(ANNANDALE-on-HUDSON, N.Y.) — The Aaron Diehl Trio, featuring Grammy Award-nominated vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant, will perform a centenary tribute to jazz legend Billie Holiday in the Fisher Center at Bard College on Friday, May 8, 2015, at 8pm, in the acoustically superb Sosnoff Theater. The event is a co-presentation of the Catskill Jazz Factory.
Known for her definitive interpretations of classic jazz standards, Billie Holiday is considered to be one of the greatest jazz vocalists of all time. Salvant will perform some of Holiday’s most beloved repertoire, including renditions of “Jeepers Creepers,” “You Go to My Head,” “Lover Man,” and “Hello, My Darling.”
Billie Holiday was the preeminent jazz singer of her day and among the most revered vocalists of the 20th century. Although her brief life was fraught with tragedy, Holiday left a transcendent legacy of recorded work. Her pearly voice, exquisite phrasing, and tough-tender persona influenced the likes of Janis Joplin and Diana Ross, among others. She helped originate the now standard “Swing Song” style and collaborated with a variety of fellow legends, including Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson, Count Basie, Artie Shaw, and others. In particular, Holiday formed a unique musical bond with tenor saxophonist Lester “Prez” Young, who dubbed her “Lady Day.”
Cécile McLorin Salvant was born and raised in Miami of a French mother and a Haitian father. She started classical piano studies at age five, and began singing in the Miami Choral Society at age eight. Early on, she developed an interest in classical voice, began studying with private instructors, and later with Edward Walker, vocal teacher at the University of Miami.
In 2007, Salvant moved to Aix-en-Provence, France, to study law as well as classical and baroque voice at the Darius Milhaud Conservatory. It was in Aix-en-Provence, with reedist and teacher Jean-François Bonnel, where she started learning about improvisation, instrumental and vocal repertoire ranging from the 1910s on, and sang with her first band. In 2009, after a series of concerts in Paris, she recorded her first album Cécile, with Jean-François Bonnel’s Paris Quintet. A year later, she won the Thelonious Monk competition in Washington D.C.
Salvant performs unique interpretations of unknown and scarcely recorded jazz and blues compositions. She focuses on a theatrical portrayal of the jazz standard and composes music and lyrics which she also sings in French, her native language as well as in Spanish. She enjoys popularity in Europe and in the United States, performing in clubs, concert halls, and festivals accompanied by renowned musicians like Jean-Francois Bonnel, Rodney Whitaker, Aaron Diehl, Dan Nimmer, Sadao Watanabe, Jacky Terrasson (she was the guest singer on his latest album, Gouache), Archie Shepp, and Jonathan Batiste. She is the voice of Chanel’s “Chance” ad campaign for the third consecutive year. In August 2012, Cécile recorded WomanChild for the Mack Avenue Label with Aaron Diehl, Rodney Whitaker, Herlin Riley and James Chirillo.
Salvant has performed at numerous festivals such as Jazz à Vienne, Ascona, Whitley Bay, Montauban, Foix, with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in New York’s Lincoln Center and Chicago’s Symphony Center and with her own band at the Kennedy Center, the Spoleto Jazz Festival, Detroit Jazz Festival and other venues.
Salvant’s “WomanChild” was nominated for the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album.
The members of the Aaron Diehl Trio are Aaron Diehl, piano; Paul Sikivie, bass; and Lawrence Leathers, drums. Additional soloists for the performance include Dan Block, tenor saxophone; Jon-Erik Kellso, cornet; Will Anderson, alto saxophone; and Adam Moezinia, guitar.
The New York Times has called Diehl a “smart young pianist with a fastidious grasp of jazz traditions,” and has said of Salvant: “If anyone can extend the lineage of the Big Three — Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, and Ella Fitzgerald — it is this . . . virtuoso.”
The Catskill Jazz Factory is a non-profit program founded in 2012 by Hudson Valley residents Piers & Lucy Playfair. A powerful new arts model, the Catskill Jazz Factory offers in-school workshops and concerts, artist residencies, and world-class performances throughout the Hudson Valley. Through this programming, the Jazz Factory supports some of today’s best young jazz artists with educational, creative, and performance opportunities at diverse venues across the region. By partnering with educational facilities, arts organizations, and a variety of local non-profits and businesses, the Catskill Jazz Factory encourages audiences of all ages to participate in community building through jazz.
Previous programs boast collaborations with a number of world-class musicians, including pianists Marcus Roberts and Dan Tepfer, trombonists Wycliffe Gordon and Chris Washburne, and vocalists Charenee Wade and Cecile McLorin Salvant.
Tickets are $25–45 and can be purchased on-line at the Fisher Center at Bard College or by calling the box office at 845-758-7900.