Okay, it’s not that we’re obsessed, but let’s just say “we’re ecstatic” to bring Cyrus back to the Central PA stage.

For those of you who don’t know why (and we can’t imagine who that might be!), Chestnut is one of the leading jazz pianists on the planet, receiving countless awards for his expertise.

His trio will perform at the Ware Center at 6pm on the Millersville University grounds in Millersville, PA. Preceding the trio will be the Hempfield H.S. Jazz Ensemble at 5pm.

Tickets can be obtained online via CPFJ’s website or by dialing 717.540.1010.


We’re counting down the days until we open our mid-season with the incomparable CYRUS CHESTNUT! As noted, Chestnut will perform on March 18th at the Ware Center at Millersville University in Millersville, PA.

Chestnut has performed with some of the legendary and leading musicians in music, not simply jazz, such as Isaac Hayes and Kathleen Battle, to name a few. His talent is undeniable! Critics agree: Cyrus Chestnut is AMAZING – and this is one concert you won’t want to miss.

To get your tickets, log onto http://www.cpfj.org or call 717.540.1010. Tickets MIGHT be available at the door (if we’re not sold out)!

Tickets can be purchased online via CPFJ’s website or by dialing 717.540.1010.

Back by popular demand, the Cyrus Chestnut Trio will open CPFJ’s new season on Sunday, March 18th at the Ware Center/Millersville University in Millersville, PA. The show starts promptly at 5pm with the Hempfield H.S. Jazz Ensemble. The Trio will appear at 6pm.

Chestnut is one of the leading jazz pianists in the world. Born in Baltimore, MD, Chestnut earned a degree in jazz composition and arranging Berklee and was awarded the Eubie Blake Fellowship, the Oscar Peterson, Quincy Jones, and Count Basie awards for exceptional performance standards at the college.

He has performed with some of the legendary and leading musicians in the business, including Terence Blanchard, Branford Marsalis, Delfeayo Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Chick Corea, Jimmy Heath, James Moody, Joe Williams, Isaac Hayes, Kathleen Battle, Betty Carter and, Dizzy Gillespie just to name a few.

Tickets to this event can be purchased online via CPFJ’s website or by dialing 717.540.1010.

Buy ONE CPFJ Membership (any category) and receive TWO FREE TICKETS to the upcoming LEW TABACKIN concert THIS SUNDAY!

Jazz woodwind artist Lew Tabackin’s International Trio will perform on Sunday, Nov, 20th at 6 p.m. in the Sheraton Harrisburg on Lindle Road (formerly the Marriott).

Lew Tabackin is an award winning jazz artist known for his flute virtuosity. Equally gifted on tenor saxophone, Lew’s International Trio is comprised of bassist Boris Kozlov (Russia) and drummer Shinnosuke Takahashi (Japan).

The event opens at 5pm with the Youth Jazz Ensemble of the Trez Music Center led by pianist/educator Beth Trez.

General admission tickets may be purchased from the web site (www.cpfj.org) or at the door the day of the concert. ($25 – adults; $12 students – children under 12 are FREE!)

Our own Judith Brown shares links to interviews with some of CPFJs favorites: Amy Banks, Etienne Charles, Aaron Goldberg, and Steve Rudolph as well as other well-known musical artists.

Host of BlogTalkRadio’s “Livin’ the Dream! with JBlair Brown,” Judith features artists in the entertainment industry, as well as authors and writers weekly. You can connect to each interview by clicking the links below.

Amy Banks

Amy Banks

Etienne Charles

Eric Darius

George Duke

Champian Fulton

Jon Gold

Aaron Goldberg

Aaron Goldberg

Euge Groove

Cal Harris, Jr.

Christian McBride

Steve Rudolph

Leslie Summey

Pianist Fred Hughes Homecoming Concert

Lancaster native and Hempfield High School alumni Fred Hughes returns to perform in concert as part of the Fulton Theater’s Jazz Upstairs series on Friday May 6, 2011 at 7:30 p.m.

While stationed in Korea as a member of the Eighth Army Band, Fred formed the jazz group Just Friends which recorded 6 albums and performed to sold out houses as well as live radio and television broadcasts.

Fred returned to Lancaster in 1985 and formed the jazz trio Alternative with whom he performed locally as well as throughout the eastern U.S. He later went on to join the United States Army’s premier touring jazz ensemble, the Jazz Ambassadors performing at prestigious jazz festival venues such as Newport, Montreux, Nice and the North Sea Jazz Festival.

Fred has performed with the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra, the Kennedy Center Orchestra and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as well as with jazz greats Claudio Roditi, Al Cohn, Roy Hargrove, Bill Waltrous and Toots Thielemans. As a conductor he has directed the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, the Atlanta, Dayton and Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestras and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

An extremely accomplished jazz pianist, as well as composer, Fred is an energetic performer exhibiting a strong, hard swinging style. Fred will be joined by bassist Keith Mohler and drummer Dan Monaghan performing jazz standards as well as original compositions.

Tickets are $10.00 advance $12.00 door, call 717.397.7425 or visit http://www.thefulton.org

For more information visit http://www.fredhughes.com

Interview contact: 410.703.0755 or email fhughes@comcast.net

LIVE at the Hollywood Casino!

He’s back!

CPFJ will present the legendary Mulgrew Miller to perform at THE HOLLYWOOD CASINO this Sunday, April 17th for a one-time performance!

Miller, who has over 400 recordings, had appeared all over the world with such greats as: Art Blakey, Betty Carter, Woody Shaw and a host of other renowned artists.

Joining Miller will be Steve Nelson (vibes), Ivan Taylor (bass) and Rodney Green (drums).

The show starts at 5:30pm. General parking is FREE.

For more information, contact CPFJ at 717.540-1010 or log onto our website at www.cpfj.org.

Steve Rudolph

Join us when our own Steve Rudolph shares his life on BlogTalkRadio’s “Livin’ the Dream! with JBlair Brown,” a LIVE Internet program. Scheduled for 2pm on Wed, April 6th, Rudolph will discuss his adventures and life in the jazz industry.

Rudolph was born and raised in Evansville, IN. He fell in love with music, first as a trumpet student and, at age 22, transitioned to the piano.

A natural on the keys, Rudolph found himself, a few short years later performing with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, backing up the likes of Helen O’Connell and the Mills Brothers. After moving to Harrisburg in 1978 (my center of the universe!), Rudolph became a main staple at the renowned Holiday Inn Town. With his ever-increasing reputation as a solid jazz pianist, his name became pseudonymous with greats like Royce Campbell, Johnny Coles, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Hunt, Lonnie Lester, Joe Lovano, Buddy Tate, JJ Wiggins, and many others.

Rudolph has performed at Carnegie Hall and across the US as well as throughout Europe. During the early 80’s, he and a small group of jazz enthusiasts founded Central PA Friends of Jazz – and we’re all the better for it.

You can connect to the LIVE show by clicking here at 2pm on Wed, April 6th at 2pm. The show’s chat room will also be open, so feel free to scroll to the bottom of the page and share your questions or comments for Steve. And if you’re truly daring…DIAL IN anytime during the 30-minute segment and be heard LIVE on the radio! The number to dial is 347-539-5805. Hope you can attend!

Etienne Charles

The house was rockin’ last night when the Etienne Charles Quintet entertained us at the Hilton in downtown Harrisburg.

A storyteller of sorts, the night was peppered with folklore told in Charles’ native Trinidad and Tobago. In fact, the name of his latest CD is titled “Folklore,” and represents the tales told to him as a child: of mermaids, forest dwellers and such. It’s a splendid cocktail of lively tempos and beats as distinct as Charles’ own style of storytelling.

A natural artist and storyteller, Charles weaved his childhood tales into his gig effortlessly. And then there was audience participation in an echoing of ooohs, ahhhs, boo-be-boo-bows, and more “does he seriously think we can mimic THAT sound?” moments.

It was quite a festive occasion. And why wouldn’t it be – because that’s how we do it here at CPFJ.

Etienne Charles

CPFJ will feature the Etienne Charles Trio on Sunday, March 20th at 5pm at the Hilton Harrisburg.

As a precursor, BlogTalkRadio’s “Livin’ the Dream! with JBlair Brown” will interview Charles for this upcoming concert. The show’s host, Judith Brown, is also the publicist for CPFJ and says, “It’s a natural solution to getting the word out there. Of course, we (CPFJ) also use traditional means – such as press releases, ads and social media – to publicize our events. But adding my show to the mix is definitely an added benefit.”

Other CPFJ-associated artists interviewed on “Livin’ the Dream!” include Aaron Goldberg (who performed at CPFJ’s February Sunday concert) and Amy Banks (a friend and former board member of CPFJ).

To hear Etienne Charles’ interview LIVE, click here on Friday, Mar 18th at 2pm, where you’ll also be able to participate in the chat session during the interview.

You can also listen on your phone by dialing 347-539-5805.

Ahhh, the joys of LIVE MUSIC! Nothing beats it.

If you were privy to attend this past Sunday concert featuring The Aaron Goldberg Trio, you know that what I’m about to say is absolutely true; if you weren’t: too bad, too sad…because the Goldberg Trio lit up that Hilton Harrisburg like fireworks on Independence Day! They were truly awesome!!!

But that’s not the whole story. Let me give you the Reader’s Digest version:

Goldberg, who performed in Haiti Saturday night (yes, the real Haiti, not…like “little Haiti” that might refer to a small Haitian community in the states…THE HAITIAN ISLAND!). Anyway, in order to make it to CPFJs gig, Goldberg did everything short of bribery to get here. Seriously. And if you were there on Sunday, you would know that this also is true: apparently Goldberg’s second career is stand-up comedy. His deadpan delivery is simply classic. Perfect timing (which comes in handy in music too) and straight face (which could be attributed to jet lag) were spot-on, regardless of the inspiration.

To add to the night’s “are you kidding me?” theme: When renowned bassist Omer (pronounced o-MARE) Avital picked up his instrument to begin the set a string popped. Just like that – POP! But Omer is so gifted that no one could tell the difference. Add to his flair Goldberg’s skills and the rock-solid performance by drummer Eric Harland – and you had yourself one of the best concerts to hit this circuit. Hands down!

So there you have it: the recap from this past Sunday’s concert. It was an “out-of-this-world, Lord-have-mercy!, give-me-some-more” classic jazz performance.

Up next: CPFJ presents The Etienne Charles Quartet LIVE at the Hilton Harrisburg on March 20th at 6pm (with a local jazz ensemble starting us off at 5pm). And on April 17th, CPFJ brings back by popular demand the great Mulgrew Miller – this time LIVE at Hollywood Casino.

Yeah, folks…we’re just gettin’ started…

Jazz: reignited

February 15, 2011

Ok, so WE know that jazz has always been here…and that it’s absolutely the best form of musical expression in the world. (Did we ever doubt that?) Seems though that the rest of the nation is finally catching on.

She's a baddddd girl!

Case in point: The “Oh-no!-she-didn’t-snatch-that-Grammy-away-from Justin-Bieber!” fan-tabulous Esperanza Spalding’s win over the teen throbber! Who wasn’t moved by that? What jazz lover didn’t feel pride as Spalding gracefully accepted the award, much to the dismay of crying teens everywhere.

So today we feel pride and dignity and appreciation toward a panel of people (whoever they are) who (obviously) realized that jazz is an important and formidable presence in American society (which WE always knew!).

So glad they finally figured it out.

CPFJ Presents jazz pianist Aaron Goldberg

The Central Pennsylvania Friends of Jazz (CPFJ) rolls into 2011 by announcing the appearance of the Aaron Goldberg Trio on Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 5pm at the Hilton Harrisburg, Second Floor Ballroom, One North Second Street, Harrisburg, PA.

Aaron Goldberg was born in Boston in 1974. He began studying piano at seven. By 17 he was at the New School for Jazz. Then he enrolled at Harvard where he won the International Association of Jazz Educators’ Clifford Brown/Stan Getz Fellowship and was a member of Betty Carter’s “Jazz Ahead” Program.

After graduating from Harvard, Aaron went to NYC and quickly became an in-demand sideman for the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman and Madeline Peyroux.

He is faculty member at the New School and a clinician at conservatories and universities around the world.
His most recent release is “Home,” which appeared on both DownBeat’s and JazzTimes’ “Best Releases of 2010” lists.

“He’s versatile and impressive, and he swings hard.” — New York Times

“A talented artist whose calling card is unadorned musicianship.” — Billboard

Joining Goldberg will be noted bassist Omer Avital and equally talented drummer Eric Harland. Avital comes straight from his gig in Italy where he performed with Jason Lindner and featured Jeff Ballard on drums. Harland, who was discovered by Wynton Marsalis during a high school event, went on to the Manhattan School of Music on a full scholarship. He comes to CPFJ following the concert event The Development of Eric Harland.

Ticket prices for concerts are: General Adult Admission – $28
General Student Admission – $10
CPFJ Adult Member – $20
CPFJ Student Member – $5
Children under 12 are always admitted free!

CPFJ Sponsor and Corporate Members receive their tickets in the U.S. mail.

Tickets may be purchased at http://www.cpfj.org or at the door after 4:30 pm on the day of the concert or by visiting http://www.cpfj.org.

Aaron Goldberg will be featured on an upcoming segment of BlogTalkRadio’s “Livin’ the Dream! with JBlair Brown” on Wed, February 9th at 2pm EST.

To hear the show LIVE, simply click here on that date and time, and download the streaming show OR dial in from your phone to (347) 539-5805. If you’d like to ask Aaron a question ON THE AIR, simply follow the operator’s instructions once you dial in.

“Livin’ the Dream! with JBlair Brown” is a weekly broadcast out of Harrisburg, PA. The Goldberg interview is the program’s first to feature upcoming jazz performers who will appear in and around Central PA. To be considered for an upcoming interview, please contact Judith at jbfreelancewriter@yahoo.com.

Seems like just yesterday we were saying, “It’s on to 2010!” but here we are in 2011 already. And what a start we’re having.

In case you haven’t noticed, CPFJ is doing some things a little different. For instance, while the economy has caused us to increase pricing in some areas, we’ve reduced prices in other areas. And then there’s our latest “Say what?” decision: We’re holding our April concert – NOT at the Hilton Harrisburg as we frequently do – but (hold onto your hats!) at the Hollywood Casino. (How’s that for “different”?)

So, yeah, we’re moving forward — but one thing’s for sure: our taste in only the BEST jazz artists available will never be compromised. For instance, at our first concert for 2011, Feb 20th, we’ll present the Aaron Goldberg Trio.

Goldberg’s recently released “Home” appeared on both DownBeat’s and JazzTimes’ “Best Releases of 2010” lists. The New York Times says, “He’s versatile and impressive, and he swings hard.” And Billboard says, “A talented artist whose calling card is unadorned musicianship.”

As is our custom, a local group will start the festivities at 5pm, with Goldberg opening at 6pm. So mark your calendars for Sunday, Feb 20th at the Hilton in downtown Harrisburg.

Our March 20th Sunday concert is no less exciting. Featuring the Etienne Charles Quartet, whom the JazzTimes calls “A daring improviser,” who “delivers with heart-wrenching lyricism,” Charles will perform tunes from his “Folklore,” which is a blend of jazz improvisation and folk rhythms of his native islands Trinidad and Tobago.

Charles kicks off at 6pm, with a local jazz group starting at 5pm.

More on our April performance at a later date. For now, plan to see our Feb and Mar shows at the Hilton!

All the best,


Back by popular demand, York-based tenor saxophonist Tim Warfield, along with his sextet, will spread goodwill and holiday cheer at the renowned jazz establishment Bohemian Caverns in Washington, DC, on Friday and Saturday, December 17 and 18.

Featuring the sultry Philadelphia vocalist Joanna Pascale and the adroit young trumpet sensation Philip Dizack, the sextet is rounded out by pianist Neil Podgurski, bassist Madison Rast and drummer Chris Beck.

This year’s Christmas event is Warfield’s second consecutive holiday gala for the established jazz venue. Immediately following the success of last year’s performance, the band was again booked for this holiday season.

Warfield, who serves as music committee chair for Central PA Friends of Jazz, also serves as artist-in-residence at Messiah College in Grantham , PA, a position he has held for several years. He has traveled the world sharing his innovative approach to music, and has recently appeared in Europe.

Showtimes for the upcoming event are 8:30pm and 10:30pm on both evenings.

The Bohemian Caverns is located at 2001 Eleventh St. N.W. Washington, D.C. 20001. For more information, log onto www.bohemiancaverns.com.

The joint was jumpin’

November 15, 2010


If you missed Tim Warfield and his Organ Band on November 14th – I don’t know what to tell ya’ – except that you missed the performance of a lifetime.

Those guys were sensational! They rocked from the very start at 6pm until the very last tune, which ended close to 9pm. And you’ve NEVER heard “The Beat Goes On” like this before in your life.

But the true testament of the night was the success of Warfield’s recently released “A Sentimental Journey,” which sold in droves! Folks were lining up to get a glimpse of our own Warfield, who recently returned from a trip abroad to give this concert.

The Organ Band is comprised of Warfield (sax), Terell Stafford (trumpet), Pat Bianchi (organ), Daniel Sadownick (percussion) and Chris Beck (drums). Rumor has it they’ll be playing again in the area real soon. Check out Warfield’s schedule here.

A Sentimental Journey

The Central Pennsylvania Friends of Jazz (CPFJ) is delighted to present Tim Warfield and his all-star band in celebration of the release of “A Sentimental Journey” on Sunday, November 14, 2010 from 5-9 pm at the Hilton Harrisburg.

What more can be said about “our own” Tim Warfield? He is now established as a major star with a string of fine Criss Cross label releases. This concert will highlight one of them, Warfield’s latest “A Sentimental Journey.”

With countless jazz releases to pick from, no less than the New York Times picked it as the jazz album of the month, saying “Mr. Warfield presides with a pretty sound, close to singing and full of organized devices to get his solos rolling … Mr. Warfield and Mr. Stafford have been playing together for more than 20 years, and their combined sound as they harmonize on themes, as well as the way they build solos off of each others’ scattered ideas is where the soul of the record lies. The music feels plush at heat-wave tempos; it takes its time and assumes you’re not going anywhere.”

This basic group really took off with “One for Shirley,” a tribute to the late organist Shirley Scott. Tim has re-united the musicians on that album with the exception of Byron Landham replacing Dana Hall on drums.

Tim returns home now from a highly successful tour of Italy, England and Ireland for this appearance.

Terell Stafford (trumpet) has been hailed as “one of the great players of our time, a fabulous trumpet player” by the legendary McCoy Tyner. It is no exaggeration. Our good fortune is his regular visits to Harrisburg like last year’s starring performance at the International Trumpet Guild’s Convention.

Stafford has 5 well-received releases as leader and over 80 sideman recordings. He has appeared on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “You Bet Your Life with Bill Cosby.”

Pat Bianchi (organ) previously appeared for us with his mentor Joey DeFrancesco. His latest release is “Back Home.” He attended The Eastman School of Music and got his degree at The Berklee College of
Music. He of course played a key role on “One for Shirley” as well as “A Sentimental Journey.”

Daniel Sadownick (percussion) has recorded and toured with The Roots, Steely Dan, Al Green, Billy Idol, Christian McBride, Michael Brecker and Nicholas Payton. His newest release is “There Will Be A Day” on In Time Records. He was nominated for a 2010 Jazz Journalist Award as Percussionist of the Year. For the past 4 years he was voted a “Rising Star” in DownBeat’s International Critics Poll.

Byron Landham (drums) “graduated” from being the drummer of choice in the 1990’s in Philadelphia to international recognition playing with vocalist Betty Carter, saxophonist Houston Person and guitarist Lee Ritenour to name a few. He is so in demand that he spends an average of 4-5 months on the road each year. Shortly after our concert, he leaves to play in Barcelona, Spain.


Ticket prices for the November 14, 2010 concert are:
* General Adult Admission – $25
* General Student Admission – $12
* CPFJ Adult Member – $19
* CPFJ Student Member – $10
* CPFJ School Member Student with School ID – $5
* Children under 12 are always free!

Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.cpfj.org or at the door after 4.30 pm on the day of the concert.

Catch us in The Burg

Be sure to catch the great article in the October 2010 issue of The Burg, which should be released to the public within the next two weeks.

The article discusses CPFJ’s featured Oct Sunday concert for the 17th – Poncho Sanchez and His Latin Band. A special thanks to The Burg for their support of CPFJ and its efforts. You are the best!

See you at the concert on Oct 17th at 6pm at the Hilton Harrisburg!

What a great way to start our 31st season! The Tierney Sutton Band mesmerized our audience on Sunday night, following the CPFJ All-Star Youth Band under the direction of Maestro Ronnie Waters.

Simply put, Sutton has the voice of an angel. Her vocal talents, her range, give as indication of why she was acknowledged one of the top five female vocalists in the world by DownBeat International Critics Poll.

The band, completely in sync, work together like bees and honey. Even minus its drummer (due to an incident requiring that he return to the west coast early Sunday morning), the remaining “trio” performed brilliantly. Indeed, it was a night to remember.


Up next: October 17th’s anticipated performance with the enthusiastic, energetic, entertaining sounds of the one and only PONCHO SANCHEZ!

You don’t want to miss that one!

Final days of summer…

September 3, 2010

Yes, the kids are in school and the summer’s coming to its end…but that doesn’t mean the music ends here. In fact, we’re just getting started, so you simply MUST mark your calendars for the upcoming CPFJ Sunday concert series – now in its 31st season!

As is always the case, CPFJ continues to bring only the finest jazz artists on the scene today – as is evident by our 2010 fall lineup.

Tierney Sutton 9/12

This year we bring the lovely Tierney Sutton and her band (Sept 12th)…

Poncho Sanchez 10/17

…the internationally-renowned Poncho Sanchez (Oct 17th)…

Tim Warfield 11/14

…and one of our hometown favorites, Tim Warfield (Nov 14th CD release party) to the Harrisburg stage at the Hilton in downtown Harrisburg.

December will bring CPFJs Holiday Gala with the Military Big Band on the 5th.

Tickets range from $5 to $25 and can be purchased online and even at the door on the day of the concert.

So…just because summer’s on the way out doesn’t mean the heat isn’t still on. See you soon.

Remembering Hank Jones

May 18, 2010

True Legend

Hank Jones, a true giant of jazz piano, passed away at the age of 91 on May 16, 2010 in NYC. CPFJ was lucky enough to have presented him in person at one of our earlier festivals.

Jones remained vital right up to the end, playing and touring in Japan earlier this year, staying active on the NYC scene and having been scheduled for a European tour this summer.

We are fortunate that his life and legacy have been well chronicled from their start. He received every honor the jazz world offers. His recordings easily number in the hundreds (and probably thousands).

Not to be forgotten is the role Hank played in breaking down racial barriers in network TV 60 years ago. With quiet dignity and personality, coupled with amazing talent, he truly resembled Jackie Robinson (sports) and Lena Horne (film) with their contributions.

Today no one thinks twice when they see a musician of color backing a Jay Leno, David Letterman or a Saturday Night Live host.

To a great degree, Hank Jones made that possible.

Mr Jones, we thank you

Submitted by Gary Hoffman



On March 28th, CPFJ had the honor of presenting Freddy Cole and his trio for a performance at the Hilton during CPFJ’s Sunday concert series.

The evening before, Mr. Cole and I spent a few hours together enjoying dinner at downtown restaurant. I have to admit, it was the best date ever! Mr. Cole shared lots of fond memories of his earlier days on the circuit – including many “He-couldn’t-possibly-make-this-stuff-up!”flashbacks of the Elks, Masonic Hall and the infamous Lawson’s Bar. (Having grown up in Harrisburg, I knew the stories weren’t farfetched, but rather, par for the course. They were some wild times!)

But the highlight of the evening was having my own private not-on-purpose concert with the fabulous Freddy Cole. The restaurant apparently subscribes to a Sirius jazz channel, one featuring all the jazz legends: Frank Sinatra, Nancy Wilson, Billy Eskstine, Ella Fitzgerald – and plenty others. When I tell you that Mr. Cole knew – and sang – every single song that came on that channel, I’m not exaggerating! (I still can’t believe a man 20+ years my senior recalled every word to every tune, while I have trouble remembering my middle name!)

He’s simply amazing.

Following dinner, we walked back to The Bar at the Hilton to hear Steve Rudolph at the piano. What a once-in-a-lifetime treat for all us listeners as Mr. Cole’s raspy voice accompanied Steve’s playing – totally impromptu – and pitch perfect!

It was the highlight of my evening. In fact, thus far, it’s been the highlight of my year! And definitely…


It’s early morning following CPFJs gig last night at the Hilton Harrisburg, where The Carl Allen Rodney Whitaker Project took center stage.

They were incredible.

To be frank, I didn’t know these guys before I’d read the lineup in December announcing their upcoming performance. And then I did some research (YouTube, Carl Allen’s Web site) and I started diggin’ them a little more.

But even those could not compare to last night’s live performance. Simply put: They blew us away!

From Marvin Gaye’s Inner City Blues to Smokey Robinson’s Get Ready to Carl Allen’s La Shea’s Walk (written for his wife), the audience was mesmerized by The Project’s skillful transitions and outright in-your-face, unapologetic interpretations.

But it was their sultry, hypnotic rendition of With You I’m Born Again that stood out. (Trust me, this YouTube clip doesn’t even come close!)

Yeah, they got me…and everybody else in the room too.

In closing: If you EVER have an opportunity to hear these guys LIVE – don’t miss it! You owe it to yourself.

Freddy Cole 3/28

Freddy Cole 3/28

Up next: The grand FREDDY COLE on Sunday, March 28th. Hope to see you there.

The Central Pennsylvania Friends of Jazz (CPFJ) is happy to welcome The Carl Allen-Rodney Whitaker Project, direct from their engagement at Washington’s Kennedy Center, on Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. at the Hilton Harrisburg & Towers in Harrisburg, PA.

They will perform hits from their latest release, “Work to Do” (Mack Avenue Records), which combines jazz, soul, pop and R&B.

Carl Allen performed for CPFJ in the 1990s with bass poll-winner Christian McBride and anchored a CPFJ Festival rhythm section for the Jon Faddis Quartet and the Kenny Drew, Jr. Trio. Rodney Whitaker made several CPFJ appearances in Harrisburg with the likes of Diana Krall and trumpet giant Roy Hargrove.

Carl Allen has over 150 recordings to his credit. The gifted Milwaukee-born, New York-based drummer, sideman, bandleader, entrepreneur and educator, whose profound and propulsive percolations provided soulful and syncopated support for nearly three decades.

In 2006, Rodney Whitaker, who is also a member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, was nominated for the Juno Award, Canada’s equivalent to the Grammy, for his work on “Let Me Tell You About My Day,” produced by Alma Records. Whitaker collaborated with musicians Phil Dwyer and Alan Jones on the album, which was nominated for Traditional Jazz Album of the Year.

The Project Band is comprised of pianist Xavier Davis, who visited recently as part of the hugely successful Tom Harrell Quintet. He too teaches at Juilliard.

From the faculty at the Manhattan School of Music comes guitarist Rodney Jones, perhaps best known for his time with Dizzy Gillespie; and up-and-coming altoist Tim Green makes his first appearance at CPFJ.

The Millersville University Jazz Band, headed by Keith Wiley, opens promptly at 5pm.

Ticket prices are as follows:

. General Adult Admission – $25;

. General Student Admission – $12;

. CPFJ Adult Member – $19;

. CPFJ Student Member – $10; and

. CPFJ School Member Student with School ID – $5

. Children under 12 are always FREE!

Tickets may be purchased at http://www.cpfj.org, by phoning 717.540.1010 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              717.540.1010      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or at the door at 4:30 pm on the day of the concert.

Hope to see you there!

The secret’s out. (And boy am I glad — I was about to BURST!)

It’s official: Grammy award-winning vocalist Patti Austin will be the headliner at CPFJ’s 30th Annual Jazz Festival on Saturday, June 12th at the Hilton Harrisburg!

Festivities will kick off at 5pm Thursday, June 10th with the Jazz Walk, which includes great jazz performances throughout various venues in the downtown and mid-town areas. This year’s festival is dedicated to Women in Jazz and will feature some of the finest female jazz vocalists from Harrisburg and surrounding areas during the Walk.

On Thursday, June 10th at 5pm, a hearty “Welcome” will officially begin the Jazz Festival at the Hilton Harrisburg after which time “nuttin’ but jazz” will permeate most downtown and mid-town arenas.

The show-stopping performance of the remarkable Patti Austin will highlight the festival on Saturday night in the ballroom of the Hilton.

In addition to Austin, the outstanding 15-member, all-female DIVA will perform on Friday evening! For certain, CPFJ provides the finest in jazz – and most notably during its jazz festivals; however, even WE have to admit: we pulled out all the stops for this baby, our 30th!

You’ll want to be there. Reserve your tickets now by calling (717) 540-1010 or by visiting us online at www.cpfj.org. Space is limited – and this is the festival everyone will be talking about for years to come.

Don’t say we didn’t warn ya’.

Hello all!

For those of you who received the December 2009 CPFJ newsletter, you might have read that CPFJ will combine its newsletters to distribute every other month (due to economic factors) as opposed to the monthly distribution we’ve practiced in the past. Because of this we found it necessary also to change our timeline for distribution (to coincide with the 2-month stretch).

we all have something to offer

...something to offer

Our next newsletter will be mailed out the week of January 18th, where you’ll see something new: an article written by educator/musician Jay Umble. “We All Have Something to Offer” is an encouraging piece that discusses the “traps” that often ensnare jazz musicians. You won’t want to miss this most interesting read.

For those of you who have yet to subscribe to our newsletter, or join the ranks of our membership, now is the time to do so: CPFJ is conducting a membership drive to offer NEW members a 14-month membership, which means YOU GET TWO WHOLE MONTHS ABSOLUTELY FREE (when was the last time you could say THAT?!).

So what are you waiting for? Just step right in…the water’s fine.

‘Til next time,

Judith Brown / Publicist, CPFJ

2010 will be an exciting year for CPFJ. In addition to throwing one of the biggest parties of the year during our annual festival, we’re laying the groundwork for a new design of our semi-monthly newsletter.

Our newsletter includes upcoming concert and ticket information, membership information and letters from our president and board. But we’ll be adding more entertaining features beginning in January, such as interviews with both local and nationally-known jazz artists, profiles of jazz venues (and their owners) and perhaps even some editorial content.

That said, we’ll offer YOU, our members, the opportunity to express yourselves regarding your love, support and concern for jazz.

Exciting times, indeed.

Looking forward to bringing you many more years of America’s truest musical contribution, in all its forms – Jazz!

So THAT’S Eldar!

October 12, 2009


On October 11th, three unassuming “kids” walked onto the stage at Hilton Harrisburg.

Eldar Djangirov, whose bio says is 22-year-old, sits at the shiny grand piano. Sharing the stage are bassist Armando Gola and drummer Ludwig Afonso. They’re just kids, you think to yourself. How great can this be?

And then they played. And it was then that I realized this was some sort of inside joke: no WAY can these “kids” be so young: they’re FAR too advanced. These are 50-yr-olds in young-men bodies.

The musical genius of this trio was absolutely astounding! I had no idea what to expect next. One moment the beat was forthright and traditional; the next – choppy, “in your face,” unexpected.

They were Beowulf/Dragon-slayer…and we were their prey.

The crowd LOVED it!

Through several of Eldar’s own compositions from the latest VIRTUE CD, the trio mesmerized, hypnotized and everything in between.

Do I sound over-the-top? It’s quite fitting.

The old/young boys received a standing ovation.


For me, though, my evening was just beginning after they took their bows: they sat around snapping pictures, signing CDs, books, just like they were regular old folk out for any evening stroll in the park. (As if they didn’t leave us in complete awe. As if, in less than 12 hours, they wouldn’t be on their journey to plunder and pillage the next village along their way to the land of Legends, leaving us mere mortals behind to wonder ‘what just happened?’.)



That’s Eldar.

He makes it look so effortless.

As a (former) classical pianist, I can tell you that manipulating 88 keys on a piano is anything but, and to form those keys in such an elegant and entertaining way so as to hypnotize your listeners – well, that’s just simply awe-inspiring.

Yeah, maybe I’m sounding like an 8-year-old kid watching her handsome teacher at the blackboard (translation = I MIGHT be smitten) but it’s not unfounded.

On Sept 13th, the Kevin Hays Trio graced the audience with two outstanding sets at the Hilton Harrisburg (Downtown), many from Hays’ latest CD, You’ve Got a Friend, which includes the Monk classic Think of One as well as Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Waters. But it was Hays’ magnificently-executed rendition of You Are My Sunshine that blew me away. And I’m sure I was not the only one: you could hear a pin drop during that tune. In the vernacular: He laid this thang down!

Following the performance he did the artist thing: signed CDs, schmoozed, etc., but what was even more impressive to me was that he took “a moment” to speak with me for my “After Hours with…” piece (written for CPFJ’s member newsletter). That “moment” turned into 45 minutes where we chilled.

We laughed.

I gawked.

(Yeah, definitely smitten.)

Up next: Some 22-year-old kid they call Eldar. Check out that post later.

Welcome to the first posted blog of the Central PA Friends of Jazz (CPFJ).

CPFJ prides itself on the outstanding quality of jazz it promotes. We feel privileged to provide only the best jazz artists to the Central PA area, and even more privileged to have had the opportunity of doing so over the past 30 years.

In this, our 30th year, we will continue the trend – however, we’ve raised the bar in terms of direction for the organization: We open our 30th year with a heart-pounding Piano series that will knock your socks off!

September will bring us the improvisational style of Kevin Hays. In October, the jazz phenomenon that is Eldar will perform. And we close our Piano Series in November with National Endowment for the Arts 2010 Jazz Master Cedar Walton.

January, February and March brings us jazz guitarist Bobby Broom, The Allen/Whitaker Project, and the incomparable Freddy Cole, respectively.

And as if these weren’t enough: We are anticipating one of our biggest jazz festivals ever in June 2010. It will be one for the books! Watch for upcoming blog posts as we finalize our arrangements; you’ll be most impressed so make sure to block out those dates once we post them – and GET YOUR TICKETS EARLY!

Buckle your seatbelts…(don’t say I didn’t warn you).

The concert featuring Cyrus Chestnut, held on Sunday, Mar 18th at Millersville University’s Ware Center was nothing short of remarkable!

Chestnut, who has graced our stage in previous years, seems only to get better with age – to which all in attendance will attest. It was far from a disappointment. We thank the Cyrus Chestnut Trio for their stirring performance.

Up next: The Kim Thompson Group

Kim Thompson graduated from Manhattan School of Music in 2003 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz Performance and Composition. She is a fresh, new talent whose portfolio includes projects alongside megastar Beyonce, jazz legends Kenny Barron, Roy Hargrove, Wallace Roney, Mike Stern, and more.

The concert will take place on April 22nd at the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey Hotel
4650 Lindle Road in Harrisburg
, promptly at 6pm. The Central Dauphin H.S. Jazz Band will begin the evening’s festivities at 5pm.


Central PA Friends of Jazz will kick off its 2011 fall season with THREE outstanding performances at the SHERATON HOTEL on Lindle Road in Harrisburg (formerly the Marriott Hotel).

The season opens on Sunday September 25th with a CD Release Party featuring the Terell Stafford Quintet as they ‘Play the Music of Billy Strayhorn.’

Terell Stafford

The JazzTimes says of the trumpeter’s latest CD (This Side of Strayhorn), “…the extraordinary trumpeter and flugelhornist Terell Stafford shines the light back on Strayhorn,” and calls the recording a “remarkable composing gift” as he refers to Stafford’s “startling interpretative talent.”

Stafford has been called “one of the great players of our time” by the legendary jazz pianist McCoy Tyner.

The Sunday, October 23rd concert welcomes the Bobby Watson Quintet.

Bobby Watson

The saxophonist’s latest CD “The Gates BBQ Suite” (so named in honor of Watson’s grandparents), has been called a “joyous, groove-based sensibility of the album hints that the compositions were designed by a man familiar with the music of Donald Byrd and Ramsey Lewis.”

Lew Tabackin

The Lew Tabackin Trio will be featured on Sunday, November 20th. Flutist and saxophonist Tabackin has won First Place, Flute, Swing Journal Reader’s Poll for four consecutive years as well as Down Beat International Critics Poll 2010 – Flute. Reviewers describe Tabackin’s performances as “distinctive” with “purposeful fervor.”

Tickets for each concert can be purchased via the website (www.cpfj.org) or purchased at the door on the day of the concert. Doors open at 4:30pm. For more information call 717.540.1010 or send a question or comment via email to info@cpfj.org.