Voices of Freedom Concert
Monty Alexander’s Harlem-Kingston Express
The Larnell Lewis Band with special guest Bakithi Kumalo (Opening)
Friday November 8, 2019 - 7:30pm
Partridge Hall, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, St. Catharines
The Voices of Freedom Concert features an all-star lineup of artists including a headlining performance by Monty Alexander’s Harlem- Kingston Express. GRAMMY Award nominee Monty Alexander has established himself as one of jazz music’s most diverse and globally recognized piano titans. For six decades, Monty has led some of the most celebrated groups in the genre’s history and has prided himself on bringing the sounds of music from his birthplace of Kingston, Jamaica to the place he calls home, America.
The Voices of Freedom Concert will open with a performance by GRAMMY-winning drummer Larnell Lewis (Snarky Puppy) and his band along with special guest GRAMMY-winning South African bass player Bakithi Kumalo (Paul Simon). This concert promises to take listeners on an exciting journey blending jazz and Afro-Caribbean music!
Voices of Freedom Concert Artistic Producer, Céline Peterson
Monty Alexander’s Harlem Kingston Express
Monty Alexander, piano
Hassan Abdul Ash-Shakur, acoustic bass
Jason Brown, drums
Andrew Bassford, guitar
David Reichley, elec. bass
Karl Wright, drums/percussion
Wayne Escoffery, saxophone
The Voices of Freedom Festival takes place November 7-9, 2019. View the festival schedule here.
Nearly sixty years after he moved to the United States from Kingston, Jamaica, his hometown, Grammy nominated pianist Monty Alexander is an American classic, touring the world relentlessly with various projects, delighting a global audience drawn to his vibrant personality and soulful message. A perennial favorite at Jazz festivals and venues worldwide and at the Montreux Jazz Festival where he has appeared 23 times since 1976, his spirited conception is one informed by the timeless verities: endless melody-making, effervescent grooves, sophisticated voicings, a romantic spirit, and a consistent predisposition, as Alexander accurately states, “to build up the heat and kick up a storm.” In the course of any given performance, Alexander applies those aesthetics to a repertoire spanning a broad range of jazz and Jamaican musical expressions—the American songbook and the blues, gospel and bebop, calypso and reggae. Documented on more than 75 recordings and cited as the fifth greatest jazz pianist ever in The Fifty Greatest Jazz Piano Players of All Time (Hal Leonard Publishing), the Jamaican government designated Alexander Commander in the Order of Distinction in 2000 and in 2018 The University of The West Indies bestowed him with an honorary doctorate degree (DLitt) in recognition of his accomplishments.
Larnell Lewis is a Grammy Award winning musician, composer, producer, and educator. A Toronto native, Larnell has quickly established himself as one of the most diverse and in-demand drummers currently on the music scene. Along with his long-standing position behind the drums in Snarky Puppy, Larnell has led many highly successful groups of his own and toured the globe with some of the most well known names in music, including Etienne Charles, Gregory Porter, Benny Golson, Lalah Hathaway, John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Lisa Fisher, Kurt Elling, Gary Burton, and more.
Larnell’s immense talent, fierce creativity, and continually evolving musical style is what has kept him at the top of the list as a musical collaborator for artists across the globe. In June 2018, Larnell released his highly anticipated debut album In The Moment, which featured ten original compositions in a variety of musical styles. His vast talents not just as a musician but as a producer also landed him the opportunity to act as Musical Director for a performance during the Toronto International Film Festival’s premiere of the critically-acclaimed documentary of Quincy Jones, Quincy, (directed by Rashida Jones & Al Hicks), where he led performances from the likes of Yebba Smith, Mark Ronson, and Chaka Khan.
Bakithi Kumalo's musical career has been characterized by a series of serendipitous events, ranging from his debut gig as a precocious seven-year-old filling in for the bassist in his uncle's band to his enlistment into Paul Simon's group during the recording sessions of the pop star's landmark Graceland album in 1985.
Kumalo creates a singular electric fretless bass sound teeming with double stops that sound like human voices and the African grooves of his homeland, which has garnered him a stellar reputation as a sideman. In addition to touring with Simon, he's also recorded and/or toured with Gloria Estefan, Derrick Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, Chico Ceasar, Laurie Anderson, Gerald Albright, Miriam Makeba, Randy Brecker, Grover Washington Jr., Bob James, Angelique Kidjo, Jon Secada, Josh Groban and Chris Botti.