The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Jun 07, 2013

Standout artists featured on Community Arts' summer series

Posted by Gregory Stepanich

Catherine Russell.

It’s one of the curious features of South Florida musical life that so many concert series, even ones as long-running as the Community Arts Program, take place in churches.

Next week, the CAP opens its 28th series of summer programs at the beautiful Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ with an impressive six-act lineup that includes excellent performers from the worlds of classical music and jazz. Perhaps someday it could be the nucleus of a larger summer festival, one that would help raise the arts profile of South Florida nationally (why should Aspen and Tanglewood have all the fun?).

In the meantime, there are some fine programs on the bill for these Thursday-night concerts, several of which feature members of veteran musical families:

Catherine Russell (June 13): Jazz singer Catherine Russell’s father, Luis, was musical director for Louis Armstrong, and she is a student and admirer of many of the great female vocalists of the early to mid-20th century: Alberta Hunter, Ivy Anderson, Abbey Lincoln, Ella Fitzgerald. Russell’s newest album, Strictly Romancin’, released last year, won the Prix du Jazz for vocal album of the year from the Jazz Academy of France, a nation that has been madly in love with this art form since James Reese Europe hit the national consciousness in the aftermath of the First World War. She’ll be joined by her trio of pianist Mark Shane, guitarist Matt Munisteri and bassist Lee Hudson.

Orli Shaham. Orli Shaham.

Orli Shaham (June 27): This Israeli-American pianist is not quite as well-known as her violinist brother Gil, but she is a splendid musician whose appearances in South Florida have been relatively rare. The central work on her program will be Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, which will occupy the second half. She’ll open with the lovely Berceuse (Op. 57) of Chopin, followed by an Intermezzo by the American composer Bruce Adolphe, best-known for his Piano Puzzlers on radio's Performance Today. Shaham will round off the first part with late Brahms, the Six Pieces (Op. 118).

Pepe Romero. Pepe Romero.

Pepe Romero (July 11): One of the greatest classical guitar performers in the world, Romero brings a program of music from his native Spain to the series, including one of his own compositions (Homenaje a Sabicas) and that of his legendary guitarist father, Celedonio (Suite Andaluza), whose centenary his son has been honoring in his recitals this year. He opens his program with music of the Spanish Renaissance and Baroque: a fantasia by Luys Milan, and a suite of dances by Gaspar Sanz. The most familiar of all Classical composers for the guitar, Fernando Sor, is represented by his Magic Flute Variations (Op. 9), a tour de force based on a theme from Mozart’s singspiel. The first half concludes with two pieces (Capricho Arabe and Gran jota) by Francisco Tarrega. In addition to the pieces by Romeo père et fils, the second half features works by Turina (Sevillana, Op. 29) and Albeniz (Leyenda).

Brubeck Brothers Quartet (July 25): Chris and Dan Brubeck are two of the sons of the great jazzman Dave Brubeck, who died in December. Chris, a trombone and bass player, and Dan, a drummer, team with pianist Chuck Lamb and guitarist Mike DeMicco to make up a very accomplished and able quartet with roots in traditional chamber jazz but with a musical appetite for a huge variety of genres and styles. Their appearance here comes a day after the release of their latest album, Lifetimes, an album mostly of Dave Brubeck covers, including Paul Desmond’s iconic Take Five and Brubeck’s standard Kathy’s Waltz.

Alan Blaylock Jazz Orchestra (Aug. 8): Blaylock is the chief arranger for the Airmen of Note, the U.S. Air Force’s jazz big band, and is an advocate of large-band jazz, a form that has mostly been the province of tribute bands, colleges and military groups in recent years, as well as Wynton Marsalis’s Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Blaylock’s band includes players from the Maynard Ferguson, Count Basie and Woody Herman bands, and Blaylock provides them with challenging, fresh charts on standards such as Jerome Kern’s All the Things You Are to Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s Michelle.

John Pizzarelli. John Pizzarelli.

John Pizzarelli (Aug. 22): This marvelous guitarist is a frequent South Florida visitor, and has made a wider name outside jazz circles for his singing, primarily of tunes from the Great American Songbook. The son of guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, he’ll be appearing here with his brother, bassist Martin Pizzarelli. John Pizzarelli is a fine exemplar of this classic repertoire, and he brings a Django Reinhardt-ish fluidity and dazzle to his guitar playing; his pleasant singing voice and genial concert manner make him a popular draw for a wide range of music fans.

Tickets for the series are $30 in advance, $35 at the door, and there are several options for series subscriptions. Call 305-448-7421, ext. 153, or visit

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