Back in March, it looked like the newly-etablished Jazz Artists of Charleston (JAC) were planning to present the second annual Upstairs at Mistral — a 13-night jazz series at the Market Street venue — and another spectacular Holy City Homecomin’ concert event in conjunction with Piccolo Spoleto.
This month, JAC execs Leah Suárez and Jack McCray (pictured) confirmed that the JAC had amicably disconnected from Piccolo Spoleto and planned to independently present the series at Mistral and the Holy City Homecomin’ themselves. While Piccolo Spoleto’s Blues & Jazz schedule still includes a variety of jazz, world, blues, and soul acts in late May and early June, these JAC events are basically non-adjacent jazz gigs happening simultaneously.
The JAC is a non-profit organization that includes “local performing and visual artists, fans, advocates and creative people.” Governed by an eight-member board, they produce jazz events year round in the Charleston area.
Promoted by a handsome poster that features a painting of a “split double-bass” by local artist Nathan Durfee, Upstairs at Mistral kicks off on Fri. May 22 and continues almost nightly through Fri. June 5. Featured acts include a cool mix of local and visiting musicians: the Rudy Waltz, the Hedgepeth & Holstein Duo, Leah Suárez and her quartet, Caravan, Gradual Lean, the Charleston All-Stars, the Pulse Trio, Elise Testone, the Charlton Singleton Quintet, the Duda Lucena Quartet, the Tommy Gill Trio, Scandal in Bohemia, and Tenor Madness. These sets are for fans of undistracted improvisation, aggressive jazz, bebop, lounge, and Latin styles.
Scheduled for Tues. June 2 at 7 p.m. at the Charleston Music Hall (37 John St.) the Holy City Homecomin’ — is grand big-band performance and discussion session. Last year, the first Homecomin’ concert featured a mix of musicians and bands, with the Gradual Lean guys on hand throughout. This year it looks like a big-band thing with the Charleston Jazz Orchestra and guest conductor Bob Belden, a musician (mostly woodwinds), composer, and arranger. Originally from Goose Creek, Belden studied at the University of North Texas before working with Woody Herman’s Orchestra, Donald Byrd, the Mel Lewis Orchestra, and Red Rodney, among others in the 1980s and ’90s. He’s most celebrated for his knack for transforming non-jazz material into jazz. Hardcore jazz fans who are interested in hearing a grand execution of fresh musical ideas, learning bits of local jazz history, and witnessing high technique will get a kick out of this event.
See www.jazzartistsofcharleston.org for ticket prices and more info.
(top photo by T. Ballard Lesemann)