney Dixon-bass, Gary Henry-drums, 7Days-keyboards, and two equally beautiful vocalists Kim Foley and Rainy Days.
Trombonist Fred Wesley formerly of the Funk driven horn section with James Brown and Parliament/Funkadelic performed an energetic set of straight ahead jazz to the delight of the crowd.
The 6th Annual Thurman Green Scholarship Jazz Festival closed with the explosive big band sounds of the Steve Huffsteter Big Band playing material from his latest CD- Gathered Around.
All proceeds for this fantastical event benefited the Thurman Green Trombone Scholarship Fund. This fund was established in 1997, which has already contributed well over $18,000 to University/College scholarship, junior colleges scholarships, private lessons, jazz history books and CD’s for middle schools. Contributions were also made to the Bill Green Mentorship Program. Trombonist Isaac Smith, Ryan Porter and Robyn Javier are the most recent promising trombonist to receive a scholarship from the Thurman Green Scholarship Fund.
The mission of the Thurman Green Scholarship Fund is to contribute to the uniquely American Art form known as jazz through education, in remembrance of a superb learned and prominent jazz trombonist.