This powerhouse quartet is reuniting to celebrate the lives and music of the late pianists James Williams and Mulgrew Miller. The all-star players include pianist Donald Brown, bassist Ray Drummond, drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith and alto saxophonist Bobby Watson. They’ll each play some of their own compositions, along with music from the departed pianists.
press release: "Remembering James Williams and Mulgrew Miller”
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 3:00 PM, First Unitarian Society Atrium, 900 University Bay Drive
Tickets available NOW at: madisonmusiccollective.org
IN ADVANCE: Gen’l Admission $25/$20 MMC, MJS; AT THE DOOR: $30/$25 MMC, MJS
ALL STUDENT TICKETS: $10 with ID
ABOUT THE MVP QUARTET: An exciting reunion of four of today’s most highly respected and seasoned artists! In a true cooperative spirit, these consummate professionals reconvene to share some music with each other—and to remember two of their close musical friends and equally respected colleagues—the late pianists James Williams and Mulgrew Miller.
The group, which goes by the appropriately titled MVP Jazz Quartet, is a powerhouse collective that includes pianist Donald Brown, bassist Ray Drummond, drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith, and alto saxophonist Bobby Watson. Their overlapping and intertwined professional relationships with each other dates, in some instances, to their respective youths.
The four musicians—Brown, Drummond, Smith, and Watson—are genuinely excited about making and creating music together, while simultaneously celebrating and remembering brethren Williams and Miller. Speaking of repertoire, the foursome decided members should contribute some of their own compositions, perform pieces that both Williams and Miller played and/or recorded at different times in their respective careers, and finally select titles from the sizeable combined treasure trove of compositions that each of the late pianists thankfully left for all of us to enjoy.
Bobby Watson got his start on the bandstand as musical director of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. The group, created in 1955 by the late legendary drummer who died in 1990, showcased a rotating cast of players, many who, like Watson, would go on to have substantial careers as bandleaders in their own right. The Jazz Messengers – frequently referred to as the “University of Blakey” – served as the ultimate “postgraduate school” for ambitious young players. For more than three decades Watson has contributed consistently intelligent, sensitive and well-thought out music to the modern-day jazz lexicon.
Pianist, composer, teacher, band leader and arranger, Donald Brown is a beam of bright talent on today’s jazz scene. His lyrical, original music has found favor among many masterful contemporary players. His Jazz Messengers’ mates Wynton Marsalis and Billy Pierce have recorded his music, as have the likes of Jon Faddis, Javon Jackson, Elvin Jones, and many others.
An esteemed bandleader and ace sideman, bassist Ray "Bulldog" Drummond has worked with a virtual “who’s who” of the San Francisco and New York jazz scenes over the past 30+ years. Robert Hicks of the Villager praises Drummond’s “exceptional intonation, dark melodies and witty rhythmical sensibility.” He has worked with Bobby Hutcherson, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis, Woody Shaw, and others.
Drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith has shared the stage with such greats as Sonny Rollins, Hank Jones, Frank Foster and Frank Wess, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Slide Hampton, and Milt Jackson. He is a former member of the Ron Carter Quartet, The New York Jazz Quartet, and The Art Farmer/Benny Golson Jazztet.
The Madison Music Collective’s first collaboration with the top-rated Sun Prairie High School (SPHS) Jazz Band and its 2017 Jazz Festival clinicians will culminate in a who’s who of jazz groups - the MVP Quartet. This concert will be one of the most celebrated jazz events in Madison in 2017 (and an MMC landmark presentation), bar none. The day before the concert, Saturday, Feb. 18, these musicians will be working with high school jazz musicians from area schools as part of the SPHS Jazz Festival, with a student concert that evening.
Madison Music Collective is a non-profit membership organization founded in 1985 that works to build a thriving creative music community in the Greater Madison area by growing the local audience for jazz and other forms of improvised music. MMC offers a seasonal series of concerts and educational programs, as well concerts featuring local, regional, and nationally known jazz artists.
FOR INFORMATION: See madisonmusiccollective.org
Madison Music Collective’s 2017 Winter-Spring Series in partnership with Sun Prairie High School is made possible by grants from Dane Arts (with additional funds from the Endres Mfg. Company Foundation), The Evjue Foundation, Inc. (The charitable arm of the Capital Times, the W. Jerome Frautschi Foundation, and the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation), Greater Madison Jazz Consortium, Madison Gas & Electric (MGE), Cardinal Bar, Janus Galleries, Musicnotes, membership dues and charitable gifts from members and supporters of the Madison Music Collective, in-kind support from Sun Prairie High School, the UPS Store-Fitchburg, Hilton Hotel, and promotional support from Isthmus, WORT-89.9 FM, and the Capital City Hues and our partners in jazz: Greater Madison Jazz Consortium, Madison Jazz Society, Farley’s House of Pianos, Wisconsin Union Theater, Overture Center, Stoughton Opera House, Jazz at Five, and Prairie Music and Arts