Jazz music is considered by many to be America’s cultural gift to the world. Unique and original, driven by improvisation and personal style, and requiring in its performers an ability to communicate and navigate a piece via the music they’re playing in the moment.
Old Slater Mill in historic downtown Pawtucket, another treasured American original, will be the venue for a June Jazz series, its wooden post and beam construction offering warm acoustics and a truly unique setting.
“When we say Jazz in the ‘Factory,’ we mean Samuel Slater’s historic cotton factory on the first floor of the Old Mill,” explains Lori Urso, executive director of Slater Mill in a press release. “So while you’re digging this great music, you’ll also be enjoying a National Historic Landmark and an American architectural gem.
Urso, with the support of her husband, professional drummer Marty Richards, has been hosting live performances at the mill for five years, showcasing many different artists and styles of America music. Richards, well-known for his years in the Gary Burton Quintet, Duke Robillard Band, J. Geils Band, and other national acts, has had a hand in choosing the acts, as well as performing in several shows.
This series, held over four Sundays, kicks off on June 2 with “free jazz” pioneers, The Fringe. Band founders, saxophonist George Garzone and drummer Bob Gullotti, with long-time bassist John Lockwood, celebrated forty years together as a top Boston-based ensemble, each of its members also celebrating long careers on the Berklee College of Music faculty.
“We formed the band back in the 70s so we would have an outlet in Boston for playing in the Avant-guard style,” said George Garzone in the release, who has also been a member of the teaching faculty at Berklee College of Music since then. “And we’re still at it, still enjoying it this many years later.”
For the second show in the series, Old Slater Mill welcomes the Tim Ray Trio. Ray, along with drummer Marty Richards and bassist John Lockwood, will perform modern and contemporary jazz and some jazz standards.
“The three of us toured together in the early 90s as rhythm section for Gary Burton, so we’ve had a lot of years to gel as an ensemble,” offered Richards in the release. “Tim has a wide repertoire, so we can take it in many different directions, and can respond to what the listeners like.”
The very versatile Ray is best known as the long-time pianist and musical director for the Lyle Lovett Orchestra, but has also performed recently with Tony Bennett, and his resume includes an extensive list of pop music icons, notably Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt, Jane Siberry and Soul Asylum, as well as appearances on include “The Tonight Show” (Johnny Carson, Jay Leno), “Late Night with David Letterman,” “The Conan O’Brien Show,” and “Austin City Limits.”
Latin Jazz is on the bill on June 23, featuring a trio led by pianist, author, and Berklee educator, Rebecca Cline.
A native of the southeastern U.S., Cline studied music at both Chapel Hill and Berklee, after which she resided and traveled throughout Latin America for five years. In Boston since 1999, she has taught Latin jazz and mixed-styles ensembles, Cuban piano classes, and jazz studies.
Rebecca is the author of Latin Jazz Piano: Clave, Comping and Soloing, published by Berklee Press. She performs regularly with the Rebecca Cline Trio, and has been performing and recording with the band Mango Blue for over a decade.
The final show in the series features Rhode Island Music Hall of Famers Dan Moretti and Greg Abate, with an all-star ensemble including Marty Richards, Bruce Gertz (bass), and Mark Shalinsky (keyboard), and will showcase Bebop and post-Bop, and other contemporary and original works.
Dan Moretti is a multi-genre saxophonist, composer, educator and band leader with an eclectic performing and recording career that has spanned three decades, and that has gained him national and international awards and recognition.
His work with Nile Rodgers and Chic over the past 20 years has had him under the lights in the largest venues worldwide. Here at home, he shares his gift as a professor in the Contemporary Writing and Production Department at Berklee College of Music, where he was awarded the Curriculum Development Award in 2006.
Greg Abate is an international jazz artist who continues to perform more than 200 dates around the world each year, yet he remains a perennial local favorite rooted in Rhode Island, where he lives, teaches, and performs.
In the mid-1970s, after graduating Berklee College of Music, Greg played lead alto for the Ray Charles Orchestra. Since then, he has performed and recorded with many of the greats, and has produced numerous solo works, over his four-decade career in music.
Performances on June 2, 9, 23, and 30 begin at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 7:00. Tickets are available brownpapertickets.com (search Slater Mill), or by calling 401-725-8638 x.100 with a credit card (to avoid online fees). Door sales subject to availability. Slater Mill is located at 67 Roosevelt Avenue, Pawtucket, RI 02860. Venue is ADA accessible.