Free NJCU Alumni Jazz Big Band Concert on Sept. 6

Photo by Jack Grassa
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Photo by Jack Grassa

The New Jersey City University Center for the Arts presents the seventh  annual NJCU Alumni Jazz Big Band Concert on Friday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m. on the J. Owen Grundy Pier on Exchange Place in Jersey City.

Conducted by Professor Emeritus Richard Lowenthal, this free concert features trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and vocalists Allan Harris and Antoinette Montague.

The concert will pay pay tribute to the 100th birthdays of Nat King Cole and Art Blakey.

The Alumni Big Band concert began in 2013 at the request of NJCU President Sue Henderson, a jazz enthusiast who was being inaugurated as the first woman president of the university.

President Henderson asked Professor Richard Lowenthal of the NJCU Music Department to produce a jazz concert as part of the inauguration festivities. Lowenthal put out a call to alumni of the program who were active in the music business.

Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis joined Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in 1980. An internationally acclaimed musician, composer, bandleader and educator, Marsalis has won nine Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, the National Medal of Arts, and the National Humanities Medal.

The salute to Nat King Cole features the Harlem-based vocalist Allan Harris who won the DownBeat Critics Award, two Hot House Jazz Magazine Awards, the Backstage Bistro Award, and several others. Harris will be joined for duets by Antoinette Montague, who will reprise the Grammy Award-winning performance of Natalie Cole singing “Unforgettable.”

“Every year, we invite special guest artists to join our all-star alumni big band,” said Lowenthal, who retired from NJCU in 2017, “and we have been fortunate to have some greats, including Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker, John Pizzarelli, Bucky Pizzarelli, Cyrille Aimee, Paquito D’Rivera, and Lou Marini.”

The all-star big band will perform again this year and includes accomplished musicians who studied at the school as far back as the 1960s.

The band members are drummer Rich DeRosa; sax players Mark Friedman, Bob Magnusson, Dave Noland, Dustyn Richardson and John DiSanto; trumpeters Alex Norris, Nate Eklund and Vinnie Cutro; trombonists Rob Edwards, Mike Modero and Conrad Zulauf; and faculty member Garry Dial on piano. The big band will also feature three students: bassist John Benitez, trombonist Juanga Lakunza, and trumpeter Alejandro Pizarro-Leon.

Food trucks will be on site. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

The rain location is the Harborside Atrium, Harborside 2 and 3 at 34 Exchange Place.